Make Goal Setting Your Goal

With each new basketball training client I always do a pre-workout evaluation.  This basketball training evaluation is designed to tell me and the athlete where they stand athletically and what skill set they are at.  This evaluation consists of athletic and basketball skills tests but also questions designed to get answers of how motivated these basketball players are.  One of the most important questions that is asked of the players and the parents is what their goals are for the basketball training they are about to take on and what their ultimate goal is for their sport. 

Although the goal setting question is the most important question asked of my players  it often tends to stump them.  Not that they are confused by the question, but it is not something that they have ever REALLY thought about.  Sure they practice, train, and play almost daily but, for what?  Without goals, these players are wandering aimlessly down a path with no end.  If they have thought about their goals, it was at some point in the past and they have often lost focus on how to achieve them.  This is  as bad as not having goals at all.   

The following video is from a speech that I gave at a basketball skills and drills clinic at the Newark YMCA.  The audience consisted of a wide variety of ages and this speech had the crowd shaking their heads with an authoritative, “YES I AGREE” when I finished.  This video can help put goal setting into perspective and give you a step-by-step guide on how to accomplish goal setting.  Once you have set your goals, you will find that achieving them will be significantly easier.

It was Intense and Fun

Thank you to everyone who attended and helped produce last Friday night’s Coaches Choice, USA and Elite Basketball Training basketball clinic in East Brunswick.  Thank you to James Thomas for coming down and being a special guest speaker, and thank you to Tom Sclafani for helping to put on the event.

The atmosphere that night was Intense and most importantly, FUN!

There was a natural progression from one skill to the next that allowed us to cover so many topics in the two and half hour clinic.  We even went a little bit over in order to get in our finishing body weight blast!  That was crazy!

I was fortunate enough to capture some excellent photos of the event that can be viewed on the Elite Basketball Training Flickr Page.   And there will be great video footage of the event coming very soon. 

Once again, thank you to everyone that was involved in the Coaches Choice, USA and Elite Basketball Training basketball clinic.  For more information on Elite Basketball Training’s camps, clinics, and training go to the Training and Clinics page, and be sure to follow me on Twitter and join us on Facebook as the Elite Basketball Training community continues to grow.

See you on the court.

Rich Stoner

Elite Basketball Training, LLC

The Kids Aren’t Alright (My Response)

This is such an interesting article that was written by Mark Hyman of Sports Illustrated and given to me by a colleague.  Please read The Kids Aren’t Alright first and then check out my response.

As I was reading this article, I couldn’t help think of a topic that I brought up on my Elite Basketball Training Facebook Group page on whether basketball players (or any sports athlete) play too much, and practice and strength train too little.  So many young players get caught up in playing their sport all year round that it leaves them with very little time to develop their bodies.  Sports like basketball essentially have four seasons if you include the spring and fall aau season, the summer leagues, and their actual high school season.  Basketball is not the only sport like this either, it seems that soccer, baseball, tennis etc. have all followed the same path.  Here’s a crazy one for you, a local golfer moved to Florida and enrolled at a new high school at the end of last summer in order to play in their high school’s fall golf season.  He stayed down there through the winter to continue to work on his game and then returned just in time to his old high school in NJ in order to participate in the spring golf season here.  It is getting crazy!
With all of this playing, players have no time to develop physically (strength train) and this leads to the breakdown of their bodies.  This is becoming more and more of an issue as kids start to take up sports at very young ages.  I have had so many parents tell me that their son or duaghter is too young to strength train, but then that same son or daughter will play in 3, 4, 5 (who knows)  aau basketball games or traveling soccer games over a two day period each and every weekend.  In my opinion this is more taxing on a young athlete’s body that a well developed strength training routine.  Not allowing your body to develop physically before putting it through the stress of excessive play can lead to two things.  One, as pointed out by Mark Hyman’s article, is obviously physical breakdown at a young age.  Two, is they will reach a point in their playing career where they will plateau or peak too early and others will pass them by simply because their underdeveloped bodies will only take them that far. 
In today’s time there is an underlying quest to be the best and it has made reality a foggy mess.  People have to look at the big picture and do what is best for their children’s developmental growth, and this will actually make them better athletes in the long run.  What ever happened to going out and playing tag (which, by the way, is a great fundamental development and agility game)?  When the East German’s were an Olympic power house back in the day they had this idea that there young athletes would only swim, run, and do gymnastics until a certain age and then when they reached that age they would specialize in a sport of their choosing.  The idea was to get them to develop physically first and these three sports would fundamentally allow them to do that.  Now, there was definitely some other illegal things going on in East Germany at the time, but that is another story for another time.  However the concept of using running, swimming, and gymnastics to develop young athletes is a good one and it worked.  No country of such a small size has ever dominated the world or Olympic stage like East Germans did. 
The “win at all costs” path that we have created and chosen in America seems unreversible.  There is nothing wrong with trying to win nor is there nothing wrong with playing a sport you love.  However when it leads to the physical breakdown of our youth then there is a problem.  Playing countless amounts of games year long at the expense of developing physically or even working on your skills is wrong.  There has to be a harmony between playing, strength training, and skills training for our youth to avoid injury and succeed in their sport.   Forcing our youth to play year round does not lead to better basketball players and in fact, it may even make them worse.  But more importantly it causes them to get hurt and ultimately strips them of their youth. 





Weight Training Will Do What for my Jump Shot?

Having been involved in basketball skills training and strength training for basketball for so long, I have heard all of the reasons why basketball players can’t, don’t or won’t lift weights.  No matter what my rebuttal to their excuses is, they always end up saying, “well there just isn’t enough time.”  I play three sports so I don’t have the time, I am in all honors classes so I don’t have the time, I have AAU practice so I don’t have the time…you catch my drift.

My response has always been that their are 24 hours in a day (which is quite a bit if you think about it) so find the time.  Basketball strength training is so important and goes far beyond just improving your overall physical attributes.  A solid basketball strength training workout will not only increase your size, strength, and speed but also add valuable inches (or even feet) onto your vertical jump.  However, there is something that basketball strength training can do for you as well that I am relatively sure that you have not even thought of. 

A well designed basketball strength training program can improve your jump shot.  WHAT?!  Yes, a well designed basketball strength training program can improve your jump shot

I was speaking to one of my basketball parents the other day and he has been a long time opponent of strength training for basketball.  He came from the old school where they felt that weight lifting and basketball did not mix because it would mess up your jump shot.  However, his son has been hitting the weights hard for the last three months and he is now a believer that lifting weights can actually improve your jumper, in particular your range and how well you shoot at the end of games.  His son can now shoot jumpers without breaking form from almost 35 feet from the basket.  Not that that really matters, because offenses are not usually run from that far away, but nonetheless, it is impressive and it is solely the result of his basketball strength training program.   Furthermore, in game situations in particular in the fourth quarter when your form starts to break down because of fatigue, his hard core weight training will give him the strength and conditioning he needs to hit the big shot at the end of a game. 

So forget about all of the things you thought you knew about strength training and jump shooting, and please stop telling yourself that you don’t have the time.  Find the time because now you know one more advantage to weight training for basketball…it can ABSOLUTELY improve your jump shot and it will DEFINITELY allow you to perform better at the end of the games when it matters most.


For sample basketball strength and condition videos please visit the elitebasketball youtube page:

and for more information on stregnth training for basketball contact me at

College Recruiting Tip of the Month: Be Persistent

In the world of college recruiting, their is that elite group that does not have to do much to get noticed and recruited by the top level schools.  Beyond that, the majority of future college basketball players fall into the middle of the pack.  There, it is a race to the front…a race to stand out and be remembered by the many college coaches that are looking to see if your skills fit into their program.  How are you going to stand out amidst this crowd?  In last month’s college recruiting tip, I spoke about being prepared to play at the college level.  Making sure that you are doing everything that you can to get yourself to a level that you can play college basketball.

This month’s college recruiting tip is to BE PERSISTENT.  College Coaches will have a hard time remembering you if you only get in touch with them once in a while.   It is imperative that you, the prospective college player, be persistent in your attempts to get the coaches’ attention.  With so many ways to communicate, it is very easy to get in touch with college coaches in a variety of ways.  Start off with an email or a phone call to the 10-15 colleges that you are interested in (the top assistant coach usually handles recruiting so he might be your best bet).  Then send a follow-up-letter (I know it is old-fashioned, but it works) expressing your interest in their school.  Be sure to include your Recruiting Cards with your letter so that coaches can put a face to a name and get an idea of your stats and noteworthy accomplishments.  By sending them your Recruiting Cards along with your letter you will only increase your chances of being remembered in the crazy college recruiting market.  It is also a good idea to send them some game film.  I would try to avoid highlight tapes because anyone can put together a tape of their greatest moments and make themselves look like a college player.  College coaches want actual game film that can show them how you play in game situations.  Finally, I would make sure you email them your AAU and high school schedules and invite them out to see a game or two during the seasons. 

I know that this sounds a little overbearing, but you are trying to get into college, right?  You want to play basketball in college, right?  Then you have to do what it takes to not only get noticed,  but STAND OUT in the college recruiting market that is stacked with perspective players.  So BE PERSISTENT and use the multitude of resources that are at your finger tips so that you are not left standing in the dust as the pack passes you by.