Make Adjustments, Don't Foul Your Players Out - CoachMattDennis.com

Make Adjustments, Don’t Foul Your Players Out

Coaches have a decision to make when players commit fouls. Most notably, they have to decide do they leave the player in the game or have them take a seat on the bench.

For some coaches they have some absolutes they follow no matter what the situation of the game. Here are some scenarios where a player is coming out of a game no matter what.

  • Scenario 1 - two fouls in the fist half
  • Scenario 2 - three fouls early in the second half
  • Scenario 3 - four fouls outside of the last four minutes of the game

It makes sense for coaches to pull a player out of the game when they are in foul trouble right? After all we don’t want the player to foul out and lessen our chances at winning the game.

As Lee Corso says on College Game Day, “Not so fast my friend.”

Too often coaches don’t have to worry about a player fouling out because they have already fouled them out by putting them on the bench. Whether a player as two, three, or four fouls doesn’t matter if a player is on the bench, because the coach has theoretically given them their fifth foul by sitting the down. After all, how many points can a player score from the bench?, and how many stops can they give you on defense from the bench?

Instead of fouling a player out of the game and giving the opposing team a helping hand take a look at what else can be done, especially if the player in question is a top offensive or defensive player who you could use on the floor.

Here are a few adjustment to keep players on the floor and off the bench.

  • Adjustment 1 - Switch match-ups, not all players are are aggressive and able to draw fouls.
  • Adjustment 2 - Start switching screens so a player does not have to fight through contact.
  • Adjustment 3 - Talk to the player and let them know to play smart, get to the help earlier, and stay straight up; reminders like this can keep a player focused
  • Adjustment 4 - If you have a press use it. This will allow the player to have space to be effective and not have to worry about as much contact in the half court defense.
  • Adjustment 5 - If you have a zone defense use it: not many charges are taken in a zone, longer passes allow more time for defensive adjustments, and player know there is help as the offense passes or dribbles a new spot on the floor.

While these are suggestions, you must know your team. If you have a player just as capable of the one in foul trouble you may want to make a substitution. If not, don’t foul your own player out. You’ll win more games and create a smarter player at the same time.

About the Author Matt Dennis

Coach Matt Dennis is the current boys basketball coach at Otsego H.S. in Otsego, MI. His goal is to create a winning basketball program from top to bottom. He enjoys working with coaches and helping them find more success in less time just as he's done in his coaching career. You can learn more about Coach and his journey by clicking here .

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