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Coaching the Read & React

In the previous post, we discussed utilizing the inside-out game with the Read & React: how there is always an inside threat in the Read & React, whether the ball is thrown into the post or not. What we didn't mention, though, is the sure fire way to block that inside threat: lazy (or uninformed) post players. As a coach, you cannot allow your post player in a 4 OUT or post players in a 3 OUT to stand in the mid post for entire possessions. Whoever plays in the post, whether it's a designated post player or a cutter who has stopped in the lane, must be trained to use the weapons of the Read & React. Start with these four options:

This post was inspired by a thread in the Tribe Forum. Be sure to check out the forum and pick the brains of Read & React coaches from all over the world. I've always had an inside-out mentality when it comes to basketball. It makes sense, right? The defense is required first to protect the lane (hopefully forcing them to rotate and cheat to do so), which opens up the outside game because it's always easier to attack a recovering defender. But what if you don't have a strong inside presence? Basketball's traditional paradigm teaches us that to "go inside" means we need to have Post Players inside, hogging the lane, and scoring with drop-steps and hooks and dunks and high-low action, etc, as we run our offense through them. I can count on two fingers how many times I had a post player like that in my program. The good news is that you can get the same amount (if not more) inside-out action in 4 OUT or even 5 OUT. It sounds like a contradiction, but it isn't.

Here is the final installment of Rich Czeslawski's Bounce Off Drill Series. Check out Part 1 and Part 2 - together these three create a progression. You know how much we at Better Basketball love progressions! Rich doesn't just write for the Tribe either, he has his own blog, which is worth spending some time on. After running the 3-Player Drills, we move to our 5-on-0 Bounce Drill, which really reinforces the habit of Circle Movement and allows the player with the ball to work on the Bounce Off technique. We teach our “Bouncers” to reverse dribble (like a defensive slide) with their front shoulder pointed to the rim to protect the ball. Once they get to the new perimeter spot they square their shoulders so they are a threat to pass, shoot, or drive again.

5 on 0 Bounce Off Drill



Player 1 bounces from right corner to left corner, and then finishes with a Baseline Drive.
 Each player is the “Bouncer” once, and then we do the drill starting from the left corner, moving to the right. Bounce Off 5 Man Drill Frame 1Bounce Off 5 Man Drill Frame 2 Bounce Off 5 Man Drill Frame 3Bounce Off 5 Man Drill Frame 4 We finish each set with a Baseline Drive for good measure and Circle Move to the Shooting Windows.
Bounce Off 5 Man Drill Frame 5Bounce Off 5 Man Drill Frame 6 Everyone circle moves left on the baseline drive with the exception of the 2 who must stay home to be the Natural Pitch. This way, all of the Shooting Windows are covered: Safety Valve, 90 degree, 45 degree, and Natural pitch.

This is the second installment of a drill series by Rich Czeslawski designed to accelerate Circle Movement training by using the Bounce Off Dribble. You can find the first part of the series here.

Wing Bounce - Safety Valve Back Cut


The next 3-player drill we use in the series (which was very aptly foreshadowed in the Forum Comments by Rick after Part 1) is to run the Wing Bounce drill the other direction so that the player bouncing off is pulling a teammate into the Safety Valve spot.  We have the defender step over the Read Line for the Safety Valve Back Cut.  Do this on both sides of the floor as well as with the ball starting at the top of the key.

The Tribe is all about collaboration - that's why we have this site, to share ideas. As active coaches, you are constantly in the lab with the Read & React and because of that, you have the unique ability to come up with great options, drills, and thoughts. Today, we start a three part Bounce Drill Series from Rich Czeslawski that he used to solidify Circle Movement habits - something a lot of Tribers struggle with (you can see another of his posts here). And, if you're uncertain as to what the Bounce Off is, it is explained in more detail here and here.

Bounce Drill Series: 3 Man Drills

Since our basketball epiphany and subsequent installation of Read and React two years ago, we have been able to very quickly and easily create the habits necessary to run the Read and React as a free flowing offense. The elusive “Great White Buffalo” for us has been Layer 4 – Circle Movement. For whatever reason, our players’ natural response to a teammate driving to the basket is to turn to stone, anchor their feet and hope the ball will be kicked out to them so they can take what is likely to be a contested jumper. They fully understand the benefit Circle Movement provides in increasing the amount of time they have to shoot as their defender must find them and recover to a new spot after helping, but the habit hasn’t quite taken root as quickly as others. After watching the movie Inception, and toying with the idea of using dream extraction to plant the habit in their subconscious minds, we decided we just didn’t have it in the budget to go that route and went searching for other answers. Our far less expensive solution was born out of a topic introduced by Rick Torbett at a Read and React clinic we hosted in May. Rick showed our players the merits of “bouncing off” when you drive and can’t get all the way to the rim. The idea is to keep your dribble and “bounce off” to the perimeter spot left open by the teammate circle moving on your initial drive. This concept has evolved into a series of drills we work on every day and has improved our Circle Movement more in two weeks than anything else we have tried in the previous two years! We start with two 3 Player Drills and although they are both shown on the right side of the court, we always drill on both sides in practice.

One of my favorite parts of the Read & React is that a coach can infuse it with his own personality. There are a ton of ways the Offense can be adjusted to your style of play, your strengths and weaknesses, your personnel, etc. In fact, this blog has a bunch of ideas to help you do just that. But, those adjustments must happen within the framework of the Offense or you slowly move away from the Read & React and back into traditional motion offense. So, where does the X-Cut question fall? Let's go through it. In the Read & React the very first rule that you learn is: If you pass, you must basket cut. Simple. The problem some coaches spot within the specificity of that rule is that now you can no longer pass and screen away. And, eventually you start to miss the screen away. So, a coach who misses the screen away and loves the Read & React (these are not mutually exclusive) gets an idea. What if I changed the Pass & Cut rule just a bit? What if after you pass you could either basket cut or make an X-cut with the player one spot away? That would achieve the screen away and send someone to the basket. And, best of all, it seems like it won't mess anything up with the other layers of the offense. That question has created a rousing debate in a couple of forum threads over the last few months and I thought it was just about time to post an official answer on the Tribe. (You can also read Rick's thoughts which delve into the difference between Read & React and Motion Offense here). I discussed this with Rick the other day and we came up with the following response.

You can do anything you want with your post players as long as they react correctly to dribble penetration. We've said that before and it remains true. But, that leaves a lot of options. I thought it would be helpful to give you three that I would consider using if I had a 3 OUT team (or, if I had a team that occasionally flowed into a 3 OUT). 1. Place one post on the ball-side high post and the other on the weak-side low post. The High Post can be given rules in this situation: screen for cutters and shape up for the ball or set a ball screen every other pass (really, this can be whatever you want). The Low Post simply stays opposite the ball (allowing space for cutters to get to the basket) and whenever the High Post receives a shape up pass, ducks into the lane looking for the Hi-Lo.

One of the defenses that Read & React coaches sometimes struggle against is a sagging man to man. And, it makes sense. If you don't have shooters, a defense can interfere with all the cutting and penetration of the Read & React by playing off and protecting the paint. But, as I'm sure you've already guessed, there are solutions. These came from coaches like you in the forum and have been used in real games in real situations. Thanks to Mat11, Rob K, rpt, Rick, and rgriffin921 for the ideas. Pin & Skip: A Pin & Skip sends a message to the defense, "if you want to sag, then you will have to navigate a screening situation. Help and sag if you want, but your defensive life will be much more difficult". But, you don't have to shoot on the skip pass. You don't even have to score on that action. It's designed to move the defense out of their comfortable little box and hopefully open up some seams that can be exploited by other actions. A skip pass recipient can drive immediately against the close out, feed the post and make one of four post cuts, make a perimeter pass and cut, Power Dribble, Reverse Dribble, or Skip the pass back across if another Pin Screen has been set. Try the Pin & Skip, force the defense to navigate screens, and look to score with the next action. Of course, if you have the shooters, knocking down the 3 is the simplest option.
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