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The Read and React Offense
by Rick Torbett, Lead Instructor, BetterBasketball

The following is an excerpt from an article Coach Rick Torbett wrote on the Read and React Offense™, a system 2008 NCAA Champion Coach Bill Self calls "the future of developmental basketball."

Most Plays don't work anyway (or How I reached my turning point):

By the mid-to-late-90’s, I had been coaching for nearly 20 years, and three incidents came together to create a turning point in my thinking.

  1. After a rather average season, my assistant coach asked me if I was happy. I replied, “Not particularly.” He asked what I would do differently if I could scrap our entire program and start all over. I said that I would teach our kids how to play the entire game by principle. He then asked, “Why don’t you do it?” The honest answer was: I didn’t know how. I had a lot of pieces, a lot of 2-man and 3-man principles, but not the entire thing. The whole thing seemed like a pretty tall order: to create a seamless offensive system that would encompass transition offense, man-to-man offense, and zone offense without contradiction, and without being limited to only one “set” (5-Out or 4-Out or 3-Out), and without needing a certain type of players, or players ideal for a particular style of play. (Stay tuned, the Read and React does it!)
  2. Using the previous season’s videotapes, I charted all the points we scored from free throws, offensive rebounds, fast breaks, set plays, broken plays, etc., and found an unsettlingly ratio. 80% of our points came from broken plays, transition, and other PRINCIPLED basketball. We only scored the way our set plays were designed about 20% of the time. But in practice, the ratio was the opposite: we spent 80% of our offensive time on set plays and less than 20% of the time on PRINCIPLED basketball. I had to ask myself why I was spending 80% of our time on only 20% of our point production?
  3. At about the same time, I experienced some success with a team built around six players who played together from 7th grade to 12th grade. We went to the Final 4 their last two years. Were they talented? Yes, but not to the extent you might think. Only two went on to play on the college level. Their real talent was their coordinated effort. They “knew” each other. They moved like a school of fish. Was I responsible for this? Had I suddenly become a coaching genius? No. Our success was due mostly to the fact that they had played together for six years. In fact, each year they were in the program was characterized by fewer plays and more principles.

Why don't these players know more when they get to my level?

Why do the players entering my program have such an incomplete set of skills? Why don’t they know more? Why do I have to start all over with every new player?

Let’s step back and take a look at the big picture: In the USA, there is no unifying system of teaching the game of basketball to players from the youth up. And because of that, a 10-year-old might have 10 or more different coaches by the time he or she is 18. This can create at least four problems. And I can speak confidently about these problems because I’ve done each one at some point in my career. Here they are:

  1. Each coach might teach different things that don’t build on each other from year to year, and sometimes the things taught might even contradict each other.
  2. Some coaches teach too much too early and overwhelm the kids. The players become “Jack of all trades and masters of none.”
  3. Some teach only what was taught to them by their former coaches. This would be just fine if their former coaches were great teachers of the game. But what if they weren’t? A poor technique might be passed on from generation to generation just because “it’s what my coach taught me.”
  4. Most of the time, each coach starts over and tries to teach the game from the ground up. But with time limitations, each coach can only get so far. Therefore, the player only develops so far.

So, instead of each coach at each level starting over and teaching the game from the ground up, I have a VISION of coaches, at each level, standing on the shoulders of those before them, using the Read and React System.

Click here to read the entire article.

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