The first half of the process of creating a great Read & React team is to tie the team’s actions together with the first 4 layers. This is almost 100% “Read the Ballhandler and React decisively and correctly”. (I say “almost” because Layer 2 sometimes involves an introduction to the first “Cutter decision” – to post up rather than fill out.)

The second half of building a great Read & React team mostly involves teaching the decisions without the ball that cutters can make in the lane (obviously, this includes those who play in the post more than they do on the perimeter.)

This brings up the one the most frequently asked questions: How do you teach players to make decisions without the ball?

The most common way is to teach and drill ALL of the players a new decision in the order prescribed by the Read & React menu. Introduce it, drill it, put it in a Shell Game and a Hybrid Game and hope that enough players do it in “LIVE” competition to be effective.

Don’t get misunderstand me – there’s nothing wrong with this method – I’ve done it this way many times and been effective. But I have a tendency to “Teach for Mastery” and stay with that Layer too long. I run out of practices before the first game and don’t get to other actions/layers that could help our team. I want every player to master the Layer and that’s simply not realistic.

By our first game, I want every player doing SOMETHING without the ball that impacts the scoreboard.

So, I have another method for your consideration.

Introduce all of the decisions without the ball that you think your team will be able to use – at one time.
Give each player one “Cutter” decision for that particular day. Examples:Player 1: Post up ballside one time and then fill out.
Player 2: Set a backscreen one spot away from the ball
Player 3: Fill out away from the ball and look to use a Pin Screen
Player 4: Post up on the weakside and set a Pin Screen
Player 5: Fill out to ballside and set a backscreen for anyone in the corner
Player 6: Set a screen for any teammate in the post – especially weakside
Player 7: Stop in a short corner and on the next pass, flash to the high post
Player 8: Fill out away from the ball and immediately try to set a Cross-Key Pin Screen
Player 9: Fill out either side and set a Baby Pin if it’s there
Player 10: After cutting, set a ball screen on the next receiver
After some reps with LIVE action, switch them up and give everyone a different decision
After only a few practices, everyone will be exposed to most of the decisions without the ball.

Now, why do this?

When learning how to play without the ball, too many decisions causes paralysis by analysis.
Each player can concentrate on ONE decision at a time.
You and your players will find out which decisions each player tends to do the best.
If you had to play a game right away, your CUSTOMIZED DECISIONS for each player would be simple and yet unscoutable. And keeping things SIMPLE means players will be more decisive and confident.
In the end, this is players do naturally. They tend to make decisions without the ball that fit their skill set.

Find what you do best and do that.

Hide your weaknesses and play to your strengths. That’s the power of the Read & React.