Adding Counters to Your Sets

As mentioned in our initial post, “X’s and O’s are the easy part.  Developing that feel, that’s the tough part.”  

As coaches, we have to know which buttons to press on the offensive end.  This requires a feel for our playbook, our personnel and our opponent’s tendencies, all while factoring in the time, score and situation.  Once we sense these surroundings, we call plays accordingly.  

Some teams run a lot of sets.  This falls under the execution phase of offense or plays by design.  We like running sets on dead ball situations and often times after made baskets. The majority of our set plays will be designed to get our best players the most shots.    

Here are a few reasons why we like running sets:

  • We have an idea of where the ball is going.
  • We can take advantage of mismatches.
  • We can keep feeding a hot hand.

We might put in specific plays to attack each opponent, based on scouting.  We also have different series or families of plays which include specific formations that have counters or wrinkles to each.  These can be difficult to scout, if play calls are hidden, because they use the same alignment.  

These counters can happen on back-to-back possessions.  They could also be drawn up during a time out or quarter break as a next layer of a play that was recently executed.

Good coaches can call a set play to get a bucket.  Great coaches can compound the previous possession with a counter.  

Here is an example of a set play along with its counter:

Original action:

Counter action:

Here are some more examples of adding counters to your sets.  Click on the links to see play diagrams.

Original actionCounter action
Original 1Counter 1
Original 2Counter 2

Ryan Haywood (@CoachRHaywood) is the head coach at Loogootee High School (@LHSLionsBball2).  His teams are consistently well-schooled in running their set plays. Coach Haywood is a next-level thinker on the offensive end.  Here is a counter that his team executed to perfection.  

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