Matt Hixenbaugh: Competing with Undersized Players
Learn to maximize your team's strengths and mitigate the size and quickness advantages of your competition
- Learn how to change player positioning in basic sets to help your team get more easy baskets
- Instill a positive growth mindset in your team to trigger the confidence needed to beat bigger and faster opponents
- Discover unique approaches to team defense that disrupt offensive flow
with Matt Hixenbaugh, Mary Institute and Saint Louis Country Day School (MICDS) Head Coach
Coach Matt Hixenbaugh has been a consistent winner at coaching stops that include Trinity Prep in Florida where he was 57-28 in three seasons and Winter Park in Florida where he was 45-16 and was voted Class 6A State Coach of the Year.
The vast majority of teams do not possess next-level athletes that have the size and quickness to dominate the competition. Those teams must find a more feasible approach to stay competitive when facing taller and more gifted opponents.
Matt Hixenbaugh has learned that you can have slower and smaller players and still compete with some of the best teams on your schedule. By teaching basic offensive actions and putting them together in the half court, he is able to develop his players' confidence and skill sets anywhere on the floor.
Coach Hixenbaugh discusses and demonstrates the offensive and defensive tactics that have allowed his teams to compete at the highest levels, despite not always having the greatest talent.
Inverted Offensive Philosophy
Utilizing innovative player positioning out of a basic set, Coach Hixenbaugh demonstrates how to take away an opponent's physical advantage and use your own team's versatility to get easy baskets and minimize the other team's strengths.
Coach Hixenbaugh builds his Inverted Offense - part motion, part read-and-react - that has allowed his teams to come out on top against more talented opponents. By inverting, you can bring bigger defenders away from the basket, and the defender on the ball is often less comfortable guarding with on-ball pressure. Keys to the system are:
- Flexibility in player placement in order to attack the opponent's weakest link
- Achieve makeable shots, primarily lay-ups, that are created by design within the scheme
- Use ball-movement and motion to control tempo and eliminate turnovers
- Eliminate the size disadvantage by inverting guards and posts
Through 5-on-0 actions, Coach Hixenbaugh builds his offense using three breakdown drills and four build-up drills in order to come full circle. He starts breaking down the whole offense into simple drills. Each drill adds a new player and a new layer to their offense. Players are able to think and make sound decisions by learning how to read the defense and take what is given.
One such "build-up" drill involves four players (against three defenders) and reinforces the reads necessary while utilizing elements contained within the scheme such as the UCLA-cut and the dribble hand-off. All motions within the drill are actions that exist within the offensive scheme, as players learn to read the defenders in order to determine which action/cut that they should execute.
The offensive segment ends with an abbreviated 5-on-5 scrimmage where the scoring system is altered in order to reinforce the philosophical elements that are deeply rooted within the program.
"Tipping" Zone Defensive Tactics
On the defensive side of the ball, Coach Hixenbaugh discusses how to shade defenses toward the opposing team's best player and how to utilize a "tipping zone" to improve rebounding against bigger opponents. His tipping zone is a modified 3-2 zone where the bottom defenders have the responsibility to "tip" the rebound out to a teammate, and helps smaller teams get a few quick, easy scores.
While it would be great to always have the most talented and athletic team, every coach is faced with competing against teams throughout the season who may be more physically gifted. How you gain an edge against these teams can be the difference between a successful or mediocre season. Using the whole-part-whole approach to teaching, Coach Hixenbaugh explains several strategies that can negate the disadvantages that your team face throughout the year.