One of the very worst thoughts for a coach or player a few minutes into a game is, “Holy hell, I had no idea this team was this (fill in the blank- long, quick, fast, aggressive, well-coached or all of the above). You get the general idea.
That can happen several ways including underestimation or worse yet, under scouted or not scouted at all. Usually however, the most common culprits are not being able to simulate your opponent’s personnel, tenacity or execution in practice.
Obviously the most difficult aspect to simulate is personnel- especially where any kind of physical prowess or athleticism is concerned. After all, you’re asking your scout team-most of whom can’t start for you-to “look” and play like starters on other teams-often very athletic and skilled at that.
The second most difficult aspect to re-create is execution. In many cases your opponents have been honing for years various match-up zones, presses, pack-line defenses, and all the other system parts you have to face. At best, you have a week to prepare and sometimes only a day.
Last is tenacity and while that’s the most attainable attribute to simulate, that’s not a walk in the park either because your tenacious 5-8 scout team defender still might not be able to match the tenacity of his 6-3 playing rotation opponent.
Yet, in all three cases, there are at least three coaching gimmicks that can help you better simulate what you’ll be facing in your next game:
- EXTRA PLAYERS: Utilize extra players on your scout team as much as possible to make things more difficult. Several examples follow but you can be creative beyond these. If you are preparing for:
a) An extremely aggressive press, have a scout team of 5 pressers (from baseline to opposite hash mark) AND another 2 defenders in tandem at the top of key. That way your 5 pressers can get “crazy” (You will want to have two of the designated pressers step off when the ball passes them).
b) A tough man defense, place a 6th scout team defender under the basket to step in to help on all situations that need basket protection via taking the charge or shot blocking. That way the five scout defenders don’t have to worry about getting beat and they can get crazy.
c) Any kind of tough zone, place one, two or three extra defenders on your scout team.
*If you are preparing your defense on the other hand, you can “flip” situations a, b and c by giving your offensive scout team the extra players.
- OER-DER: Give your offense or defense 5 possessions. If your offense scores6 points, (1.2 OER) they “win”. If you are concentrating on the defensive side of ball, if you hold the offensive team to 4 points, (.8 DER) you “win”. If there is a foul, you can award one point for that possession to keep the competition realistic. Reward or penalize creatively.
- ALUMNI SCOUT TEAM: In some cases-maybe isolated big games, you may want to consider bringing in practice “ringers”- former players or friends who can better replicate your opponent’s players’ size, strength, speed, quickness and skills. A lot of former players would be glad to get a good run, and help out at the same time. (Check on liability first).
Simulation is tough to create against good teams and players but good coaches have a way of overcoming that problem.