Implementing a Conceptual Offense with Limited Practice Time

Coach Niels Vandeput is the Head Coach of BC Grimbergen U18 in Belgium as well as a Basketball Immersion member for many years. Niels has two practices a week with his team, with each practice being 1.5 hours.  As one of the first coaches to join the BDT Offense community, we wanted to spotlight the great work Niels is doing as well as firmly disproving the myth that using the CLA effectively and adopting a conceptual offense cannot be done with limited practice time. Niels and the Grimbergen team are proof that not only can it be done effectively, but that it also leads to great results!

Basketball Immersion – What do you like the most about conceptual offense?

Niels Vandeput – It is an easy adaptable offensive structure, without using predetermined patterns so players therefore learn to read and execute based on what is happening in the game. Also given that it is positionless basketball, it’s ideal for youth development. Players learn to play in every position and can develop the skills needed for these roles.

The best example I can give for why this matters in youth development is with the example of one of my own players. He was 20cm bigger than all his teammates when he was U12 and U14, but now at the U18 level he is one of my smallest players. He used to play in the post but now he has developed a number of solutions dribbling, driving and finishing, shooting threes etc from being immersed in the conceptual offense.

Where did you start to implement the offense? What did you do in the first few practices of the season?

I came into contact with Alex Sarama and followed some of his clinics, then becoming a member of Basketball Immersion. I started implementing concepts from the BDT offense in the 2020-2021 season with my U16 team. I started by implementing the base spacings and the dominoes concepts which acted as our first principles of play.

In the beginning we used blast cuts as our first trigger to play dynamic 1-on-1, with an emphasis placed on the 0 seconds concept (shoot, drive or pass in zero seconds). We implemented the concepts of the two-sided fastbreak within our transition offense. When players were familiar with those concepts we started developing our first two player trigger with the “Get”. I used the BDT Offense to build everything with my team, with all our practice activities coming directly from different parts of the BDT Offense courses.

What SSGs do you use the most at practice?

In the beginning we did a lot of 2-on-1 and 3-on-2 shooting to develop players’ abilities players to find and take ROB shots. They really struggled in the beginning finding and taking open shots early in the offense, and were hesitant when the opportunity presented itself. We therefore used constraints to work on this, until players became comfortable seeking out these high value shots.. 

To develop solutions out of triggers we use a lot of 2-on-2 and 3-on-3 with different spacings and in different locations on the floor (repetition without repetition). Here we also used constraints for the defense to shape specific coverage solutions for the offense. 

When players had a basic understanding of the different coverage solutions available to them, we started using Battleships to further incorporate the use of the triggers in our offense in a 4-on-4 or 5-on-5 situation. Recently I started using a new version of Battleship in which one team gives the opponent ships that they must try to sink. I noticed that in this format of battleships the defense is much more intense trying to prevent the offense from completing the objectives. It creates a highly competitive environment in training which benefits us for high pressure games. 

If another club from Belgium watched your practice, what do you think they would find most interesting?

The absence of drills or anything on-air to train techniques and skills. Almost everything we do is with a defender (s) of some sort.

They would also observe positive interactions between the coaches and the players. It is not my training session but theirs. I try not to be a dictator, and avoid putting myself as the coach above the players. Training is a safe place were we can talk and discuss everything and try new things in game-like situations. I involve my players in the process and expect an input out of them too. I try to make them think and come up with new solutions themselves instead of spoon-feeding them with all the answers!


Niels is doing amazing work with his team, and it’s stories like this that make us proud at Basketball Immersion! Watch Niels’ team in action in the YouTube video below.

Related Articles