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Monday, July 31, 2017

Transcending Ordinary Effort

"The greater the artist the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize." - Robert Hughes

Anson Dorrance's Vision of a Champion shares valuable information page after page. He discusses the women's struggle to find their voice (communicate without being seen as 'bossy') and the need for TRANSCENDING ORDINARY EFFORT

Championship play demands extraordinary effort. What constitutes extraordinary? It's about championship habits, championship practice. Coaches find ways to nurture confidence, grow skill, and maintain motivation. Doc Rivers has said, "coaches take players where they cannot go alone." 

Champions leave their comfort zone. The price of an Olympic figure skating gold is 20,000 falls. Jerry Rice's hill climb was epic. Dan Gable's workouts defined punishment. "When I'm ready to stop I start wondering what the Russians are doing, and then I keep going."

Champions reach another level. Dorrance says great players have the capacity to "flame on"

Mia Hamm discussed the fragility of confidence. Doubt creeps in. Even as a goal scorer, goals are infrequent. Therefore, she bolsters her confidence by relying upon the controllables, her effort and defense. She remarks that a bad touch doesn't equate to a poor game. 

Basketball players can engage in the same way, focusing on engaging teammates, making good decisions, playing aggressively, taking quality shots. Maintain or increase confidence in the totality of your game, even when one dimension (e.g. shooting) is off. Players should not let one part of the game drag their total performance down. 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Fast Five: Stretching

Successful people stretch, figuratively and literally. Can we structure 10 or 15 minutes a day for self-development? 

Winning the morning helps establish a successful day. Tim Ferriss shares his morning routine. We can adopt habits and routines from successful people

1) Ferriss uses daily journaling to prepare and review the day, to build attitude and gratitude, and design revisions. 

He structures process to succeed today and improve tomorrow. 

2)  Morning stretch. Stretching has a panoply of advantages (Figure below from

“Physiological warming is of benefit in preventing muscular injury by increasing length to failure and elasticity of the muscle-tendon unit.” Stretching as part of a warmup works via warming. 

Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is especially problematic for the aging body. Trust me, I'm a doctor. 

3)  Find your own program. There's no 'gold standard'. An imperfect program, regularly completed, defeats the best program left undone. 

4) Men's Fitness has a simple DIY program that we can complete in about ten minutes covering major muscle groups. Or combine dynamic stretching to start the day and static stretches later. 

5) But would a more 'dynamic stretching' program be better? A study of dynamic stretching relative to static stretching showed mild benefits to dynamic over static stretching. 

From Patrick Troumbley, referenced above. 

For those unfamiliar with karaoke, a short description and demonstration. Kids (and adults) enjoy this stretch. 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Favorite Horns Sets

A few readers have asked more about 'Horns'.

First, why do I like it? 

-Well-defined spacing
-Opens the middle
-No 'native' help side 
-Many options available 
-I "grew up" in a 1-4 high culture and Horns is a variant

I have previously posted "can you run everything from Horns?" which was a popular post showing the 'variety' of Horns actions. 

Here are a couple of other actions I like. There are an almost infinite number. 

Slice cut 
Backscreen into rescreen option

Get 5. I'm thinking this was a Brendan Suhr action. 

And I like to put (personnel dependent) a strong driver into the 5 spot and go isolation.

The initial set reminds me of the NFL adage that you use formations to develop ideas about how the defense responds and movement to get the matchups you want. Bon appetit! 

Universal Questions for Basketball Players

"I'm working to improve." That's vanilla, nonspecific, and meaningless. Everything we say (and don't) conveys a message. 

Probe the player's mind for real insight. When players have no answer, it's usually because they lack solutions to game problems. 

1) Charles Barkley asked, "What is your NBA TALENT?" Bill Russell explained, "imagination leads to innovation leading to differentiation." 

Successful players finds solution to maximize ability and performance. Everyone can't be great but can deliver their best. 

Self-awareness and self-regulation matter. "The process by which individuals consciously attempt to constrain unwanted thoughts, feelings,  and  behaviors  and  bring  these  in line with  ideals  or  goals  is  termed  self-regulation,  or self-control.  The  ability  to self-regulate  has  been shown to contribute positively to performance and behavior in a number of domains, including sport and exercise." Self-regulation lies at the core of accountability. 

2) What is your GO TO and COUNTER move? 

Ask young players this - blank stares. That's the beginning. Assemble a list of possibilities then develop (or as coaches, teach) tools to score. 

3) What are your FOUR WAYS TO SCORE

Catalog the game - inside, mid-range, perimeter. Scoring off the catch, dribble, one and two-dribble moves. Score off rebounds, in transition, at the line. But practice and theory must converge. 

4) What gets you and keeps you on the floor

Minutes begin with effort, intelligent play, and unselfishness (play HARD, SMART, TOGETHER). But coaches reward execution. Execution means winning possessions (scoring, disallowing scoring) or getting possessions (rebounding, steals, deflections, taking charges). 

5) How specifically do you make the players around you better

Great players make teammates better. Inform us. "Show me." As an assistant, I kept a "ratings performance system."

6) What are your weaknesses and how are you addressing weaknesses

In a Podcast, Shane Larkin answered that an NBA executive told him that to have a career, he has to score from three at the 38-40 percent level and Shane also commented that he has to be a 'total pest' on defense. Larkin is working on his perimeter game ("I can get into the lane") and individual defense. 

7. Are you a 'system' player, a 'versatile' player and do you know the difference? 

Humans ability to change, to reinvent ourselves, and constantly develop (through neuroplasticity our brains can change structure and function even as we age) separate us from animals. The more ways a player can contribute, the more positions she can defend, the greater her possible role. Are you a scorer, a facilitator, or a screener? Do more of what works and less of what doesn't. Coach Bob Knight remarked, "just because I want you on the floor doesn't mean I want you to shoot." 

"Know thyself," but work to become more. Find the answers. Figure it out. 

Friday, July 28, 2017

Fast Five: Simple

Don Meyer discussed the three phases of coaching - blind enthusiasm, sophisticated complexity, and mature simplicity. The game is neither simple nor easy, but work to make it simpler and easier. How can we translate words into teaching youth? 

Add value to get buy inEmphasis and priorities. The first priorities are family and school. Basketball is always secondary. 

The emphasis is progression of fundamental skills. Find drills you like that reinforce concepts and skills. 

Spacing is emphasized at the initiation of the warmup drill. 

Combination (Multipurpose)

Dribble, backdribble, crossover, repeat. Pass, cut hard into give-and-go to finish. 

Shooting. Patron saint of lost causes is enforcing warmups and form shooting. 

Skip ahead to about 1 minute. I want players to make 3-5 consecutive form shots and then step back about two feet and repeat. This presumes we've already reviewed proper technique. Herb sharing technical video goes a long way in this regard. 

Communication. In addition to increasing "talk" on the floor, close the loop with feedback. Years ago our high school team lost a championship game because we failed to confirm "obvious" strategy. Leading by one late with little time left a player took a shot and missed only to see the opposition score at the buzzer to win. There's a story about a father who asked his son to wash his new car and gave him a bucket, sponge, soap, and rags. The son used the abrasive side of the sponge and ruined the finish. The father was angry and yelled at the son. Shortly thereafter, he apologized. "It's my fault; I didn't teach you the right way to do the job." 

Bob Knight has an exercise where he calls a timeout during practice, diagrams a play, and then distributes paper and markers to every player to draw the play. Coach and players get immediate feedback of who listened and processed the information. 

Track. A coach held tryouts and recorded measurements of speed, strength, and vertical jump. When his child didn't make the team, an angry parent questioned the coach's selections. The coach answered that in addition to struggling in her play, the player finished last in each measured metric. Damon Runyan wrote, "the race is not always to the swiftest or the battle to the strongest, but it pays to bet that way." "Coaches' eyes" are more objective than parents'. But tracking helps prove it. 

Rich Hickey shared, "Simplicity is hard work. But, there's a huge payoff. The person who has a genuinely simpler system - a system made out of genuinely simple parts, is going to be able to affect the greatest change with the least work. He's going to kick your ass. He's gonna spend more time simplifying things up front and in the long haul he's gonna wipe the plate with you because he'll have that ability to change things when you're struggling to push elephants around."

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Video Breakdown: Coach Rock

Basketball is a game of creating and preventing separation. This video shares rational points about 1-on-1, especially about ATTENTION TO DETAIL

Limit the number of dribbles

Focus on quickness and reading the defender

1) Low sweep (rip move). Focus on the details, get the ball out of defender's comfort zone. Kevin Eastman teaches "It's a shoulders game" and "Low man wins." The "sweep" or "rip" is a counter to direct attack or jab and go (dominant hand). 
2) Heel tap (modified jab)...a hesitation variant. 
3) Step back. Very hard for young players (the inside foot is the trigger). Younger girls especially struggle to reach the basket off this action. 
4) Pullback. Similar to step back. Key is driving back the defender.
5) Side step. Another variation of step back. 

Young players should develop a few moves "GO TO" and "COUNTER" first and work later on expanding their portfolio. Remember the Rule of 2s, "two minutes to learn a move", "two weeks of constant work on it", and "two months to feel comfortable" with it in game situations. 

Make moves "your own". For example, old-timers will remember the McHale Move, Dream Shake, and Sikma Move. 

It is far more important to have a few masterpieces than a warehouse of junk. 

Fast Five Plus: Rules - Why Do We Need Them?

We all have rules. What do they accomplish? Are they enforceable? Do they apply to everyone? 

We create rules to sustain order. No talking during practice? But talk (early, loud, and often) during practice! But we can develop rules as a pathway to better habits. 

Create rules to alter behavior. I'd call those CONSTRAINTS. 
- Pressure the ball or sub out. 
- Dribble without purpose, sub out. (Immediately putting the ball on the floor)
- Dynamic starts (e.g. off the catch) to most drills (can't use for inbounding per se)
- Dean Smith's scrimmage scoring based on shot quality (turnover is a negative score)

Sometimes we don't have enough rules
- Respect the game (teams) playing on the court ahead of us. 
- Leave the gym in better condition than you found it (no trash, water bottles, wet spots)
- Respect opponents and officials.
- Respect your parents. 
- Use your notebook to improve game and life knowledge.
- Embrace the handouts (core values, Pyramid of Success, "Toughness" concepts

Do something positive for your parents every day
"But I don't know what to do." See. There are an endless supply of possible chores - dishes, laundry, dusting, vacuuming, making your bed, cleaning the garage. Can you spend twenty minutes a day giving back to your family?

"Maintain the team."
- Support teammates on and off the court.
- Make sure teammates get to practice, games, study sessions on time
- Learn about your teammates. 

Read. This is non-negotiable
Read something, thirty minutes a day. Think about what you read and how you will apply it to your life. 

Need suggestions? (blog)
The Positive Dog (Jon Gordon)
The Compound Effect (Darren Hardy)
Tools of Titans (Tim Ferriss)
The Hard Hat (Jon Gordon) 
A People's History of the United States (Howard Zinn) 

Reduce the nonsense
"Ignoring is not the same as ignorance." - Margaret Atwood  
Instead of sending 100 text messages to your friends, make a 100 free throws. 

Anson Dorrance's quote about Mia Hamm applies. Be that 'guy'. Ordinary or extraordinary? Do have rational thought or ration thinking? Get better at getting better. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Ten Core Concepts and Sources

Life constantly teaches us, if we are open to learning. We need to expand our tools and how we share them with our players. How they practice, talk, meet, interact, and learn informs their growth as people first and players second. 

1. Source: The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood)

We can only become our better version as we recognize our flaws and consciously work to overcome them. 

2. Source: Monday Morning Leadership (David Cottrell)

Do we ask ourselves "what is the right thing?" and follow through? 

3. Source: Monday Morning Leadership (David Cottrell)

Success begins with our culture and relationships. Do you work for someone or with them? Cottrell has also expressed it as "People don't quit jobs. They quit people." 

4. Source: The Legacy Builder (Rod Olson)
Our job is to teach and inspire; "be demanding without demeaning." Become a '3-Dimensional coach. The Level 3 Coach "captures the heart of the athlete, develops relationships. Intrinsic motivation. These connections allow the fundamentals to be taught and learned more effectively and allow the psychology to gain real traction. Player EFFORT and ATTITUDE improves and affects all facets of the team and sport." 

5. Source: You Win the Locker Room First (Jon Gordon and Mike Smith) 

Commitment isn't enough only one dimension in the broader domain.

6. Source: The Positive Dog (Jon Gordon) 

Embrace positivity. Find solutions, not just problems. 

7. Source: Quotes, John Wooden

But don't confuse activity with indifference. The ostrich has a purpose. 

8. Source: The Empire Strikes Back, George Lucas

Part of "speaking greatness" is building confidence through proven success. The legacy of 'The Hero's Journey" plays out every day in sports. 

Whether it's Odysseus in The Odyssey, Batman, or Norman Dale in Hoosiers, extraordinary journeys are out there for our players. Encourage them to write a great narrative for themselves.

9. Source: Made to Stick 

Become a storyteller. Captivate your audience by learning the intricacies of narrative. Listeners absorb more concepts and information from a great story. Timely intervention is abstract. "Havlicek stole the ball" or "The Block" define it.  

Executive Book Summary of MADE TO STICK from Anjali Mehta

10. Source: Tools of Titans, Tim Ferriss

If we want to be exceptional, then we have to act exceptional every day. We need better tools, better habits, better attitude. The tools are out there...

Stretching is both figurative and literal...

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

K Clips: Coach K from "Leading with the Heart"

Coach Mike Krzyzewski stands among the leading college coaches in history. He built Duke into a perennial powerhouse and studied under Bob Knight at Army. 

He shares many thoughts in Leading with the Heart, a bestseller on the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Business Week. 

Here are select quotes from Leading

"The principle that "we're all important" is also something that needs to be demonstrated immediately." 

"I expect every player we recruit to graduate." (The book was published in 2000)

"The first rule is NOT DOING ANYTHING DETRIMENTAL TO YOURSELF" because that reflects on the team and the university. 

"Your culture doesn't allow jealousy. That's what the best families are all about." 

Coach K distributes laminated cards with everyone's phone numbers (including his and assistants) because he wants a support system so nobody is stranded. 

"Stress honor in all things." 

"You're only as good as your talent."

Coach K tells a story about getting mud on his shoes as a plebe at West Point. Initially, he was mad at his friend who had splashed mud and led to a royal reaming. But he realized that it was HIS choice not to go back and clean them up, leading him to remark,
"Embrace the hell out of personal responsibility." (I'm thinking that times may have changed as evidenced by Grayson Allen).

"Failure is part of success." 

"Discipline is doing what you are supposed to do in the best possible manner at the time you are supposed to do it."

"Bonds have to form among all members of the team. An architecture of leadership has to be created so that the wheel is sustained if something happens to the hub." 

Monday, July 24, 2017

Fast Five: Staying in Your Lane

My son, Conor, is a portfolio manager and columnist for Bloomberg. He is exceptional at what he does, although sometimes frustrating to talk to. Because he always shares a lesson about 'staying in your lane' in what he invests or writes. 

Maintain discipline

This reminds me of Warren Buffett being asked if he wanted to risk ten dollars to win ten thousand in a celebrity golf tournament if he got a hole in one. He declined. "If I am not disciplined in the small things, how can I expect to be disciplined in the big ones?" 

Basic training

That certainly applies to coaching and especially to developmental coaching. We can't "go back to basics." We have to live there. 

Many of the players today were not familiar with the "Shivek" drill (Arik Shivek, Israeli National Team). It demands passing and cutting, setting up your cut, passing on time and on target, and closing out and finishing. It teaches and exposes. One player asked if I went to Israel for that...I explained I went to FIBA YouTube. 

We can never leave form shooting. Excellent shooters are obsessed with their form, footwork, balance, setup, quickness with consistency, follow-through. But they hone technique "warming up their shot." What decent player goes out and starts jacking up threes? Nobody. 

Preach attention to detail

Reviewing "blind pig" is a good example. The post player receives the ball with the outside foot closer to the baseline (corrected by Gabe THANKS!). This improves the passing angle (footwork). If the wing doesn't get the ball, then the 1 can consider a handoff, cut off the post, or the 5 can go isolation. Everyone needs to understand where to be and where not to be. 

Write it down

Encourage players to write down what they learn in a notebook or diary. Handwriting improves learning. 

Own it

We reviewed the learning process - explanation, demonstration, imitation, and repetition, repetition, repetition, repetition, repetition. Whether it's Mikan, Reverse Mikan, power (two-footed) layups, or Beat the Pro, everything is designed to be refined at Camp Driveway. Take it home and make it yours

"There is an old expression: You know a workman by the chips they leave. It’s true. To judge your progress properly, just take a look at the floor." - Ryan Holiday in Ego is the Enemy

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Fast Five: Hummingbirds

UNC women's soccer coach Anson Dorrance recognizes differences between players. He could describe the difference between players as warriors and hummingbirds

Having studied (one course) ornithology in college, I respect hummingbirds. They are a thermodynamic biomarvel (above). Explaining how they migrate from an energy perspective is remarkable. 

Dorrance uses the "English" term "stuck in" to describe players willing to play through contact and embrace physical play. These are the Marcus Smarts with exceptional toughness and agitators. Shane Battier and Ron Artest also come to mind. 

The converse are "hummingbirds", remarkable enough for their skill and energy, but finesse players who find ways to avoid the fray

Hummingbirds have a self-protection mindset (and sometimes a frame) that bespeaks fragility. And it's not always size-dependent. We see finesse big people and warrior little people. 

Hummingbirds seldom take charges. They bail on layups to minimize contact. Sometimes they have "alligator arms" while pursuing rebounds. You don't necessarily bet on them going for 50-50 balls. 

In his "Toughness" essay, Jay Bilas includes "get on the floor" and "take a charge" among his thirty-one toughness traits. 

Tom Izzo at Michigan State takes a proactive approach, conducting some rebounding drills with helmets and shoulder pads. You don't see hummingbirds in Lansing. 

Dorrance clearly uses "hummingbirds" as a disparaging term. If you're going to be a hummingbird, then you had better compensate in other ways. 

Tony Watson demonstrates a drill for finishing with contact. The "ten toes to the rim" mantra doesn't apply when finishing this way. 

As coaches, we have to be smart. We want tougher players, but we don't want injuries via "hamburger drills". 

Psych Job: Excerpts from Anson Dorrance

Anson Dorrance is an elite soccer coach at the University of North Carolina. His teams have won 22 NCAA championships and he coached the USA Women to a World Championship. His tenure has not been devoid of controversy.

When I think of Coach Dorrance, key phrases emerge, "competitive fury", "competitive cauldron", and "core values". And, of course, his teams win...a lot.  

In this interview he discusses core values, competition, playing time, psychology, motivation, and the very real differences between coaching men and women. His teams have won 22 NCAA championships and he has coached the USA Women to a world championship. It's lengthy but worth it. 

I share excerpts without commentary: 

  1. We don’t whine
  2. We work hard.
  3. The truly extraordinary do something every day.
  4. We choose to be positive. 
  5. When we don’t play as much as we would like we are noble and still support the team and its mission.
  6. We don’t freak out over ridiculous issues or live in fragile states of emotional catharsis or create crises where none should exist.
  7. We are well led.
  8. We care about each other as teammates and as human beings.
  9. We play for each other.
  10. We want our lives (and not just in soccer) to be never ending ascensions but for that to happen properly our fundamental attitude about life and our appreciation for it is critical. 
  11. And we want these four years of college to be rich, valuable and deep. 

"I’m very big on playing for each other. And so the psychology is, the players support one another and obviously it’s a huge challenge for a reserve to support a starter."

"They’d much rather have the reason for them not playing is that the coach doesn’t like them. They would hate to have that the reason for them not being able to play is that they’re lazy or they don’t play with intensity or they have no self-discipline or they don’t compete or they don’t have any self-belief." 

"The most critical thing is to have a competitive fire. The great ones I've seen have the most extraordinary competitive fire, it's an issue in their lives, and it can be a problem. I mean, this is a very hard thing, and I'm talking about the ones with that hell-bent "I'm going to carve you up" mentality. It's actually very hard to corral and leave on the field. It almost becomes a chip on their shoulders, and the way they conduct their lives. Or it becomes such a stress, it's not an easy horse to ride." 

"So a huge challenge in women's athletics is to get them to compete against their teammates and friends in practice with the same intensity they compete with their bitter rivals."

"I think with women you've got to be overwhelmingly positive. You can't afford to criticize any of them until they trust you. And then a part of the criticism has to be constructed in a way where they have to feel like you care about them at the end of it some way, otherwise they're not going to be listening to it." 

"With women the overwhelming majority of tape has to be positive, otherwise it's going to shatter their confidence. They're not going to look at it and try to correct it, they're going to look at it and say "oh my gosh, I suck." 

His note to Mia Hamm appeared in her book, "A vision of a champion is someone who bends over, drenched in sweat, at the point of exhaustion, when no one else is watching." He had seen her running sprints, alone, in a park on a day off

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Merits of Open Practice

"See with your eyes, not with your heart." 

The debate continues...should practices be open or closed? I share my thoughts...which are opinion, not having arrived on stone tablets. 

First, I coach middle school (girls) and it's about development of the person and the player. You want our handbook, playbook, drills, philosophy, or want to come and film practice (that's a joke), be my guest. 

Second, opportunity matters. I've had parents who track (there's an app) every second of playing time in games. That's helpful, because it lets me know if ANY player isn't seeing the floor (aside from foul trouble and injury). 

My ego can't be about 12-14 year old girls winning basketball games. When kids get into the college of their choice, succeed academically, or drop me a note thanking me for helping, that's not the WHY, it's the result of the process. And I don't control what happens the second they've finished middle school. The high school coaches couldn't care less about my opinion and they do what they do. It's their show and they own the results. "Control what you can control." 

Third, the teaching isn't just about basketball. I discuss preparation (e.g. Sun Tzu, The Art of War), the history of unequal matchups (Malcolm Gladwell, David and Goliath), empowering women (Arlene Blum Climbs Annapurna from Michael Useem's The Leadership Moment), self-instruction (Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and Gettysburg), and underdog victories (Robert E. Lee at Chancellorsville). They hear about Anson Dorrance's "competitive fury". We can talk about Nick U'Ren and the Warriors' championship in 2015 or why developing listening skills matters. Every coaches teaches alcohol and drug prevention and forging self-respect and healthy relationships. A parent who is a boys high school coach called it what it is, "a holistic approach'. 

Disadvantages. There is potential for distraction of players looking to parents for approval. I haven't seen parents coaching their children during practice. Parents can question coaching methods...leadership always comes under scrutiny. That simply comes with the territory. In my opinion, it is better to be questioned for what we do than what another conjectures that we do

Advantages. Transparency reveals practice planning, division of practice time, attention to key elements (e.g. shooting, applying and handling pressure), attention to detail, individual and group instruction, conditioning within basketball activities, and role of assistant coaches. My assistant coach was named this year's High School's female athlete of the year. 

Open practice informs commitment, discipline, and effort of everyone involved. Coaches aren't allowed to have low energy days or low engagement practices. Open practice shares the philosophy, culture, and identity development of within the program. 

Open practice means sharing; I learn from kids and their families, too. The more parents know about basketball and coaching techniques, the more they can share the experience with their families. We all have coached multiple children in families. Sharing produces trust which engenders loyalty

Networking results among parents and families. They participate in other activities (sports or otherwise) together. Some socialize. Maybe some develop business relationships; the opportunities are there. 

Openness produces accountability. We create an expectation of a higher tempo practice for greater efficiency. The accountability is mutual between coaches and players. There's no excuse for foul language. Parents have eyes even when they view their children through the prism of parental love. It's rare for players to excel in practice and struggle consistently in games. More eyes over more time produce more reasonable expectations.

Openness can reinforce "message discipline". Parents who repeatedly hear, "the ball is gold", "share the ball", "sprint back", "don't back down", "talk", "no paint", "it's not your shot, it's our shot" have the chance but not the obligation to give constructive feedback to their children. 

I've been truly blessed in over fifty years in the game and have positive experiences with parents. As Brad Stevens notes, "we get back more than we give." And I realize that I'm a developmental coach, but the game is an "open source in an open domain". The secret sauce is sharing. 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Fast Five Plus: Layups

From an early development standpoint, the two most important shots are LAYUPS and FREE THROWS. 

Remember Kevin Eastman's advice, "Eyes make layups; feet make jumpshots." 

Even in the NBA, shots around the basket the Houston Rockets shot chart.

Can we teach layups better or differently? I do not use conventional layup lines, because I think they don't simulate game action (Brian McCormick..."Fake Fundamentals").

1. No dribble layup (concept). Start the player at the three point line with the ball and allow three running steps, with the layup off the final step. Then allow the player one dribble. This reinforces the first step as the 'separation step'. 

2. Hinkle layups

Butler coach "Tony" Hinkle taught layups from multiple angles. We extend this approach by including 'reverse' layups as part of this drill. Never allow more than two dribbles. 

3. Two by Two

Score with two dribbles from half-court. Our goal is to teach players to score a layup with two dribbles from midcourt by high school. You can't 'waste' your first step. 

4. Reverse Mikan

Everyone knows the Mikan Drill. Work 'reverse Mikan'. 

5. Two-footed finishing

Excellent video demonstration and explanation on jump stop/power layups. 


Kentucky layups. We do two sets of two minutes. Four basketballs, two start in the middle, one at each end. Score as many layups as possible in two minutes. Accomplished women's teams can reach 65+. 

For the "advanced class" study and practice Villanova finishing: 

Villanova teaches the alchemy of footwork, balance, finishing, and embracing contact

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

It's Not Just About Winning

Janis Meredith shares an article on youth sports. It's worth your time and has broader life applications. 

She presents five practical questions for your child during those post-game rides home. She explains that LISTENING not JUDGING is the goal. 

What was one thing that was really fun for you in today’s game?

What’s something that you would do differently if you had to play the game over again?

What teammate deserves a shout-out from you for how they played?

What’s one thing that you learned about teamwork from today’s game?

What did your coach do today that you really liked?

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Practice for 2 Players

What's the perfect number for player individual skill development? I don't know but there's value in having two. I'm no standard, just somebody willing to throw out ideas and concepts. If you find anything useful, remember Picasso, "good artists borrow; great artists steal." 

It's summertime and I'm not a track coach. Make it fun. You run on your own time. 

What do you want to include? How long should practice be? Do you want to teach post skills to everyone? Show players drills that they can take home and work on (Camp Driveway). Teach the details and why. Pete Newell wrote, "they're not cattle." 

Excellent players don't "get back to fundamentals". They constantly develop them. Show players the symmetry of the game. Learn how good defenders play and develop counters.

What concepts might we include in our two person practice?  

Warmup. UCONN women did stretching and light jogging (two laps) around the corners cut. 

Random versus block practice. "In the retention tests, the results indicated that it was the random group that performed better on the retention task thus suggesting that random practice is more effective in the learning of motor skills."

The value of constraints. I believe in building in constraints during skill building. Limit the space, dribbles, and time the ball can be held. When possible, initiate skills off the catch (dynamic) instead of from a 'static' start. 

Decision making and execution. Players learn more with decision-making and execution sequences. 

Competition. Workout with a friend to develop competitive routines. 

Which elements belong in a two-person workout? 

Attack mindset. We use the three-point line as the 'spacing' line with two-dribble maximum. 

Coach plays as x5

Layups from multiple angles (straight and reverse)

Rollouts (closeout and attack)

See Spot run to a spot (few repetitions)

Separate from chest to chest defense

Frito Lay. Layup and shot from free throw distance

Ball handling. One-on-one inbound and attack. 

-Teach inbounding (coach defense) into the paint (look off the defender) 
-Post entry (various)
-2 person (bounce pass and chest pass) 

Shooting. (See previous posts on shooting games)
-Form shooting (flips, chair shooting, kneel and shoot)
-Quickness (quick draw...two-handed hard bounce, catch-and-shoot)
-Accuracy (shoot to side of backboard)

One on one separation play. (Creation and denial). With and without the ball. 

Review footwork every practice (for better positioning both inside and outside).

Cutting (reading defenders in space and using screens). Coach can simulate various overplays to illustrate options to get open. 

Review: Four ways to score (what's your go to and counter move).

Pierce Wing series without and with defense.