How You Can Learn from and Use Opponents’ Out-of-Bounds Plays

Pro and college teams “steal” out-of-bounds plays from each other all the time. It’s how coaches at all levels use video to aggregate plays over the course of a season.

Steve Kerr is widely recognized as one of the more inventive and successful NBA coaches when it comes to designing out-of-bounds plays. His sets, both sideline and baseline varieties, are part of what has vaulted him into the league’s elite coaching ranks.

On a recent podcast with Bill Simmons, Kerr revealed what’s made him such an out-of-bounds maestro—thievery.

“First of all, I’ve never made one up for myself,” Kerr told Simmons. “I steal everything, and most coaches would tell you the same thing. What you do is you steal something, then you tweak it for your own personnel.

“You’re watching a random game and you’re like, ‘BAM! That was a cool play!’ We all have the same computer program. It’s called Sportscode. I have a file that says, “Add Stuff?” I heard Brad Stevens say the same thing one time. He’ll have plays that he’ll label “Spoelstra” or “Popovich”... There is this understanding in the league that you just steal stuff and adapt it and modify it. It’s really fun.”

Sportscode allows coaches to quickly put together clips from multiple games for further study.

“Stealing” plays is commonplace for most NBA and college teams, but it’s possible for high school and club coaches as well. Kerr and his peers use a Sportscode feature called databasing, which allows users to combine clips from different games. They find new plays, adjust them to your personnel, and unleash them on unsuspecting opponents.

While most coaches don’t have access to a treasure trove of other teams’ video like their NBA brethren, they too have these tools at their fingertips. There are other ways to get ahold of the video. The first step is to rewatch your games and pay attention to creative strategies by the opposing team. When you see a play you like, create a clip and add it to a playlist. You can easily sort by BLOB and SLOB plays to quickly find the moments you need.

Hudl allows coaches to easily locate plays and store them in playlists.

You can also tag opponents’ games or submit them to Hudl Assist to see what the opposition ran against other teams. Continually add to this list throughout the season.

Thievery now complete, you can start tailoring those plays to suit your personnel. For instance, you might find a play that uses a few screens to get a wide-open mid-range shot. But if you have a few knock-down shooters on your team, it would be more useful to adjust the play so it results in an attempt from deep.

These playlists can be adjusted at any time, with the addition of future plays you notice and the elimination of ones that don’t work for your team.

No longer just for the pros, coaches at all levels can successfully steal plays. Take some ideas from your peers, mold them with your own twist and give a boost to your out-of-bounds plays. After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Kerr and other NBA coaches take full advantage of Sportscode, a property of Hudl. To learn more about Hudl’s full suite of tools, check them out here.