Finishing at the Basket
This summer, I am bringing back one of Elite Basketball Training’s most popular programs, The Elite Ball Handling and Finishing program. This program focuses on exactly what it says it does, ball handling and finishing, by teaching players to use moves and counter moves off the dribble to attack the rim and finish appropriately. I have spoken in the past about how the game is not a layup line and therefore players need to practice different types of layups based on how the defense is playing you. One type of layup series that is highly effective and we will be teaching at the Elite Ball Handling and Finishing summer program is the two foot finish.
The Two Foot Finishing Series
There are a few varieties to the two foot finishing series that include the 1,2 step, the jump stop, the pro hop, and the drag foot finish. Each one has it’s own purpose based on how the defense is guarding you.
- The 1, 2 step finish can be used when you have a defender on your hip going to the same location that you are going. The 1,2 step will allow you to initiate contact and power up to the rim.
- The jump stop can also be used with a defender on your hip in order to initiate contact and separate from them. In this situation though, the defender is slightly behind you and you use the jump stop to cover ground and cut the defender off. This will force the defender to either let you go as you separate or foul you.
- The Pro Hop is similar to the jump stop in that you are trying to cover ground and get to an open space. However, instead of hopping straight past the defender, you hop across the defender to where the open space is. As you do this, you turn your shoulders to protect the ball and finishing on the opposite side.
- With the drag foot finish, the defender is playing you tight and physical while going to the same spot you are. You would step and drag your back foot to maintain contact with the defender to help you separate.
These are the four ways you can finish using our two foot series that we teach at Elite Basketball. All are highly effective but once again it requires the offensive player to understand how a defender is guarding them and then reacting appropriately.
Why Driving The Basketball is Important
With the return of the Elite Ball Handling and Finishing program coming this summer, I will continue to discuss some of the key points that will be covered over the course of this six week program. As I stated in my previous blog post, Two Foot Finishes, this program will focus on attacking the basket and finishing at the rim. As a former successful head basketball coach at the high school level, our offense was based on attacking the defense off the dribble. We ran variations of the dribble drive as well as a spread pick and roll offense. As a team, we shot the ball fairly well from the perimeter, but our goal was to get the the rim first and free throw line second. Driving the basketball effectively puts a ton of pressure on the defense. It forces the team to help and recover, often leaving them scrambling to closeouts and leaving you with open shots or drives. Attacking the rim and the defense vertically (rather than horizontally) also puts individual players on their heels forcing them to guard the basketball well or foul.
Driving the Basketball Puts Pressure on the Defense
Simply stated, attacking your opponent off the dribble vertically will put pressure on the defense and give you advantages on offense. To do so correctly, you must get a piece of the paint on each drive. This will insure that you are forcing the defense to retreat, collapse, and help. Getting piece of the paint requires you to drive into the areas that Ganon Baker refers to as kill boxes. These kill boxes are at the following locations:
- Both Elbows
- The Low Block on both sides
- The Midline – the area in the center of the lane that runs from the rim to the dotted line
Attacking the “Kill Boxes” on the Basketball Court
Driving into these “kill boxes” and getting a piece of the paint force creates a retreating and collapsing defense while leaving you with more open shots. Learn how to be this type of driving player this summer at the Elite Ball Handling and Finishing program, available for registration today at www.richstoner.com/training-camps-clinics.
The Four Ways a Defense Can Guard You
As you know, at every Elite Basketball Training skill development workout, I strive to develop your basketball skills as well as teach the game of basketball. Learning the game will help basketball players build up their basketball IQ. They will know more about how defenses are playing them, where and how they should cut based on this, and how they can counter the defense once they have caught the ball. Knowing this information will ultimately make for a much more efficient and effective basketball player on the court. That being said, there are really only four ways a defense can guard you. They are:
- Play in your face, guarding you tight.
- Play an arm’s length away.
- Force you to your right.
- Force you to your left.
Knowing this information will give you an understanding of not only how the defense is guarding you but also how you can counter that defense with specific offensive moves.
Offensive Moves That Counter the Defense
Knowing how to and being able to counter a defense as an individual player will make your own personal offense and the team offense click. You, as a player, will be able to break free of defenders and create space for yourself to get your own shot. Furthermore, getting into space with the basketball will put pressure on the team defense, forcing them to rotate and ultimately leaving one or more of your teammates open. Looking at each example of how a defense can guard you, we can break down the best and most efficient counter moves to use. If a defense is playing up and pressuring you (ie. guarding you tight) there are a few ways you can create space. First, a player should rip over or through and step across the defender leading with the hips. This will force the defender to back off and once you step back to triple threat you will have space for yourself. It should be noted, that when you step across your defender, if your knee is outside theirs then you should drive by them. Finally, as you step across, instead of coming back to triple threat, you can spin back and drive the opposite direction.
The second way a defense can play you is an arm’s length away. If the defense is guarding you with an arm’s length distance, you have space there already for you to do one of three options: shoot, pass, or drive. In the third and fourth ways a defense can play you basically counter by going the opposite direction the defense is forcing you. In other words, if they are playing you to go right, then drive left and if they are playing you to drive right, then attack left. Doing so, will require you as an offensive player to attack the defender’s front leg putting pressure on the defense by forcing them to drop step and or backpedal. As an offensive player this is exactly what you want to make the defense do. It will help you cut the defender off and get them on your hip, rather than having them slide with you which is exactly what will happen if you have attacked the basket in the same direction they are forcing you.
Tips on How the Defense is Playing You and Your Options
- Tight Defense = Step across and rip through series
- Arm’s length away = shoot, pass, or drive
- Forcing you right = drive left
- Forcing you left = drive right.
The Most Thorough Basketball Training Program The
As you know, at Elite Basketball Training, we strive to be the most thorough basketball training program in New Jersey. It is for this reason that I offer both basketball skill development, sports performance training, and nutrition and supplement advice to all of the basketball players that train with me. This approach will insure that the players that come out of my basketball training program will have the complete package on the basketball court. To break this down even further, each Elite Basketball Training workout is as thorough as they come and cover all facets of the game including ball-handling, attacking and finishing off the dribble, passing, shooting, cutting, reading the defense and reacting to your read. Sound like a lot? It is, but it is well worth it. In fact, last week I heard one of the parents tell his son, “You learn more in one session here than you do in your whole season with you team.” I thought that was such an amazing compliment for my basketball training program and it got me thinking about how thorough a basketball training workout should be.
European Skill Development vs. American Game Play
When I sit down to design my basketball skill development workouts, I do so with the purpose of developing the most well rounded basketball players that I can. These multi-skilled players have proven to be the most successful players on the basketball court. Having played, coached and studied the game of basketball for over two decades I am off the opinion that they way Europeans develop their basketball players is a far better approach to skill development than our current AAU/Travel team model here in America. Instead of play, play, play like we do here in the states, the Europeans focus on skill development with drills and repetitions in order to learn the game of basketball. It is for this reason that foreign born players have more overall skill than the American players who often rely on their athleticism. It is also the reason that my workouts are so thorough and cover so many aspects of the game of basketball.
Progressive Approach to Skill Development
At Elite Basketball Training, we have a progressive approach to basketball skill development. That is to say that each skill that we learn builds upon previous skills. Not only that, each individual workout is progressive as well and each skill and drill covered in the workout builds on the previous one. For example, in a recent workout, we covered finishing off one leg. We began by teaching this skill and explaining its purpose. From there the players worked on form finishing off one leg striving to execute proper form at about 60% of their game speed in single leg layups, reverse layups, inside hand finishes, etc. From there, we incorporated these finishing moves into an attack drill that forced them to go at game speed. Finally, the players were asked to finish with contact in order to make the drill more game like. I refer to this method as the “form, speed, contact” method and it plays right into our progressive mentality. Furthermore, at the next workout, we will review these finishes and then add single leg counter move finishes which would be the next series in the progression. We have found that this progressive teaching philosophy works far better than throwing together a hodge podge of drills you happen to find on youtube.
Teach the Game and Build Basketball IQ
Aside from the most obvious skills like dribbling, passing, and shooting there are less obvious skills that also need to be developed that include reading the defense and building your basketball IQ. Both fall into the category of “teaching the game” and are always a part of our Elite Basketball Training workouts. For example, in the last two weeks of our Saturday Skills Training program we have been covering reads off of a narrow pin down. Following our progressive teaching philosophy, in week one we taught a stop and go cut with reads that you can make coming off a curl. This began with a tight curl because the defender was trailing and there was no help and advanced to two different wide curl reads. The following week we proceeded to flare cuts out of the same narrow pin down and how to make moves and countermoves out of that cut by reading the defense. This, teaching of the game, builds players’ basketball IQ and is vital to their success on the court. A player’s knowledge of the game will serve to elevate their play by making them more open than just relying on sheer athletic ability. It’s part of the reason why all time greats like Chris Mullin and Larry Bird were so amazing. They were basketball savants along with having amazing individual skills.
Tips on How to be Thorough With Your Basketball Workouts
- Let basketball skill development be the focus of your training and game play be the cherry on top.
- Teach skills progressively. Build on each skill within the workout and then move forward when the players have mastered the skill.
- Teach the game. Include basketball IQ building drills into each and every workout.
Jump Shooting When Fatigued
Last night I was fortunate enough to work with a rising sixth grade basketball player that could really shoot the ball well. This player’s technique is textbook, incorporating all aspects of the Pro Shot System. As we began the workout, he was shooting the ball very well, and making a large percentage of his shots. His form was perfect. However, as the hour and workout went on, he began to fatigue and subtle nuances began to creep into his shot, making him miss. Now I am probably nitpicking here because overall, throughout the course of an hour, this player shot the ball really well. However, it is important to be able to continue to shoot the ball when you are fatigued, particularly at the end of a basketball game or in the case of an AAU tournament in the games that matter most toward the end of the tournament. Shooting the ball when fatigued is a skill that can be developed. It just takes practice, like anything else, and some simple adjustments to the way you train. Those adjustments include incorporating both running and even defense into your shooting drills.
Having a Touch Spot and A Shooting Spot
One simple way to add conditioning to your shooting drills is to include a touch spot in the drill. Simply state, this is a spot that the player must run to and touch after every shot is taken. For example, if the player is shooting from the wing, have them touch the corner of half court after every shot and return to the wing or shooting spot. The purpose of a having both a touch spot and shooting spot is to keep the player moving throughout drill. This will make the shooting drill much more game like and force the player to shoot through periods of fatigue.
Incorporate Defense Into Your Shooting Drills
Another great way to condition your players while shooting and also work on defensive technique is to incorporate defensive close outs and/or defensive slides into the shooting drill. For example, you can have the player start on the baseline with the basketball, pass you the ball at the top of the key, close out on you with proper defensive technique, defensive slide to the sideline, and approach the wing for a jump shot. Adding close outs and slides makes the drill multi-functional. You will, not only, be working on jump shooting and conditioning, but also defensive skills like closing out properly and sliding as well as the proper footwork for pivoting and changing directions.
The Wilson X Basketball
Although not related to conditioning, the Wilson X Connected Basketball is a great device that is relatively new to the market and will help you track your makes and misses throughout your workout. The Wilson X Connected Basketball works in accordance with the Wilson X App that is available in the App Store or on Google Play. Once the ball is connected to the app, you can play fun games that simulate real game like experiences such as a countdown timer and crowd noise. The most important part here though is that you can track your makes and misses and the valuable information learned from that data will help you determine where you are missing from and at which point in your workout. There is no doubt that the Wilson X Connected Basketball is a game changer when it comes to your basketball skill development workouts.
Tips For Adding Conditioning to Your Shooting Drills
- Have a touch spot and a shooting spot in as many jump shooting drills as possible.
- Incorporate defensive slides and defensive close outs into your shooting drills to make them multi-functional.
- Track your shots to know where and when you are missing. (Invest in the Wilson X Connected Basketball to help with this)