I'm not talking about the Schoolhouse Rock song. Although, just as an aside, it is a very catchy tune and there's a great cover version done by the band Blind Melon. Sorry. Moving on. Three is a powerful number, no question about that.
This past week, during practice, I talked with our players about the power of three. I mentioned how the US Marine Corps uses the power of three in their daily lives. I talked about how their communication will be much more effective if they employ echoing calls 3 times. The power of three can be just as effective for us as coaches.
We can really keep things simple for ourselves and our players. Take every aspect of the game and break it down into three teaching points for each. I found this to be a great exercise to edit out useless information and get to the bare-bones of my philosophy. If you haven’t done this before, or are a younger coach hell-bent on using every ounce of information you picked up from clinics this summer, you may find this task somewhat daunting. I had to write down anything and everything I wanted done and edit the list from there; whittling things down to the most important by crossing off the unnecessary and monotonous.
This task ultimately came in extremely handy recently. We hadn’t spent a lot of time on guarding the ball screen on the wing. Because we use the ball screen quite often, in a live 5-on-5 situation we got exposed on defense. So, to the Power of Three drawing board we go.
We told the defender guarding the screener that he had 3 responsibilities:
1) Communicate the screen (name & direction 3 times)
2) Make the ball handler take at least 1-2 dribbles toward half court
3) Trust the help on the roll
The on-ball defender has 3 responsibilities:
1) Do not let the screener get into your body
2) Get the top foot and hip above the screeners
3) beat the dribbler to the spot going underneath the hedge
Ever since, we have done a terrific job of defending the ball screen on the wing. Players a less confused and their roles are clearly defined. Now that they understand the basic concepts, we can begin to tweek the details into sub-groupings of three.