Day in an day out for about the past 10 years, for better or for worse, I have listened to Mike and Mike on my morning drive into work. They annoy me, or at least Greenie does, but yet I still listen. This week was no different…Greenberg continued to anger me with his dopy analogies and over-analytical thought process. For the past four days, I have listened to him ask anyone who would listen why the Denver Broncos would have kicked a 62 yard field goal at the end of the game on Sunday night when a miss would seal the deal for them to lose. In case you were wondering, they missed and they lost. Greenberg’s feelings were that they should have punted the ball and played for the tie. The tie! I believe it was the great Paul “Bear” Bryant who once said, “A tie is like kissing your sister.” Who the heck goes out and practices day in and day out to play for a tie? No one, because true competitors play to win the game.
This brings up the notion of a player’s ability to compete. Great players compete all the time…every day, every drill, every play. Good players will only compete some of the time. And, bad players, well, there is a reason they are bad, they almost never compete. I once coached a player who scored 1500 career points in high school, was looked at by many Division 1 schools for basketball but chose to play football at Oklahoma where he started as a wide receiver for a brief period of time. He was, arguably, the most competitive player that I ever coached, to the point where I truly believed that he believed he should make every shot that he took. Seriously, there were times that I could remember sitting him down to explain that making every shot was just not possible and that he needed to relax and continue to play. None of those conversations ever took away his competitive drive though, and that is what made him great. He would never be satisfied with playing for the tie because that is not competing, that is not what great players do.
Great players compete all day every day and even in their sleep. Their ability to compete all the time is what makes them great and they know that this is a skill that you cannot just turn on and off. So if you have a desire to achieve greatness on the court, now is the time to start competing. Get after it and train hard.
Turning Your Feet or Square Up
Last week I was having a conversation with a parent about jump shooting and we got on the subject of what you should do with your feet. In other words, should you square them to the basket or turn them on a 45 degree angle to the side. The parent was saying that as a young athlete he turned his feet and that he sees great jump shooters nowadays turn their feet but that many jump shooting coaches that he taken his son to in NJ teach the players to point all ten toes to the rim. Asking, “why do these coaches continue to teach jump shooting this way? As a jump shooting coach in New Jersey, I am of the mindset that players should turn their feet on their jump shot slightly on the set up but even more so on the finish. With that in mind, the only answers that I can come up with is that they just have not as coaches evolved with the game of basketball or they are unclear about what they mean when they use the phrase square up.
Why Basketball Players Should Turn Their Feet
It is hard to watch a basketball game that feature great jump shooters like Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant and walk away from that game saying that those players square up to the rim on their jump shot. In fact, not only do they turn their feet when setting up to shooting, they finish with their feet even more turned at the end. Turning you feet has a number of advantages for a jump shooter. In a game where players are more physically developed and actually have lat muscles, squaring to the basket can put your shooting shoulder and elbow roughly three or more inches outside your target. This being the case, players are also taught to tuck their elbow in as a way to compensate for the offset. If you have ever shot this way, it is highly uncomfortable. Anyone who has ever shot a basketball knows that discomfort in your jumper can and will produce misses. To avoid this discomfort and line your shooting shoulder and hip with the basket, all you need to do is turn on an angle. This position is far more comfortable, accurately in line with the rim and, by the way, your elbow is now in by virtue of the turn. From this point, all you have to do is shoot the basketball straight.
Why Coaches Use the Phrase “Square Up”
So why do coaches still teach their players to square themselves to the rim? Answers vary, but my only guess is that they were taught this way and as a result continue to teach these antiquated methods. The other thought is that maybe the coaches are unclear on what they mean by squaring up. I have come across many basketball players who believe they are squaring themselves to the basket and are actually turned slightly to start and even more so to finish. That being said, maybe the phrase itself needs a little bit of explaining, especially when it comes to teaching the jump shot properly.
Are you interested in learning more about our Elite Jump Shooting System? If so, visit our training page today for more details on how we can help you turn misses into swishes.
Individual and team defense in basketball has taken a hit over the last couple of decades due to decreased practice time and no focused effort from coaches to teach it. Players do not seem to understand how to guard their man and guarding a man off the ball two or three passes away is almost nonexistent. Defensively, basketball players guarding the ball are content to let their man go by them off the dribble and get to the rim and players off the ball would be better served being a matador in the bull ring with their ¨reach and get out of the way” methods of defending than an actual basketball player. Nonetheless, this lack of defensive ability is not entirely their fault and nor is it the coaches. In fact, it is more a product of gym time or lack there of than anything else.
With the increased number of basketball teams around the country, travel and rec, it has created an issue with gym time. There are just not enough gyms and not enough available time slots to accommodate all of these teams. Furthermore, if there is enough gym time made available, it limits teams to a little over an hour one time a week. Consequently, when coaches do get in the gym with their players the majority of their focus is on their teamś offense and maybe some team defense that is usually in the form of a zone. Why zone? It is believed to be much easier and less time consuming to teach than man to man defense and coaches can get away with giving it some sort of cursory effort. This could not be further from the truth. To play a zone defense correctly and effectively, players must first learn to play man to man defense. In fact, the best zone defenses are actually really great man to man defenses whose players understand how to guard the man in their area as well as be a help defender when off the ball. On the flip side, really great man to man defenses function as a zone with players helping off the ball into an area and then recovering with the movement of the basketball.
To develop this type of successful zone defense, takes a ton of time and practice. When I coached at the high school level, we spent a segment of every practice every day doing defensive breakdown drills for the variety of defenses that we played. That being said, we also had the gym space and the time to. With only one day in the gym each week for some of these travel and recreational basketball teams, that time just does not exist. Therefore, teaching team defense becomes an afterthought. The prevailing thought of, ¨Letś just play zone because all they player has to do is guard an area.” This notion does not take much time or effort and is so far from the truth but the unfortunate reality of the lack of gym time in America today.
Basketball coaches are always looking for the next awesome drill. You know, the one that is going to turn an average ball handler into Kyrie Irving or the average jump shooter into Steph Curry. A lot or these drills merely reinvent the wheel and in too many cases are over the top when it comes to their creativity. I have always subscribed to the K.I.S.S philosophy when it comes to basketball drills, that’s Keep it Simple Stupid and maintained the notion that it is what you do inside the drill that should count more than the overly hokie drill that you ripped off of YouTube. With that in mind, my basketball skill development workouts almost always favor the process over the results. Be damned with the makes and focus on why you are missing.
Two weeks ago I wrote a blog post titled, Do You Work on Form which stressed the importance of form specific basketball drills in your workouts. How many times, do we as coaches run drills where the first to ten wins the game? Or, make 5 and move. Far too often. These results based drills become an issue for basketball players, particularly younger basketball players because all they focus on is getting the basketball in the basket or touching as many cones as they can in a minutes while handling the ball. The result can often be glorified slop. Sure it’s competitive and fun, but is anyone really getting any better?
At our Elite Basketball Training workouts, we spend a ton of time focusing on form but also breaking down the form and teaching the players why bad reps are, in fact, bad reps. If a player is working on two ball stationary ball handling and the goal is to get 20 reps in 30 seconds but can’t seem to get the ball to bounce as well with their weak hand, then they need to know that and know why. This way when they are training on their own, they can make corrections without the aid of a coach. Yesterday, as I worked out a young female basketball player, she kept asking me questions when she missed as to why she missed. The reason, to learn from her mistakes, and it worked because towards the end or the basketball workout, she was telling me not asking me what she was doing wrong.
Basketball is a game of results, there is no doubt about that. That is why we keep score. But, don’t you think that the results would be a little bit better if players and coaches focused a little more time to the process? Keep your drills simple, and teach the game and the skill within the drill. Spend more time on breaking down players’ form and worry less about how many makes or how many speed dribble lines. In the end, this process will produce far better results.
Here in New Jersey, high school basketball season is only eight weeks away. That may seem like a lot of time, but it’s not. It will be here before you know it. Will you be prepared? You can be as long as you dial in your basketball training this fall. You probably spent a little too much time this fall at the beach and now, with the start of school and fall sports, your time is limited. That doesn’t mean that you don’t have any, it just means that you need to make the most of the time that you do have. To do so requires just a few simple tips to stay organized and be efficient with your fall basketball training.
- Plan for success. Your basketball training is nothing without a well organized schedule. Remember, your time is limited so wasting it would be a huge detriment to your success. Take the time at the beginning of each week (preferably Sunday) to write out exactly what you will do each day of the week.
- Design efficient basketball workouts. With so many components of basketball training to work on (basketball skill development, basketball specific sports performance training, basketball speed and agility, conditioning, etc.) your workouts need to be on point. To do so, combine as many components of basketball training as you can. Use multi-skill basketball drills that incorporates speed and agility into your skill training. Add pushups, plyos, sprints, in between or during segments. The point is to make sure that you are getting it all in.
- Recover. Nutrition and rest are as important to your fall basketball training as your basketball skill development and basketball performance training. With limited time, homework to be done and efficient but intense basketball workouts, your body needs to recover. Recovery is aided by a solid nutrition plan made up of smaller meals that include whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and lean proteins. Furthermore, sleep is equally as important. A solid night’s sleep of about eight hours combined with excellent nutrition will do wonders for your body. You’ll feel great and be ready to do it all again the next day.