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GOAL SETTING USING POSSESSION ANALYSIS
In my past evaluation of basketball statistics, the most common statistic that I
would find as one that could best determine the formula for winning basketball
games was by determining efficiency on offense and defense by using possession
analysis. In this piece, I am going to explain what possession analysis
is, determining positive and negative possessions, how you can create more
positive possessions for your team and create more negative possessions for your
opponents, and how you can use possession analysis to set some goals.
Dean Smith is the coach who is most famously associated with possession
analysis. His formula in his book Basketball: Multiple Offense and
Defense explained in detail his methods. The formula is presented in
two parts: scoring and possessions.
The scoring portion of the formula is determined based on made shots. In
today's basketball, this would include the points that come off of made
three-point shots, made two-point shots and made free throws. Totaling up
these points gives the scoring portion of the formula.
The possession portion of the formula is determined by three factors: turnovers,
field goals attempted and trips to the free throw line. Adding up these
three parts (free throw trips have to be counted as actual trips to the line,
not as free throw attempts), will give you the possessions.
Positive Possessions versus Negative Possessions
When differentiating between positive possessions and negative possessions, we
are making distinctions between possessions based on their outcomes.
Positive possessions are those that end with a scoring opportunity while
negative possessions are those that end without a scoring opportunity.
Positive possessions would be constituted by field goal attempts and trips to
the free throw line being added together. In each of these circumstances,
positive possessions result in scoring opportunities and (hopefully) points on
the scoreboard. Meanwhile, negative possessions are times when the offense
had the ball, but was unable to get a scoring opportunity.
The ideal ratio of positive possessions to negative possessions on offense is
seven to one while the ideal ratio on defense is that of one to four. For
example, in an 80-possession basketball game, we would like to have at least 70
positive possessions and only 10 negative possessions on offense while we would
like to hold our opponents to 64 positive possessions and 16 negative
possessions. As you can see, having six more positive possessions can
result potentially in outscoring our opponent anywhere from six to 18 points.
Ideas for Creating More Positive Possessions on Offense and More Negative
Possessions on Defense
So how do you go about creating more positive possessions on offense and
creating more negative possessions for your opponents on the defensive end?
There are several ideas that I will present to you that will help as a guide to
improve your team's possession efficiency as you go through the season.
Use this as a basis and you will improve your team offense and your team
The first thing you need to do on offense and defense is to play at a tempo that
suits you best. While it would be ideal to be able to play at either a
slower pace or to play at a faster pace, the best thing to do is to control the
speed of the game to a style of game that suits your team best. Whatever
that speed is, you need to work at that speed every day in practice and
eliminate mistakes made by playing too fast or making bad decisions to force the
tempo of the game when its running too slow for your team's liking.
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