I’ve been for­tu­nate to work for a cou­ple of coach­es who put an empha­sis on oppo­nent scout­ing. We broke scout­ing into three cat­e­gories: offense, defense and per­son­nel. Leading up to the sea­son, we’ll go in-depth into each of these areas, start­ing with the opponent’s defense.

The oppos­ing coach has the abil­i­ty to change their defen­sive approach for a par­tic­u­lar matchup. But in most cir­cum­stances, you’ll need to scout a few games to deter­mine how the oth­er team defends and which offense will give you the best chance for success.

There are five impor­tant ques­tions to ask when scout­ing an opponent’s defense.

1. What’s their pri­ma­ry defense?

In order to prac­tice how we’ll attack their scheme, we want to have an idea of what defense the oppos­ing team will use for a major­i­ty of the game. For exam­ple, if we’re play­ing a team that pri­mar­i­ly plays a 2 – 3 zone, we’ll spend an extra 15 – 30 min­utes each day prac­tic­ing zone offense. We’ll also adjust our indi­vid­ual offen­sive ses­sions to make sure our play­ers are work­ing on skills and shots they’d most like­ly need against that par­tic­u­lar defense.

2. How will they guard our actions?

Now we take break­ing down film a step fur­ther with a look at how they guard par­tic­u­lar actions we’d poten­tial­ly run against them. For exam­ple, if we’re a team that sets down-screens to cre­ate angles for our wings to score, we want to know how they’ll defend that action. Do they pig­gy­back that screen? If so, we know to work on curl­ing. Do they go third and avoid the screen? If so, we’ll work on fad­ing dur­ing our indi­vid­ual offen­sive ses­sions. We want our guys to have an idea of what to expect before the action occurs, so they can be pre­pared to take advan­tage of it.

3. Do they press?

Games against press­ing teams present sev­er­al ques­tions. We look to see if they’re in a man or zone press, if they’re try­ing to cre­ate turnovers or just try­ing to con­trol the tem­po and if you need to let your best pass­er inbound the ball. After those issues are addressed, we spend ample time in prac­tice work­ing on our press attack. While most high school scout teams can’t sim­u­late an opponent’s press, you can still take away the ele­ment of sur­prise and give your guys the best chance at being successful.

4. How do they guard base­line out-of-bounds plays?

Over the course of a game, a team usu­al­ly has between four and eight base­line out-of-bounds oppor­tu­ni­ties. We put a great empha­sis on tak­ing advan­tage of these sit­u­a­tions. It’s often chal­leng­ing to fig­ure out what defense the oppo­nent plays and make sure you have a good set for that par­tic­u­lar defen­sive chal­lenge. After you’ve stud­ied the oppos­ing team’s ten­den­cies, this becomes sig­nif­i­cant­ly eas­i­er to han­dle. If a team is play­ing man on base­line out-of-bounds sit­u­a­tions, we study the inbounder’s defend­er. Is he tak­ing away the bas­ket­ball? Is he pres­sur­ing the ball? Then we go over what action we feel will work for us.

5. How do they defend in the post?

The last scout­ing ques­tion we’ll cov­er is post defense. With so many dif­fer­ent ways to defend in the post, we like to make our guys aware of what they’ll most like­ly face in the game. It’s espe­cial­ly impor­tant if the oppos­ing team traps on post touch­es, because then we want our post play­ers to expect the dou­ble team and have a plan for when they receive the pass.

There are many oth­er aspects to scout­ing an opponent’s defense, but these are the areas we cov­er first. If we can answer these five ques­tions, and pre­pare our guys with this infor­ma­tion, we’ve giv­en our team a great chance to be successful.

Source: Hudl

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