Scouting Individual Players

Scouting can help a coach and team identify new ways of dealing witha effective opposition player (Photo Source: JD Hancock)
Scouting can help a coach and team identify new ways of dealing with an effective opposition player that might not always be obvious from just thinking about the situation briefly (Photo Source: JD Hancock)

Scouting is one of the most valuable techniques that a coach can employ to help their team prepare for the challenges that lie ahead in a game. Scouting is often over looked though as a possible option due to the amount of time required for an analysis to be completed. While this may be the case for deep and detailed scouting which attempts to cover as many options as possible, especially for volunteers coaches of junior teams. It does not mean that scouting should not be undertaken in any capacity. In fact, the most significant results can still be achieved with a limited investment of time.


One strategy to best use with limited resources that will be available in an effort for quality scouting information is to focus on the key players of the opposition. This strategy is effective not only at junior levels, but also has benefits for senior teams which need to isolate key players from the oppositions offensive system and force other team members such as role players to take up the lion share of the points production. It is true that in many leagues around the world that numerous teams operate through the direction and offensive skill of two or three players. Therefore, limiting these players in anyway on offense will have a definite impact on the team performance.


There are a number of different areas an individual’s basketball talents can be identified and analysed. Some of these will lead to the identification of specific areas of weakness which can be focused upon and an advantage gained from. Think about the scouting of an individual player as similar to that of evaluating player in general. Some of the different categories and information that maybe included within this type of scouting report can include:


  • Player Personal Profile; the information within this section helps with the general identification information about the player. This helps identify the player for the team when on the floor. A typical question to reflect upon might be, can the player cover a range of positions?
    • Name
    • Playing Number
    • Playing Position
    • Preferred playing area on the floor
  • Physiological Attributes; the information in this section focuses on physical skills of the player. Are they tall? Do they have an extraordinary leaping ability? This information helps players prepare from the first jump ball as to what they must do to limit the benefit of these attributes.
    • Height; this can be difficult for a player to match-up against if there is a large discrepancy
    • Weight/Strength
    • Handedness; Left or Right handed
    • Speed; quickness in the full court, quick first step, able to contain the dribble
    • Stamina/Average Playing Minutes
    • Jumping
  • Technical Skills; this area covers the skills the individual possesses. This must include information like what the player is particular good at and alternatively what the player is least competent in performing in a one on one situation.
    • Individual Offensive Skills; Favourite move, Counter move
    • Individual Defensive Skills; Stealing, Taking charges, Shot blocking, can the player contain the ball in the full court? Do they consistently foul and are often in foul trouble? When do these fouling situations often occur?
    • Strengths; Shooting Range
      • These technical skills need to be restricted and instead the player must be forced to utilise other options
    • Weaknesses; dribbling with left hand
    • These are the technical skills a team wants to push the individual player towards so they struggle to have their standard impact on the game. No one player can easily be taken out of a game for the duration of the contest. Nevertheless, a strong offensive player might be able to be forced into poor situations and have to use skills that are not their primary weapon.
  • Tactical Skills; these skills are focused around the play of the individual within the team context. These situations can help describe how best to isolate the player from the tactical strategy of the team. Ask these questions concerning specific phases within the team’s offense and defence:
    • Fast Break; is the player quick to take part in fast break situations? Does the player lead or trail in a fast break? Where does the player usually run to during a fast break? Will the player drive to the basket or pull up for the jump shot?
    • Transition; what roles does the player have in the oppositions primary transition? Where do you want to force the player when they have the ball? What is their preferred passing and scoring option during the fast break?
    • Defence; does the player participate in help defence effectively? Is the player capable of defending the cutter, post player, or high post?
    • Offense; is there a particular play within which the player is given a specific type of shot? How does the player generally score points within the team’s offense? What areas does the player generally shoot from?


Some other general aspects to be thought about are:


  • What is the most significant statistic generated by the player?
  • What is the players season averages
  • Is the player effective from the foul line?
  • Does the player like to rebound (offensive and defensive)?


Scouting while always time consuming if performed well, does bring with it some great advantages like being able to define what and opponents does. When applied at the individual level scouting helps build an understanding at the team level about how to contain the threat and what the team intends to do to reach this outcome.

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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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