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