Monday, November 22, 2010

What Does "Practice" Mean to You?

Posted by Patrick Hughes | Monday, November 22, 2010 | Category: , | 0 comments

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.

Coach Hughes
Camp Director and Skills Trainer

Monday, November 15, 2010

Want a Free Pair of Nike Kobe V's?

Posted by Elite Hoops | Monday, November 15, 2010 | Category: , | 0 comments

Elite Hoops is giving away a free pair of Nike Kobe V's in the Elite Hoops navy and red colorway. Question is-How do you get your hands on these sweet kicks?

#1- If you haven't already done so already, become a fan of Elite Hoops Facebook page.

#2- Suggest Elite Hoops page to all of your friends.

#3 – Your friend needs to then go on Facebook, “like” Elite Hoops page, and then write on our wall, “I’m a fan because of (your name).” The person who has the most unique people become a fan of Elite Hoops will win the shoes just in time for the New Year!

We’ll be keeping you updated on who’s winning as the contest goes on. Remember, we must reach a minimum of 1000 fans to be able to give away the Kobe's, so get all the friends you can to join us. The contest will continue until December 15.

Good luck!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Youth Training

Posted by Elite Hoops | Thursday, November 11, 2010 | Category: , , , | 0 comments

Will lifting weights stunt your growth? At what age should you start lifting weights?

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:

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?

Make sure you join in the fun with my Daily Question and Funniest Caption contests at and

This past week’s winner won a pair of Skull Candy headphones!

Who will my next winner be?

Alan Stein

Monday, November 8, 2010

Practice YOUR Game-like Situations!

Posted by Chris Langley | Monday, November 8, 2010 | Category: | 0 comments

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!

So as you begin your seasons and you continue to work on your individual skills, Elite Hoops wants to remind you to work on the skills that you will be expected to use during your team games. After the first couple of days of practice, coaches will begin to assign positions to players and start to teach offensive plays. As you are assigned your position and as you find out your role in your team-offense, notice what the coach expects of you. Are you expected to be the primary ballhandler, set screens, get rebounds, or shoot?

Once you figure out what you are expected to do, then begin to work on that skill on your own! If you are expected to:

1) be the primary ballhandler; work on your dribbling skills with stationary ballhandling drills, full court ballhandling drills, cross-over drills (focusing on keeping the ball below the knee and changing speed and direction on your moves), and attacking the parts of the court you will most likely find yourself during your games. Also don't forget to work on your passing. Be able to make a bounce pass, chest pass, shovel pass with your right hand and left hand. The easiest way to work on passing is use a brick wall, cinder-block wall, or if you are luck enough to have a partner you can work on these drills, and go through all the types of passes you are expected make out of your team's offense.

2)set screens; work on your timing and position. Make sure you set a screen at a spot on the court and let the ballhandler or the cutter use your screen. Don't set a moving screen! Make sure you establish position on the court with your screen. If you run into players out of control, you will be called for committing a "moving screen" violation. Make sure that that the player that is using your screen is either coming of the screen shoulder to shoulder or shoulder to hip, so the defender can't slip through making the screen useless. Also as a screener you must be able to roll to the basket or pop out for a shot. Make sure that no matter what your coach wants you to do as a screener, you don't turn your head away from the ball because you must always be ready to catch the ball. So no matter what make sure that you always pivot in a way that makes sure that you see the ball.

3)get rebounds; work on your footwork and positioning. When the ball goes up, your hands need to go up, so you are ready for the basketball as it comes off as a missed shot. Also remember to BOX OUT! Get low, pivot in the proper direction according to which way the opposing player moves, put your back-side on the nearest opposing player and move them away from the missed shot. Once you have established better position than your opponent, then you can head towards the rebound! Rebounding is all about hustle and position. It doesn't matter how tall you are if you have your heart and mind set on getting a rebound!

4)Shoot; Know where your shots are going to come from out of your team's offense. If you are a guard know if you are expected to just catch and shoot, if you are expected to come off screens, or if you are someone who is supposed to drive to the basket. Wherever you are expected to shoot from in games, practice those shots!

If you are a post player make sure that you are working on shots around the basket (hook shots, drop steps, up and unders) or maybe you are also expected to play at the high post and shoot from the elbow. Your coach may expect you to shoot from other spots depending on your position and the offense that he or she runs.

No matter what just make sure that you are practicing shots that you will be shooting during games. (If you aren't going to shoot a 3 pointer or a half court shot during a game, don't practice those shots during the seasons. The off-season is the time to add moves to your game.) During the season, work on the stuff that helps your team!

If you practice on your own time and make your practices even harder than your games, you will make games much easier and you will experience great success!

Friday, November 5, 2010

What makes a "good basketball player?"

Posted by Patrick Hughes | Friday, November 5, 2010 | Category: | 0 comments

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.

Playing College Basketball

Posted by Lee Miller | | Category: , , , | 0 comments

I am honored to receive hundreds of emails per week from coaches and players around the world… almost all of which offer kind words and support (for which I am truly grateful).  I also get asked a lot of questions.  The three questions I get asked most often by players are:

What is the best way to improve my vertical?
How do I get a college scholarship?
Will lifting weights stunt my growth?

If you are looking to improve your hops, please check out the episodes, articles, and downloads at

As for getting a college scholarship, I happily offer my thoughts in this blog.  Next week I will address age appropriate strength training and the myth that strength training will stunt growth.

In my 10+ years as a basketball strength and conditioning coach, I have worked with hundreds of high school players who have gone on to play college basketball.  They have gone to schools ranging from Division III to major Division I.  Only a very small percentage of the hundreds of thousands of kids who play high school basketball have an opportunity to play in college, and an even smaller percentage will play on scholarship (NOTE: Division III schools do not offer athletic scholarships). 

If you are 7 feet tall, a scholarship will probably find you.  If you play for a nationally renowned high school or AAU program, you have a much better chance as well.  But what if you don’t?  What if you are of average size, decent skill level, and have a ton of heart? Can you still play college basketball?  Yes! But it’s not easy.

Here are 8 tips on how you can improve your chances of attaining a basketball scholarship: 

1)    Be an outstanding student.  Being a great student expands the ranges of schools you can attend and shows a coach you are committed to excellence on and off the court.  Unless you are a bona fide All-American, coaches at every level are tired of taking risks on kids who are poor students.  This is the first question every coach asks.  Don’t let the first filter be the one that weeds you out!

2)    Be a great teammate.  Every coach I have ever talked too looks to recruit players that are coachable and who get along with their teammates.  No one wants a jerk. Be the teammate everyone loves to play with because you are unselfish, coachable, enthusiastic, committed to team goals, and raise the level of those around you. Being a great teammate will raise your stock tremendously.  I have seen players (literally) lose a coach’s interest because of bad body language or acting like a jackass when they didn’t agree with a foul call or when they came out of the game.  Before college coaches ask me to evaluate a player’s athletic ability, they always ask, “are they a good teammate?”

3)    If you can’t, don’t.  Stick to what you do best and play to your strengths. Stop doing what you think coaches want to see. If you aren’t a great 3 point shooter, stop shooting 3’s! Coaches want players who know, understand, and accept their role.  Nothing can lose a scholarship faster than trying to show off for a coach during a practice or a game.  All you are doing is exposing your weaknesses!  Every team, from JV to the NBA needs role players and players who know how to play to their strengths.

4)    Do the little things. Contrary to what most high school players think, it is not all about scoring.  To play college basketball, you need to do the little things: good footwork, set screens, box out, share the ball, communicate, play solid defense, dive for loose balls, work hard, and be a leader on and off the court.  These things alone will separate you from 95% of the players who are your size and skill level.  The little things can earn you a big scholarship!

5)    Maximize your ability. You can’t control your height, and to some degree, your overall athleticism.  But you can make sure you are in great basketball shape.  You should be on a year round strength & conditioning program and work on your ball handling and shooting daily.  Focus on the things you have complete control over!

6)    Be realistic. It is so important that you have an accurate evaluation of the level you can play.  Not everyone can play major Division I basketball.  I am not opposed to setting high standards and chasing your dreams; but don’t pass up on a great opportunity to play (and get an education) at a D-II or D-III school because you think Duke or Kentucky is going to call.  I have seen so many players left out in the cold because they kept holding out for a better offer that never came.

7)    Protect your brand.  You are the CEO of Brand You.  I wrote extensively about this concept in a previous blog: You need to carry yourself with professionalism and respect… both on and off the court.  Be careful what you Tweet or post on Facebook… it takes years to build credibility and a quality reputation and one click to ruin it. Someone is always watching and college coaches do significant background checks on all of their recruits.  Their first stop? Social media sites!

8)    Recruit them. Basketball is global.  If you can play; “they” will find you.  Don’t worry too much about getting exposure. Worry more about not getting exposed (for your weaknesses)!  And you don’t have to wait for a school to recruit you… you can recruit them!  If you know of a school that you would like to play for and is appropriate to your level… send them a letter and some game film.  If they like what they see; they will get back in touch! 

Bottom line is this; in addition to working on your handle and jump shot, you need to find ways to differentiate yourself from the pack.  You need to show college coaches a reason to offer you scholarship instead of giving them a reason not too!

Even though we held this workout outside; the following is a great workout you can do on court with minimal equipment after practice:

In the next couple of weeks I will post videos of our pre-practice warm-up as well as our post practice cool down.  Soon to follow will be videos of in-season strength workouts and pre-game warm-ups!

Make sure you join in the fun with my Daily Question and Funniest Caption contests at and

Please email me at if I can ever be of service.

Alan Stein

PS: I take pride in facilitating quality information and have sent out dozens of Coaching Nuggets in the past. I have decided to change the format and will send out one new Basketball Nugget per month. This month’s nugget will be sent next week; so please sign up for our email newsletter if you haven’t already done so: