We got back out on the road yesterday for a 14 day, 8 game road trip. One of the toughest, yet most enjoyable things in the NBA is a road win. Earlier this season we were 6-1 on a road trip. Great accomplishment. How do you win on the road and what are the keys to doing so?……Let’ take a look at what I think are some important ingredients.
1. LOW TURNOVER GAME……especially live ball turnovers. These lead to easy baskets, usually lay ups or an open 3, and more importantly get the home crowd into the game. Turnovers at home are bad as well, but on the road, they can be a momentum changer.
2. OVERCOME “HOME COOKING” FROM OFFICIALS…….they are swayed by the home crowd. It’s true. It’s human nature. It’s going to happen. It’s not fair, but life on the road isn’t. Your TEAM must be mentally tough enough to play through the bad calls. Your COACH must work the refs hard, to compensate for the home bias.
3. TRANSITION DEFENSE ……must be GREAT. If you send 2 to the offensive boards, consider sending only 1. Sprinting back, first big loaded to the ball, everyone matched up….all of the basic transition defense rules apply more on the road. Make it a half court game for your defense. Most teams will want to run and push more at home…..GET BACK!!
4. REST……THE most important off court responsibility of your players. Many times, (like tonight), we will arrive after a game in the next city around 3:00 am. If it is not a back to back, don’t meet, and absolutely don’t practice. Having a gym available in the late afternoon for low minute players for a workout or shots is good, but for rotation players…..rest. If it IS a back to back, make sure the players get 8-10 hours of time from check in until you meet the next day. Maybe a breakfast meeting with 5-10 minutes of film, a quick ballroom walk through, then back to the rooms for more rest.
5. CLUTTER FREE……….Many times the road is good for focus, bonding and being “clutter free” from all the distractions that can happen at home…(family, friends, etc…). The total focus should be on the games, however, as we know, guys can tend to get easily distracted by …..well, distractions. Just gotta know their limits.
The travel, more than anything, makes winning on the road tough. Although we travel in comfort and with little interruptions or problems, the time changes and late arrivals make it tough on the body. 5 games in 7 nights can be a killer. That’s what make it so satisfying to get a road win, no matter who the opponent. “Road Kill”……tastes great.