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.