Hi Teammates. There is one part of being a rookie overseas that I see many players struggle with and that is knowing and understanding your role in set plays overseas.

Depending on the coach, your playbook may be thin or stacked with sets. You are a professional now. This is your JOB! It is your responsibility to learn, and understand your sets. No one is going to take you by the hand and show you each nuance of each play. You most likely will not have 3 or 4 assistant coaches that you can take to the side and ask questions. It is all on you.

Many European coaches love set plays with a lot of movement and depending on your position, you have to understand your role in each play so that you do not stunt the movement. 

I would advise Guards to learn each player’s position on the court so they can be the coach on the floor and make sure the other players are in the right areas of the court. Shooters, be aware of your shooting spots in the play and how you will have to get open. Bigs, you will probably be required to set screens, re-screens, and possibly slip screens with a particular timing. Pro-tip to you bigs…the better the screen you set, the more open you will find yourself.

How should you learn the sets easier? 

  1. Watching and learning is the simple way. When you are on the sideline and another player at your position is on, focus on what that player is doing instead of talking and messing around during your rest time.
  2. Concentrate when it is your turn in practice to run the plays. Of course, the more repetitions you have the easier it becomes so never waste a rep. If you make a mistake and the coach gets on you about it, register it and try not to make the same mistake again
  3. Grab a pen and paper and draw the sets up that you struggle with the most. This was especially useful to me because I then understood the timing more from every position and not just from my own. 
  4. Watch your gamefilm with a critical eye. Break down your own performance and take note of situations you could have done better. You will also be able to tell your teammates if they are out of position or not setting the screen properly etc. 
  5. Sit down with your coach and ask for more explanation. There is nothing wrong with this. Do not let your pride get in the way. At the very least, if you really struggle with a set and the coach knows, he may decide against calling it if you are in the game.

If you are having problems with understanding or remembering the plays, these tips should help. Just remember, it is your responsibility to do everything possible to make the game easier for you. You not understanding the sets will lead to you spending more time on the bench, which in turn affects your stats, which in turn might make it harder to find you a job next season. Do what you have to do!

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