Just Drills vs. The Human Body

As you can see from this video, basketball skill development at Elite Basketball Training in NJ is a little different than most other basketball training facilities or groups.  We are far more than just a skills and drills operation where the focus is putting players through a series of drills and hoping that they improve (but knowing that they won’t).  This approach, one we like to refer to as “just drills” or “show and go” dominates the landscape of basketball training.  But at Elite Basketball Training, we strive to be different and have taken an approach to basketball training that incorporates how the human body operates into basketball skill development.  This approach has been developed through years of training athletes for better sports performance, studying the body and the game of basketball, and putting it all together.  By training this way, the end result is a quicker, more powerful, and more skilled basketball player.

The human body is a system, and just like any other system it can run smoothly if trained to operate that way.  However, if not trained properly, it can break down and not work like it is supposes to. The body is a series of levers and pulleys that when working in unison support and work off each other and it is best to train the body in a way that maximizes this efficiency.  Consequently we use many drills that emphasize putting the human body in the proper position to work effectively.  Drills that require the player to drop their hips into position, with their back straight, and head up.  Drills that emphasize turning the body to the proper angle to shoot a basketball comfortably and accurately.  Drills that develop the basketball player’s core and allow them to generate power from that area of the body and have it radiate out.  We show the basketball players who train with us these positions but more importantly, we explain why these positions are important and how they work within the drill and the actual game.  Then, once the players are in the actual drill, we use cues to correct the player, not letting them get by with sloppy form, realizing that what you do inside the drill that is more important than the actual drill itself.

Elite Basketball Training is not just a “just drills” operation.  This “show and go” mentality will work to a point.  Of course players will improve, it’s very hard not to improve at least a little bit if you are doing something.  However, at some point these players will plateau and not get any better.  This is where we separate ourselves from the pack.  Through our understanding of the human body and its systematic operation, we are able to emphasize the proper position necessary to make the body work efficiently and effectively on the basketball court.  This makes for a better form of training that will take the player above and beyond those training with that “just drills” mentality.

Let me know how you train by leaving a message in the comments section below.  If you are looking for any last minute gifts for that coach or player on your holiday list, head over to pick up your copy of Elite Basketball Training’s Speed and Agility Training for Basketball.  This is guaranteed to make that player on your list the quickest most skill player around.

Elevate your game. Become Elite.

Rich Stoner

Elite Basketball Training, LLC

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Hi Everyone,

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Elevate your game. Become ELITE.
Rich Stoner
USAW Sports Performance Coach
NCAA Approved College Planning Consultant
Elite Basketball Training, LLC

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#1, Dave’s opening up for the first time
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Elevate your game. Become ELITE.
Rich Stoner
USAW Sports Performance Coach
NCAA Approved College Planning Consultant
Elite Basketball Training, LLC

Is This a Disease?

Before I get into the main idea of this post, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all of the basketball players that trained with Elite Basketball Training this past year on a job well done.  Based on the emails that I have been getting lately it would appear that almost all of you have made your team in large part due to your work in our basketball skill development and sports performance programs.  I am very proud to have worked with you this year and I look forward to hearing about your continued success on the basketball court and working with you again throughout the season and when the season ends.  Remember, this is only the beginning.  Basketball training is a process that must be continued throughout the year.

Now on to the primary focus of this post.

These days, missed layups have become almost epidemic at the youth and high school levels, as it would appear that basketball players are missing more more consistentl when they drive to the basket.  As a matter of fact, at one of my practices this week I witnessed more missed layups in an hour and a half practice than I have seen in a long time.  What’s going on with this? Has today’s young basketball players lost their ability to make layups?   Having the ability to drive to the rim effectively is great.  However, the skill of driving to the basket can be negated by continuously missing layups once you get there.  Quite frankly it is happening too often at the youth and high school levels to be acceptable and a change needs to be made.

Before we make that change, lets explore why basketball players are missing at the rim.  I wish I could say that these misses are caused as a result of excessive contact. This is a miss that, as a coach, I can accept because the player would still be on the foul line shooting two free throws, but this is actually not the reason for the misses.  The missed layups are caused by the exact opposite of contact.  Players are constantly trying to avoid contact, contorting their body in ways that never seem imaginable and ultimately finishing softly with some kind of flick layup or poorly executed floater.  These types of off balance finishes hurt the player finishing in more ways than one, primarily making the player off balance thereby taking them away from the rim (rather than going towards it) and causing them to miss the layup as well as any contact that could put them on the free throw line.  This costs the team valuable points and an opportunity to put their opponents in foul trouble.  So, with this in mind, what then is the remedy to the missed layup disease that is plaguing our young players?  Very simple, teach the players how to finish properly and then practice finishing under duress and with contact.

Making layups is a constant focus at our Elite Basketball Training skill development workouts.  When young players first come to us, we teach them the proper progressions of making a layup, starting under the rim and working our way back to the three point line.  Players are taught the proper footwork of attacking the rim in order to maintain their balance throughout the process as well as to begin low and finish high at the rim while reaching away from the defender.  Once our players have the proper fundamentals of finishing dow, we are constantly practicing our finishing drills against a coach with a blocking pad or in a competitive drill that forces the player to finish while another player challenges them.  Recently we have been employing what I call read and react drills.  These drills require the player to attack the basket either out of the triple threat or off the dribble, read the defense (a coach with a blocking pad that moves into various defensive positions), and finish using any of their finishing moves.  The player must make a decision as to what finishing move to use based on the defense the coach is playing and they must finish through contact.  Practicing this way forces the player to slow the game down in order to read the defense while also making them better at finishing with contact.  The second type of drill that I refer to is a series of competitive drills that have players go against each other.  These one on one type drills usually gives the offensive player a slight advantage over the defensive player while the defensive player chases from behind or has to touch a spot and close out on an attacking player.  Either way the offensive player is challenged just enough to make them have to finish in a more game like situation.

Practicing and training in a game like manner is one of our rules of thumb for basketball skill development and it is a great way to help alleviate the problem of consistently missing layups.  Basketball players these days seem to be missing more layups that I can remember due in large part to trying to avoid contact rather than finish through it.  Layups are like any other skill and need to be practiced properly.  Build a strong foundation first then work on finishing against other players or coaches in a read and react or one on one type drill.  Doing so will ultimately make you a better finisher around the rim and help remedy society of this missed layup disease.

Let me know if you are seeing as many missed layups as I am and what you are doing to fix the problem by writing in the comments sections below.  And don’t forget, our Elite Basketball Training Saturday Skills  and weekday workouts continue on throughout the season so get in the gym now and continue to elevate your game and become elite.

In Season Training to Maintain

The time has come here in New Jersey. High School Basketball season has begun and many of the youth basketball programs and middle school teams have either started or are in the process of starting up.  All of the hard work that you put in this off season working on developing your basketball skills and improving your sports performance will finally be on display.  With all of this in mind, this begs the questions, should basketball players continue to train during the season and if so, how?  Training during the season is equally important as training in the off season but with all of the practices and games that take precedent time and fatigue can become an issue.  Therefore, when the season rolls around the focus of player development shifts to maintaining the skills and athleticism developed in the off season not adding to it.

Players are made in the off season and that is when the bulk of your player development needs to take place.  In season maintenance of skills and athleticism is often forgotten and overlooked by players and coaches, and as  former high school coach, it is understandable why.  Time is of the essence and team offenses and defenses become the focal point of daily practices placing individual skills and athleticism on the back burner for two to three months.   However, like anything else, without proper repetition, skills (and I am including athleticism in this as a skill) can be lost thereby resulting in poor shooting, dribbling, passing, and overall performance.  Therefore it is imperative to continue to train specific skills during the season along with continuing to lift. 

Regarding skill maintenance, incorporate this into your offensive break down drills.  Have players work on attacking and finishing or taking jump shots from spots that they would normally shoot from during the flow of the offense.  One way to do this is to break down your offensive sets into smaller portions and work on them from a specific side or spot on the floor.  Have them run the specific action (pick and pop, down screen for a jumper, dribble drive kick up, etc.) that you want to work on with it ultimately resulting in a jump shot for one or more of your players.  In the interest of time, pick a side of the floor to work from one day and then work on the exact same action from the other side of the floor on the next day. This will cover all bases and will help make your offense more efficient when you put it back together and run it as a whole.  It will also ensure that players are maintaining their skills throughout the season in a way that makes them successful individually but also in the course of the team offense.

Beyond basketball skill maintenance, it is important for players to stay physically strong and well conditioned throughout the entire season.  This will require them to continue to lift throughout the entire season, but again, the focus is different.  Players are not trying to get stronger or biggger or more explosive.  They are once again trying to maintain the athleticism that they developed in the off-season.   With this in mind, the less is more strategy works best in regards to choosing the correct exercises, number of exercises, and set and repetition scheme.  It is important to choose exercises that will get you the most bang for your buck.  Compound exercises such as a squat, deadlift, clean and press, or snatch are all great in season exercises that work on multiple muscle groups and achieve triple extension.  Combined, this will help basketball players maintain their strength, power, and athleticism.  When desgining an in-season program, use only a percentage (70 or 80%) of your players’ one rep max to determine the weight to use in the main lifts  and do not excede two to three work sets (sets where the weight is your prescribed weight and not a weight you would use to warm up).  It may also be best to have a bodyweight training day on the basketball court.  This can include squats, pushups, lunges, rim pullups and core work.  Combined these two days  might only result in an overall training time of 4o minutes tops.  At 20 minutes per day this is hardly something a coach cannot sacrifice and the long term benefits for the players and team will be exponential.

So this season, do not ditch your individual training for team offenses and defenses.  Instead, incorporate your skill development into drills that will help your offense become more productive.  Break down the offense into specific skill development drills and develop them in the action that you are trying to practice.  Beyond the court, be sure to continue to maintain your athletic ability as well.  Choose compound exercises that work on multiple body parts at once while using a percentage of you max effort weight.  Also incorporate body weight workouts on the court and are great for when you travel and have no equipment.  Overall it is imperative that you continue to train when the basketball season rolls around but not for gains, to maintain.