Coaching involves performing a number of tasks. However, the principal task is to teach players how to play. It follows, therefore, that before a coach can teach, he/she must have a clear idea of what to teach. That is, the things that players should be doing on offense and defense.
Because basketball is a team game, a coach should have an approach that will help the players to play effectively as a team. To play as a team, individual players must integrate and co-ordinate their efforts. For example, in effective team play, a player will shoot from the perimeter only when teammates are in position to rebound.
What is the most effective approach to help players to play as a team?
Consider how individual performers in other group activities integrate and coordinate their efforts. For example, in an orchestra, all the musicians have the same music score. In ballet, the dancers perform to a choreography. In a drama, the actors have a script. A music score, a choreography, and a script serve as a framework that helps individuals to perform as a team.
To integrate and coordinate their efforts, each basketball player, therefore, should perform in a manner that is consistent with an overall coherent team framework for offense and defense. In a well-designed framework or system of play, each player should know at all times not only his/her particular tasks, but also those of each teammate. For example, during a defensive rebound, the other players should know where to go on the court and what to do when they get there. Just one player not doing his/her job results in a breakdown of team play.
Although the actions and movement of players on the court should be consistent with the framework, the quality of their performance will likely vary. Players with greater athletic and decision-making abilities and with a commitment to striving for excellence will perform at a higher level than players with lesser abilities and commitment.
What makes a framework an effective vehicle for helping players to play as team is that it is conceptual, that is, made up of ideas that govern play. Players can share these ideas. It is this sharing that makes it possible for players to play as a team. For example, in an offensive framework, executing a shot cues some players to rebound and others to provide defensive balance.
Therefore, a coach who is committed to helping players play effective team basketball needs to develop an overall, coherent system of play. Included in this system of play or framework are all the individual skills and one-on-one play options which help players to perform their team tasks proficiently.
For an example of such a conceptual offensive and defensive framework visit Conceptual Basketball.