What’s Your Basketball Genre?

By Randy Sherman

Counseling Coaches Series: Basketball Coaching, like music, has genres. You don’t have to know or even pretend to care about all of them.

(Note: This blog originally appeared at radiusathletics.com and is reposted with permission.)

Imagine you have a friend, and this friend is into classical music. He can tell Beethoven from Bach within the first few notes. He has recordings of everything from Vivaldi to Chopin on his favorite listening device. His home is filled with the sweet sounds of classical music every waking hour.

He gets tickets to every symphony performance in his city and even travels to New York or Boston to hear special performances. By any definition this friend is a music lover, right?

But this friend could not tell Jay-Z from Tupac or Luke Bryan from George Strait. Ask him who the best rock band of all time is and he could not tell you if it was the Beatles or U2 because he is only vaguely familiar with either.

Classical music is his genre and to reach the depth of knowledge he has of the classics, he simply did not have the time nor headspace for other genres of music. There is simply too much music being made in genres ranging from Techno to Blues to know it all.

We’d have no problem imagining that our classical music-loving friend would not like nor care about Hip-Hop. He knows what he knows and likes what he likes. He is OK with being a classical music lover. You would not ask him to help you with a music trivia question unless it was about classical music. In which case he would be the only person you would ask.

Basketball and Basketball Coaching also has genres. And like music, there is too much info out there to be an expert on all of it. Developing your “Basketball Genre” is vital.

Imagine for a moment that all the written and digital information out there on different basketball strategies, offenses, defenses, drills, plays, sets, zone offenses, man-to-man offenses, full court presses, half court traps and BLOBs and SLOBs were all in hard copies and stored in one single place. How big would that facility need to be?!

If we stood in front of this facility and I said, “To be a good coach you have to know all this stuff.” What would your response be? Impossible.

Here’s something that may sound shocking – not only do you not have to know it all, you don’t even have to pretend to care about it all. You are not missing out.

Coaches often feel like they are falling behind their peers if they do not know it all (Or pretend to be trying to know it all.) In actuality, you will fall behind your peers if you endeavor to know it all.

Pick a genre, a more manageable sized slice of all this information and know it well – very well. And more importantly, be able to teach it to your players very well (which only comes from knowing it well).

Your “Basketball” genre – ball screen offense and man defense, for example – now serves as your filter. It helps you focus on applicable material and tune out info that is not applicable. You no longer have to buy every new instructional DVD or attend every session of the next clinic you go to. You cannot know it all and you most certainly cannot use it all anyways. So you can ignore non-applicable material stress free!

But you may well want to consume any and all materials that are in your genre. You study coaches and teams reflecting a similar genre as the one you have chosen. You develop a network of coaches who share the same genre. Deep knowledge of your chosen genre is the goal.

In counseling coaches, I often receive emails from coaches seeking resources on basketball tactics. Some of these emails are asking about tactics I know little to nothing about. My reply is “I don’t know, but here’s the email address to someone who does.”

This may seem crazy for someone who is branding their services as “a coach to coaches.” I am supposed to know it all, right? False. I know the things I know very well because I don’t know it all. Better stated, I know the things I know well because I didn’t try to know it all. There is not enough time. Giving planned neglect to much of basketball is exactly how a coach gains deep knowledge of a particular basketball genre.

One last analogy. In your first two years of college you study many subjects at an introductory level. You take a semester of Biology, a semester of Government and semester of History. General knowledge of many subjects is a good thing.

But to graduate from the university you have to pick a major. In your final years you study one subject deeply. Then you may go to graduate school and receive a master degree in that subject and some even go deeper and receive a doctorate.

Our friend has a doctorate in the classical music genre. He does not have to care about the new Brad Paisley album or wait in line for tickets when the Dave Matthews Band rolls through town. But he would not dream of missing the opening night of the symphony.

What’s your Basketball Genre?

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Randy Sherman is the owner and founder of Radius Athletics - a basketball coaching consulting firm - where he consults with basketball coaches at all levels on coaching philosophy, practice planning, Xs & Os and teaching a conceptual style of basketball. While a head basketball coach at the the interscholastic level, Sherman's teams won 197 games in nine seasons.
November 12, 2018 – Los Angeles, CA, U.S. – LOS ANGELES, CA – NOVEMBER 12: Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr looks on during a NBA game between the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Clippers on November 12, 2018 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire) (Credit Image: © Brian Rothmuller/Icon SMI via ZUMA Press)

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  1. Rob Garrett said:

    Hey coach I watched a lot of Texas Tech Men’s Basketball this season and really fell in love with their defensive. Do you have or know of any articles that break down their defensive concepts? I have a lot of their games that I’m able to go back and watch, but reading the concepts and then seeing it would really help me teach it next year. Thanks for the article above.