Do You Work on Form?

Prioritze Basketball Training for Form

Form is of the utmost importance whether it is for shooting, finishing, passing or dribbling. Simply stated, the better your form the better you will be at all of those skills. For this reason, I always build segments into our basketball skill development workouts where the players strictly work on their form. These are portions of their training where form is of the utmost priority and every repetition needs to be done a specific way every repetition, every time. I also base this portion of their basketball training on a prescribed number of makes. By forcing them to execute a skill in a certain way and guarantee makes, it will insure that the basketball player maintains a certain degree of focus throughout the entire time period. This type of form training also leans toward going at a much slower pace, say 50% of your game speed in order to concentrate on the form and earn your successful reps.

Tips for Incorporating Form Into Basketball Workouts

  1. Designate the beginning portion of each skill to form work.
  2. Train at 50% of your game speed.
  3. Execute every repetition perfectly every time so that you can build muscle memory.
  4. When mistakes are made, correct them immediately


“The Court is Too Small”

Travel Basketball Team Prep Camp

Over the past two weeks, I ran my yearly travel basketball team prep camp for a couple of towns near where I live in New Jersey. The focus of the camp was to prepare these players for their upcoming travel team basketball seasons. To do so, we focused a ton on fundamental basketball skill development in the mornings. Then in the afternoon, we broke down the game into three on three, instructing the players on offense and defense with breakdown drills. Finally, there was game play at the end of each day, in order to let the players showcase their individual basketball skills and incorporate what we learned in the three on three instruction into an actual game. Due to large number of players at the camp and me not wanting anyone to sit too long, we ran the 5 on 5 full court games on the smaller side courts instead of the main court. As I encouraged the players to work on the passing, cutting and screaming skills that we worked on I had one common response in both weeks…” The courts are too small.”

Small Courts Make Better Basketball Players

Clearly these kids have never seen the courts on West 4th NYC dubbed “The Cage” or the famed Rucker Park. Both courts are notoriously small and known for producing and hosting some of the  best basketball players that the city has to offer. Learning how to play on a smaller court can only make you a better player. With only tighter spaces to work with, basketball players must learn to move more efficiently without the ball in order to get open. The timing of passes need to be on point or its a dunk at the other end. Ball handling and dribbling moves need to be tight or the ball will get taken. And, you need to learn how to get your jump shot off quickly and accurately and finish at the rim with a variety of finishing moves. Do skills like efficient cutting and screening, well timed passes, a tight handle, and accurate shooting and finishing sound like skills the pros have? You bet they do and they all develop these basketball skills by training in situations that are harder than the game.

Basketball Training in Tight Spaces

Playing on tighter courts is just one “harder than the game” situation that basketball players can put themselves in to hone their skills, but how can one simulate these tight spaces using basketball drills? One such drill that I use with my players at Elite Basketball Training is the tight cones drill. Setting up the cones in a variety of ways but only about two feet or less apart forces the player to make their dribble moves in smaller spaces. Another great drill that we use when there are two or more players at a workout and we did last week at camp was Full Court One on One Tight Spaces. The players are tasked with playing full court one on one but need to stay within the lane lines. If they go out, its a turnover. This drill forces to players to execute their changes of direction and change of speeds in a smaller area against a real defender. It also makes them finish at the rim or with their jumper in a much smaller area forcing them to be efficient in both situations.

There is no doubt that training and playing basketball in tight spaces will make you a quicker, more efficient, and overall better basketball player. Interested in finding out how we train at Elite Basketball Training? Take a look at a list of our fall and year round programs on our training page.

Making Adjustments During Your Basketball Workouts

Making Adjustments Separate Good Basketball Players from Great Ones

Between our two Elite Basketball Training locations in Red Bank and Edison, New Jersey we work with a lot of basketball players of different skill levels. This includes group basketball skill development or personal basketball skill development for players ages anywhere between 7 years old and the professional ranks. Summer is the time when basketball players are made. It is the time of year where basketball players have more time to work on their game and develop their skills. The really good players know this and put in work. It is no surprise then that during the summer, I often work with players of a much higher skill level than throughout the rest of the year. This has never been more evident than this summer where I am currently working with multiple high level middle school, high school, college, and professional basketball players. Working with these players I observed many tendencies that make them all great however no tendency has been more evident than their ability to adjust throughout their workouts.

Listening and Adjust to Coach’s Cues

Making adjustments throughout a workout is crucial to a player’s development. These adjustments are made on the spot and don’t take more than a repetition or two to happen.  This is the way to improve, and great players know that. I often use a saying, “never miss the same shot twice in a row.” In other words, if you miss your jump shot to the right, don’t miss it to the right again on the  very next shot. If you are training on your own, you should understand how to make a correction to ensure a straighter jump shot. If you are training with a skilled basketball trainer they should be giving you cues during your basketball workout to help you make the correction. It is your job as a player to listen to those cues and fix the issue. For example, last week as I was working out with a talented college Women’s player, she was missing her jump shot short. There were a couple of reasons for this including tense shoulders and her feet being set pretty wide. We stopped the drill that we were doing and did a drill to correct her footwork and within minutes the problem was solved. To this girl’s credit, she realized the problem, did the drill to help correct it, and then continued to make the adjustment to her feet as we moved back to the original drill. Another example of this happened yesterday as I was working with two talented high school boys. One of the boys, a lefty, was missing his jump shot to the left at times. This was a result of him holding the ball a little high in his hand which offers little support of the basketball and often leads to the ball rolling off the outside fingers. These fingers are weaker and therefore cause the ball to go to the left. To fix this, I instructed him to put more of his hand on the ball and focus on releasing off his middle and index finger. The player made this adjustment on the very next repetition and the results were immediate, with the ball going straighter and in the hoop.

The Reasons that Basketball Players Don’t Adjust

Whereas great players have the ability to make adjustments on the spot, less skilled players struggle with this. The reasons are exponential and include not paying attention, an unwillingness to change, and not understanding a coach’s cues. As far as the first two reasons go, those are on the player. If you are at a basketball training workout and not paying attention or unwilling to learn and change, it begs the question, why are you there? The third reason is on both the coach and the player. As mentioned earlier, a basketball coach should be cuing the player throughout the workout. If it is evident that the player is not understanding the cue or cues that you are using then you need to find another way, phrase, example to use so that they do understand. That is how great coaches operate. They are teachers of the game and know that there is no one universal way to coach. They, too, need to make adjustments to their coaching in order to reach each player. On the player’s end, though, they should also be paying  attention and if they do not understand their coach, they need to ask questions that will help them make the adjustment. They should not just continue to do the same thing over and over again.

Ultimately, this is what separates the great basketball players from the players who are there just because. Great players will listen throughout the workout and make changes when necessary. They will also continue to practice throughout their time apart from their coach and come back better next time. This is different from the player who does not, for whatever reason, make adjustments during the workout. Not only that, you know that the next time they will practice is their next session with their trainer. This is the difference. It is the ability to adjust.

Kevin Durant’s Scoring Ability

Kevin Durant adds a new dimension to Golden State

Kevin Durant has thrust himself to the top of the basketball conversation world with his somewhat controversial move to the Golden State Warriors this summer. Personally, I don’t begrudge him at all for making this choice. Let’s be honest, it you’re an NBA superstar and are going to sign with a different team, other than your own, doesn’t it make sense to go to the one that gives you the best chance at winning a title. As much as I wanted Durant to go to Boston and provide some much needed balance in the Eastern Conference, the smart choice (based on this logic) was Golden State. On the other side of the equation, I understand the venom being spewed Durant’s way for this Lebronesque decision but at least he didn’t host a special on ESPN and call it “The Decision.” Either way, there is no doubt the Durant is an all time great and quite possibly the most dynamically skilled player in the league. There is not other player that possesses his ability to shoot, dribble, attack, and finish all at a height nearing 7 feet. His height and skill will most certainly add a unique dimension to an already stacked scoring machine that is the Golden State Warriors and you can make the case that teams, like Cleveland, will not be able to be as physical with them not that they added this new dimension of skills and size.

Kevin Durant’s Jump Shot Technique

Kevin Durant’s skills make him such a unique scoring option for a player of his size and is predicated by his fantastic jump shot. His ability to shoot, although not at the level of Steph Curry (but then again, who is) is one of the tops in the league. Take notice of it this summer at the Rio Olympics and how he shoots using similar tendencies to the Elite Shooting System that we teach at Elite Basketball Training. His body is turned to align his shooting hip and shooting shoulder with the rim. This also helps to relax the shoulders, producing a tension free shot that is further enhanced by his use of the hop to add quickness to his release. Beyond all of this, Durant smoothly dips the ball prior to releasing it for added rhythm and power all creating the most biomechanically efficient shot you can have.

Kevin Durant’s Driving and Finishing Skills

Durant’s driving and finishing ability are enhanced by his jump shooting skills. Having a great jump shot, forces the defense to play up on Durant which makes him quicker and tougher to guard when he puts the ball on the floor. This ultimately, stretches the defense and forces them to help more frequently than they would normally. Further more, Durant’s athleticism is such that he can go from 6’11” to 6’4″ in a split second. Imagine trying to guard someone like that. It’s darn near impossible! And, oh by the way, he can finish with a variety of finishes that includes dunking right on you, either way you’re in trouble.

Elite Basketball Training Based on the Durant’s versatility

Kevin Durant is a rare combination of basketball skills and size. He is also someone who I pattern my basketball training after at Elite Basketball Training. Our basketball skill development here in New Jersey is about training players to be versatile. I maintain that all basketball players should posses the ability to pass, dribble, shoot, and finish in multiple ways, just like Durant. This will ultimately give you more options when your are on the court, making you a multi-threat player and highly difficult to guard.

What Makes European Basketball Players Different

The Growing Interest in European Basketball Players

If you watched the NBA draft this year, you know that the story outside of Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram being drafted one and two was that a record 15 European players were taken in the first round. That’s an impressive number and continues a trend of the NBA’s growing interest in overseas players. Why the sudden interest? Last week while training one of my players who plays professionally in Europe, I asked him during one of breaks, “What is different about the way the European players train and play versus the way American players do?” He initially responded by talking about how fundamentally sound they were and then expanded that thought to include how hard they worked and their ability to correctly read defenses in a split second. Imagine that…fundamentals and basketball IQ make European players different. That being said, those two components need to be the basis of your basketball skill development.

Why Fundamentals are Important to Your Training

Fundamental basketball is crucial to your basketball training. Just like you cannot build a house without a foundation, your cannot build your basketball game without solid fundamentals. Primarily, you need to be able to pass, dribble and shoot the basketball well and none of it has to be stylish. The aforementioned player at one point said, not many players in Europe have a crazy handle, but they can all handle the ball. He elaborated by explaining that European players aren’t about having a swaggy handle to break you down off the dribble and get to the rim. It is more about the team game, getting into the teeth of the defense, making the correct read and passing to the open man for the jump shot. This brings me to his next point is that the European players can all shoot the ball really well. So when they run the spread pick and roll that you often see and passes are made to the perimeter for the open jumper, you know it is going in the basket.

Basketball IQ Will Get You Paid

Beyond their fundamental skills, European players have a tremendous understanding of the game of basketball. Their basketball IQ is off the charts so much so, that often times, players with a higher basketball IQ often get paid more money overseas. These are the basketball players that can read the defense in a split second and determine whether or not it is a catch and shoot situation or a drive and finish situation. And, when I say drive, I don’t mean with an excessive amount of dribble moves. I am referring to the ability of the offensive  basketball player to see how the defender is closing out and go by him out of the triple threat using his footwork.

Adjust your Basketball Training to Include Fundamentals and Reading Defenses

Basketball IQ is vital to your success as a basketball player along with having solid fundamentals. In fact, you can really make the case that understanding the game and reading defenses is a fundamental skill in and or itself. Either way, players need to take note of this and adjust their basketball training accordingly to including developing fundamental basketball skills (passing, dribbling and shooting) in a way that teaches them to read the defense and develop an understanding of the game of basketball.

If you are interested in taking your basketball game to the next level come train with us this fall. Elite Basketball Training’s fall basketball training programs are available now on our training page and conveniently located in two locations, Edison and Red Bank, New Jersey.