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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Fast Five: Searching for a Better Way

Challenge ourselves to find a better way. As a diagnostician, I ask myself, "what are the possibilities and why should I think about another way?" 

Jocko Willink writes in Extreme Ownership, "the leader is truly and ultimately responsible for everything." If I start over with "blank slate" sixth graders, what am I going to teach? 

Define the problem and the solution may become obvious. Players need to develop a mental model, a representation of what "quality basketball" should resemble...both individually and as team. My priority would integrate VDE - vision, decisions, and execution. That demands a better process, predicated on performance and feedback.

This can't mean ignoring individual skill development. But it can't mean getting players with very limited concepts of how to play into summer leagues to play games.  

1. The offensive problem, "put the orange thing in the orange ring." That informs both better quality shots and better technique. It demands better habits beginning with flips. Long-term success doesn't begin with practice idiosyncrasy. "Your way" doesn't work for 99 percent of youngsters. 

2. Apply "Priorities and Execution." The priority is to get the easiest shot using the 'tools' of spacing, cutting, passing, and screening to get a "pass and cut" mindset. 

3. Find a spacing solution. FastModel represents the half court into 'areas' with players avoiding over-occupying any space. It also illustrates the "pass and cut" priority and the need to fill open areas to maintain spacing. 

4. Transformation. Many young players equate dribbling with ball advancement. Particularly at younger levels, excessive dribbling is a problem. That creates play without purpose and usually without much skill. 

Brian McCormick has discussed random practice versus block practice, using 'dribble tag' as an example of random practice.

That doesn't mean no dribbling, but applying constraints (limits). We can require the dribble to advance the ball (when a pass is less appropriate) and limit the number of dribbles. 

We reinforce passing and cutting with a drill I call Ultimate. 

The goal of Ultimate 1 is to advance the ball via passing only into the opponent's End Zone. If the ball hits the floor (ground), it's a turnover, with the opposition immediately 'converting' into offense. 

Ultimate 2 adds one dribble, bounce passes, and conventional basketball scoring. 

5. Half-court action. Half-court play is essential against better teams that limit 'easy baskets' in transition. Players need to learn to execute in smaller spaces...and to learn play in small-sided games/groups. 

I call this "Stanford" with play limited to one side of the split. We can start without dribble penetration (e.g. pick-and-roll) but add that early. 

Reading defense has to become an early priority. If the post player gets overplayed, she and the ball handler must learn the 'slip'. After the pass, 1 must identify cutting to get return or to set an off-ball screen. 5 must learn the potential for a back cut pass to 3, return to 1, and one-on-one actions. 

On wing entry, 1 and 5 need to learn coordination (e.g. UCLA cut) and 5 learn to screen (off-ball and ball screen) and roll. 1 also must learn how NOT to interfere with 3 (bury to corner) and to play with 3 (e.g. outside handoff actions). 

Potential criticism includes "how can you teach players to play with rudimentary individual skills?" I see too many older players who have some skills but poor modeling of how to play. I'm not saying that I have a better way, but that there has to be a better way. 

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