Big thanks to Kyle Ohman of for this guest post on coaching basketball offense…

We have all heard the phrase, “Defense wins championships.” This may be true but if you can’t put the basketball in the hoop then you most likely won’t win either. Having been able to play at the collegiate and professional level, as well as be a head coach I have been able to be around different coaching styles, as well as try to develop my own.

I have had 6 different coaching staffs in my playing career and all of them have had a different coaching philosophy. For the most part they were all pretty successful in their own way. This means that there are different ways to be successful. You just need to find the one that works best for you and your team.

As a head coach the first thing you need to do is decide on what your offensive coaching philosophy is going to be and then stick with it. This doesn’t mean that you can’t make adjustments to your strategy. What it means is don’t flip flop between 5 different styles of play just because one might not have immediate success. If you lose 2 games in a row don’t throw the entire playbook out the window and develop a completely new game plan.

Trust your system and continue to work to get better at it.

The first thing you need to do when deciding on what style of offense you are going to run is to look at your players. Here are some of the types of questions that that every coach should ask themselves.

  • What position does my best player play?
  • Do I have shooters?
  • Does my team have a high basketball IQ?

If you are a college coach or you coach a professional team you will most likely recruit the players that you need for your system. As a high school or smaller college coach you may not have this luxury.

This means that you should be asking yourself these types of questions each year before the season starts. There is no point in having your team run up and down and shoot a bunch of 3’s if your best player is 6’10 and a beast in the post. Don’t run the Princeton offense if your team can’t remember the play or doesn’t know how to read the defense and take what it gives. Set your team up for success by choosing the best offense for them.

Every player plays better after they have hit a couple of shots, it is just the way it is. As the coach it is your job to have plays that will get a specific player a shot where they are comfortable shooting the ball. I can still remember the plays in college that were run for me to get a good shot.

Even if I didn’t make the shot I knew that my coaches had confidence in me. If you see one of your better players struggling to get a good look then help them out. You can’t do this if you haven’t prepared ahead of time specific plays to run. If your best player is primarily a catch and shoot guy, then you need to have plays that will run him off of several off ball screens. Put your players in positions where they are comfortable scoring the basketball.

There will be games when you have a specific strategy for the game and you might use an offense that you haven’t used the whole year, and then might not use again after that. I played for Liberty University in college and we played Clemson one year. They wanted to press, trap, and get the pace of the game up because that is what they did best.

We also liked to get up and down the floor and shoot a lot of threes. However instead of playing into their hands we slowed the game down and ran an offense that we only used that one game. If not for a few mistakes in the last couple minutes we would have won the game. My point though is this, without that offense we probably lose by 15 or 20. Know your opponent and do your best to counter what they do best.

Ultimately a good offense is going to come down to the players and making shots, but it is your job as the coach to give your players the absolute best chance for success. Having the right plays, system, etc. will allow your team to be comfortable and give them confidence in the offense. Players that have confidence in the offense and understand it are far more likely to take and make good shots.