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Film Breakdown Part 1: Post-Game Analysis

Upon several requests, I have put together a three-part series of posts discussing how to watch film as after the game, with your team, and with individual players. Today I am going to discuss the process of watching and breaking down the game film individually as a coach to provide feedback for yourself and your coaching staff.

This post is going to about the process of how I break down film after a game every each night. The analysis below takes place after every game we play and it takes approximately 2 hours once I get home. 

Post-Game Meeting

After each game our coaching staff meets in the head coaches office and we discuss the game for 15-20 minutes; What went well, what didn’t go well, and other thoughts about the game. As a staff, we try to reserve judgement with performance until watching the game film. During this time, I will reference some notes that I wrote down during the game about some aspects that I think would be good to look for when breaking down the film (i.e.- Transition defense, defensive rebounding, rotational breakdowns, etc.) and also gather thoughts from my head coach on things he would like for me to focus on while watching the film.

Post-Game Report

After gathering our post-game perspective, I head home and start uploading the film for breakdown onto our editing tool. During the upload time (usually takes about 25 minutes), I analyze and input the data I have on my Offensive and Defensive Efficiency Chart and look for any positive and negative trends from the game. This chart will also factor into indicators while watching film. Once all the numbers totaled, I will start typing up my Post[Game Report for my head coach. I got this tremendous idea from the LA Clippers’ Kevin Eastman. Eastman took it upon himself each night after their games to write-up a post-game report and slide it under head coach Doc Rivers’ door for reading the next morning. I am not sure what Kevin’s looked like, but in my report I include the following:

  1. Quarter by Quarter Scoring with +/-
  2. Rebound Comparisons each half and game total (Out rebounding the opponent is a huge component of our program)
  3. Offensive and Defensive notes referencing the Efficiency Chart I mentioned above
    1. As well as any notes I gather from the film in regards to our performance (Good and Bad)
  4. Any ideas or recommendations for upcoming practices that I think will help our team

If you are interested in a sample of what mine looks like just drop me a note and I would be glad to email you.

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Court Vision: The Trained Eyes of a Head Coach (Part 2)

If you haven’t read Court Vision: The Trained Eyes of a Head Coach (Part 1), make sure you jump over and read it first!


  1. As soon as the offense starting setting up (either in the half-court or out-of-bounds) my brain starts filing through hundreds of plays and actions that I have seen in the past (or through scouting) to try to alert my players to what might be coming.
  2. I am also listening and watching for play calls.. If I know a play call or hear/see a play call ran earlier in the game I will alert my players to be ready for what is coming.
  3. As the play develops, with the ball in corner or my eye(s) I start focusing on the rest of the floor:
    • Is our help side in the correct position(s)?
      • If the ball is on the wing, we need to make sure any ball side defenders have their Hand on the Rope. The rest of the defense (guarding players on the weak side) needs to be On the White Line.
    • Is the offense moving any of their players into positions to take advantage of our defensive alignments?
      • Is our help side in the correct position to counter these moves?
  4. Pick & Roll Situations
    • As the defense sets the pick, not only should the defender be in position to (Level / Show/ 1/2 Blitz / Blitz) but the other 3 defenders need to have eyes up and alert, communicating to each other. As a coach I make sure the next two most obvious pass outs are covered as well as the rim. The only pass we want to give up is a skip pass (Which should be prevented by high hands in the trap).
    • Even if you have an unselfish team full of communicators who talk loudly throughout all of your possessions, a coaches voice is always helpful. If I see a pick about to happen or a play setting up that may result in a pick, I alert my players as early as possible to not only assist with the (Level / Show/ 1/2 Blitz / Blitz) but also to ensure the other three defenders know a pick & roll is taking place.
  5. Press Defense
    • As our two trappers start to engage the ball, I take my eyes away from the ball and 1st check to make sure the interceptor is in place to take any horizontal/back passes away as that is usually where the trap is coming from. Next I look to make sure the sideline pass is taken away and then to make sure we cover the middle of the floor or any players cutting to open gaps (Players in middle should have head on a swivel constantly looking for cutters). The last piece of the press is ensuring our back defender is covering the rim. (All of this happens in about 1 second)
      • Rotations will depend on the type of press we are running, but these five positions are the most common that occur during the majority of our pressing situations.
  6. Post Defense
    • I typically prefer to have my players 1/2 the post with a hand in the passing lane to prevent any easy post feeds. This prevents an easy seal over the top and our players do not get buried behind a strong post player.
    • In the event we do 3/4 or full front and the ball is fed, it is essential that our help is on the white line to take away any easy lob passes.
  7. When the shot goes up I rarely watch the ball (The crowd will tell you what happened). Instead focus on watching your players to see if all five guys block out and crash the boards.

As I think back to my time at the University of Florida, I have to imagine I am one of the most fortunate manager/graduate assistants to ever come out of a Division 1 program; I was able to learn from 6 current Division 1 head coaches. I am forever grateful to them and the numerous other assistants who helped teach and mentor me into the coach that I am today. As always, if you have any questions about anything I have written about please do not hesitate to shoot me an email.

2 on 2 Double Contest

Need a drill to help teach your players how to move to and from helpside to closing out? This drill is perfect for just that.

2on2Keep bouncin…

Closing Out with Urgency

The #1 key to closing out is knowing who you are closing out to. Many times players just focus in on who they will be guarding in the scouting report. However, through the course of the game it is possible that they could end of guarding any position 1-5 after scrambling/rotating on defense. For this reason, it is essential that every single player on your team knows each player on the scouting report. Are you closing out to a shooter, a player prone to shot fakes and penetration, non shooter, etc?

Closing out is a special technique that requires several actions to occur simultaneously in order to be effective.

1. Squeaky feet: When closing out, it is essential to have squeaky shoes/choppy feet. Closing out flat-footed and/or landing on both feet by lunging out to the offense will leave you standing in concrete and punish the rest of your team on defense. By chopping your feet/squeaking your shoes, this ensures that you will be on your toes and ready to move in any direction.

2. High Hand(s): As you are closing out and chopping your feet, you also need to have your hand(s) high. Some coaches prefer both hands while others prefer one hand high to prevent an uncontested shot and one hand lower to get a hand in the pass lane. While you need to have a guideline, I think it is what is most comfortable for the player. If he/she does not feel as “athletic” closing out with both hands high, let them close out with one hand high.

Additionally, some coaches like to teach contesting with the opposite arm of the shooter (ie-If the shooter is right-handed, contest with your left-hand…if the shooter is left-handed, contest with your right-hand).

In my opinion, as long as you effectively contest every shot that is a success.

3. Butt Down: We all know that the lower you are in basketball (on offense & defense) the more effective/quicker you will be. As you are chopping your feet and throwing your hands up, your butt should be dropping to the floor.

4. Chest Out: Chopping your feet, getting your hands high, and getting your butt down are great, but those three pieces are useless unless your chest is sticking out (up in athletic position). You don’t want to close out bent over…occupy as much space as possible!

5. Closeout Length: A very common question players ask, “How far do I close out to my man”? This all depends on the player, I typically teach that you should be no more than an arm’s length away from your man. Meaning, if you are standing in front of your man and put your arm out, just your finger tips should be grazing their jersey. This will give you enough space to prevent getting blown by, while being close enough to contest a shot without fouling. Your players may then say, “But coach, he CAN’T shoot”. While this is true and I do agree with sagging a little off of a Shaq type player who is 15+ feet from the rim, you never want to leave someone completely wide open to shoot or have open passing lanes.

Additionally, if your man is beyond the 3-point, I teach keeping your heals on the 3-point line. In today’s game there are not very many “pure” shooters who have extreme depth. However, if you are playing against a Stephen Curry type player, then you should adjust this space accordingly.

Below are a couple of drills that help teach the necessity of closing out with an urgency.

“Circle the Wagons”

Start the drill by placing all 5 players around the perimeter and give them a ball, place their defender in the lane.

On the first whistle have the defense start foot-fire (i.e.-quick feet, choppy feet, etc). On the second whistle have them closeout to their man yelling “BALL, BALL, BALL…”. Have your offensive players  perform several of the progressions below:

1. Move the ball around and make the defense trace the ball with their hands.
2. Jab step forward, left, and right and make sure the defense is adjusting their stance’s accordingly.
3. Shot fake. Have the defense yell “SHOT” and have them turn and Box Out.
4. Allow the offense to take ONE dribble either left or right (More than one dribble could cause players to run into each other)
5. Add all five together.

Once everyone has been on offense and defense, take the balls away from every offensive player so only a coach has the ball. It is very unusual that you closeout on defense in a controlled manner, so lets add some movement. The defensive players will now slide in an athletics stance around the perimeter of the lane pointing to their man  and communicating verbally by saying “I have Mike, I have Dan, I have Nick…” each time they move in front of a new man. If only one player fails to communicate or point, start the drill over.

Once they have circled once or twice (or you are satisfied with their communication), have the coach throw the ball to any of the 5 offensive players on the court and have your players close out accordingly (getting into the proper help-side defense). Have the offense pass the ball around holding onto the ball for at least 3 seconds to allow the defense to fully rotate properly.

Once everyone has been on offense and defense, make the drill Live. I would recommend placing about 20 seconds up on the clock for each possession. The defense has to get five CONSECUTIVE stops (No points or fouls) in order to get on offense.  Additionally, if you are not satisfied with their effort, start the drill over. To make it competitive, make the loser run a suicide or similar running exercise.

“3-2 Scramble”

Place an offensive player on each wing and one at the top of the key, two defenders in the lane in a tandem, and have a Coach with a ball.

When the coach pounds the ball into the floor (a hard dribble) or blows their whistle the defense starts foot fire. The coach then passes to one of the three offensive players. Any pass to the wing is taken by the bottom defender as the top defender sinks to fill the lane.

The offense should pass every 3 seconds (NO DRIBBLING OR CUTS BY OFFENSE).

Once everyone has been on defense, add one more offensive and defensive player to create a “4-3 Scramble”. Have the offense pass the ball around (holding for three seconds). Then give each player 2-3 dribbles to practice help & recover situations. Note: when a player is more than one pass away they are not allowed to basket cut.

There are many drills to use to practice closing out on defense but these are two of my favorites that I think are the most effective.

Keep bouncing…

E.L.C. – Early, Loud, & Continuous on Defense

Ask any basketball coach in the world what they think is one of the most important factors to having a GREAT defensive team, and I would bet they will mention “Communication” somewhere in their explanation. While knowing your rotations, knowing personnel, and playing solid fundamental defense are truly key components; Communication is vital in order to become a great defensive Team. I have been fortunate to coach at all levels of basketball (except professionally) in my young career, and at every level it seems one of the hardest things to teach is the importance of communication on defense. Now I know this is partly due to the fact that young players don’t think it’s “cool” to communicate on defense. However, I also feel that this is due to the lack of habits being formed at young ages.

Websters Dictionary defines habits: an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary. If coaches began preaching the 9681868importance of communication to grade school players and everyone began to do it, would it then become “cool” by the time they reached middle or high school and then college? Constant communication is enforced at the highest levels of basketball. One of those enforcers is the new head coach at the University of Wyoming, Larry Shyatt. For those very few of you who do not know Coach Shyatt, he is an absolute Defensive Guru (He is the Tom Thibodeau of college basketball). During his time at the University of Florida, he introduced a three letter acronym that was preached almost on a daily basis: E.L.C. This stood for Early, Loud, & Continuous.

EARLY: Always do your work Early. Whether it is communicating a pick & roll, off the ball screening, or flares, the earlier you can communicate to your teammates the better. If the player you are guarding is sprinting into a pick & roll, you need to be communicating as soon as possible to your teammate guarding the ball so they can adjust their stance and not get smashed by the screener and give up easy points. A great analogy to give your players; If you are driving down the interstate at 70 MPH, would you rather me tell you that the exit is coming up soon, or tell you to exit as soon as you drive by the off-ramp??

LOUD: This should not need that long of an explanation. Whether you are in a high school gym of about 300 people or a game in the NBA finals with 20,000 screaming fans, you have to be loud in your communication. It is not enough to just talk in your everyday voice, you need to YELL your communication so everyone on the floor can hear you.

CONTINUOUS: So I communicated Early and Loud. However, my teammate still did not hear me. Your communication needs to be Continuous. Coach Shyatt instilled the Rule of 3, you had to repeat everything at least 3 times. Meaning, if you are guarding a pick & roll, it isn’t good enough to just yell “Blitz”; you had to yell “Blitz! Blitz! Blitz!” Another key teaching word you can add to this acronym is Effective. This is especially important for younger players. In order for communication to be Effective, you need to give your teammate as much information Early, Loud, & Continuous as possible. Meaning, it isn’t good enough to just yell “Screen! Screen! Screen!”. Your teammate needs to know from which direction it is coming and how we are guarding the screen (i.e.-Are we showing, blitzing, leveling, jamming, etc).

Bulls vs KnicksOne example is this; Carlos Boozer is sprinting into a pick & roll with Derrick Rose, as dangerous as Rose is, I would prefer to get the ball out of his hands as soon as possible. As Boozer is sprinting into it, his defender needs to be yelling “Screen right (or left), Blitz, Blitz Blitz!”. This should result in the big and the guard trapping Rose and forcing him to get rid of the ball. If you continue to have players who refuse to communicate, tell them to watch the Chicago Bulls on tv. No one in the NBA communicates louder on defense than Joakim Noah. They don’t even have to turn the volume up that loud to hear Noah instructing everyone on the floor. It’s no coincidence, he got his degree in E.L.C. from Larry Shyatt.

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