Lineup Data: How Coaches Find the Right Connections

Some play­ers just play bet­ter togeth­er. Lineup data will help you pin­point the right combinations.

Lineup Data: How Coaches Find the Right Connections

Some play­ers just play bet­ter togeth­er. Lineup data will help you pin­point the right combinations.

Basketball is sim­ply a sport that requires the right chem­istry. Sometimes cer­tain groups of play­ers per­form bet­ter with one anoth­er — your five most tal­ent­ed ath­letes may not be your most lethal combination.

That’s why line­up data is such an impor­tant sta­tis­tic. Even if that cohe­sion is easy to spot from the side­lines, it’s always use­ful to have the data to back up your hypoth­e­sis. With these met­rics, you have that power.

What I see in the data some­times points out errors in the ways that I think,” Rob Brost, head coach at Bollingbrook High (Ill.), said.​“That is my first red flag, like​‘Maybe I’ve got the wrong line­up out here.’ You can look and say,​‘We had line­up A out there in crunch time and it wasn’t very effec­tive. But in the next game, we had a dif­fer­ent group out there and that group was much more effective.’”

How It Works

Lineup data, and all the infor­ma­tion it comes with, is aggre­gat­ed based on the com­bi­na­tion of play­ers you have in the game. 

Here’s an exam­ple of how line­up data is typ­i­cal­ly sorted.

Let’s say you have the ball with 10 sec­onds left, no shot clock, and a tied game. You call a time­out. If you look at the data, which of these line­ups will give you the best shot at win­ning the game?

How Coaches Value It

When you’re in the heat of bat­tle, you don’t always have time to make the right deci­sion. Understanding the strengths and weak­ness­es of each line­up, backed by data, helps coach­es know what sub­sti­tu­tions to make for spe­cif­ic game scenarios.

I’m used to watch­ing film, but to able to break it down by play­er, the ana­lyt­ics have been amaz­ing,” said St. Johns Country Day (Fla.) girls bas­ket­ball coach Yolanda Bronston. I know which line­up is my scor­ing line­up. I know which line­up to put in when I need steals. At the end of the game, when we need to hit free throws, I know the best line­up to put in for free throw per­cent­age. We use it for everything.”

Lynden Christian (Wash.) girls bas­ket­ball coach Brady Bomber recalled a recent sea­son where line­up data revealed a bound­less ener­gy lev­el with a cer­tain bench play­er. She just made things hap­pen,” he said.

We just felt that this girl was an impact in the game at a high lev­el, so we thought we might need to get her into the game ear­li­er, because we might be miss­ing out on a chance to start fast.”

Staggering her min­utes bet­ter made the Lynx have bet­ter starts. And tin­ker­ing with this through­out the sea­son helped them run to two straight state finals, win­ning one.

How You Can Use It

Not all com­pe­ti­tion is the same. Looking at your line­up data based on how you did against your best oppo­nents can give you shrewd solu­tions to your pain points. Going back to the chart from above, if you have one chance left to win it in reg­u­la­tion, you’re prob­a­bly going with the line­up that boast­ed both the high­est effec­tive field goal per­cent­age and low­est turnover per­cent­age, right? 

That’s been a huge resource to us,” Bomber said. Okay, let’s get out all the noise because that big win doesn’t tell us a lot about our team, and let’s look at these sev­en games and see what changes against the sev­en best teams we play.”

Don’t skip look­ing at the line­up num­bers for upcom­ing oppo­nents. A coach may have an objec­tive in mind when he or she goes with a cer­tain group­ing, and by look­ing through the num­bers, you can iden­ti­fy their thoughts and pre­dict what they’ll do. 

For exam­ple, anoth­er team may deploy a small­er line­up that ratch­ets up the ball pres­sure and forces a lot of turnovers. A cor­re­spond­ing move might be to insert your stead­i­est ball han­dlers and a few big­ger play­ers who can crash the offen­sive boards.

Like most stats, line­up data alone won’t tell the whole sto­ry. It can help uncov­er some com­bi­na­tions that should be play­ing togeth­er more often, but you have to com­bine that with what you see and know as a coach. The Value Point System, for instance, gives you an over­all view of your most effi­cient line­ups, but oth­er stats pre­pare you for spe­cif­ic situations.

You have to be open to infor­ma­tion that you’re get­ting,” Bollingbrook (Ill.) coach Brost said.​“Sometimes what you think in your head is not accu­rate, but you go with it any­way because you have a feel­ing that might work on a giv­en night. You real­ly need to com­bine the infor­ma­tion that you get and the feel that you have, and some of that comes with experience. 

It’s not a coin­ci­dence that in each of the last four years we’ve won 20-plus games. All of that has come when we start­ed to imple­ment and use the data to bet­ter eval­u­ate where we’re at.”


Fine-tun­ing your line­ups takes time. But Hudl Assist cuts that time in half. Schedule a demo to learn how to get the most data out of your film in few­er hours.

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