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Sunday, April 1, 2018

"What Do You Want?" Summer Basketball Priorities

"What do you want?" The offseason affords us the chance to transform needs and wants into skills and performance. We needn't shape the future of basketball to enhance life's journey for our players. 

Like Santa, make our list and check it twice. And develop a realistic plan to implement our evolution.

1. Communication. If there's to be any 'there' there, we have to communicate better. We spend the first few years teaching a child to stand up and talk. Then we spend decades telling them to sit down and shut up. That's counterproductive. I need to create better habits of movement and communication. That has to begin with practice, from the moment they walk through the doors. 

2. Game Understanding. Benjamin Franklin said, "life's tragedy is that we get old too soon and wise too late." Accelerate player recognition of opportunity and risk. I believe that film study differentiates superior players through changing decision-making and behavior. Many sites, especially provide video analysis. 

3. Footwork. The great Pete Newell described footwork, balance, and maneuvering speed as vital skills. Pivoting is the underrated skill among shooting, dribbling, passing, and rebounding in offensive development. Players don't have to be on the court to work on pivoting. You can practice footwork anywhere. 

Simplify. The front pivot occurs when your "front" leads. The back (reverse) pivot occurs when your back leads. With a natural right-handed player, the front pivot off the left foot occurs as the body goes counterclockwise...and the reverse pivot is clockwise. I prefer players to sweep the ball low (below the knees) to make it harder for defenders to swipe in. 

4. Basket attack. "Good players need two dribbles, excellent players one, and exceptional players don't have to dribble." Players need to be able to score from the spacing line (three point line) with a maximum of two dribbles. "Box drills" from the elbows and blocks emphasize versatile finishes on either side of the hoop with either hand. Players committed to become exceptional become exceptional finishers. Practice drop step, front and back pivoting into attack, including midrange shots. Learn 'classic' underhand layups. Commit to develop 'go to' and 'counter' moves

5. Shooting consistency and range. Practice with purpose. Ideally, practice with a partner/rebounder to provide more shots, competition, and tempo. Begin with form shooting (flips) and high release shooting (Bradleys) and practice shooting off the catch, off the dribble, coming off screens, and occasionally off the pump fake. Track makes and misses, and spend time on free throw shooting while fatigued and after running. Play "swish or miss" from the stripe. Only swishes count. I believe that encourages accuracy. 

Challenge yourself to improve by tracking, through competition (even if against your personal standard), and against time pressure. For example, how many elbow jumpers can you make in a minute? 

6. Separation off the dribble. First, become proficient with a few moves (less is more). Learn hesitation and crossover dribbles with both hands and combinations of both...crossover, hesitate and go...accelerate, crossover, and accelerate. If you must dribble, dribble to separate. Become "a rat"...there's ARAT in sepARATe.  

Happy Easter! 

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