Are You a Chicken or a Pig?


I was at a wedding recently and the pastor who was marrying the couple told a great story about a conversation that he had with the groom that related to marriage being a lifetime commitment.  The pastor, who was a good friend of the bride and her family, met the soon to be groom after they had been engaged, in order to get to know him a little bit.  In that time, he asked him if he was going to be a chicken or a pig when it came to being married.  I was not there, but I can only imagine the groom’s reaction to this question.  On the surface, this is a strange question, but when you delve into it, the question truly makes sense to anyone who has ever had eggs and bacon (or any sort of pork product) together for breakfast.  The pastor continued with his story, explaining that the chicken is merely involved in this all-American breakfast because all the chicken has to do is lay the eggs which get taken from the nest and cooked while the chicken lives to see another day.  The pig, however, is committed to this breakfast relationship because in order to be a part of it, they are killed, cut up, and cooked, never to see the ligh of day again.  As I recall this story in my head, I cannot help but to laugh at the matter of fact truth of it.  The story really made so much sense to me when I heard it being applied to marriage and the more I think about it, the chicken and the pig story can be applied to your success as a basketball player, coach, or athlete of any sort.

As I think back to some of the greatest players that I have worked with through the years who have made it to the NBA, NFL, and all levels or college athletics in sports such as basketball, football, soccer, and gymnastics, they all had one common characteristic.  These athletes are committed to being great.  Geat players are not just involved, they do not just put in the time when they feel like.  Great players do not end up playing at such a high level by accident.  They are willing to go a step beyond everyone else.  They did not fear mistakes, they make them, embrace them, and learn from them.  These athletes are students of their sport, watching, listening, and learning at every opportunity.  They are all in the gym when others are home relaxing.  They are committed to being great athletes in their respective sports and do whatever is necessary to achieve success.

Success does not happen as a result of luck.  I hear all the time how this person and that person is lucky.  A wise man once said that those who work harder tend to have more luck than others.  Consequently, success is a by product of commitment and the hard work it entails.  It is not a by chance that athletes achieve  success.  They achieve success because in the chicken and pig relationship, they are the pig…they are committed.

Dedicated to taking your game to the NEXT level,

Rich Stoner

USAW Sports Performance Coach

Elite Basketball Training, LLC

Ps. If you are a Pig and committed to being great, then you really need to check this out now at  Pigs may not be quick and explosive but you can if you use this product.

Basketball Pre-Game Meal

Basketball Pre-Game Meal

Basketball Pre-Game Meal Advice

With many of my basketball players currently in season, I have been asked a lot lately about what they should be eating before their games or meets.  What athletes should eat for the Pre-game meals have always been a source of confusion.  I can remember when I first started coaching basketball, many of my players showing up to games and eating nothing but candy about an hour before they had to go on the court.  In fact, it was not until I began educating them on proper pre-game nutrition that they started to eat the correct foods at the correct times before games.  Not giving your body the proper nutrients before an intense activity like a game can leave you sluggish and tired and that will reflect in your performance.  Whereas, eating correctly before games can provide you with the energy to perform to your abilities and dominate the competition.

Basketball Pre-Game Meal: Eat With Purpose

In order to perform well in any sport you must eat properly especially before games.  The primary purpose of a pre-game meal is to provide your body with fuel so that you have energy throughout the entire game.  Having energy throughout the game requires athletes to eat certain types of foods.

Slow and easily digestible carbohydrates are a necessity.  Foods like brown rice, sweet potatoes, or whole grain breads will provide you with the sustainable energy that is needed for all four quarters.  Do not overdo it though.  Too many carbohydrates, especially the wrong ones can weigh you down and leave you feeling heavy and slow, ultimately ruining your play.

The second key component to a solid pre-game meal is a nice piece of protein, like chicken breast or salmon.  Including protein in the meal will make sure your muscles are getting proper nourishment while aiding in your post game recovery.

Basketball Pre-Game Meal Example

A good example of a pre-game meal would be a grilled chicken sandwich on whole wheat bread, fresh fruit, and a sweet potato.  Since this meal is rather large, it is recommended that you eat at least two hours before game time thereby giving your body time to digest consequently allowing you to perform at your best.  Remember, you want to be able to dominate the competition, so give your body the basketball pre-game meal that it deserves with enough nourishment to last you a full game.


Will People be Watching Your Throne in 2012?

About a month ago I was very fortunate to score seats to Jay-Z and Kanye West’s Watch the Throne concert.  I have seen many legendary bands play including Aerosmith, Metallica, Linkin Park (with Jay Z), and Snoop Dog, but I have to say, this was one of the best concerts I have every been to.  Jay-Z and Kanye absolutely brought the house down from start to finish playing songs from their new collaborative album (Watch the Throne) and many of their classic songs that everybody loves.  Watching these two artists perform was truly something special, and it made  me really think about the title of their album, Watch the Throne.  As I sat there and marvelled at their performance, I realized that I was truly watching the throne.  I was watching two kings of hip hop come together at the pinnacle of their careers to create an amazing album and put on, what many are calling, one of the best hip hop concerts of all time.  This album and this tour is about the power of the partnership and how coming together with the right person or people can make you better.  Of course these guys have put on great shows during the course of their careers, but when arguably the greatest rapper ever (Jay-Z) joins forces with a guy who was just nominated for seven Grammy awards (Kanye) success becomes inevitable.

If it is success that you seek in 2012 then perhaps it is time to form partnerships with like minded and successful people.  I have read over and over that, “you are the average of the five people that you spend the most time with.”  I firmly believe this statement to be true.  The people you associate with can make a profound difference in the quality of your life and your performance on the basketball court or any field of play.  I am sure that if we think about it, we have probably all worked with someone in the past that we have considered inferior.  Someone who just breathes laziness.  It is frustrating to be a part of and aggravating because you end up having the do all of the work to make up for their short comings.  This is the partnership that you need to avoid, because it will get you absolutely no where fast.    Good partnerships are with those people who are like minded and driven will push you to be a better person and a better athlete.  They will hold you accountable for your mistakes and make sure that you correct them.  They will make you better.  Bad partners offer excuses and get you to believe them.  They find other activities to do that detract you from your goal.  They are not something that you need to be a part of if you want to be successful.

Success comes from hard work and determination.  It comes from being pushed over and over again until you are out of your comfort zone.  This is very difficult to do on your own and it never hurts to have some help.  So, before 2012 begins step back and evaluate yourself and those you associate with the most.  Are these people driving you to be the best that you can be or are they pulling you further and further away from your goals?    If it is the latter, then perhaps it is time to find some other people to work with.  Associate yourself with like minded and driven people, with people who will make you better and help you achieve your goals.  Could Jay-Z and Kanye have continued to be successful on their own?  Absolutely, they have already proven that, but it is questionable as to whether they could have put on one of the greatest hip hop tours of all time without each other.  Individually, they are already at a high level, perhaps the highest, but they partnered up and have found a way to make each other even better.  Jay-Z and Kanye have annointed themselves kings and we watched their throne in 2011.  The question is, will people be watching your throne in 2012?  The choice is entirely up to you.

May you all have a healthy and prosperous 2012.

Committed to taking your game to the next level,

Rich Stoner

Elite Basketball Training, LLC

Tim Tebow and The Holidays


I love the holiday season.  There is something about this time of year that is quite magical.  Personally, I enjoy heading out shopping for friends and family.  As with everything else that I do, it is quite a production, and it usually includes a large peppermint mocha latte from Starbucks and quite a few hours trying to find that perfect gift for the people in my life that I love.  Beyond that, people just tend to be nicer to everyone.  I mean it was just yesterday that I saw a woman give a guy the finger as he ran her off the road into a Dunkin Donuts parking lot.  I’m joking of course (not really, I did actually see that but keep in mind, I live in Jersey and this happens by the minute).  In all seriousness, people are a lot nicer at this time of year.  More people say hello to others that they do not know, hold doors for people, and actually have manners.  It is really quite magical.

Speaking of magical, Tim Tebow has had quite a run of late. Love him, hate him, or just don’t really care, you have to admit that for a guy who couldn’t hit a bull in the butt with a snow shovel, he has really found ways to put the Denver Broncos in a position to win games in spite of his inaccuracy throwing the football.  Is it magic?  I’m not entirely sure about that, but something about professionals making ridiculous mistakes in late games (Marion Barber) and the consistency of opposing team fumbles that occur late in the fourth quarter kind of make you scratch your head and say, “Did that really just happen…again?”.  Not to mention the fact that Tebow cannot throw the ball for three quarters and then finds a way to complete his passes in the fourth quarter.  All of this begs the questions, what makes the fourth quarter Tebow time, and what makes everyone so much nicer at the end of the year?  The answer, believing.

I have never seen a person believe in himself, his team, and the power of God quite as much as Tim Tebow.  I watched a spot on TV on him this past Sunday and I came away quite impressed.  The man is so positive in his approach to everything he does.  Here is a guy that has been ridiculed by pretty much everyone for how bad he is and he still finds a way to be positive in his approach to everything. Tebow is constantly reassuring himself and his teammates that as long as they keep playing hard they will find a way.  He even talks trash in a way that endears his opponent to him.  It is really quite amazing and it is definitely contagious.  It is Tebow’s positive mental attitude and belief in all of those around him that keeps himself and his teammates in the right frame of mind to believe that when and if they have the chance to win, they can and will take advantage of it.  Not only does Tebow believe in himself, but he believes in his team and that has taken them from teh depths of the NFL standings to first place in their division and a potential playoff appearance.

It is the power of believing  that also makes everyone so much nicer during the holiday season.  People believe in the magic of Santa Claus, Rudolph, Frosty the Snowman, Elves on shelves and even Cousin Eddie and ultimately this makes people happier. It makes people want to be nice to each other and say hello to people they would not normally say hello to.  It makes them want to forgive those who they have held a grudge against all year long.  Believing makes you want to buy gifts, write cards, and sing songs in a way that you have not done all year. Having something to believe in just makes things better.

So that should be your focus as you continue to work on your basketball skills and sports performance training.  Learn from Tim Tebow’s fourth quarter success and everyone else at holiday time and believe in yourself.  Keep a positive attitude now and throughout the year.  Do not get discouraged when success does not always happen or even does not happen for a while.  Stay the course and beleive that you can and will be successful in whatever it is you want to accomplish, and it can and will happen.  Just look at where believing has gotten Tim Tebow and the Broncos.  Just look at how nice believing has made those around you.  It really is quite magical.

I want to take the thank all of my Elite Basketball Training family for your support throughout the year.  It is all of you that make it possible for me to do what I love to do best and provide you with valuable information on basketball skill development, sports performance training, and college planning and recruiting.  I wish you all a Happy Holiday and enjoy the time off with your friends and family.

See you on the court.

Rich Stoner

Elite Basketball Training, LLC

Youth Basketball Coaching


Youth Basketball Coaching

Earlier this week I sent out an email that brought up the subject of basketball skill development in practice during the season and whether or not it should be a priority.  If you did not see that email, here is the first part of it:

Yesterday while having a conversation with a local basketball coach, I happened to ask him about his practice planning and how he used his practice time.  He told me that they worked on their offensive plays for half the time and their defensive plays for the other half.  I was NOT surprised at all. This happens at least once a week where a coach tells me that all they work on is their offense and defense. I totally get it too.  Gym time these days is severely limited almost to the point where coaches can only get one solid practice in a week.  For the most part, that practice is only a hour to an hour and a half.  The games are usually on the weekend so they have to work on their offense or defense during their practices.  This seems reasonable and understandable but I’m not sure I agree entirely with this youth basketball coaching philosophy

Youth Basketball Coaching Priority #1

As a former varsity basketball coach and current basketball trainer, skill development played an important role in every practice.  There was not a day that went by that we did not work on some, if not all of the fundamental basketball skills of shooting, passing, and dribbling.  The reason behind this was that I wanted to have as many multi-skilled players on the basketball court as possible.  Doing so would give my team the advantage over other teams who did not have the same type of player.  It baffled me when I would talk to other coaches who told me that they never practiced shooting the basketball during the season.  Last time I checked, the team with the most points won the game, and in order to score, you needed to be able to shoot and/or finish.  The only way to get better at either one of those skills is to practice them…so we did.  Keep in mind, this is a high school team with players that supposedly had been working on these skills since their youth.  The need for skill development in youth basketball practices is even more amplified because of the stage of the game they are in. However, from talking to many youth coaches, skill development during practice time does not seem to be a priority.

What seems to be a priority is teaching the players how to run their plays because knowing the plays will give your team a better chance of winning which, is totally understandable.  Gym time, to my knowledge, is limited these days and the players have to know how to run the offense, so this rational makes sense, to a degree.  Where I differ is that if players cannot pass, dribble, and shoot you can run plays until you are blue in the face and you still will not score.  What happens after the player screens down, pops out and catches the ball?  If the player does not have fundamental basketball skills, a turnover will usually occur.  I have seen it quite often at all levels of basketball.  Consequently, instead of teaching players the plays, teach the players how to play.

Please keep in mind that I am not saying that plays should not be taught or run.  That is absolutely not my point.  What I am saying is that if players know how to play, they will run the plays more effectively and this will, ultimately, lead to a better basketball experience for everyone involved.  Skill development can and should be taught within the offense that you are trying to run.  Break your offense down, no matter what type of offense it is,  into parts.  Work on skills within that specific part and then bring it back together to make it whole again.  Teach the players how to cut, move and screen properly all while teaching them what to do with the ball when they catch it.  We worked consistently on skill development within our offense on a daily basis.  One of the best ways to do this is in a three on three setting.  Three on threes simplifies the game, especially for younger players.  It also creates more space for them to experiment on their offensive game.  This will ultimately create more confidence in the players and the team as a whole, and a confident team can be a successful team.

Youth Basketball Coaching Failure

In the end, teaching basketball players plays is doing them an injustice, especially at the youth levels.  Players need to learn how to play basketball first and foremost and the youth level is the perfect place to teach players solid fundamental habits.  With this in mind basketball skill development can and should be taught basketball skills in a way that relates to the offense you are running.  Ultimately, this will lead to a better basketball experience and players will learn how to play rather than just learn plays.

Let me know what you guys think about this topic by writing in the comments section below.

If you would like to learn more about how Elite Basketball Training can help you teach your players basketball skill development within your offense, email me at with questions and have us come to your practice to work on skill development with your players.

See you on the court.

Rich Stoner, USAW

Elite Basketball Training, LLC

Youth Basketball Coaching – Reconsider Your Philosophy!

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