Proper communication is a skillset.  It incorporates the ability to see the floor, know scouting reports, recognize trends, and brings a team together.  When evaluating players in games, proper communication stands out when done well and can separate players in 50/50 recruiting situations.  Any player who feels differently just needs to watch 4 minutes of a professional player wearing a microphone to know its importance.  In the NFL it is easy to see the quarterback bark out orders at the line while a linebacker counters to their teammates.  Sometimes real, and other times a bluff, it highlights the need for communication.

Proper communication is a skillset.

In basketball, it’s not as easy to see when players are talking because the game is fast, fluid and in constant motion.  The communication is done by all players and needs to be short, concise and understood.  Here are a couple examples:

A weak side defender needs to let his team know if they are guarding two players and if one is a shooter, requiring a higher level of attention.  That player should simply say, “I got two, shooter high”.  This should alert the rest of the team that on a ball reversal they will close out and commit to taking the shooter and others need to rotate to the second player.  The talk is short, simple, and effective.
On offense, a PG might see a missed backdoor opportunity and tell their teammate while getting back on D.  A simple “backdoor” or “cut” is all that’s needed and both should expect that action the next opportunity; which may be multiple plays down the line.  

Seemingly a simple thing to do, and yet, I attend a lot of games where there is little to no talking going on in game situations.  When Upside holds team/skill development camps, we emphasize communication and hold drills to work on it.  Talking does not require athleticism, strength, or a jump shot, it just requires a mental emphasis and knowing what to say.  The higher level one plays the more communication is needed, might as well make it a habit early.

Nonverbal communication is also key.

The setbacks to using nonverbal communication are that it requires eye contact and needs to be easily understood.  In baseball coaches use an array of swipes, touches, and motions to say bunt.  Useful but not easily duplicated in basketball.  Teams come up with their own sign language for players to communicate with each other.  The only important thing is that it is consistent and easy to understand.  Some like a closed fist for a screen, while others like an open hand.  In the end, it doesn’t matter as long as the players are on the same page.  I encourage a strong nonverbal set of signals for teams.  It makes it easier to communicate in games and allows for players to make plays on the fly if a situation opens up.

Upside Athletics | Eugene Summer Basketball Camp
Upside Athletics | Eugene Summer Basketball Camp

At Upside Athletics we help teams establish their own communication system and run drills to make it a priority in our off season development.  There is no better way to gain an advantage over your opponent on the court.

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