It is impossible to know when a journey has ended unless you know what your destination was. Similarly, a team’s success depends upon the goals that are set for a team to achieve. A coach must clearly articulate and communicate the goals they have for a team so that their performance can be assessed according to these criteria.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are simply the criteria by which success (and progress) can be measured. It is unrealistic to simply adopt a singular KPI of winning the championship. Only one team will win the championship and failing to do so does not mean that the team did not experience some success.

Where a team does not win the championship, having other KPIs will enable the coach to evaluate whether the team is on the right path and can legitimately contest for a championship in the future or whether changes need to be made.

The coach should select KPIs that measure the effectiveness of the game style utilized by the team. For example:

  • Shot selection – where on the court shots are being taken, where is the opponent shooting from, are the team’s “key scorers” the players taking the most shots;
  • Tempo of game – number of shots taken, time taken to get the ball into front court;
  • Ball movement – number of assists, number of “score involvements”3 and “scoring opportunities”4;
  • Responding to trends – how well does the team defend common offensive patterns of play used by opponents;
  • Defensive assists – number of times the team stops their opponent from scoring (either a missed shot or a “non shot”) through team defence (double-team, defensive rotation etc);
  • Open shots – how often do opponents take “open” or uncontested shots;
  • Effective ball use – when in the shot clock is the team shooting, how many shots are taken in “broken play” (e.g. following an opponent’s turnover or an offensive rebound) compared with how many shots result from use of the team’s offensive rules.

Often the official game stats are not sufficient for assessing the team’s performance, and the coach will also need to determine how they will obtain the data that they are looking for. They may delegate collecting or recording the information to an assistant coach (or even a parent) and in doing so must make it as objective as possible.

It is not simply a matter of measuring a statistic, the coach must have a benchmark that the team is trying to achieve and this benchmark will need to be relative to what the teams that are contesting for championships achieve. It does not mean that the team must play the same game style as those teams, however ultimately the team must be able to:

  • ensure that games are played to its preferred game style;
  • defeat opponents with their preferred game style.

The KPIs will also enable the coach to evaluate whether there are gaps in the skills of their players. For example, a team may be able to create open 3 point shots but shoot a very low percentage. The coach must then determine whether existing players can improve this ability or whether they need to recruit better shooters.

With junior teams, the coach should focus more on KPIs that indicate how well the players are developing their overall skills (both individual and team skills) that will stand them in good stead in the future, in preference to what is required to win a championship in that particular year. Understanding what the team needs to improve to win games remains important but not at the expense of long-term development of junior players.

“ Score involvement” is a pass that contributes to the team scoring. For example, a player who is doubleteamed may pass to a teammate who then makes a second pass to a teammate who scores. Only the second pass is regarded as an assist, but the first pass is a “score involvement”
“Scoring opportunity” is when the team takes a “good shot” (as defined by the coach) regardless of whether or not the shot is made. This can be contrasted with the total number of shots taken.