Strength in Numbers

The Golden State Warrior's motto is "strength in numbers." This isn't just a cliche or a cool slogan. It's an important part of coach Steve Kerr's philosophy. Strength in numbers is about team depth. It's about using everyone on your team to gain certain advantages. It's also about teamwork and sharing the ball, and not relying on just one star player.

The benefits of teamwork and unselfishness are pretty obvious. It leads to quality shots/plays which increases efficiency. It makes it tough on defenses since they can't just lock in on one player. Also, since it gets everyone involved, everyone becomes engaged, confident, and performs better.

It doesn't just increase the engagement of the players on the court/field. It also increases the engagement of the entire team, since everyone gets a respectable amount of playing time, and no one is on the bench for the entire game. Since everyone on the team feels valuable, this greatly increases team cohesion, which improves motivation, leadership, and performance. Not only this, but the added playing time given to the backups allows them to grow throughout the course of a season. It's harder to improve if you don't get any real playing time in games. As they keep improving, the better this "strength in numbers" strategy works.

One of the biggest benefits of "strength in numbers" comes from sharing the workload, which gives players rest, which improves performance. When a team uses their depth and makes frequent substitutions, each player receives a good amount of rest, so when they're in the game, they can use more energy. They don't have to worry as much about pacing themselves. They can give 100% effort, and before they get too fatigued, they can be substituted. Once their "batteries are recharged," they can reenter the game and give their teammates rest. The more players you use, the better you're able to do this.

Many coaches are afraid to implement this philosophy because they fear that their weaker players won't perform well enough. Because of this, they over use their starters and keep their backups on the bench for most of the game. Some players don't even play at all. This isn't necessarily wrong. Perhaps the talent discrepancy between the starters and the backups is very large. If this is the case, then using the "strength in numbers" strategy isn't always worth it.

However, if the talent discrepancy between the starters and backups isn't too large, then the "strength in numbers" strategy is definitely worth it. Yes, there's cons to playing your weaker players more, but the benefits that you get in return over-weigh them. Overall team performance will increase because of the increases in teamwork, team cohesion, leadership, engagement, rest, motivation, and confidence of each player.

It takes courage to use this strategy. It may not always feel like the smartest decision during a particular game. It may in fact backfire and cost you the game. But you need to think long-term and know that the benefits of using "strength in number" will pay off. If you keep using it for the entire year, by the end of the year, your overall team performance will be better than if you never used it.

This obviously doesn't mean that you have to give each player equal playing time. If you have a star player, you'd be dumb to keep him/her on the bench for too long. Know how much playing time you should give to each player and know when to substitute to maximize team performance and team development. As a coach, you need to practice this. The more you practice it, the better you'll be able to use this "strength in numbers" philosophy. I highly recommend implementing "strength in numbers" as a main component of your team culture.