As another basketball (or really any sport) season approaches, how can you use stats to improve your team?
1. Get yourself some good stats – this is the first hurdle and the reason I designed StatGeek, but there are a lot of good programs out there. I’m obviously biased but whether you have a few studious managers working for you on the sideline or some great software, it’s important to start with good numbers.
2. Figure out what’s meaningful to you – I say this to coaches all the time. If you never do one rebounding drill in practice, don’t be the coach screaming about boxing out on the sideline. And if you’re looking at stats, don’t lament the lack of rebounds or rebounding percentage. This comes after #1 because if you have inaccurate data, you won’t be able to answer this question or follow up on it.
3. Be able to explain it to players – This is crucial and something coaches are doing a better and better job of. If you become a disciple of a certain stat or efficiency formula, make sure you can explain it to your players so they understand what you value and how their play is going to be measured. Most coaches I’ve spoken to say it takes a season or two for players to fully embrace the statistics but once they do it cuts down on the ‘coach just doesn’t like me’ arguments and even more awkward discussions with parents because everyone knows what is asked of them and how it is measured.
One more piece of advice, with StatGeek and a number of other projects, you will get tons of data but try to focus on one or two things. It will make it easier for the players to digest and for you to translate to specific drills in practice and see appreciable improvement.