Limiting Reactionary Subbing

To expound on the past Hoop Coach article , “Thoughts on Playing Rotations”, we’d like to share some thoughts on a related subject.

Whether or not we’ve ever labeled the type of substitution we’re about to discuss as “reactionary substitution”, we all clearly know the practice.

At one time or another (and maybe even regularly) we’ve all yanked certain (or even all) players on a mistake (or even all mistakes).

Sometimes we have done it in a dramatic fashion, embarrassing the player and others for sure, and maybe even ourselves in the process.

If we’ve been smart about it, we’ve watched other coaches pull players on mistakes in subtle ways (as late as possible during a dead ball, during a time-out, after the first of two foul shots and other such moments) so as to avoid the embarrassing aspect of the method.

Of course, we’re all entitled to sub any way we wish but I contend that the less we sub in a reactionary way, the better off our team will be in the long run.  The following are some thoughts to consider:

  • Generally, a consistent rotation is preferable.  The more players know why and when they will play, their preparation can be better which can help them acclimate to the game more quickly.  Of course, team and individual matchups and other factors enter into the equation but we’re talking in general terms.
  • In support of the consistent rotation theory, just recollect your own playing days and how important it was for you to understand your role as well as you possibly could.
  • Players who get the hook on first mistakes play “looking over their shoulders”.  Obviously, this is not an ideal way to play as it never breeds confidence into these players.
  • Even worse than yanking some players on first mistakes is allowing other players to play with total immunity by allowing them to make large numbers of similar mistakes.
  • We’re obviously not talking about effort gaffes or sharing the ball concerns.  Most of have very little tolerance in these areas.
  • If we do have to pull players quickly, we’d be well advised to learn and practice the subtle tricks mentioned earlier in this post.  The less we sub in a reactionary way, and if and when we do, doing it in ways where we don’t “lose” that player will go a long way into building the strongest rotation possible.  

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