Thursday, December 16, 2010
The rip-through and attack move, that we teach players at training, is a great move for offensive players to use when defensive players reach or are off balance. We teach players to catch the ball at their waist (in good triple threat position) and then rip it strong to their opposite knee. By teaching offensive player's this move, they can get the one step advantage that it takes to beat a reaching defender when attacking the basket. To make the move even more effective, use as few dribbles as possible when attacking the basket. This move will lead to some easy points for players who utilize it properly!
Check out below how the the rip-through and attack move is used effectively in game action!
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
At the top of John Wooden's Pyramid of Success is Competitive Greatness. Now, in order for a team to achieve that the team must have a great coach. And Coach Fox is just that. He is a fearless leader who takes command of his players, staff and practices. He opened practice with a brief message about where the team stood and what they needed to accomplish that day at practice. The energy level was extremely high throughout 99% of the practice, however at one point during practice, there was a lull of energy. Fox reminded his players. "that enthusiasm is contagious," and that a couple of the players needed to lift the rest of their teammates energy levels. Not only is enthusiasm contagious, but it is also one of Wooden's corner building blocks on his pyramid.
Fox not only tells players how he wants things done, he shows them how he wants it done. During drills, he will act as another defender, show guards how to make the pass, he'll even hit the Bigs with a pad to get them used to contact. During the scouting report, Fox put on a blue jersey and played for 15 minutes as one of UAB's starters. After hitting a 15 footer, Fox told the Georgia player guarding him, "I'm 6'3 and 42 years old and hitting shots on you. Whats the (UAB player) gonna be able to do?"
High School players ask me all the time how much difference there is between high school and collegiate practice. It's immeasurable. Practice is longer. Coaches are tougher. Players are bigger and faster. And concepts and terminology are more immense.
The three things I noticed in this practice is that are much different than typical high school practices are: Sounds, Intensity and Comradery.
By sounds I mean players voices. Players on the college level talk and communicate much more with each other than most high school teams. I always joke that players talk on the way to practice, in the locker room and after games, but when they are on the floor most of them fail to talk to their teammates. I think the easiest way to teach player communication is through the Shell Drill.
The intensity level easily doubles from the high school level to college. I think this tends to be because on most high school teams there is a notable difference between the top few players the the rest of the squad. Many times the top player(s) can go half speed and still beat their teammates. For the most part on the college level, there is less disparity from player 1 to player 12 and thus players battle and fight on a more level playing field which in turn makes for a more intense practice.
Lastly is comradery. College players eat, sleep, practice and go to school together. The more you are with teammates the more comradey you will have. On the high school level, players typically go home after practice and do not see each other until the next day at school. On the college level, players have study hall after practice, then eat together and then head back to the dorms together. To make up for this, I think it is vital that high school coaches take their teams to out of town tournaments as well as social events planned together as a team.
As I mentioned earlier, I take every opportunity to watch college practices. One of my mentors, Coach Jim Harrick once told me, "You can always learn from a coach. Sometimes it's what to do, and sometimes its what NOT to do." In the case of Fox and his Bulldogs, its what to do.
Elite Hoops Director
A major factor in your team’s success is getting every player to:-Know Their Role
-Accept Their Role
-Have Pride in Their Role
Coach Jones takes a unique approach. Prior to our first game, he conducts a 15 minute meeting with every player and their parents. He offers his thoughts on their first 3 weeks of practice, he clearly defines their role on the team, he estimates how much playing time they will get, and he outlines his expectations.
He encourages each player to speak freely and voice any concerns. The parents are included to make sure nothing is lost in translation. The meeting isn’t adjourned until everyone is on the same page.
Coach Jones’ honesty, sincerity, and inclusion of the parents make this approach extremely effective. Here is another useful exercise to try with your team: Have every player write down the number of minutes they would like to play in each game. Collect everyone’s number and total them up.
In a standard high school game there are160 playable minutes available (32 minutes of game time x 5 players on the court at all times). I guarantee the number you total will far exceed 160 minutes. In many cases, it will be double. What does that mean? It means that most of the players want to play more minutes than they actually will (or are even possible!). They may have written down 20 minutes… yet realistically will play significantly less than that.
Discrepancies in playing time can become a major distraction if not handled appropriately.
While things can certainly change, it is important to clearly define each player’s role (including an honest estimate of playing time) to reduce the chance of it becoming an issue later in the season. Grumblings at the “end of the bench” can become a cancer to the team. Team’s that keep high morale and great attitudes at the “end of the bench”… are teams that will maximize their potential. They epitomize the word “team.”
While every player wants to start and wants to score points… that is not everyone’s role. There are so many ways players can positively impact a game… in limited minutes… that don’t make the newspaper.
Villanova’s men’s basketball program records the following on a board called “Attitude Club” after every game:
Extra pass (a pass that sets up an assist)
Screen assist (a screen that leads to an immediate score)
Tap backs (tapping a loose ball or rebound to teammate to gain position)
Quick outlets (getting the ball to a guard immediately after a rebound)
Shot contests (high hand on all shots)
Dives (getting on the floor for loose balls)
Deflections (disrupting the offense’s flow by getting a hand on the ball)
Paint passes (working the ball inside; hitting cutters and feeding the post)
Players that play limited minutes can still score highly in these areas. Players that don’t play at all can still do these things in practice (which will help earn time in the future). Whether you play 30 minutes a game, 3 minutes a game, or don’t play at all… make the most of every opportunity you have (even if it is in practice) and find a way within your role to contribute and make your team better.
One of my primary roles with DeMatha is to get our team mentally and physically ready to compete. Coach Paul Ricci has the same role at the University of Maryland.
Here is a video of their pre-game warm-up: http://TinyUrl.com/MDPreGameWarmUp
This is what they do prior to lay-up lines, passing drills, etc. This warm-up takes about 10 minutes.
Please keep me posted on how your team is doing this season.
I can be reached at:
Play hard. Play smart. Play together.
Monday, November 22, 2010
The word "practice." What does it mean to you? For some its a dreaded word while for others its something that they relish. Today I want to touch on two things that I look for when I see players practicing. I have been told many times before in the past by various different individuals that practice makes perfect. While at face value this statement may make sense I have to disagree with it and let me explain why. If you continually practice a skill, lets say shooting, over and over again but you do it incorrectly then you are simply reinforcing a bad habit. Therefore I want each and everyone of you to attempt for perfection. Legendary Packers coach Vince Lombardi said, "practice doesn't make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect." Therefore when you are working on the skills and drills that you have learned at the various Elite Hoops camps and skills trainings I want you to attempt perfection. Try to shoot every shot with perfect form finishing with your elbow above your eye. I want to see you all changing speed and direction when making a move. I want to see your crossover below your knee when going from left to right or right to left. If you practice perfect form and technique over and over again then it will mold the correct way to dribble and shoot into your muscle memory.
Often times when I walk into a gym before a skills training, a camp, or a high school practice I observe players taking shots and getting loose. 99% of the time when I see a player taking a shot though they are not going at what I would refer to at game speed. Then when they get in a game and miss their shot or are not able to shake a defender they wonder why. I always tell my players that they need to practice at game speed and practice like they want to play. Everyone wants to be a good basketball player but there are only a select few that will put in the work necessary to become one. If you are one who is willing to put in the work practice for perfection, practice like you want to play, and practice at game speed.
Camp Director and Skills Trainer
Monday, November 15, 2010
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Let me put an end to this lingering myth once and for all…
Proper strength training does not stunt growth! In fact, you can actually begin a safe, age appropriate training program as young as 8 or 9 years old.
For all of the 13 and 14 year olds who email me or hit me up on Twitter or Facebook asking when they should start strength training… my answer is… today!
The most important concept to understand is that a child’s chronological age and their physical and mental maturity are not always congruent. This includes their muscular and Central Nervous System maturity (coordination, body awareness, etc.) as well as their mental maturity (attention span, ability to process and follow instructions, etc.). Children mature and progress at different rates. Some 10 year olds look and act 16 and some 16 year olds look and act 10! Therefore, individualized modifications should be made for any outlier and you should get approval from a qualified professional prior to implementing a training program.
However, as a general rule of thumb, young players (ages 8-12) can and should participate in a structured, supervised, age appropriate training program.
There is a difference between “lifting weights” and “strength training.” I strongly prefer to use the term strength training as it encompasses a variety of modalities and methodologies. You can improve strength without weights. When I say a young player should learn how to squat correctly, I am referring to the functional movement (not implying you load their spine with a barbell!). My goal is not to produce better “weight lifters”, but rather to use appropriate training methods to produce stronger, more coordinated, and more confident players. A truly comprehensive program utilizes more than just weights. In fact, some of the most intense and difficult strength workouts we have our players do don’t even use weights!
An age appropriate strength training program will not harm a child’s growth, but will actually help strengthen their skeletal and muscular system as well as their connective tissue. It will also help facilitate an improvement in their coordination and body awareness.
A proper youth training program should involve dynamic flexibility, movement preparation, footwork, strength training, and agility drills. The program should be done two times per week, for 30-45 minutes per workout, and focus on multi-joint movements such as skipping, hopping, jumping, lunging, squatting, pushing, pulling, throwing, and twisting. The workouts should be challenging, yet fun and engaging with the goal of building great training habits and a solid foundation of efficient movement.
It is important for younger players to regularly experience a variety of motor skills in order to promote future athletic success and injury prevention. Developing this basic coordination through a wide variety of movements, drills, and exercises is integral… with the eventual goal of developing basketball specific coordination in their teenage years. In other words, children need to learn how to run and jump properly, how to control their body in space and how to move efficiently before they learn how to dribble, shoot, and pass. They need to do this for the same reason they need to learn addition and subtraction before they learn algebra and geometry… one builds on the other.
Research has shown that coordination is best developed between the ages of 10 to 12 years old. There are several components to coordination, such as balance, rhythm, body awareness in space, and reaction. Younger players that master these components, and improve their coordination through appropriate training, tend to have better athletic success at later ages. Of course, one’s absolute athletic potential is somewhat pre-determined based on genetic predispositions. However, regardless of their absolute athletic potential, every young player can make progress. This is why introducing a proper youth training program is so important!
For the record, I am not saying that children under the age of 10 to 12 shouldn’t be playing basketball or learning basketball skills… they should. But they should also be learning how to master their general motor skills (particularly running and jumping).
Here are 4 guidelines to a quality youth training program:
- Safe: young players must use proper form and appropriate resistances (if applicable).
- Fun: young players should be engaged and enjoy training!
- Fundamental: young players should master a variety of general motor skills (skipping, hopping, jumping, lunging, squatting, pushing, pulling, throwing, and twisting) before trying to master sport-specific skills (ball handling, shooting, etc.).
- Challenging: young players learn quickly, so challenge them physically and mentally with a variety of new movements, exercises, and drills.
Believe me, my twin sons Luke and Jack will be exposed to a safe, age appropriate youth training program at a very early age!
I wrote this blog because I am passionate about this message (not to push a product). However, I have created an 8-Week Youth Training Program download for any parent or coach who needs it: http://shop.strongerteam.com/p-36-8-week-training-program-for-youth-basketball-players.aspx
The Vertimax is an invaluable training tool for improving explosiveness and can be used both in and out of season. But did you know it could do all of this?
This past week’s winner won a pair of Skull Candy headphones!
Who will my next winner be?
Monday, November 8, 2010
If you are a player who has trained with us in the past, or if you are a new player that is just beginning to train with us, you know that many of the drills that we use to develop ballhandling, perimeter moves, passing techniques, and shooting are drills that simulate game-like situations. Our goal is to force players to pay attention to proper technique, while having to think about a defender, speed, time, and the pressure that comes along with playing in an actual game. We want to make trainings as HARD as possible, so games are EASY!
Friday, November 5, 2010
What makes a good basketball player? This is a question that I thought about rather intensely in the past week or so as my high school team under went tryouts. A person who plays basketball will often times tell you that they want to become a better player or want to be seen by their peers as a good player but have you ever sat down and mapped out what you need to do to become a good player?
What I want to address to you now is what I believe makes a good individual player. When I look at a player I want to see how they perform in five major aspects of the game. Those aspects are shooting, passing, dribbling, rebounding, and defending. In my mind an above average high school player will excel at two of those five facets that I previously listed. A good high school player will excel at three of the five areas I listed and a great player four or more.
As your season starts sit down and write down your individual goals as well as the goals that you have for your team. Write down what you believe to be your strengths and what you believe your weaknesses to be so that you can focus on playing to your strengths and improving your short comings. List the five aspects of the game as I have typed above and give yourself an honest assessment of where you think your game is compared to other players of your age. Don't be discouraged if you are only good at one aspect of the game. Each basketball team has their own personality and make up. A coach can always find playing time for a player who is good at one aspect. There is always a spot on my team from a player who is a great spot up shooter, a savvy ball handler, or someone who can get a tough rebound.
Make sure that as your season progresses you look as your goal sheet and are charting how you are doing compared to your individual and team goals. Let us know what your individual and tam goals are now before your season starts and then in March lets see how you all did.