In a past article, we discussed in-game adjustments. This post will focus post-game adjustments facing a quick turnaround. If one has an extended period of time-like a holiday break of some kind, almost anything can be changed or drastically altered.
But, today we’re going to operate on the premise that the next game is imminent, so simple changes are the watchwords. We’re not alluding to next game scouting reports here; we’re talking “what we can do to improve ourselves”, the next opponent notwithstanding. Let’s take a look at just a few possible solutions.
PERSONNEL: As previously discussed, adjusting who and when one plays his various roster options is the easiest and perhaps the most impactful way to adjust. Some of these are:
ADDITION BY SUBTRACTION: Reducing one or more player’s PT or removing them from the rotation can be a tough decision but generally this move can solve chemistry, ball movement or team defense issues very quickly.
INCREASING PLAYER’S PT: On the surface, this appears to be the same solution as addition by subtraction, but not so. In the previous scenario, one is removing a poison or cancer. In this case, it’s not generated necessarily by a player who is killing the team but rather by the realization that your team has played better when players X and Y have been in the game.
SHORTENING THE ROTATION: Sometimes coaches pre-determine that they’re going to platoon or have an extended rotation and then the games start and reality sets in. Your opponents are stronger than you thought or they’re stronger than the last players in your rotation can handle.
LENGTHENING THE ROTATION: This need will smack one in the face even early in the season as players are playing less effectively because they’re tired. As the season goes on, this dilemma gets accentuated. Even giving players short rests is helpful.
DEFENSE: Defense is always easier to “fix” than offense. In lieu of trying to change things or add things, perhaps try to solve one aspect of the previous game’s problems. One way to approach this might be focusing on one of the ways your last opponent scored in the paint- in transition, off the bounce, post feeds, rolls/cuts or offensive rebounding. Trying to clean up or review one or two of these areas is possible.
COMMUNICATION: Were there any communication issues with your players or staff in the previous game? Generally, these can be solved quickly with better organization post-game, pre-game and in-game. Are all of your various rituals working? If not, these can be changed on the fly.
BUZZ WORDS: As non-conventional as it sounds, getting players to understand, buy in and then focus on simple buzz words that crystalize key concepts for them is maybe as important as anything else that you can give them in the short term. After all, you’ve spent weeks, months and years breaking the game down for them. It’s not like you didn’t teach them all the necessary concepts and components of the game and it’s not that they didn’t understand or want to implement them. It’s just a matter of slippage. Focus is easy to lose even with the best of intentions. Buzz words will be as diverse and as unique as each program, coach, players and community. They can be motivational or x and o oriented. But they all serve the same purpose-helping get a team back on track. In the motivational vein, any name or concept that resonates with one’s group can be jelling. For instance, yesterday’s University of Michigan football players wrote the word CHAD with markers on their helmets to honor 5 year old Chad Carr, grandson of former Michigan FB coach, Lloyd Carr. Chad was recently placed in hospice care with an inoperable brain tumor. As a technical example, if a team wasn’t moving the ball well, the concept of HOCKEY ASSIST might very well be enough to remind players that the pass that leads to the assist is just as important. The possibilities are endless.
Sometimes turnaround is less than 24 hours and very often it’s less than 72 hours, so reinventing a team in that time period is impossible but getting a team to improve with simple adjustments is attainable.