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This drives me nuts…

I have stated time and time again that players are made in the off season and we are right smack in the middle of that off season now with the tail end of summer upon us.  Many basketball players have gone to their local summer camps where they attempted to hone their craft by doing some drills and playing a few games.  However, did this regimen really serve to develop their skills and improve their knowledge of the game?  Within recent years, I have really come to question the value of the summer basketball camp.  In my experience, it has turned into a money making machine that serves more as a babysitting service than an actual skill development vehicle.  Call me stupid, but this is part of the reason why I do not run a traditional summer camp.  I want to work with players who first and foremost want to be there, not players who are there because their parents put them in that camp for the week.  Furthermore, I want to see the players more than just one week and provide them with a progressive curriculum that allows them to develop over the course of time.  Yes, I know players can attend more than one camp or even the same camp two or three times, but ask yourself how different these camps really are.

In an attempt to be different from the norm, I created my summer training programs which included the Fundamentally Sound, Nothin’ but Net, and Elite Ball Handling and Attacking programs all of which were a huge success.  In these programs, players developed their skills through a series of drills but they also learned why that drill was important and how it related to the actual game of basketball.  So much so, that it prompted a player and her parent to say,

“He makes it easy to understand the  drills and WHY we are doing them.”  It is important to know why you are working on a particular skill  and what the end result from mastering it should be in game situations.

Drills are great and their are a butt load of really fancy marketable drills out there that can be done, but in all honesty it is what you do inside the drills that matter most.  Drills are a means to an end, not the end itself and players need to be properly taught the skill and its purpose, then hone that skill by using specific drills.  This is a large reason why I spent five out of six weeks of our Nothin’ but Net program breaking down the jump shot into six components and solidifying those components.  Sure I could have just done a ton of shooting drills over the course of six weeks (and don’t get me wrong, we did) however that would have really served no purpose if the players were shooting the basketball incorrectly.  As a matter of fact it would have only reinforced bad habits and made the players really good at shooting bad.  Jump shooting is about learning to shoot correctly and then shooting correctly a whole lot and that is exactly what we did this summer at our Nothin’ but Net program.

Why the mini rant?  Recently this weekend, I asked a clinic of 40 in coming freshmen basketball players the following question, “What do I mean when I say, inside pivot?”

Cue the crickets…not one player in a group of 40 knew the answer.  Not one!

Now it would be reasonable to assume that many if not all of these players attended basketball camps this summer which begs the question, how did 40 freshmen get through a summer of basketball camps and not one player learn what inside pivot was?  Since that time, I asked two teams that I have begun working with (and many of the players on both teams have spent their whole summer on the local camp circuit) the same question and again, not one player knew the answer.  Members of the teams attempted to demonstrate what it was and I got a lot of players doing reverse pivots, even members of the same team who saw the player in front of him do a reverse pivot, heard me tell him it was incorrect, and then executed the exact same pivot.  This type of stuff drives me nuts.  Footwork is an integral part of the game of basketball and a fundamental skill.  If you are not learning different types of footwork at basketball camp, what are you learning?

With a month left in the summer and about four months left to basketball season there is still time to work on your game and develop your skills and athleticism.  Practice with a purpose, do not just go out and run through drills with out knowing why you are doing them or how they transfer to actual game play.  Furthermore, take part in clinics or training that you know you will benefit from.  Basketball training, camps, and clinics should be more than just activity or a way to get a good sweat.  It should be activity with a purpose and the purpose should be to develop skills that will ultimately transfer to improved game play.

If you are interested in elevating your game and becoming elite, contact me today to begin your basketball training with the most thorough training company in New Jersey.

 

Extension and Form Shooting

If you have ever been to an NBA, WNBA, or NCAA basketball game and gotten there early enough to watch the players warm up, you will notice that they start their warm up right near the basket with some form shooting.  They get in the groove from close and then progressively move back to the three point line.  This is done to help them warm up and get in some sort of rhythm using the correct form.  This is an important point to take note of as they do not start launching three pointers like many of the younger players I see on the courts warming up at their games.  Doing so builds bad habits and leads to an inconsistent jump shot.  This is very similar to a professional golfer warming up before a round where they begin by hitting a wedge and work their way down through their irons to their woods.  They do not come out and start banging their driver down the range.  As a golf coach, I also see the opposite where players step to the range and immediately start hitting driver, usually spraying the ball in every which direction. When they get to hitting their irons, they usually end up hitting the same array of slices and hooks they did with their driver.  Whereas if they did the opposite and started with their irons, they could have gotten in a groove and hit the ball much more consistently.

Progressively warming up is important and I am a huge advocate of form shooting and the value it brings to developing, maintaining, and improving your jump shot.  I have a series of form shooting drills that I use regularly at Elite Basketball Training as a basketball shooting coach.  Some of the drills are stationary and others are dynamic in nature with each drill designed to improve a certain component of the jump shot.  Breaking down the jump shot or any basketball skill into smaller components helps basketball players improve tremendously.  Using this method, allows the basketball players the specificity and repetitions to master smaller components separately and then put them back together to create a much better whole.  However, it is important that when working on these smaller aspects of a skill that you do so correctly and recently I have been noticing a pattern with players in their lack of extension when it comes to form shooting.

The first three to five form shooting drills that we use at Elite Basketball Training are all done from five feet or closer to the basket.  This ensures that players can reach to rim easily and focus solely on the shooting form that we are teaching without having to worry about muscling the ball to the rim because they cannot reach.  However, what has been happening lately is that players are failing to extend their shooting arm fully because they are so close and short arming shots in fear of or over shooting the basketball from two or three feet away.  Short arming your form shooting shots is a bad habit to get into because it will lead to a lack of extension when you get further from the basket.  It is important that a player learn to shoot properly from close by fully extending their arm up and finishing by reaching their index finger up and through the center of the rim and touching their thumb on the follow through.  It is also important to hold your follow through until, at the very least, the ball goes through the rim.  Pulling your arms down immediately on your follow through is another variation of not extending and will carry over to shots that are further from the basket.  Both not reaching full extension and/or pulling your arms down on your release are very bad habits that will lead to you consistently missing short on your jump shot.  Therefore it is important to practice the proper form even when working on form shooting that is done in close to the basket.

Form shooting is an essential part of warming up for all basketball players from the youth levels to the professional levels.  It is a functional way to get your jump shot in the groove and an important part of developing the correct shooting form.   However, form shooting must be executed properly.  Simply because you are shooting from close to the basket, you do not in any way want to short arm your shots.  Doing so will lead to bad habits and will result in a ton of misses from longer range.  Be sure to extend your arm up and through the rim while releasing off your index finger this will lead to a much better jump shot and have your making more shots in no time.

How Many Shots Per Week Should I Take?

How many shots per week should I take

How Many Shots Per Week Should I Take?

This week I was speaking to a friend of mine who runs a basketball training business in Texas about a variety of topics including basketball skill development, sports performance training for basketball, and jump shooting.  He mentioned to me that he had recently polled 100 players who had trained with him over the course of the past year on how many jump shots on average they took over the course of the regular season practice week.  The number was a somewhat astonishing 50.  For those of you doing the math, that’s 7.3333 jump shots per day.  The above graphic visually sums up the finding.

Later that evening I asked about 20 kids the same question and their numbers were equally astonishing. I received answers like 40, 50, 100, and 500 (I’m not too sure how realistic 500 was either, might have been a number that the player was just throwing out there).  Either way, none of those numbers are high enough if you have a desire to become a good jump shooter.

To become good at jump shooting it s like anything else, you must learn how to shoot properly and then get in a ton of  repetitions with the proper technique.  Great jump shooters make about 500 jump shots per day, they do not just take 50-500 per week.  Doing so would ensure mediocrity at best.  100 shots per day only ensures you stay at about the same percentage.  We are talking game shots, game speed.

The Decline of Basketball Shooting Percentage

I am not sure where our basketball society has gone wrong but I can say that there appears to be a misconception that jump shooting technique and getting in reps to become a good jump shooter is somewhat irrelevant.  This is a little strange since shooting is pretty much the only way to score but nonetheless it is the case.  If players are shooting an average of 50 jumpers per week and coaches are low on gym time and only practicing their offense and defense, how can anyone become a good jump shooter?  Somewhere, somehow this needs to change or we will continue to struggle to shoot the basketball at the youth, middle school, and high school level.  

Basketball shooting percentage

Interested in improving your jump shot, ball handling, and other basketball skills?  Contact me today for information on Elite Basketball Training’s group or personal training sessions.  In season training is critical to your  strength and conditioning & shooting success.

The League of Nations and the NBA Title

I have been meaning to write this post for a while but got sidetracked by life and vacation.  A little over a month ago, the Spurs defeated the Heat to win the NBA championship.  Anyone who watched the series knows that they did not just beat the Heat, they beat them to a pulp, blowing them out in the majority of their wins and really should have swept them had it not been for a Dwayne Wade flop (which he go fined for after the fact) that gave the him two free throws which he made and were ultimately the difference in the game.  If you watched the series, you know that the teams could not be more of a contrast in style with the Heat relying largely on their best player Lebron James to carry them and the Spurs working together, playing team basketball to get the wins. Having watches the games, I  view this contrast in styles as a referendum on America’s AAU style of developing players versus the European/international way of developing players.

In the United States, AAU basketball has firmly taken hold of our basketball system and shows no signs of letting go.  While I do believe AAU has its purpose, particularly for older players, I ultimately think that it leads to a style of individualized play that focuses on the best player having the basketball in their hands and taking the majority of the shots.  Ball movement is not always a priority and, in large part, the AAU games that I have watched at some point in the game inevitably become an individual showcase for the best players on the team.  On the other hand, Europeans and on a broader scale, international players spend far more time focusing on skill development and very little time, if any, playing AAU basketball.  Furthermore, they are taught to play more as a team, to move the ball and get all players involved in the offense.  I am not saying that this philosophy does not take place in the U.S.  but it is far from the norm.

So what is the connection between these two styles of play and the Spurs defeating the Heat to win the NBA title?  Take a look at each team’s rosters.  The Heat are made up of only American players (they do not have one single international player) who grew up with the AAU, give the best player the ball mentality.  That is exactly what the Heat did in the finals and it’s exactly why they got the doors blown off of them when they came against the internationally dominated roster of the Spurs.  The Spurs roster was like the League of Nations that included players like Tony Parker and Boris Draw from France, Manu Ginobili from Argentina, Patty Mills from Australia, Tim Duncan from the Virgin Islands, and Marco Bellinelli from Italy.  This international flavor was definitely evident in the style of play where they spread the floor and led the league with 25.2 assists per game a statistic that international teams are known for.

Ultimately, the Heat’s reliance on the athletic prowess of Lebron James worked to get them to the finals in the inferior Eastern Conference.  However, in the end, they came up against a better team, a team filled with international players that did not grow up playing AAU basketball.  A team that grew up developing their skills and learned a style of play that focuses on moving the basketball and getting the most efficient shot. Hardly the stuff of sports center top ten lists but nonetheless worthy of an NBA title.

A Chance to Watch Greatness

The NBA Finals begins this Thursday and although many may not find it as appealing as a Heat vs. Thunder series the notion of the Miami Heat vs. San Antonio Spurs rematch is a dream NBA Finals match up.  It pits two dynasties against each other in the Miami Heat, who are making their fourth straight finals appearance and the San Antonio Spurs who have four NBA titles over the last 15 years.  Furthermore, it features all time greats on both sides including Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Ray Allen and Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker with arguably the greatest active coach in any sport Greg Popovich leading the helm for the Spurs.  There is no doubt that this series is a great one and one that you as a player or coach should be sure to watch every minute of.

From a basketball skill development perspective I always encourage the players that I train to become not just a player, but a student of the game.  Someone who watches basketball and learns from it rather than just trying to catch the next great highlight reel dunk.  This NBA finals gives you the opportunity to not only watch greatness but learn from greatness.  Watch the way the players create space off the dribble and out of the trip threat.  Watch how these all time greats finish at the rim or shoot off the catch and the dribble. Then go out and learn those moves through repetition and drills and use them yourself.  Watch how the players move without the ball and find the open spot on the court by reading the defense.  Then go out and apply that in your next game of pick up or AAU.  Watch Tony Parker create off the dribble and get into space then make the correct decision to pass or shoot. Watch how efficient Tim Duncan is in the post.  Watch Manu Ginobili and how crafty he is as a player using deception and speed changes to keep his defender guessing.  Watch how well Lebron gets to the rim and how he finishes.  Watch Dwayne Wade and the variety of ways he finishes off of two feet and one foot.  Watch Ray Allen shoot from three.

Yes, watch the 2014 NBA Finals not only as a fan but as a student of the game.  There is so much that can be learned from this amazing NBA Finals series, and you need to take advantage of it while it is here.  Do not miss out, this is truly a chance to watch greatness.

At Elite Basketball Training’s workouts, we develop a variety of skills that have been adopted from NBA, WNBA, and NCAA players and modified to suit the skill level of the players we train.  If you are interested in learning the same moves as these professional and top college players then visit our training page and contact me today to get involved in our Elite Basketball Training programs.

Elevate your game.  Become Elite.

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