Building a Team Offense

Posted on 07/24/2016

June 16, 2016 | By T.J. Buchanan

What do you do first? Plan your strategy and try to make it work or evaluate your players and determine what your strategy should be?

There’s an old saying something along the lines of “You can’t make chicken salad without chicken.” Keeping that in mind consider the following as you begin to plan for your next season:

  • Who are my players?
  • What skills do they possess?

Basically, you need to know if you have “the chicken” needed to make the salad you want.

Once you have determined who your players are and what skills they bring to the field, it’s time to plan your strategy. This is what great coaches do. At the college level, many coaches go out and look for players with certain skill sets that fit the mold of the program. Most coaches are not lucky enough to be able to recruit kids to their program and as such have to “do the best they can with what they have.” The following is a list of skills you may observe as a coach, and how you can use them within your greater team strategy:

Skill — If the player… Ideal Position — Play team at …  Strategy — using this strategy
Speed Midfield Play fast in transition and try to capitalize on odd number situations.
Feeding Attack Use off-ball movement to create scoring opportunities with passes into high-percentage shooting areas.
Dodging/Change of Direction Midfield or Attack Use dodging and change of direction to create defensive rotations and move the ball to open players for high-percentage scoring opportunities.
Outside Shooting Midfield Use offensive strategies such as fades and pops away from the defensive rotations to get the ball into the sticks of your outside shooters.
Field Awareness Midfield or Attack Use this player as a distributor. Put them into a position where they can read the defense and the ball movement accordingly.

By carefully evaluating your players, you can begin to build groups of players that complement each other and put them into systems that will work for them. Ideally, all your players would have all the noted skills, but as we know that’s not always possible. Having a mixture of these skills, organized into a system, will give your team the best chances for success on the offensive side of the field.

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photo: John Strohsacker

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