Recapping Monday night's NBA Coaching Clinic with Basketball England's Coaching Lead Brian Aldred

Continuing the series of recaps on our trio of NBA Coaching Clinics, we chatted once again with Basketball England’s Delivery Manager Brian Aldred on what jumped out at him from another fantastic session at CitySport, London. The session covered Dynamic 1v1, it’s concepts and application.



Monday evening’s clinic built on the concepts explored in Sunday’s session with a focus on what Basketball Canada have termed the “Dynamic 1v1”. Canada noted that because of the way the modern game is played at speed (because of the shot clock rule) how do we teach players to start to make their decisions before they receive the ball? Their answer lies in Dynamic 1v1.

Coach Dawn Smyth went through some of the research and insight behind the concept and delved into how loading and de-loading introduced yesterday can change what phase of the skill is being worked on.

Coach Smyth then discussed the concept of ‘GAPS’ on offence when introducing players to cooperative play on attack. She started by having players understand where the key areas in the offensive half court are e.g. point, short corner, wing etc. finding a spot and then cutting to a new spot to create either a single, double or triple gap (spaces) This is the reverse of the defensive shell drill where we teach the defensive players to recognise being 1,2 or 3 passes away from the ball. It served as a really solid fundamental drill to what was going to be built on throughout the session.

Gaps help give players more time to make a decision. The initial drill was then developed into full court 5v0 where players ran full court into the key areas to create a combination of spaces e.g. 2 double gaps or 1 double and 1 triple gap.

Coach Mike MacKay commented that when he wants to introduce new concepts or principles, he includes these in the warm up whilst players’ minds are fresh and more receptive to new ideas and additions. A simple one, but something that is easily forgotten about.

Also, another good teaching point was to encourage teammates when not active in the drill to provide feedback to those players who were involved. This allows for rotation in helping to reinforce learning and understanding. Think about where you position your assistants so they can provide instant feedback. What do you want them to focus their feedback on as players progress through a drill or activity? Can your players also be involved in this?

Coaches should also note that as players move through the learning process of a drill, skill or action in training, their decisions will not be clean or as we imagine. This is all part of the process.

Coach MacKay then began to progress the fundamental dynamic 1v1 concepts by examined how coaches can develop a player’s reaction to being neutralised (good defence) and what to do when they don’t have a dynamic 1v1 situation. He suggests that often, players will just start a dribble with no purpose. As a result, discussion moved into the concept of ‘space pivoting’, using a strong pivot to create space between the defender to increasing attacking options.

Further progression the included commentary on the “5 reads”, a clear way of teaching offensive reading of a defence depending on the position of the ball and feet in relation to the defender upon receipt of a pass. Coach MacKay suggested that we should be teaching the curl and crossover moves early in the process of player development as these take the longest for a player to understand and master in execution, especially in games.

In summary, the 5 reads upon receiving the ball are:

  • Curl
  • Crossover
  • Backdoor
  • Shot
  • Space pivot

Coach MacKay and Coach Smyth then showed how this learning would progress from 1v0 into 2v2 and 3v3.

Towards the end of the session, Coach MacKay provided a great example of how coaches should use language that players can relate to when discussing ‘Ghost Cuts’. A creative element within offensive plays where an offensive player is allowed to ‘disappear and reappear’ in a scary spot for the defence (e.g. under the basket or in a corner, etc). There are many words or phrases for what this could be called, but his terminology around disappearing like a ghost then reappearing and “scaring” the defender was something that could resonate with many players, especially younger ones or those less advanced in their understanding of the game.

Monday’s clinic was the 2nd of three planned clinics this week as part of the activities relating to the NBA London Game 2019. We’ll have a recap from Brian on tonight’s final session tomorrow morning.