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Sunday, March 31, 2019

Basketball: Communication, We Need to Be Better

Communication comes in many forms. We need to improve ours; I need to improve my communication teaching.

Communication navigates a two-way street. In the Heart of Coaching (a business book), Thomas Crane emphasizes a "performance-focused, feedback-rich" (accountability and communication) environment to create sustainable advantage. 

In Reach for the Summit, Pat Summitt devotes a chapter to Communication, one of her Definite Dozen. She might even acknowledge using Del Harris' fifth level "Go nuts" too often. 

The Hangover. It wasn't always verbal. She knew that most of the team had been out drinking until 4 A.M. She registered her disapproval at their early morning practice, without speaking. She set up trash cans at each corner of the court. They ran a lot, including a set of SIXTEEN suicides to finish a four hour practice. Every player availed herself of those trash cans, sometimes butting heads. She called it her version of Four Corners

She also had a technique called Rebound and Two Points. If she sent a compliment at practice, you responded with "two points." If she criticized something, you'd yell back, "rebound." Rebound and Two Points closed the loop, the give-and-take of hearing AND acknowledging. 

She demanded communication. Two guards (including the renowned Michelle Marciniak) didn't communicate at practice. Instead of tossing them from practice, she took them off the floor and sat them courtside in chairs. They responded by talking with each other, so she separated them, like kindergarten. Summitt never said she was a diplomat. 


Kevin Eastman says, "silent teams are losers." The back of the defense (the protection) ESPECIALLY has to communicate because the top coverage (usually guards) can't see behind them. Kevin Garnett was a legendary defensive communicator with unsharable audio. But his play resonates. 


Talk Tape. You'd think middle school girls talk incessantly. They probably do, except on the court. During water breaks, they immediately start chatting up each other. I'm thinking of bringing some white tape that everyone will have on their left wrist...with the letters ELO (early, loud, often). Talk tape. Or custom made those MY NAME IS badges. 

Lagniappe: Crystal clear communication...via Chris Oliver @BBallImmersion

Basketball: "Be Off Book," Opportunity Doesn't Come Around Every Day

 "If you can't learn the lines to try and get the job, why would they think you're gonna learn 'em once you got the job?" - Sam Jackson, MasterClass

To paraphrase Bill Parcells, "Coaches are the most selfish people; we want players out there who make us look good." 

Being off book means knowing your lines, not reading the script. Basketball requires creativity AND you need to know the lines. You can't advance the story if you don't know your part. 

I've had teams where we seldom ran any plays because players couldn't or didn't apply themselves to know the plays. If you're in the right place at the right time and don't know your lines, you're done

Don't mindlessly run back on defense ignoring your assignment. Who are you covering, what's your responsibility? When you have no clue, how can the coach keep you out there, sabotaging your team? 

"Trust but verify." The starters didn't know the plays. A high school coach gave his players a test. He told everyone, if you don't learn the playbook, then you won't play. They learned because they wanted to play. It's...not...hieroglyphics. 

Being off book means understanding your team's basketball philosophy, culture, and identity. It embodies clarity about offensive and defensive intent...the know that and know how. Opportunity doesn't come around all the time. Take advantage of your chance when it arrives. 

If your job is setting an off-ball screen, know time and space and technique, and that as the screener, you become the second cutter. "Stand around and then sit next to me." 

Knowing your lines means knowing what's a good shot for you and for teammates. You might be a capable practice shooter, but take nothing but bad shots. So the director (coach) subs in another actor. You gave her no choice. That's show biz. 

Lagniappe 1: Kevin Eastman talks trust

Eastman explains how you know there's no trust. You don't return to basics; you never leave. "If you're open for a good shot, but somebody else is open for a great shot, do you make that pass?" 

Lagniappe 2: Discipline means doing what you don't want to do today so that you can do what you want to do tomorrow. 

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Basketball: Practical Advice - Learn from the Stories of Others

Every story doesn't end well. Learn valuable lessons from the pain of others to avoid suffering an unhappy ending. We've all been there.

"Culture eats strategy for breakfast.

Years ago a strong team entered the postseason as favorites to go deep. The day before their game, a player "stole" another player's boyfriend. The team fragmented and got a first round knockout....not exactly textbook Wooden "team spirit" block in the Pyramid of Success. Play for the girl next to you. 

"Happiness begins where selfishness ends." - John Wooden

A player showed continual selfishness, unwillingness to pass or play team defense. His coach set up an inbounds play in practice, with the player the inbounder. He then ordered his teammates off the court. "Now play." Preach TEAM and unselfishness from day one. 

"On time, on target" applies to both offense (passing) AND defense. 

Study is an essential part of the job. A team implemented a post doubling strategy for a sectional championship same. They practiced it (left) and published it internally within the game plan. 

It required 'x3' to rotate down as x4 doubled across. It didn't happen and 4 scored three layups because nobody helped the helper. "The help can never be beaten." The team lost by a point. I never double the post across because of this painful lesson. 

Inconceivable. "Never presume anything." 

Good teams make unforgivably bad plays. 

Gear up. Don't wind up with a rock in the shoe

The Scouts' motto is "be prepared." "I forgot my __________." I hear this season every year; you do, too. Lay out your gear for practice/games in advance. Don't wait for the last minute. Uniform, sneakers, extra socks, extra shoe laces, medical supplies (ankle braces, mouth guard, contact lenses, solutions, inhaler, tape), water, snacks, hair stuff, and any other personal products. Take a "Fail Safe" approach. Have a checklistIt's your responsibility, not your parent's. 

We all have our nightmares. What's yours? 

Lagniappe: from Dylan Murphy in the Film Room, defensive theory and practice. 

Defending off-ball screens requires communication and savvy. "Lock and trail" or "top lock" is never easy against elite NBA shooters. 

Friday, March 29, 2019

Basketball: What Belongs in Your Last Lecture?

Randy Pausch from Carnegie Mellon was dying of pancreatic cancer. He gave The Last Lecture, sharing life lessons. "It's not about how to achieve your dreams, it's about how to lead your life. If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself, the dreams will come to you.”

When we leave our audience with our last basketball podcast or lecture, what absolutes belong? Think about sharing powerful messages that can resonate with our audience every day. David Brooks differentiates creating resume' values versus eulogy values

Be a person of substance...gravitas. Add meaning and share truths to the lives of others. Effective coaches take players where they cannot go alone.  

Know what's important. Finance guru Todd Harrison informs, "never confuse net worth with self-worth." Fame is not value. 

Energize. We energize with actions, appearance, and words. Strive to master verbal and non-verbal communication. Be positive but authentic. Instill energy to ourselves and for others. Create a better version of our community. 

Tell better stories. Stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end. David Mamet explains...1) what was the last thing George Washington said to his men before crossing the Delaware? 2) Pause. 3) Get in the boat. Give players the tools to tell better stories individually (technique) and collectively (tactics). 

Leave an impression. Bring your best self to the arena. I start tryouts with new groups by saying, "I need a volunteer." Be out of your seat like someone fired you from a cannon. 

Make a difference. "Excel in your role." "Be aggressive." Know the difference between aggressive and dirty. Not many coaches want dirty players. That disrespects the game, disrespects your team, and your community. 

Say "yes" as often as possible. Find reasons to say "I will" not "I can't." 

Add value. "Are we building a program or a statue?" Advance the story. Players and teams need the tools of technique, tactics, and time. Constantly edit by adding better approaches and deleting (or shelving) inferior ones. Ron Howard says, "the movie is made in the editing room." 

Seek balance. Courage finds middle ground between fear and recognition. Confidence overcomes doubt and arrogance. Devote time to personal growth without sacrificing family on the altar of self-actualization. 

Learn. Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett's sidekick, says, "be a learning machine." Basketball's Kevin Eastman reminds us, "don't be a know-it-all be a learn-it-all." Carve out protected time for learning. 

Harness time. Nick Saban asks, "are we spending our time or investing it?" Be on time and ready to go. Don't waste other people's time as it disrespects them. 

Don't be a jerk. Power resides in knowing what not to do. "Be demanding without being demeaning" and "never be a child's last coach." Don't force others to make excuses for us. 

What does this have to with basketball? Everything. 

Basketball: Getting Into the PnR and Secondary Actions

Teach offense to our core values. We haven't used all these (simplicity rule) but several will get more play in the future. 

1) "Great offense is multiple actions."
2) "Impose hard-to-defend actions."
3) "Do well what you do a lot."
4) "Simple doesn't mean easy to defend." 

Add value to our offenses by varying the pick-and-roll (PnR) and combination actions off the PnR. Find something to add to your arsenal. 

Here's a simple high ball screen designed to create mismatches with the cross-screen low.

With the right personnel, the middle 45 PnR off a horns set creates defensive problems. Most bigs aren't accustomed to defending the ballhandler on the PnR.

Bring the screener from an unexpected location (they may be open for a basket cut off the pindown). 

Dribble handoffs (DHO) provide PnR proxies, nicely combined with staggered screens on the help side. 

Well-executed DHO becomes nightmarish when the low post comes across to create a secondary PnR (above). 

What about SLOBs and BOBs? 

This modification of a Cavaliers' inbounds play creates separation for the 1 into a side ball screen. Weak side action occupies defenders. 

This 15 inside PnR against man or zone created major headaches for defenders with (at worst) open shots for the 1 and basket attacks for our 5s. 

Before the NBA went 3-point shot dominant, Tom Thibodeau's Bulls ran this high ball screen action to set up either elbow jumpers (4) or corner 3s if x3 helped on the drive. 

Lagniappe: Tips from Coach Hurley (special value for younger coaches)

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Basketball: Sam Jackson's Professional Lessons Apply on the Hardwood

"Always on time, always online." - Samuel L. Jackson

MasterClass inspires viewers every day. I focus especially on film and television (directing and acting) and writing. It's what we do. We tell stories. We help players write their narratives. What's your purposeWhat's the team identityHow does today's work approach the goal

There's a reason why Sam Jackson is that guy. He says in his MasterClass, "part of the don't waste peoples time." That implies punctuality, preparedness, and performance. But actors need direction and strong players welcome coaching. "Being good at what you do is a bonus for the the process." 

Jackson says there are three kinds of directors, "shooters, writer-directors, and lucky to be there." 

Shooters are the easiest to work with, allowing superior actors to do their job. Of course, they don't always have superior actors. Writer-directors are most of us, who collaborate with players. And the latter are directors in over their heads, unable to recognize they have the least experience in the building. 

"Be careful of the toes that you step on today, because they could be connected to the ass that you have to kiss tomorrow." - Sam Jackson, MasterClass about a sign on the "Die Hard" set. 

Jackson closes, "the most inappropriate thing is to show up unprepared." 

Lagniappe 1: Kryptonite for James Harden? 

Lagniappe 2: Pullup dribble drill from on YouTube

Shooting off the dribble...different skill than catch-and-shoot. 

Lagniappe 3. Not in this lifetime. Cell phone breaks during practice...the process is the process. There's a difference between pomodoro during study and this. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Basketball: Make Simple Sense of It All - Your Five Things and How to Get Them

Mastery is illusory. Playwright David Mamet says that if you mastered the first five things you learned in martial arts, you'd be unbeatable. If mastery were possible, what five skills would make you great? Know what's important and steal the best ideas you find. 

1. Finish around the basket. The best finishers can finish with either hand off either foot from either side. Young players struggle to finish with the hand UNDER the ball. But "layups are boring." Losing is worse. 

Drills: Mikan, Box drills with defense, Post one-on-one, Commando (1-on-1-on-1 or 1 vs 2, live ball after misses and makes) 

Tip: "Eyes make layups." - Kevin Eastman

2. Make free throws. Combine the physical (pre-shot routine, targeting, form) with the mental. Replace negative thinking about pressure with positives of opportunity. But without work and simulation with fatigue-tested shooting, you won't get there. 

Key points: do sprints between sets of 3-5. "Swish or miss" scoring.

Tip: Bill Bradley aimed for the middle of the four bolts holding the rim to the board. 

Apply the mental model of inversion. What guarantees failure? Inability to handle pressure, to pass, and to defend guarantee failure. 

3. Handle the press. Coach Wooden's quote resonates, "failing to prepare is preparing to fail." Therefore, our preparation must exceed others'. Pete Carril might say there's a beginning, a middle, and an end. An inbounder has to see and execute the first pass. The receiver creates advantage with the second. And finish to punish the press. Everyone needs finishers. Without finishers, success is impossible. 

Drills: Advantage-disadvantage 5 versus 7 no dribbling. Gauntlet (above, 2 versus 8) dribble per each player touch. Work your way down and score. 

Tip: Inbound the ball as quickly as possible before defenders set up, the "golden moment." 

4. Bad passing equals turnovers and worse shots. Reward what you value. Praise passing and taking care of the ball. Passing is sharing. Phil Jackson has it right, "basketball is sharing." 

Drills: Transition 3 on 2 with chaser (above). Spacing, conditioning, communication, offense and defense, passing and catching, transition

Tip: "Shorten the pass." We always heard "meet the ball." 

5. "Know your NOs." No easy baskets. No "dead man's defense" (six feet under the ball handler). No middle, no give-and-go (jump to the ball), no free post entry, no uncontested shots. No stupid fouls. No second shots. 

Drills: Shell drill in its many forms

Tip: Promise to start your best defender. Lip service to individual defense sends a message to players that offensive players play.  

Lagniappe 1: from The Smart Take from the Strong, Pete Carril, 1997

"I don't recruit players who are nasty to their parents. That shows me they are giving less than they can give and can't forge the bonds essential for a good team. 

I look for players who understand that the world does not revolve around them." 

Lagniappe 2: SLOB wing ball screen (a horns variation, modified from Cavaliers)

Multiple options: early 1 to 3 pass, later wing ball screen (1, 5) or 5 and 1 give and go. Occupy the weak side defense. 

Lagniappe 3. Enhancing performance. Find something to inspire us every day. 

GP (Game performance) = F x Q   (Frequency x Quality of Practice to the nth power)  

Improvement relates to how often we practice (F), its quality (Q) and the intensity (n) sustained. The key for conditioning is each player practicing each rep in each evolution at high intensity

Werner Herzog, MasterClass

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Basketball: The Price of Greatness Is Within Yourself

"Basketball is four to one mental to physical." - Coach Bob Knight

If basketball success relates so closely to the head game, then why do we give short shrift to mental training? Remember that thought leader Seth Godin says that we often suffer not enough P's

The added P's include:

1. Psychology (How am I preparing mentally?)
2. Purpose (Why do we play?)
3. Process (What approach works for you?)
4. Priorities (What's important?)
5. Possession (Succeed this play.)
6. Practice the above again and again. 

I met Dr. Tom Hanson at a stock investment conference sponsored by Todd Harrison and Minyanville. Hanson served as the New York Yankees' sport psychologist. Hanson's most famous success...we'll call him DJ. Hanson encouraged DJ to stride tall and confidently to home plate. The rest is history. Harvard researcher Amy Cuddy says, "fake it until you become it." 

Hanson's book, Heads Up, shares information that works for baseball. Excerpts translate to basketball and life. I lightly edit: 
  • Take responsibility for your thoughts and actions. 
  • Commit to a purpose; make your daily actions consistent with your purpose.
  • Play one (pitch) possession at a time, confident and focused.
  • Focus on the process rather than the outcome. 
  • You can't control what happens; you can control your response.
  • Practice what you do in a game. Keep it simple.
Great mental preparation won't help the player lacking strength, athleticism, skill, knowledge, and know how. Sport psychology doesn't replace experience and abundant confidence doesn't substitute for work. 

Dr. Hanson suggests a few daily assessment questions:

1) What is my commitment to learning today
2) What am I going to practice today? (athleticism, technique, tactics, mindfulness)
3) How will what I'm saying or doing affect this player's (or team's) confidence?

"The price of greatness is responsibility." - Winston Churchill


Monday, March 25, 2019

Basketball: Managing Program Risk

It’s what you fail to imagine that kills you.” - Michael Lewis, The Fifth Risk

What could possibly go wrong? Players worry about beating opponents; coaches worry about everything including beating yourselves.

Control what you can control. Model behaviors you want reinforced.

Personnel. Coaches have a Cori check. How do we know about player problems? I don’t have that issue as a middle school coach, but how do you assess and manage character?

Development. Do we have opportunities to maximize off-season training, skill-building, and education? Create better experiences to get better players.

Progression. How do you account for maturity, work ethic, emotional growth, and capacity to translate experience into productivity? Playing a lot of chess won’t guarantee anything approaching grandmaster status. 

Academics. Have a handle on academic progress. Encourage reading and learning, while modeling your own process of lifetime study.

Health. Encourage healthy nutrition, adequate rest, and positive mental health. Have injuries evaluated promptly and respect long-term health over short-term expediency. Stay free of substances and vaping and maintain healthy relationships. The ‘can’t miss’ prospect can sustain an Achilles or ACL injury or get bad luck with major illness.

Teamwork. Don’t let pettiness or jealousy bring the team down. Heroes and drama kill teams. Communicate with team leaders regularly to discover cliques forming or unity evaporating. “Fight for your culture every day.” 

‘Public Relations.” Stars radiate and get recognized. Go out of our way to recognize players contributing without the hype. The glue guys, energizers, and championship attitudes make the team special. Give them the love they deserve. 

Recruiting. Players can go where they want. All we can do is work to add value, promote a desirable culture, and foster great relationships among players and coaches. If a player finds better education, training, and experience elsewhere then perhaps we should celebrate their good fortune. However much that might hurt. 

Sustainability. Successful coaches build programs from the ground up. Help younger or less experienced coaches organize, train, and teach. We need a constant pipeline of talent, getting meaningful minutes to grow their game. Young players need minutes. We can’t have it both ways, murdering our parents and seeking mercy as orphans. 

“Never be a child’s last coach.”

Lagniappe: brilliant SLOB from Wofford via Coach Finamore

SLOB post backdoor

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Basketball: BOB Plays, Reaching Into the File Drawer

I've got a file drawer (FastModel) full of BOBs. Maybe some deserve a second look. Find ways to improve the design, personnel, and execution.

Dartmouth (Game winner)

Stack 3. Elevator screen at the top or corner 3 opposite. 

Baseline Rip. Has some similarities to "America's Play", but sets up 4 with a cross screen. 

14 (Low) Double Stagger. 

Stack "Wham" 

MSU X - crossing bigs screen the high defenders. 

Sandwich across. 

Celtics Triple Stagger Slip

Simple is better. 

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Basketball: Simple Quickness Training for Athletes

The core of John Wooden's Pyramid of Success includes CONDITION, SKILL, and TEAM SPIRIT. 

Don't forget your warmup of your cardiovascular and neuromuscular systems. Dynamic stretching "elongates and coordinates" muscles. Simple exercises are here. Plus, players love exercises like karaoke. 

How can we improve our athleticism? Maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max) is the best measure of overall fitness. Tabata Training is proven to increase VO2max. "The exhaustive intermittent training consisted of seven to eight sets of 20-s exercise at an intensity of about 170% of VO2max with a 10-s rest between each bout. After the training period, VO2max increased by 7, while the anaerobic capacity increased by 28%. An athlete could perform this with either a cycle ergometer or treadmill (under a physician's authorization). 

Jumping rope is validated to improve many metrics in 10-12 year-old boys. "It was determined that weight, body fat ratio, 20m sprint, VO2 max and leg strength measurements were significantly different in favor of rope jump group (p<0.05). In 10-12 year old boys, rope-jump training program was the result of having a positive effect on strength, VO2 max and especially speed."

Here is their training program (3 days/week)

Jump rope. Practical jump rope workouts cycle varies. Some use 30 seconds on and 30 seconds off. describes four useful exercises. 

Hexagon Jump Training, developed by the US Tennis Association. Click link for details. 

Lagniappe: Coaches Clipboard shares Alan Stein drills. I think Pete Carril argues that none of these exercises occurs in a game and therefore are limited. I see both sides. 

Friday, March 22, 2019

Basketball: Raise the Stakes

Raise the stakes to boost engagement. The fate of the world during the final scene of War Games, life or death, true love, the ticking clock, the game on the line. Make workouts and practices competitive by score and time. Set high standards to achieve and beat your best. 

Around the Key - 2:00 to score twice at each, harder with two consecutive at each to advance to the next spot, or untimed to score perfect 18 shots in a row. "Don't tell me why you can't, show me that you will." 

Be accountable by tracking results in drills, whether individual or group. If you fall short of your goal, practice until you meet or exceed the standard

Steph Curry demands that he finish free throw practice with five consecutive swishes. Winnecunnet HS won five consecutive New Hampshire state titles; every girl had to finish with two consecutive free throw makes...22 or 24 in a end practice. 

During scrimmages or contested small-sided-games, confirm victory with a made free throw. 

In high school, we had four rounds of 10 free throws durng practice. These included optional harassment of the shooter (no touching). The overall winner would face the coach. Usually, it took at least 38/40 to represent. Guys made 40. The stakes? If the player won, then no team sprints to finish practice. You'd never win the showdown against Coach with 9/10. 

In March 1973 Division 1 sectional championships at the old Boston Garden, our team made 10/10 at the free throw line in the fourth quarter to send the game into an overtime victory. Raise the stakes

Lagniappe: via @PickandPopNet

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Basketball: Study Your Mentor's Competition, "Reach for the Summitt"

Reading informs, inspires, enlightens. My assistant coach generously gifted me a couple of books after the season, including Reach for the Summitt. 

The book recalls Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a 1000 Faces about the hero or heroine's journey. Not a bad approach, it worked for Homer, every major religion, George Lucas, and more. 

The heroine (Pat Summitt) begins early life as a farm child, learning everything from tractor driving, to milking, to tobacco unforgiving journey, "milk cows don't go on vacation." Her background creates a work ethic up on time, pay attention, bust your butt. Recall that Nick Saban's father owned a service station and that young Nick washed cars. Leave a spot unclean and his father demands he rewash the whole car. 

She explores the players in establishing rules, like curfew. Ownership is everything. You can't argue with the rules...they're your rules

Her Tennessee coaching career wasn't an overnight success. Ascending to the Tennessee job as a graduate assistant in 1974, she first won an NCAA title in 1987...after she had won Olympic silver (1976) as a player and Olympic gold (1984) as coach. She had six losing trips to the Final Four before breaking through. 

Every player won't sail through. She describes struggles with punctuality for Nikki McCray, whose grandmother strapped on her watch after McCray was late for early meetings. 

She insisted that players call her Pat as she felt titles set up barriers and discouraged openness of communication. A high school coach once insisted on being called Coach when being addressed. I knew a specialist in the Navy whom the players called Mr. X behind his back. Position is granted; respect is earned.  

Summitt hated like tattoos and piercings, demanding that players cover them up with bandaids or cloth. 
She structures her book around her "Definite Dozen" values. She considered herself responsible for players...recognizing many were far from home and vulnerable to everything from drugs, bad influences, boys, and AIDS. 

Summitt didn't believe in privilege. She kicked her team out of their plus locker room (couches, wood paneled lockers, television) for a month because of poor attitude. A month? She said that it took her that long to get over their transgressions

At the time of writing, she reported a 100% graduation rate for four year players, which earns her credibility as an educator. 

Coach Summitt points out that sometimes you aren't the best, so surround yourself with better people. She hired Mickie DeMoss as assistant because Mickie a better recruiter and signed better national players than she could. Don't let stubbornness stand in the way of success. 

Lagniappe: Usher reminds us in his MasterClass to study your mentor's idols. Why study Summitt? She was the anti-hero to the Auriemma-led UCONN dynasty. My corollary is "study your idol's competition." What makes your competitors tick? 

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Basketball: Get More from Your Offseason Workouts

"Repetitions make reputations." 

Excellence inspires us. Coaches don't make players; players make players. How do you intend to get the most from the offseason? You can't think and train like everyone else and expect different results. Your task is to become the hero of your story within the team context. 

The offseason allows you to figure out your identity. Figure it out or ride the pine. 

Have a plan. "Plan your trade; trade your plan." - Linda Raschke

Examine, write, and study your plan. Ask coaches if you need help. Make out a realistic schedule of the specifics - how often, how long, what activities. Remember SMART - specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely. 

Playwright David Mamet says about your process, "this will kill them (your opponent) or this will kill me." 

Athletic performance training: aerobic (running), balance and footwork (e.g. jumprope), strength (weights) - I'll shares specifics soon. 

Skill building: ballhandling, shooting (be specific), basketball moves (e.g. 1-on-1). This blog recently reviewed footwork development. You must learn to finish. 

Knowledge: Reading, film study. Develop "next level thinking." If you're a high school player, what would college players study? If you're a college player, what would pros study? 

Emotional: Mindfulness training. Olympic athletes and NBA players do it. 80 percent of the most successful people harness the power of mindfulness. Why wouldn't you?  

Collaborate. If you're in the top 10 percent, elevate teammates with you. If you're in the middle 80 percent, commit to becoming a top 10 percenter. Work out with a partner. It's more fun, more efficient (e.g. you have a rebounder), and fosters competition. 

Do it right. Practicing bad technique only imprints your flaws. Get a parent, sibling, or friend to film your shot. Examine your footwork, balance, loading from the arches through the core (hips), elbow position, extension, follow-through, backspin. Steph Curry remade his shot in high school. 

Track. Yes, I'm repetitive. Darren Hardy writes in The Compound Effect, "winners are trackers." Motivation doesn't cause results. Results cause motivation. 

Use old fashioned graph paper or a spreadsheet program. You'll shoot better AND learn how to use spreadsheets and spreadsheet graphics. Many jobs require a working knowledge of using spreadsheets. 

Shoot, shoot, shoot. Game shots from game spots at game speed. Warm up properly with flips and close in shots. 

Picasso said, "Good artists borrow, great artists steal." Steal Steve's workout

Shoot off the catch, off the dribble, off fakes, off screens (we used trash cans as screens). 

Use the glass. Many players would shoot better if they invested time in using the backboard. "The bank is always open" and scientific study shows about a 20 percent advantage to using the backboard within 12 feet. 

Finish better. Fall in love with easy. Making or missing layups and close in shots often separates success from failure. Warm up with the Mikan and Reverse Mikan drills. The Tates Locke box drills are great to initiate separation. Excellent players have versatile finishes off either foot, with either hand, from either side of the basket. There's nothing wrong with spending the majority of your time on finishing inside. 

Prioritize free throws. Coach Tom Hellen says, "teams that can't shoot free throws last as long in the postseason as dogs that chase cars." Take and track free throws and work them in-between aerobic training so you shoot under conditions of sweat and fatigue. Shooting is a perishable skill; you must practice. 

Contain the ball. There's only one way to learn ball containment. You have to play. If individual defense isn't important to you, you won't be a good defender. You can jump rope and do defensive slides all day, but that won't teach you defense. With so-called positionless basketball, everyone defends away from the basket. 

Look in the mirror. Realistically assess your progress. Build upon your strengths and diminish your weaknesses. How will you leverage your strengths to improve your team? Will your weaknesses limit your playing time and production? 

Lagniappe: MSU Double Stagger Dribble Handoff PnR via Doug Gottlieb