Making Adjustments Separate Good Basketball Players from Great Ones
Between our two Elite Basketball Training locations in Red Bank and Edison, New Jersey we work with a lot of basketball players of different skill levels. This includes group basketball skill development or personal basketball skill development for players ages anywhere between 7 years old and the professional ranks. Summer is the time when basketball players are made. It is the time of year where basketball players have more time to work on their game and develop their skills. The really good players know this and put in work. It is no surprise then that during the summer, I often work with players of a much higher skill level than throughout the rest of the year. This has never been more evident than this summer where I am currently working with multiple high level middle school, high school, college, and professional basketball players. Working with these players I observed many tendencies that make them all great however no tendency has been more evident than their ability to adjust throughout their workouts.
Listening and Adjust to Coach’s Cues
Making adjustments throughout a workout is crucial to a player’s development. These adjustments are made on the spot and don’t take more than a repetition or two to happen. This is the way to improve, and great players know that. I often use a saying, “never miss the same shot twice in a row.” In other words, if you miss your jump shot to the right, don’t miss it to the right again on the very next shot. If you are training on your own, you should understand how to make a correction to ensure a straighter jump shot. If you are training with a skilled basketball trainer they should be giving you cues during your basketball workout to help you make the correction. It is your job as a player to listen to those cues and fix the issue. For example, last week as I was working out with a talented college Women’s player, she was missing her jump shot short. There were a couple of reasons for this including tense shoulders and her feet being set pretty wide. We stopped the drill that we were doing and did a drill to correct her footwork and within minutes the problem was solved. To this girl’s credit, she realized the problem, did the drill to help correct it, and then continued to make the adjustment to her feet as we moved back to the original drill. Another example of this happened yesterday as I was working with two talented high school boys. One of the boys, a lefty, was missing his jump shot to the left at times. This was a result of him holding the ball a little high in his hand which offers little support of the basketball and often leads to the ball rolling off the outside fingers. These fingers are weaker and therefore cause the ball to go to the left. To fix this, I instructed him to put more of his hand on the ball and focus on releasing off his middle and index finger. The player made this adjustment on the very next repetition and the results were immediate, with the ball going straighter and in the hoop.
The Reasons that Basketball Players Don’t Adjust
Whereas great players have the ability to make adjustments on the spot, less skilled players struggle with this. The reasons are exponential and include not paying attention, an unwillingness to change, and not understanding a coach’s cues. As far as the first two reasons go, those are on the player. If you are at a basketball training workout and not paying attention or unwilling to learn and change, it begs the question, why are you there? The third reason is on both the coach and the player. As mentioned earlier, a basketball coach should be cuing the player throughout the workout. If it is evident that the player is not understanding the cue or cues that you are using then you need to find another way, phrase, example to use so that they do understand. That is how great coaches operate. They are teachers of the game and know that there is no one universal way to coach. They, too, need to make adjustments to their coaching in order to reach each player. On the player’s end, though, they should also be paying attention and if they do not understand their coach, they need to ask questions that will help them make the adjustment. They should not just continue to do the same thing over and over again.
Ultimately, this is what separates the great basketball players from the players who are there just because. Great players will listen throughout the workout and make changes when necessary. They will also continue to practice throughout their time apart from their coach and come back better next time. This is different from the player who does not, for whatever reason, make adjustments during the workout. Not only that, you know that the next time they will practice is their next session with their trainer. This is the difference. It is the ability to adjust.