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Good to Great With Efficiency

How Being Efficient Can Make You a Better Basketball Player

As I wrapped up my Saturday Skills basketball training group this past weekend, I called everyone to center court to reiterate the main point of the workout, and at that point I had realized that I had used the word efficient about six or more times throughout the entire workout.  I spoke about how using inside pivot footwork on a curl cut allowed you to pivot on the catch and not after.  I spoke about how planting, pivoting, and turning resulted in a faster, more efficient way to change directions.  I spoke about attacking a defender’s front leg and going by him shoulder to hip forced the defender to drop stop and was a more efficient way of attacking a defender than attacking his bottom leg and going by him with space. The list could go on but the bottom line is that being efficient on the basketball court is an integral part of being a successful basketball player and it also happens to make mediocre players good and good players great.

Efficiency Makes Good Basketball Players Great

After reminding the basketball players there of the various times that I used the word efficient throughout the workout, I made the point that it was efficiency that made good basketball players great.  In my experience, when it comes to higher levels of basketball, there are good basketball players and there are great basketball players and it is the little things that separate them (See Little Hinges Swing Big Doors and Little Hinges Swing Big Doors Redux). These little hinges include footwork, body positioning, eliminating extra movements like swinging the ball on your layups, reading the defense, etc. and ultimately they can all be chalked up to efficiency. Efficient players do these little things that make them great.  They have proper footwork, they read the defense and take what it is giving them, they play the game low to high, they don’t have extraneous movements when they attack a defender. They are efficient and that is what makes them better than players who are not.

Athletically Skilled Players vs. Athletically Skilled Efficient Players

As I mentioned earlier,  at the higher levels of basketball, there are good players and there are great players.  Good players are players who have some skills and are athletic but do not do all the little things that make the difference. They rely on their sick handles or their jumping ability to beat up on weaker players but when it comes to playing against someone of equal or better ability, they falter.  Why? They do not understand how to read the defense or how to play the game from low to high or proper footwork because they have never had to do that in order to defeat inferior competition. The great players on the other hand have great skills and great athleticism but are also very efficient in their game play.  They are constantly watching the defense as the cut and move.  They are catching the ball with the proper footwork and good body positioning and playing the game from low to high.  They are doing the little things and it makes a big difference and it is for that reason that they are great.  It is for that reason that they do not suffer let downs against better players.

Play Basketball Efficiently and You Can Become Great

  • The great players are skilled but also play the game correctly, they play the game efficiently.
  • Good players rely on skills and athleticism but are not efficient. Causes them to falter in big spots.
  • Little things like footwork, body positioning, reading the defense is what makes basketball players efficient.

Train with NJ Basketball Trainer Rich Stoner and learn how to be efficient on the basketball court.

For more information on how you can become a more efficient basketball player contact Rich Stoner today or visit our Training page for more information on our programs.

Developing Our Youth

The Fear Of Missing Out

In a recent conversation with a good friend of mine, he was explaining to me how his oldest daughter who is 11 is on a high level travel soccer team with some of our area’s best trainers and coaches and that his youngest daughter who is seven will be starting to play competitive soccer in the same program. The interesting part of this is that the seven year old will be playing this fall, not out of want (however she does want to play), but out of necessity. The necessity to get her into this top level program with great trainers and coaches now for fear of her being left out of the program in the future when she wants to play. Can you imagine a world were seven year olds have to play competitive sports in order to make sure they do not get excluded from the system? I can, it’s the world we currently live in. Over the last four days, I have read no less than three articles citing the problem with today’s competitive youth sports system and how it has affected the actual physical and mental development of our American youth. Over what, a chance at a scholarship? The ironic part of it all is that our current system actually leads to a higher number of players getting burned out and not even playing sports by the time they are in high school rendering the college scholarship pointless. So how do we as Americans fix this problem? I’m not quite sure but it can begin with letting kids be what they are…kids.

Let Kids Just Play

Kids need time to be kids which means they need time to learn to play on their own. In his recent blog post, Let Me be Free, Alan Stein talks about the importance of free play for today’s youth.  He jokingly says, “Play dates? Are you serious? Since when does playing need to be done by appointment?!” It is crazy to think that playing with your friends nowadays requires an appointment set by your parents similar to going to the doctor or dentist. Whatever happened to just going outside and riding your bikes around the block with the kids from the neighborhood or playing tag or manhunt with your friends around the neighborhood yards? Scheduling such things seems ridiculous to a person like me who would come home from school and then ride his bike to the park to play basketball with anyone who decided to show up that day…no appointment necessary. As parents we have taken control of our children’s lives and it has transferred into the sports arena where kids are now playing competitive sports at very young ages which actually hurts them developmentally.

Playing Multiple Sports

When a player specializes in one sport too early they become very focused on that sport and that sport only and each sport requires a certain set of skills specific to the sport. For example, soccer is more footwork based and their is limited use of the hands. Playing soccer regularly is great for the development of your lower body and footwork but not so much for upper body skills like throwing and catching. It should be noted that in the previous paragraph I mention riding bikes and playing tag, both of which are pertinent in the development of children since they require fundamental skills such as balance, agility, and running. In a previous post on my site, The Kids Aren’t Alright, My Response, I talk about how former Olympic power, East Germany, used to have all or their young athletes do three things while growing up, running, swimming, and gymnastics. There was no sport specialization until these children grew up to be teenagers. Why? Those three sports, helped provide all children the fundamental skills they needed to excel in specific sports when they were older.  Now I am not saying that we have to go to this extreme with America’s youth, but the notion of playing multiple sports is a good one because it does allow you to develop your body in a way that is anatomically correct. Not deficient in certain areas because you decided to specialize too early.  Furthermore, playing multiple sports gives you versatility as an athlete because you develop core skills like balance, accuracy, flexibility, strength, power, etc.  On top of all that, college coaches want to see athletes that play multiple sports. I had a basketball player that was a 1500 point scorer getting recruited by Oklahoma for football and the Oklahoma coaches used to come to my basketball practices to see how he performed in a different environment.

Making Basketball Training Less Specific

So why is a basketball trainer like myself preaching about letting kids be kids and having them play multiple sports? Because that model worked for me and got me to a level where I earned a division I scholarship, but also because developing the body correctly and then using it to excel in sports like basketball is the focus of our basketball training programs.  Yes, we are an elite basketball training program and yes, our program focuses on basketball skill development and sports performance training for basketball. However, our underlying theme is the development of fundamentals whether it be athletic or skill based because once you have those fundamentals down you will be better players for it. Take for example a player like Steve Nash who grew up playing high level soccer alongside training for basketball. I have heard him time and time again attribute his amazing footwork to his playing soccer.

Ultimately, we need to back off a little and stop being our children’s secretaries booking them for once appointment after another and let them be kids.  Let them choose the sports they are interested in and play them…let them try them all if they want. And also allow for a little less structure in their training or practice.  Like Alan Stein suggests, let them choose to work on whatever new move they want or choose what exercise they want to perform. Give them a little freedom and it will ultimately go a long way towards their overall success.

Kettlebell Training For Basketball Players

The Advantages of Kettlebell Training

Kettlebells are a weighted ball with a handle on one side rather than on both sides of the handle as is the case with a dumbbell.  The kettlebell’s design provides several advantages for training athletes allowing them to perform more ballistic (power developing), whole body, and multi-joint exercises.  These type of exercises, which include cleans and snatches, are vital to sports, particularly basketball which requires the use of the entire body and where powerful athletes tend to be superior to those who are not  The kettlebell also has the ability to develop an athlete’s strength while increasing their cardiovascular capacity.  This is due to  the design and shape of the kettlebell which keeps the hands and wrists in a more natural position.  This position gives the athlete the facility to complete exercises for high repetitions thereby  increasing their overall conditioning.  The shape of the kettlebell is also such that more muscles are used to balance the kettlebell.  This is a result of the whole body, real-life, functional movements that can be performed with kettlebells and ultimately it produces more results in less time.  This notion alone make kettlebells one of the most efficient training implements available in today’s market.

Kettlebell Training for Basketball Players

The efficiency of kettlebells as a training tool is one of the main reasons that they are an incredible tool to use when training basketball players.  In the fast paced, tournament driven world of basketball, time is of the essence.  As a matter of fact, “I don’t have time to lift,” is the number one excuse I get from players for not lifting.  However, the efficiency of the kettlebell as a training implement can solve this because it allows a basketball player to achieve a full body workout and develop strength, power, and stamina in a short period of time.  Beyond this, the very nature of kettlebell training increases size along with developing a body that is long, lean, and functional…all essentials for any basketball player.  Kettlebells are also a multi-planar piece of equipment meaning that they work through all planes of movement.  Kettlebells are not restricted to the sagittal plane like machines which promote one dimensional movement patterns.  Multi-planar training is far more conducive to basketball which requires the body to function freely on the court and not be confined to a restricted area.

Kettlebells Develop Power and Strength for Basketball

Kettlebells are the ultimate piece of training equipment for a basketball player. It has already been stated that they can be used in whole body exercises but also to isolate muscles on the body.  They can be used for max strength exercise with a controlled, deliberate movement as is the case with a strict press or in the case of the kettlebell snatch to train for more explosiveness.  Basketball is a sport that puts great demands on the body and basketball players need to have strength and power. They also tend to have deficiencies in particular areas of their body due to excessive game play and not enough training.  Finally, a demanding practice and game schedule that often times requires an extensive amount of travel leaves little time to be in the weight room. Consequently, the versatility of the kettlebell as a performance training implement and the ease at which you can travel with one in the trunk of your car makes it the ideal training tool for today’s basketball player.

A Jump Shooting Team Can Win

Charles Barkley on Jump  Shooting Teams

In January, Charles Barkley was quoted as saying that, ““I have said the exact same thing for 16 years here.  I don’t like jump-shooting teams. I don’t think you can win the championship beating good teams shooting jumpers.”  Barkley went on to say, “Klay (Thompson) and Steph (Curry) are great players, and they’ve got a great home court, but I’m just saying…in a seven-game series, I don’t think they can make enough jumpers…No disrespect to the Golden State Warriors. I like teams that are built inside-out.”  Often times, I find myself agreeing with Charles Barkley.  His analysis is candid, honest, and usually quite accurate.  However, this time around I had a really hard time buying what he said.  As a former coach, I too build my teams from the inside out and our goal was to get to the rim first, but it is not always that easy to get to the basket.  The guys in the NBA are built like monsters and take up a ton of space.  They are also quicker and more athletic so driving lanes close down much quicker.  That being said jump shots are often times the only shot available and you need to make them in order to score. Golden State proved that this year by winning the NBA title as a jump shooting team.  In fact, a case can be made that the San Antonio Spurs, although not dubbed a, “Jump Shooting Team” won the title last year because they moved the basketball and shot the ball far better from the perimeter than the Heat.  Furthermore, The Dallas Mavericks won their title by also shooting the ball well from three.  So as much as it pains me to say this, Charles…you are wrong

The Importance of the Jump Shot

In recent years, the three pointer is becoming more and more important to teams in the NBA and plays a large role in the success of that team.  This season, of the nine teams that shot the most three pointers per game, eight made the playoffs and of the 10 teams who shot the lowest amount of threes per game on two made the playoffs.  Interestingly enough, Golden State was fourth this season in three point attempts with Cleveland, the team they just defeated for the NBA championship, having the third most attempts.  Going further, the ten teams with the highest three point percentages all made the playoffs while the seven lowest three point field goal shooting teams only had one team make it.  I even made the case all winter long at my workouts that the two best jump shooting teams in the league, the Hawks and the Warriors had the best records.  Finally, the last four teams left in the NBA this season all had the highest four three point shooting percentages in the playoffs.  What do these stats prove?  That jump shooting is vital to a team’s success and that the best jump shooting teams do actually win.

* All Stats courtesy of  Paul Hoover

How You Can Improve Your Jump Shot

Jump shooting is about learning the proper mechanics and then shooting the ball properly a lot.  Repetitions are great but only if they are good repetitions.  Too many players have poor form and unfortunately for them, the never correct it and continue to reinforce those poor habits with bad repetitions.  Finding a professional jump shooting coach could be a life saver for you when it comes to making more jump shots.  If you are interested in learning the jump shooting secrets of the pros, check out Elite Basketball Training’s private jump shot training.  We utilize the Pro Shot System and produce many great jump shooters each year.

Video & Modern Basketball Training

Video and Basketball Training

Use Video In Your Basketball Training?

The internet and the new technologically conscious culture we live in today has changed the way we view basketball. These days, people have the capability to watch all 30 NBA teams live on their cell phone. We have come a long way from the days of showing the NBA Finals on tape delay. This means that basketball training has changed as well. There are so many training tips and articles and videos online that kids these days have a world of knowledge at their fingertips. Specifically, the YouTube highlight tape and training tape sensation has taken off and become quite the craze.

Back in the day, if you wanted to see some highlights of a player, or how a player works out, it was almost impossible to access. Now, a simple search on YouTube will give any average internet user a million different videos to be able to watch as many times as they want. If you want to see a compilation of Kyrie Irving highlights from his high school days to his latest NBA game, it will be there.

If you want to see Kevin Durant’s off season workout regiment, you can find it.

This has changed basketball training because young players, young students of the game, can study the moves and the plays of the best players in the world. They can then practice these moves and add facets to their game that was harder to do before the YouTube age. This is an incredible development because players now can expand their games more than in any way before.

Basketball Webisodes

The other thing that has become immensely popular are basketball online web shows or “webisodes”. These webisodes have a documentary like format where the filmmaker follows a basketball player through his or her trials and tribulations trying to follow the hoop dream. Some popular ones include those made by Devin Williams, “Ten Thousand Hours” and “A Seasons Worth” which show all the training and workouts that young players in the San Francisco Bay Area go through to try and play college basketball. These videos also give viewers a behind the scenes look at these players lives and the sacrifices that they make. These videos are truly inspiring. They can be used as motivation for young players to strive to become better. They also provide lots of good drills and workouts that can be used.

Before the internet, a player would have to read a book to try and find basketball drills and workouts to hone their skills. And many times the book could not elaborate on details to perfect the drill and obviously could not create the best visuals. Now with training videos being so easily accessible, players can see and hear what they need to do and can see perfect demonstrations to try and improve upon their mistakes. Players should use their basketball trainer’s or basketball coach’s judgement to find videos that they think work for them. They can also work with something more fun or advanced than a coach might recommend.  At the end of the day, if you are watching something that sharpens your skills or motivates you to be better then you can’t really go wrong. Young players should take advantage of this modern age we live in to try and be better than the older players who came before them.

Want to take it up another level?  Look at the video of a pro, then video yourself mimicking the move, then analyze the difference.  Repeat.