Coaching Against a Run; What you can do when your Team is in a Scoring Drought

One of the more frustrating situations in basketball is when you are coaching against a run or often called a scoring drought. From the coaches perspective sometimes the problems associated with the scoring drought can be easily defined, which makes this all to more frustrating if it is a reoccurring scenario. On other occasions however, the reasons for the scoring drought are harder to define and compounded by the fact that sometimes as a coach you are limited by the options available.


A scoring drought is really a contextual discussion. In tight games, not scoring on two possessions in a row might be classed by a coach as a scoring drought. In most contexts though a scoring drought would be better described as a three possessions or more that result in no offensive scoring outcome by a team. There are of course situations where this might be extended to more than three possessions if the situations are particularly server.


A Coach must Always be Ready to Make the Changes Demanded (Source: ctsnow)
A Coach must Always be Ready to Make the Changes Demanded. Especially during a prolonged scoring drought (Photo Source: ctsnow)

It is probably important to note that in situations where a coach is preparing a ‘developmental’ junior or senior team that scoring droughts will be a process the players as individuals or as a team must face in their development of characteristics like resilience, risk taking, and overing adversity. All of these traits within team sports will look like poor judgement in some situations and can be difficult to control and manage.


The first step during a scoring drought situation is to call a time-out. This is a very simple statement to make, but coaches are encouraged to have something to say to their team prior to calling the time-out. Too often coaches call a time out and deliver underdone strategic and tactical advice to their players that sometimes will not resolve to underlying issues that are result of the scoring drought.


In these highly tense situations, try to limit the information given to the players on the floor. Three tactical points should be the limit an coach in a time-out should deliver to their players. Anything more and as a coach you run the risk of your message not being clear or not being received in detail by each individual player.


The second option is for the coach to make strategic substitutions. Substitutions can be used to slow a games tempo, give greater rebounding coverage, and just mix up the current status quo happening on the court. In dire situations, sometimes players can give you something else that you might not have anticipated.


Another option for changing the flow of the game is to mix up the tactics being used. It is always easier to adjust rather than change in team situations. So throw whatever you can at your opposition because sometimes the most unlikely tactics will work. Change-ups in regards to defence can make the offense of your opposition reactive, instead of proactive, which will in turn make your opposition move onto the back foot rather than dominating play with ease. This also works with regards to the offensive adjustments. A scoring drought is caused by either two elements offensive or defensive tactics. By making changes to one or both you can in effect change in the status quo.


A scoring drought is a symptom of something going wrong within a team. This can be a very wide range of different reasons. The key point is as a coach to have the base level of knowledge to be able to diagnose the problem correctly and then be able to implement changes that can help with the resolution of the problem.

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Coach Riches has been working within the sport, business and education industries for many years. During this time he has built an extensive number of formal and informal qualifications. A firm believer in training and development designed to help people reach their full potential, relevant o their needs and functional to their industry environment.

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