So much of teaching the game is teaching your kids how to react. We like to control every drill in practice – to set up scenarios that your team is going to see in a game and teach them how to handle them.
The problem is so much of the game is out of your control. So as much as you want to prepare your guys for situations that will come up in games, a big part of coaching is preparing them for the unexpected. So many possessions in games end up in scramble situations, where things haven’t gone as planned and your team needs to figure it out. It’s not necessarily comfortable to practice situations like this, but it’s important.
I’m a big believer in putting your guys in scramble situations in practice. Put them in advantage/disadvantage situations in practice and let them figure it out. 4 on 3 contest drills in the half court are great for scrambling. So are 4 on 3 defensive transition drills. Working on dribble penetration in your half court shell drill, with defensive rotations, puts your guys in a lot of scramble situations. Creating chaos sometimes in practice and forcing your guys to figure it out is preparing them for what’s coming in the games.
One of the reasons scramble drills might be uncomfortable for coaches is they aren’t easy to teach. You can give your guys some specific guidelines in a scramble situation, but it’s tough to give them hard and fast rules. By definition, you have to scramble. You are a man down, you don’t know where the offense is going to be, and you just have to figure it out. I always tell my guys to “fix it on the run.” I can’t tell you exactly where you need to be in a scramble situation, but you better start running and figure it out.
As a coach you want your team to be prepared for every possible situation. But once you get into games, so many of those situations are unpredictable. You get advantage/disadvantage plays all of the time, and the team that figures those out the best is usually the one that is successful. I think a big part of preparing your team for success is putting them in scramble situations in practice. That gets them ready to make plays in the game.