3 Helpful Coaching Tips from Basketball Legend Bob Knight

Four-time National Coach of the Year Bob Knight is widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball coaches of all time. Now in this week’s coaching feature of the week, get advice from Knight on three different coaching topics, including ways to set goals for your team, general philosophy regarding team drills, plus understanding team roles. Look to improve your own program by taking some concepts and wisdom from the three-time NCAA championship coach.

Setting Goals

Coach Knight has always tried to set goals for his players. Knight would use a grade card after every game that included the following criteria:


-Hold opponent to 65 points per game.

-Limit opponent to shooting 42% or less from the field.

-Have 12 more shots per game than opponent.

-Never give up 16 personal fouls in a game.


-Field goal percentage should be at 52% or higher.

-Free throw percentage should be at least 75%.

– Have 10 turnovers or fewer.

-Score first in each half.

-Get 58% of all rebounds.

Coach Knight determined that if his team hit everything on the scorecard, then it was impossible for them to lose. Meanwhile, after each game, he would run through each area and make assessments with the team and determine which areas needed work for the days ahead.

Individual Drills vs. Team Drills

When it comes to practice drills, Knight believes in the Pete Newell philosophy called the “Part-Whole Method” where you break practices down into parts and then put the whole thing together. For instance with offense, you had to work on passing, cutting, screening, driving, posting, driving with shot, faking and driving, three-point attempts, and so on. Knight’s teams tried to work on each area in different ways in practice, sometimes combining multiple areas together as well, liking cuts and screens. His teams built their whole from their parts, areas like help and recover, blocking out and pressuring passing lanes.


Understanding Team Roles

When it comes to understanding team roles, Knight believes that everyone on the team has different roles, yet collectively there are a few things the entire squad must follow.

For instance, the entire squad must play defense and everyone must block out. However, the shooters are going to shoot the ball. This area is not an equal opportunity proposition. If there are better shooters than everyone else, then the goal is to try and get the ball in their hands as much as possible. These players won’t screen as much as they cut, as they’ll look to get into positions where they can get open, turn and shoot.

Overall, you try to take the individual skills of the players and utilize them, and that especially comes into play during the season with match-ups and opponent strengths/weaknesses where you hope to gain an advantage.


The following clips can be found on the Championship Productions DVD “Knight School: Teaching Coaches How to Coach.” Look for more exclusive videos featuring Coach Knight in our extensive catalog.

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