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Are You Focusing on the Right Layers?

The Pareto Principle (also known as the 80-20 Rule) is the law of the vital few, which states that for many events, 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Pareto noticed that 20% of the pea pods in his garden produced 80% of his peas. Other examples:

  • In business, it’s been noted that 80% of sales come from 20% of clients.
  • Most people wear 20% of their clothes (their favored clothes) 80% of the time.
  • We spend 80% of our time with 20% of our acquaintances.

I’m ready to add another 80-20 to the list:

80% of your offensive actions will come from 20% of the Read & React layers.

Why point this out?

Because the few layers that make up this 20% of the Read & React is a vital few, as the definition alludes to. The rest of the offense and the success of the remaining layers hinge upon how good your team can run the vital 20%.

The Vital Few Layers (20%)

Other than shooting, there are only two actions that can be performed with the ball: passing and dribbling. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the vital layers are:

  1. Pass & Cut (which includes understanding and using the Read Line).
  2. Dribble Penetration with Circle Movement for the perimeter players.
  3. Dribble Penetration with Basic Post Slides.
  4. Speed Dribble East-West (the “Dribble-At” action), which feeds Pass & Cut action.

The original Read & React was broken into 17 layers. Since then, my up-dated structure lists 20 teaching layers. (You’ll see them later in the summer of 2010).

4 out of 20 layers is, in fact, 20%.

However, I think the real percentage might be smaller.

Teams should concentrate on mastering two layers: Pass & Cut and Dribble Penetration Circle Movement. Without the discipline to spacing that these two layers afford, the rest of the Read & React actions are not as effective. The combination of these two affords a team the weapons to handle defensive pressure – particularly, perimeter defensive pressure. Let’s face it, if a defensive team can effectively pressure you on the perimeter, they can interrupt your offensive attack.

Other places I see the 80-20 Rule:

  • If a team spends 80% of early season practice time on the Read & React (leaving 20% for defense), then the latter half of the season can change to 20% Read & React and 80% of practice time on defense.
  • 80% of basketball actions on all levels fall into 20% of Read & React Layer categories.
  • The latter 80% of Read & React Layers tie up the remaining 20% of basketball actions into a completely coordinated offense.

Has anyone else spotted other aspects of the 80-20 rule as they relate to coaching basketball?


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about rick torbett

Rick Torbett has taught thousands of coaches to win more games through his innovative approach to the game. He has created powerful training for coaches at any level so they can coach their best and win more games.

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Read & React 5-Player Coordination Drills

Enter your email address to get an inside look at teaching the Read & React Offense with the drills in this free video.