How should I teach the Read & React?
That question finds its way to me a lot. And, my frustrated answer is this:
You have to run the Read & React in order to improve at the Read & React.
Period. You can’t get good at something that you’re not willing to commit to. You can’t get good at something unless you’re willing to plow through the bad times and growing pains of learning something new. That applies to everything, and it applies here as well.
There, I feel better! And, now to the steps.
Step 1: Teach the 3-player reaction drills for the layers you want to cover.
Commit to running each drill for a few minutes at the beginning of every practice. The 3-player drills maximize the number of reps that each player gets and carve the habits into their muscle memory. Without the Reaction Habits, there is no Read & React Offense and understanding it is not good enough, each player has to internalize the habits – the drills are the quickest way to do that.
If you chose 10 drills covering the layers you were working on and spent 90 seconds on each, that would be the first 15 minutes of practice. I would integrate my warm-up, skill development, and shooting practice into that 15 minutes. And, if I only had 15 minutes to practice, those 10 drills would be the agenda.
Step 2: Get repetition with 5 vs 0.
Your team should be able to Pass & Cut without taking a shot and without messing up. Once they are capable of that, then you can begin to add layers. Your team should now work on stitching the previous layers together with the same goals – no shots and no mistakes.
Give each group 5 minutes. If you have access to more goals, then get groups working simultaneously and train them longer. This could account for another 15 minutes of practice.
By the way, there’s no need to move on to the next step before perfection is achieved at this step. If your team can’t successfully run a layer without defense, adding defense will just lead to frustration.
Step 3: Move to 5 vs 5 with Dummy Defenders.
Do this with only the layers that have been perfected in Step 2. If you are developing Layer 3, but it isn’t perfect yet, then in this step work only on Layers 1 and 2.
In this section, the offense cannot take a shot and the defense cannot touch the ball.
I would spend a minimum of 15 to 20 minutes on this section. Why? The half court is where most of the game is played on both offense and defense. You can sharpen both your half-court offense and half-court defense simultaneously right here.
Step 4: Add the 5 vs 5 Deflection game or something similar.
This is “semi-live” and I don’t need to explain it. Look on the DVD! I explained it and demonstrated it in almost every layer. Spend 5 minutes with each group on offense and defense. Again, two birds with one stone.
Step 5: Now you’re ready to test the offense 5 vs 5 Live.
With that said, be prepared to take a step back if their cohesion falls apart. I’m not saying that it has to be perfect. It’s not going to be perfect for a while. But if players “freeze” and don’t know where to go with each action, then you must take a step backwards and drill more. It’s hard to say how much time to spend going live in the half-court. Since I don’t know your level, for this example, let’s say 10 minutes.
Total time so far: about 1 hour. Now you have the remaining practice time to work on those other things that your teams needs: Transition, Press Break, Out of Bound, more Defense, just to name a few.
You cannot get good at something that’s repeated for only 5 or 10 minutes per practice. The Read & React must become what you do when you play offense. It can’t be something you “run”; it must become how you play – all. the. time.