How do analytics help to scout and develop players?
This article will consist of my way of using analytics in player development. The article will be broken down into 3 parts. I would like to start by talking about scouting players and what analytics I use to break down a player’s skill. From there we will go in to working with players during the season and working with players in the off-season because these are two different things.
As a player development coach, you don’t have a big influence on what players you’ll get on the team. Mainly the head coach and management decide on the players that you’re going to work with during the season. So as soon as you here what player will join the team it’s time to will dive into the stats he made the last couple of seasons. While looking at those stats I’m always looking for ‘’trends’’. The stats he consistently made during multiple seasons with the least amount of variation within the different rules of basketball (NCAA, FIBA, G-League, NBA).
After looking at the statistics on paper there are always 2/3 stats that grab your attention. Both positively and negatively. The most interesting thing is figuring out why players are doing something right or are unable to succeed in something. For a player development coach, it’s the challenge to get to work on the ‘’negative’’ stats while pushing the positive stats to another level.
When going from here I want to figure out the reason behind the stats. I use video performance software to add video footage to the statistics. I’ve been using InStat Scout to breakdown these stats. But you can use whatever program you want of course. I want to look at what the players are doing, why they’re doing it, and how they’re doing it. This gives you more background information about the player’s stats. For instance, if they’re shooting an average of 20% of 3PT range and you look at just catch and shoot 3’s the player is at 35%. This will mean both the shooting of the dribble and shooting of ISO situations will have a significantly lower percentage. If you would put that player in a catch and shoot role it will work out fine, but as soon as the player needs to create for himself is a different game.
This will show you that there is more behind the percentages. When a player has a good 2PT percentage it doesn’t mean he’s a great 2PT shooter or he’s incredibly good at making floaters. Maybe it has more to do with the player only took 2 shots just inside the 3-point line the whole season and all his other shots have been easy lay-ups. Just looking at percentages will give you a twisted vision of reality. It’s good to look further than the regular percentages and dig a little bit deeper into the percentages for specific shot types.
Those will translate better to getting to know the game and role the player eventually will be playing. That’s why it’s really important to know what the head coach will expect from the player. Getting a clear role will play a major key in setting up the player development program. Maybe you’ve figured out you can push the long 2-point % up pretty easily but the head coach wants the player to take a 3 or finish at the rim.
Now we’ll go a little bit further in-depth on how we implement the player development program in season and offseason because there is a major difference. During the season there will be approximately 2 to 3 hours a week depending on the game schedule. During the offseason, there is way more time to implement the offseason program because there is less time to be involved with team workouts. It is important to know as a player development coach there is a certain amount of time you can play with. During the season it’s way more important for team performance to go up instead of the individual player to get better. During the offseason it is time to work on the player and work on the player’s game, it’s important to keep close contact with the head coach to figure out where he wants the player to improve.
If we’re playing two games a week which will consist of mid-week FIBA Europe Cup road game. There isn’t as much time to plan individual workouts. The team will be traveling on Tuesday and Thursday so that will give us only three days to plan individual sessions. If the schedule tends to be busier the head coach will slim down the number of team practices during the week. For the player development coach, it’s really important to look at the level of fitness of the player. Eventually, it will all come down to the player performing well during the games.
Once the players still feel ready to go you can start working out workouts normally go from 20 up to 60 minutes during the season. It’s important to talk with the players how they feel about the way they have been playing the last couple of weeks and figure out the way the head coach feels about this. If the player says the shot hasn’t been feeling well the last couple of days and the head coach will tell you that he needs the player to be shooting the ball well during the games, it’s important to do a lot of shooting so the player will see the ball goes into the hoop.
During the season it’s very important to work quality over quantity. You could be doing a 20 minutes workout where the player sees the ball go into the hoop a lot. Which will make him feel better and more confident in taking game shots. You can waste an hour well the player takes a lot of shots that are not game-specific and eventually will result in the player being tired and not being able to perform during the game.
Looking at game film is a great way to make a more efficient practice. As soon as you get on the court the player can work on the specific movements and shots. This will result in a 30-minute session over a 60-minute session, so the player feels ready to go when the games are there.
Due to the unfortunate circumstances of the coronavirus, we’re blessed with the longest off-season in ages. Players have lots of time to work on their own game instead of the team’s game.
The important thing is to create a plan and not just free roam while you’re doing the workouts. Look at what the player has been doing well with your team and former teams and what he can do better. Also have conversations with the head coach where you need the player to get better. One of the most important things is asking where the player wants to improve as soon as the player backs your plan and you’re both on the same page the workouts will be more efficient.
Because there are no games you can go from 6 up to 10 hours a week of individual workouts. This will give you all the time you need but don’t fall for the trap of quantity. It’s still highly important that they only work on the stuff they will be using games.
During off-season I will work with touch-ups and points of significant improvement. It is important to know the difference between the two. Touchups are small tweaks that we need to adjust during all skill workouts. This could be balance, footwork, or something completely different like touch in both hands. These are things you will use in all skills of basketball.
You’ll analyze the player’s game and figure out what is most needed to change. Figure out why players are struggling so you can help them with getting better. Find the why, is it footwork, mechanics, rhythm, or shot selection. It can always be a combination of multiple things.
What will be very useful during these times of corona especially. Is studying players that have a similar build and play the same position as the player does. Study why are they’re getting shots off, are able to finish at the rim, or have advantages over their opponents.
It’s not about straight copying, those moves but you need to apply them to the player’s skill set and body type. This will be the translation from the player you use as an example to the player you’re working with. It’s important to breakdown the moves, last summer I was watching a workout of Kaza Kajami-Keane with coach Nathaniel Mitchell of the Canadian men’s basketball team Where they dedicated a full hour of working on a specific one hand 2 feet push floater.
They didn’t go straight into a full-speed drive with help defense. They used the first 30 minutes to perfect the footwork, balance, arm, and the way the hand had to extend before they even added dribbles, on-ball defense, or help defense. You cannot expect the player to go full speed and perform it in the way you want him to if you haven’t worked on the specific steps you need to take to implement this move.
Keep studying, translating an implementing these moves over the summer and you’ll be ready for the next season before you know it.
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