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Coaching Tips from an NBA Legend

Long-time NBA coach Del Harris has shared some great tips concerning several different aspects surrounding the game of basketball. Check them out below and let us know what you think.

  • On offense, make them have to play all of us. This means to have ball and player movement–reduce the ball-stopping that too much 1-on-1 or post-up basketball requires.
  • 1 on 1 should happen very quickly, not take ten seconds of bouncing and turning.
  • Post-ups also are best done off of quick movements instead of from a lot of standing; and, the post play action should not be forced into a set defense.
  • MAKE THE EASY PLAY. This means to take the open shot, make the pass to the open man and to take the drive into an open slot. Avoid trying the spectacular and forced plays unless it is the only option due to time.


  • Push the ball into the front court every time you can.
  • Get the ball out of the net after scores and attack right away.
  • Look for the longer (advance) pass and to try to get a 3-on-2 or 2-on-21 advantage break if possible.
  • Get right into our secondary plays that are full court sets–they start in the backcourt and flow right into the attack in the front court. You only want to play half-court offense when you are forced to because the defense is already set and waiting for you.
    • Exceptions would be when you are using the clock or the momentum or pace of the game calls for a moment to slow down, collect yourself and execute a “need” play.

Our teams have won almost 90% of our games when we have shot 50% or more from the field. It is the most important statistic in winning basketball games, followed by the percentage the defense allows the opponent (WHICH NEEDS TO BE BELOW 45%).

REWARD THE POST PLAYER WHO GETS GOOD POSITION. On offense encourage to pass to open men in the paint–do not reward the post people with catches outside of the paint. Simply swing the ball and use another option if the post man loses the “battle for the paint.” Or, tell him to come out to set a pick/roll.

CUT HARD ON ALL CUTS. Floating on cuts jams the middle and allows the defense to rest and read the play.Mavericks V Lakers

THE MOST IMPORTANT PASS IS THE FIRST REVERSE PASS. The first reverse pass makes the defense have to shift. If you are trying to score off the drive, pass or quick shot too often on the first side of the offense, you are always going against the defense when it is its strongest. That first reverse pass established the team as a ball and player movement team and an unselfish one. It also shows the opponent that they are going to have to beat the entire team, not just the man with the ball.

FAKE A PASS, MAKE A PASS. While you do not have to do this every time, it is a good habit to learn. The fake pass tends to freeze the ballhandler’s defender. It also allows the ballhandler doing the faking an opportunity to read all situations. It gives him an opportunity to read whether to pass inside, drive, swing pass or to snap the pass back in the direction from which it came.

Thanks to Glenn Wilkes at Basketball’s Best for sharing these great coaching points that we have passed onto you.


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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.