Anatomy of Scouting Reports, JD Byers

Written by JD Byers, National Coaches’ Diary Series (

In this post, I wanted to give some insight on what goes in to creating a Scouting Report for an opponent.  When I tell people outside of college basketball that I’m working on a scout, most have no idea what that entails.  The main purpose of the Scouting Report is to provide our players the Answer Key to the exam (the game).   It breaks down each player on the opposing team and provides the basic offensive, defensive and overall keys to winning the game.  Through the use of video and on-court simulation, our players are able to gain a feel for what they will experience during the course of the game.  At the same time, the Scouting Report helps Coach Rhoades formulate a Game Plan based on the strengths and weaknesses of the opponent.

At Rice, we break-up our scouting assignments equally between the three assistant coaches (NOTE: Every program handles this differently).  Each assistant has somewhere between 10-12 scouts in a given year (excluding postseason play).  Our conference schedule is set-up where we play five teams two times during the regular season (the rest of the league we only play one time). Therefore, a few of the teams I will actually scout multiple times.  In addition, we designate the scouting assignments in a way that no assistant has back-to-back scouts to allow for maximum preparation time, as well as to allow for each coach to get on the road to recruit in between their scouts.

Scouting an opponent is one of the most exciting parts of my job.  I LOVE the challenge of figuring out an opponent and assisting in developing a plan of attack to win that particular game.  Since I cannot be on the court and play, it is another way to get my competitive juices flowing.  Not to mention that I enjoy watching what other coaches around the country do as I continue to develop and learn as a coach.

Adam downloads the film and converts it for our video editing system, SportsCode.  For each opponent that I am responsible for, I watch anywhere from 7-10 games.  While watching the games, I use the editing system to make clips of different things I want to show Coach Rhoades and the team.  The editing system makes it easy to “code” the clips and then once I have watched all of the games, I can organize those clips in any manner that I want (i.e. personnel clips separated from the opponents set plays).  So, what do I look for?  Here are a few examples:

Overall Team Identity –

  • Style of Play?
  • Jump Shooters or Drivers?
  • Good Rebounding Team?
  • FT Shooting?
  • Turnover Prone

Player Tendencies –

  • Shooter?
  • Driver?
  • Right or Left Handed?
  • Type of Screens they use?
  • Physical or Soft?

Offensive Style –

  • Up-tempo or Half-Court?
  • Ballscreens? Off Ball Screens?
  • Continuity or Set Plays?

Defense –

  • Full-Court Press – Man or Zone? /Token Pressure or Trap?
  • Half-Court – Man or Zone?/Deny or Pack Line?

Coach Tendencies –

  • What do they do after Timeouts? (i.e. Trap/Change Defenses/Set Plays)
  • Late Game Plays?

Miscellaneous –

  • Most frequent line-ups used?
  • How they handle adversity?
  • What gives them the most trouble on offense and defense?

In order to assist with the implementation of the game plan, we show our players a series of four short edits, beginning two days before the game.  The first edit is Style of Play, which provides an overview of the opponent.  Next, an Offensive edit showing the opponent’s set plays vs. the different defenses we play.  The third video is a Personnel edit, showing each player on the opposing team that gets playing time.  It will highlight their tendencies and their weaknesses.  Finally, we will show a Defense & Specials edit.  This video shows the various defenses our opponent will play as well as what they do in special situations (i.e. press offense, baseline out of bounds, sideline out of bounds, end of game plays).  It is important that all of these videos give our players an idea of both the strengths and weaknesses of the opponent.  We want them to know exactly how we will win the game by understanding how we must attack the opponent.

Through practice planning and video, the scouting report is steadily disseminated to our players.  During practice, we will work on what the opponent does usually through the use of a scout team.  This will allow our players to go live against what they have seen on film. In addition, we provide the players with a one-page, front and back scouting report detailing each player we will see in the game (along with their statistics) as well as “Keys to the Game” (Offensive Priorities, Defensive Priorities and Keys to Win).

It is imperative that the scouting report be detailed in nature and provides the entire staff with a clear illustration of how the opponent performs on a nightly basis. It will explain what the opponent does that will cause our team problems and will take into account what they MIGHT do differently in this game in order to expose our weaknesses.  However, the detail of the report becomes irrelevant if it cannot effectively communicated to the players.  We look to avoid “Information Overload” which often creates overthinking on the basketball court.  The thought behind the short video edits and a one-page report is that we want our players’ minds free to react to what they see.  However, knowing what to look for often makes that reaction just a little bit faster!

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