Scouting has become a vital part of winning basketball today. Coaches are investing time and energy watching video tape and scouting their opponents. This article will help your scouting process by making scouting more organized and less complicated. All coaches scout in some form or another, but very few scout effectively. If you are prepared and know what to look for, you can help your team win games.

Some coaches ask the question, "Why scout?" There are several important reasons for scouting.

1. To prepare your team for every situation that may occur in a game.
2. Scouting may give you the "edge" you need to win.
3. Scouting breeds confidence. Players gain confidence in their coaches, and also gain confidence that their team is prepared to win.
4. Scouting gives you a peace of mind going into a game. It gives you the feeling that your staff has done all it could possibly have done to get ready for the game.



1. Scouting preparation can't be overemphasized. It is probably the most overlooked aspect of scouting.
2. As a coach, you must know your opponent, inside and out. Know what they do and how they make adjustments.
3. Analyze tapes of the team you are going to scout. Have a feel for their personnel, offenses, and defenses before scouting them in person.
4. Acquire records, scouting reports, statistics, schedules, articles, and video tapes on each of your opponents.
5. Check old scouting reports for additional information.
6. Prepare yourself for instant recognition of situations that will occur on the floor.
7. Use current statistics to analyze the team you are scouting. Watch players in action and compare their performance to their statistics.
8. Prior to the game you are scouting, jot down important notes on your scouting worksheets.
9. If you are an assistant coach, know what your head coaches scouting priorities are.
10.Make sure you have all needed working materials. (Pencils, worksheets, clipboard, extra paper and diagram pads).
11.Fellow coaches are also a valuable source of information. Don't be afraid to call them up for information and be willing to share information yourself.



Jot down the various sets and patterns. Also look for out of bounds plays, last second plays, set plays and special situation plays.

Offensive Questions

A. What side of the floor do they initiate the offense?
B. Describe their offensive tempo. Are they pushing it up, or walking it up? Do they want to run?
C. Do they fast break? Is it a middle, sideline, or numbered break? Does the point guard handle the ball every time? Where does he catch the outlet pass to start the break?
D. Shot selection. Do they take good shots, and where do they get their shots from?
E. Do they get the ball inside? Do they score inside, or do they get it inside just to set up their perimeter game?
F. Do they hit the offensive boards? How many do they send to the boards?
G. Do they penetrate to score or penetrate to pass? Do they penetrate at all?
H. Do they have a "money player" that they will go to when they need a basket or at the end of the game or half?
I. As yourself, "What are they trying to accomplish on offense?"
J. Are they patient on offense? Will they wait until they get a high percentage shot before they shoot?
K. Do they set up or do they ran a continuity offense?
L. How do they attack the zone?
M. Who are their shooters, passers, penetrators, and rebounders?
N. Does one of the guards run the offense? What can we do to force them out of their game?
O. How do they attack zone pressure? Who handles the ball for them? Are they hiding players on offense? Diagram their initial set and how they attack.
P. Do they run an early offense at the end of their break? If so, is it successful or not? Diagram the early offense if they have one.


Defensive Questions

A. What kind of defense they do play? How do they set up?
B. How do they play man-to-man defense? (Pressure and denial, sagging, or switching.
C. How do they defend the post? Do they let the ball come inside?
D. How is their weakside defense? Are they in help position?
E. Do they check cutters through the lane?
F. Are their any "ball watchers" on defense?
G. How do they play screens. Do they switch or fight through them?
H. Do they communicate on defense?
I. Do they switch defenses after made field goals or free throws, or after time outs?
J. Where does their defense start? (Full court, 3/4 court, half court or top of the key?
K. How do they defend the wing entry pass? Do they pressure the wing pass or let you have it?
L. How do they react to post feeds? Do they collapse, play half way off their man, or do nothing?
M. Can we lob to the post against them, or do they have help?
N. Who is their weakest/strongest defensive guard? Defensive forward? Post player?
O. Can we fastbreak against them? Do they get back and cover up quickly?
P. How do they rebound defensively? Do they block out well?
Q. How is their offside defensive rebounding?
R. Who can we penetrate against? Is there a weak link?
S. Do they go for shot and pass fakes?
T. Do they use full court pressure? Man-to-man or zone? What are they trying to do with full court pressure? (Trap, slow down the offense, change the tempo, or force turnovers.)
U. How do they defend out of bounds plays? Do they play man-to-man or zone?


A. Check each player for strengths and weaknesses.
B. Check for quickness, speed, aggressiveness, shooting, ball-handling, and passing ability.
C. Is he a team player or is he looking to do it for himself? Does he communicate, help and recover, or pass to open teammates?
D. Is he an intense player? Or does he look to rest on defense? Can we beat him when he's tired? Can we run and beat him down the floor?
E. Is he a body checker? Is he physical? Can we wear him down and muscle him?
F. Check for shooting range of each player. Will he take the big shot or just stay within his own limits.
G. How does he react to pressure? Can we force individuals or their whole team out of their game with pressure?
H. Is he foul prone?
I. Does he go to the boards hard or not? Doe he go to the offensive, defensive, or both?
J. What kind of player is he away from the ball? On offense or defense does he play away from the ball?


1. Remember, be prepared before you scout a game. It will make scouting easier, and will yield a more accurate report.
2. Divide your time and be analytical. Don't spend time writing down useless information.
3. Don't jump to conclusions. Keep watching for patterns and be patient.
4. Devise your own terminology. This will save you time writing and allow more time for watching.
5. Notice little things like the initial jump ball alignment, special plays at the end of a quarter or half, and substitution patterns. Who throws the ball inbounds on each out of bounds play? Why? Do they face guard the ball in full court pressure or do they double team a guard? How many players crash the boards?
6. When scouting, call ahead to confirm day, time, and location of the game.
7. Try to take someone with you to keep a shot chart or individual tendencies.
8. Use a mini tape recorder to record information before, during, and after the game.
9. Write down important thoughts after the game while they are still fresh in your mind.
10. Always pay close attention to substitution patterns. When do they substitute and why? Are they trying to hide certain players?
11. Train scouts who are willing to help you out. Get a regular scout who can scout for you on the nights you play.
12. Maintain a good scouting file. It will be beneficial to you down the road.
13. Develop a scouting worksheet form that is concise and workable for you.
14. Establish your points of emphasis. What is important to know about your opponent.
15. Determine what information your players need to know. Not nearly as much as the coaches. Keep it simple for the players.
16. Use psychology and motivate players through scouting reports.
17. When presenting information to players, keep it positive. "We will win if we.......". Build up respect, not fear.
18. Follow up is extremely important. Make notes following every game. Alter your scouting report while it is fresh in your mind.
19. It can be helpful to have someone scout your team for you. What are your weaknesses/strengths? What are you trying to accomplish on offense and defense?
20. Be careful and spend time on your finished product. It should be a work of art. Keep it simple and to the point. Use it properly and you will win the close games.