Topic 7 – Observe


After providing instructions and demonstrations it is important to observe practice.  It is also important to observe the entirety of practice and games to gather information for future analysis.

When observing practice and games there are many ways to gather information.  To do this effectively it would be beneficial to break down both practice and games into parts. 

 Practice could be broken down into different drills or sessions.  After breaking practice down into different sections, it would be beneficial to only focus on one section at a time.  When observing a conditioning segment of a practice, only focus on their conditioning, not other aspects of the game.  To improve observation, watch practice segments from different angles.  Watching from different angles will allow coaches to catch positive or negative actions players are doing that they could not previously see from a different angle.  While having all this information in mind, it is important for coaches to not make judgments too quickly.  Sometimes players can make one time mistakes, or not have a good day.  Coaches should not come to conclusions until they have seen it multiple times and are sure it is a habit.  In the end waiting for multiple observations of a habit will allow the coach to use practice time more effectively.  

During the game observing information can be more challenging due to the emotions involved, as well as being distracted by the duties of a coach.  A good way to counteract this would be to film the game and watch it after.  Watching the game on film will make it less emotional and more data driven.  The strategy of observing a game is similar to the process for observing practice.  First, it is important to break down games into sections.  One way to break down games is by the quarters, or halves the games are already separated by.  Again focus on one quarter or half at a time, and observe the game from multiple perspectives.  While this is hard to do by watching film, during the game a coach could either move around themselves, or move the camera during pauses in the action.  It is possible to watch the game multiple times, or watch multiple games before making a judgement.  Again doing so would ensure that the information being gathered by the coach is in fact correct.  

In basketball games there are many factors to observe.  It is easy to observe official game stats such as points, assists, rebounds, but there are more advanced metrics that could tell the true story of the game better, referred to as key performance indicators(KPIs).  Some KPIs include pace, open shots, and defensive assists.  Each of these provide more information than official game statistics.  For example, if a team has a bad shooting percentage a coach may think either the scheme is no good, or the players are not skilled enough.  If a coach also has the “open shots” statistic they will know what percentage of shots taken were registered as open, meaning no defender within a certain amount of feet.  If the team gets a lot of open shots, the coach knows the scheme is good, and that in practice players need to work on shooting drills.  There are other per player advanced metrics that can also begin being formed while observing a game such as usage rate or PER.  Observing film of a game multiple times, or from different angles, allows for this information to be gathered and analyzed as it was in the example above.  

While practicing, there are not advanced metrics such as KPIs to analyze, but it is still important to observe in order to make improvements.  Those improvements will come more from “the eye test” rather than data.

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