System Coaching (Part 1 – Intro)

Posted by on December 22, 2014

Many college coaches are known for their unique offensive and defensive systems. Year after year these coaches plug new players into their pre-existing style of play. Obviously, these coaches have the luxury of years of experience in teaching and perfecting the way their teams play. This experience in teaching a certain way might even be more valuable than trying something new to maximize personnel.
I wanted to take a look at the “coach to your system or coach to your players” debate. I created a decent enough (although crude) starting point for quantifying system coaching. The explanation is below and will serve as the foundation for a couple more posts to come later this week.
First, I selected the 130 active head coaches with at least five years of experience at their current school coming into this season. I decided to disregard 2014-15 altogether because of the small sample size. I quantified offensive consistency (system offense) by taking the standard deviations for each coach in eFG%, TO%, OR%, FTRate, AST%, and %3P. Average all six of those standard deviations together and you have “offensive consistency”, where a low number means your team is playing similar styles from year to year. The same exact process was done for defensive consistency.
Let’s take a look the relationship between system coaching and efficiency. In other words, do system coaches perform better than coaches with inconsistent styles?
Offensive Consistency
Defensive Consistency
Here we can see that defensive coaching consistency appears to be lightly correlated with defensive efficiency, at least relative to offense (which showed virtually no correlation). Drawing any conclusions about causation here is obviously very tricky, but I’ll have more on this later in the week.
I’ll also have much more to come on specific coaches and implications. For now you can see that among the elite defensive coaches, Anthony Grant sticks to his system that most while Thad Matta is most likely to change styles.


  1.  System Coaching (Part 2 – Calipari’s Defense) | The Hoop Vision

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