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Basketball Rotations

Rotations are critical to maintaining the high performance of a basketball team. Get ready to learn some basic strategies around rotations in basketball.

Basketball Rotations

A rotation is a pre-planned group of players that are substituted from the bench to the floor. Rotations are used by coaches to maximize player performance and each player's playing time in a game.

In this tutorial, we will learn about the basics of rotations.

Basketball Rotation

Basketball Substitutions

The ball is dead when the officials blow their whistle to stop play. Timeouts, fouls, violations, and injuries all result in dead balls. Basketball allows coaches to make unlimited substitutions but only when the ball is dead. As a result, teams can get creative with their rotation strategies.

Basketball Substitution

Basketball Rotation Strategy

Basketball coaches should have a rotation strategy for their players. Some leagues may require rotations to give players equal playing time. In college basketball and the NBA, coaches can have their players in for most of the game, but that may not be the best decision for the health of the player and long-term success of the team in the season.

Rotation Plan For Coaches

As a coach, you should consider the following when crafting your basketball team's rotation strategy:

  • team schedule
  • team chemistry
  • depth of bench
  • the opponent
  • player foul count (foul trouble)
  • resting time for players
  • playing time for players
  • player injuries

Team Schedule

Learning to plan your rotation strategy around your team's schedule is important. You should consider the strength of the opponent, league, or conference and factor in travel time that will negatively affect your player's overall performance.

Team Chemistry

Not all basketball teams are created equal. Players need to learn to play with each other and understand the chemistry of the team. This is especially true in college basketball, since you will be getting new recruits out of high school.

Depth of Bench

Your depth of bench describes how strong your players are across the entire roster and how easily your top players can be substituted without sacrificing quality.

The Opponent

As a coach, you should craft your rotation strategy around your opponent by choosing to put your top players in at optimal times in a game. You need to read the defense and understand if they are playing zone or man to man.

Basketball Zone

Foul Trouble

Keeping your best players out of foul trouble is critical. Players are in foul trouble when they're close to reaching the foul limit. In college basketball, the foul limit is five fouls. In the NBA, the foul limit is six fouls. If your best players foul out, then they cannot return to the game.

Basketball Foul Out

Player Resting Time

Basketball games have 40 minutes of regulation in college basketball and 48 minutes of regulation in the NBA. It's important to factor in the rest time for each player. As a coach you should plan to give your players a few minutes of rest each quarter.

Playing Time

Similar to resting time, you should plan out how much playing time each player should get on the floor. It is not uncommon for the best players on your team to play most of the game.

IMPORTANT: In youth leagues, it is sometimes required that all players have equal playing time. You should read the rulebook of your league or conference to confirm this rule.

Player Injuries

Your players are only human and may get injured during practice or in a game. Make sure to keep an eye on your player's mental and physical health. Having your players play through the pain may work in the short-term, but it is not a great strategy for the long-term.

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