Topic 3: Opponent Awareness

  The biggest skill for awareness with your opponent is your immediate ability to quickly assess strategies for how to overcome your opponent. One of the military strategies from General Sun Tzu treatise on the “Art of War” states, Engage people with what they expect; it is what they are able to discern and confirms their projections. It settles them into predictable patterns of response, occupying their minds while you wait for the extraordinary moment — that which they cannot anticipate.

  In basketball, this is fantastic strategy. You lull your opponent into a comfortable defensive tempo and then accelerate when least expected at the crucial moment for maximum success. Scoring is maximum success. As an offensive player, this is your goal. Teams who score less then their opponents, no matter how well they executed the game, lose. Your mission against your defensive opponent is to score. Be aware of your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses. If you are a better player than your defensive opponent—attack the basket all day. If you are an even or weaker player than your defensive opponent—evade your opponent through screens, cuts and diversions.

Activities – Awareness

Start with 4 on 4 or 5 on 5 scrimmage. The drill is very basic- when various players have the ball on offense, I call out “stop”. All other players have to stop moving, and the player with the ball closes their eyes. The ball handler then needs to call out the name of at least one open player. If they don’t know, they run a lap. If they “cheat” by opening their eyes, the team runs a suicide.

It’s basically designed to teach them that in order for them to be ready to do one of the three things they’ll look to do when they have the ball (dribble, shoot or pass) that they need to have their head up, their eyes open and be as court-aware as possible.