How to Practice Getting Steals

Previously, I wrote about improving the fast fast break by enhancing the net-effect of steal attempts. Among the key implications were:

  1. Stealing is a skill that can be improved by practice.
  2. To enhance the net-effect of steal attempts, learn to limit the amount of gambling involved.

This brought about questions on how stealing can be practiced in praxis. Here are some ideas.

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Learn to Steal While Limiting Gambling

This entry is the 13th chapter of the blog Ideas on Building a Fast Fast Break Offense. The whole blog is here.

A steal provides a better opportunity to run a fast break than a defensive rebound does. Possessions that start with a steal produce more points per possession. Thus it makes sense to try to enhance your fast break offense by increasing the probability of steals.

Up to a point, that is not hard to do. As discussed previously, you can pressure the opponents full court. Or aggressively overplay the passing lanes. Or double team the post-ups. Or simply tell your players to go for steals. And so.

The problem is that there is a price to be paid for steal attempts. There is usually risk involved. For example, if a player gambles to steal a pass but doesn’t get the ball, he will very likely be out of his designated defensive position. This may open up an easy scoring opportunity for the opponents.

Thus, the question becomes: how do you enhance the net effect of your steal attempts? For some teams the best short-term answer is “by making fewer steal attempts”. Lowering the number of gambles may lead to fewer steals but enhance e.g. the defensive field goal percentage – and thus be net-effective.

For some teams the best short-term answer may be the opposite: for them, the best way to enhance the net effect of steal attempts may be to make more of them. That may be the case if the coach has taught his team to play containing, conservative defense and not to take a slightest risk when attempting steals.

However, In the long term the best way to enhance the net effect of your steal attempts is this: practice stealing while limiting the amount of gambling involved. This practice should include both tactical and technical aspects.

This may sound simple and obvious. But outside practicing pressing and trapping, how often do you see teams practice stealing? Quite rarely, wouldn’t you say  – especially considering the high value of steals.

So, for a lot of teams, some practicing stealing would probably be time and cost efficient. Why then don’t teams practice it? Maybe because:

  1. Practicing steals is not a part of the basketball coaching tradition.
  2. Coaches are worried about encouraging gambling.
  3. Steals are such rare occasions that they are undervalued and perceived as random.
  4. Coaches don’t perceive stealing as a trainable skill.
  5. Tactics and techniques used to get steals are so varied and numerous that it’s hard to figure out which ones to practice.

Ideas on Building a Fast Fast Break Offense

All solid offenses run breaks that are fast up to a point. In this entry I’m trying to see how we could accelerate the offense beyond the point set by conventional wisdom. This is where the title comes from: “fast fast break offense” refers to an offense that is visibly faster than a solid, reasonable offense on the average.

I am writing and posting entry this piece by piece, chapter by chapter. The 13th chapter Learn to Steal While Limiting Gambling was posted on Monday January 1. Please let me know if you spot loopholes in my thinking or if you want to share some of your ideas.

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Complexity, Creativity, and Everything

“Basketball is interaction between the two teams and the rules of basketball.”

That was my definition of basketball I wrote in a previous blog. In this blog, I tried to justify the aforementioned definition. Then I discussed what it implied regarding coaching, practicing, and playing basketball.

Questions about complexity, collectivism, creativity, variability, and mindfulness emerged. All the way through, I drew practical conclusions from the theoretical musings.

As James C. Maxwell remarked: “There is nothing more practical than a good theory.”

I wrote this piece by piece. The last addition was made on Monday May 1. The update starts with the subheading Practical Conclusions, Part 5: Always Consider the Context.

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Let Us Re-imagine Basketball

We should re-imagine basketball.

The current equipment and rules are designed to suit men’s top level. Elite players can go coast-to-coast in a flash, palm the ball, throw end-to-end passes, dunk the ball thunderously, hit threes as if they were lay-ups. You know, do all kinds of cool stuff.

The rest – kids, women, recreational male players – are left with a ball game that’s nice not really suited for them. This could be changed. We could modify the rules so that players of all levels would get to really enjoy the game.

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Why eFG% Is Invalid for Measuring the Efficiency of FG Shooting

Whenever you see basketball performance analysis where eFG% is used as the metric to measure the efficiency of FG shooting, you immediately know that the whole analysis is invalid. Since eFG% is widely used, much of the current basketball performance analysis is invalid.

Nothing helps: not the huge amount of the data, not the sophistication of the analysis methods, not the great looks of the graphics. In a way, they only make matters worse since they help hide the invalidity of the underlying assumptions.

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Improving Andre Drummond’s Free Throw

In a previous blog entry, I wrote about shooting and practicing shooting at a general level. Here I try to show how to implement those ideas into a real-life situation.

To make this concrete and familiar, let’s have a look at a much-publicized dilemma: an NBA player’s free throw shooting technique that is flawed and produces bad results. In other words, let’s look at Andre Drummond’s free throw shooting.

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