Checking the Trash Cans

Image Credit – https://twitter.com/TexAgs

By Aaron Hanshaw @CoachAaronH

At one coaching stop of mine, every postgame was the same. After our postgame chat, I would make sure our DVD was clean and start burning copies. I’d talk with Coach in the office, look at conference scores from that night, and start updating the stats in my scout for the next game. I’d check to make sure our locker room and bench were clean, talk with a couple of our guys’ parents, and pack up the camera equipment from the bird’s nest.

After all that was done, I went to the visitors’ locker room, tried to glean something from the erasure marks on the whiteboard, and checked the trash cans.

You read that right; I checked the trash cans. And this wasn’t a quick peek, either. I wrapped paper towels around my hands, threw my suit jacket off, and dug in. Now I’m sure some of you reading this know exactly what I was looking for. But for the uninitiated, here it is: I was digging around for their scouting reports.

This isn’t to say that what I was looking for was even that valuable. In the scouts I did find, there weren’t a whole lot of notes that were surprising. Sure, occasionally I found a player tendency or two that was way off (you seriously didn’t know he was a lefty?). The truth is, though, that I was much more interested in the way those other teams were preparing. Did their scouts include play diagrams? How specific were their personnel notes? How much information were they giving their guys?

Having the answers to some of those questions proved valuable from time to time in terms of our approach, and I used some of those personnel notes to motivate certain players. “Look at what they say about you,” I’d say. “Prove them wrong!” No, finding those scouting reports didn’t singlehandedly win any games, but it did sometimes give us a little extra information and a little extra juice.

And we never would’ve had that little extra if people hadn’t had paper scouts in our locker room. We wouldn’t have had the opportunity to get those insights. I also know this: some players never truly read those scouts. Sure, some I found were dog-eared and dented, but others were pristine. They’d barely been touched, much less flipped through and read. There were definitely cases where I got more from another team’s scout than some of their own players did.

So, what’s my point? Paper can be useful, but it can also be detrimental. Say what you want about it ethically, but I’m far from the only assistant to go snooping in the garbage. Once you print it, it’s out there. You can’t take it back, and even if you put names or initials in the top right corner and collect it later, you can’t control where it goes or by whom it’s seen.  

Beyond that, too, your players don’t want to be taught via printer paper. Think of the last time you saw high school and college kids reading anything for fun, be it a book, magazine, newspaper, or whatever. Now think of the last time you saw one of them on their phone, tablet, or computer. I’d bet a lot of money I know which one was more recent.

At Just Play, we want you to teach your players more effectively and efficiently. This means giving them information in the way they consume it best. For some, that might mean film on a study hall computer, and for others, it might mean their scouting report on their phone. Regardless, for players in 2018, I know this: they’re not flipping through neatly stapled printed pages before bed at night. But they are on their phones. And if you want them to see something, you should put it where they’re already looking. That way, it won’t end up where I was looking—in the trash cans.


Just Play provides basketball staffs with a complete coaching solution – all in one application. From building playbooks, scouting opponents, teaching players and coordinating recruiting schedules, you will prepare faster and engage better with today’s athletes using Just Play.

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