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Ralph Miller's Pressure Basketball System

by Steve Seidler
Author, Observations of Ralph Miller's Pressure Basketball

Since writing the book, "A System of Game Execution" I have been amazed at how many coaches around the world have started to implement Ralph's system into their basketball teams' philosophy and execution. I get emails and calls all the time from coaches asking questions or asking for advice on the implementation of the system. In a time when many coaches see the success of great teams around the country be successful and then try to implement what they see on TV, it all still comes back to the implementation of a total system, not just the bits and pieces of those successful teams. Each system must first start with a solid foundation and then you build upon it. Everyone is familiar with Coach John Wooden's "Pyramid of Success". The base of the pyramid is what Coach Wooden considers his foundation for the success of his overall system (program). Likewise, the base of Coach Miller's system lies within his seven fundamental drills that are used everyday in practice, before any attention is given to the offense or defense. It was not uncommon that these drills would be used up to half of the practice time allotted. With a strong foundation, the rest of the system can be built upon and the coach can expect a successful end to his or her desires for a successful team/season which is based upon their win/loss record. Accordingly, a total understanding of the system is a must if

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you are to be successful. The system teaches discipline, hard work, character and teamwork, which these athletes will carry with them for the rest of their lives. This in itself is more important than the wins or losses. It produces productive citizens that will continue to influence the youth of our society as they become coaches or professionals in the "real world." As teachers and educators it is our duty to ingrain these attributes into our "cherubs", as Coach Miller used to call them.

Coach Miller's foundation, the seven drills, are all outlined and extensively described in the book. They include: Body position and movement, Lay up drill, Split the post, Three lane rush, Wide figure 8, Three on three full court and Four on four full court. Each drill incorporates lessons learned in the previous drill such as jump stops, pivoting, passing instead of dribbling and knowing where your position on the floor should be considering the situation. By the time you have reached four on four you have implemented all the fundamental skills necessary to be successful. At the same time you are implementing your offense and defense into the equation, so time is not being wasted solely on the drills. The key to this success is repetition. By building repetition into your practices you create habits which will carry over into game competition. The drills are competitive in nature and thus create competition amongst team members from the onset. It teaches them to react to situations on the court and not have to think. Coach Miller wanted his players to react instinctively to situations, thus eliminating the thinking process, which in many cases, the wrong decision is made and time and space are wasted.

The book also details his 1-4 system for offense, the speed game (fast break organization and attacks, rotation patterns, and secondary breaks), his defenses (2-3 principle, zone principles, full court press, 1-2-2 match up zone) press attacks and finally preseason conditioning. In conjunction with the book, "Ralph Miller's Pressure Basketball" video is available. It is a one hour and fifty minute tape that goes over his whole system in interview form taken from his television show. It is of great value to actually hear from Coach Miller in his own words describing his system. The tape uses game and practice footage so you can actually see the system implemented as it was done everyday. Keep in mind that you cannot read the book or watch the video once; it must be studied over and over to fully grasp "the system".

My joy for writing the book comes from the number of coaches who are now implementing his system, once thought to be "out of date". There can be no greater tribute to a Hall of Fame Coach and twice National Coach of the Year than to see his legacy being revived and used all over the world. I think of Coach Miller everyday and think how lucky I was to have been an assistant to him for seven years. Many of the life skills I learned from him I pass onto my students' everyday. In the history of Oregon State Basketball, his success may never be repeated. In the book I state that, "we were at a special place and time in history" and for that I will be forever thankful.

Since our original reviews there has been much renewed interest in Ralph Miller's defensive system. More and more coaches continue to research and implement Coach Miller's Pressure Basketball System every day.

Our Original Reviews, from 1999.

Video Review

This video is a good tool for a coach striving for a winning program. A high school coach or grade school coach can benefit from Coach Miller's philosophies of basketball. The basic concepts of Coach Miller's are simple and concise. His narrative throughout the video emphasizes the need for fundamentals and the demonstration of these fundamentals. The video is broken into individual and team concepts. The individual concept focuses on the fundamentals of the jump stop, passing, and defending. The team sections deal with similar application of the aforementioned skills. Game situations from Coach Miller's Oregon State teams are shown throughout the video.

The applications of this video can benefit a program looking to run, excellent transition footage and explanation. The team concept of offense could also improve a program. Coach Miller's entire concept is not used much around the country according to the author, Steve Seidler. Upon questioning the author, he responded "No current teams use his system in its entirety except Penn-Trafford High School. They had only won 6 games in two years before they implemented Ralph's system. They only went 64-12, won three district championships in the PENN 5A, the large school division in PA."

Try to ignore the uniforms, old footage, and concentrate on the skills to be learned. This is a coaches video not a players.

Book Review

In the 1980's, Oregon State University's basketball program was one of the most dominant teams in the nation. Since that time OSU has been unable to achieve the success that Coach Miller had. The fourteen chapters of the book provide different areas of how to improve overall team play. At the heart of the book are the seven fundamentals that Coach Miller used in his practices. This is what made the team offense and defense work. Coach Miller's use of half-court offense, constant pressure and match-up zone defense allowed his teams to become great defensively.

The book details a firm approach in the ethics and style of a great coach and his system of play. Many coaches should appreciate Seidler's effort in writing this book. Seidler's inclusion of pre-season conditioning and training helps to give another impression of what it takes to become a great basketball player. Coaches take note, this system is not implemented around the nation currently at any level, except for a single high school. The style of basketball that Coach Miller enjoyed is why the game of basketball is so enjoyable. This system of basketball applies pressure on both sides of the ball. You need a deep bench to really make this work.

Book Analysis

The content of the book is worth the price. Seidler has chronicled a system that has value. Coach Miller's coaching style is for you, if you want to teach your team to run. This is a great book on how to achieve a new level of play. Hats off to Steve Seidler in preserving a system of basketball that should not be taken lightly.

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