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When All You Have is a Hammer…

At Elite Basketball Training, the goal has always been to make every basketball player that trains with me into a complete basketball player.  What is a complete basketball player?  The complete basketball player is one who can dribble, pass, and shoot as well as being stronger, faster, more explosive, and in better condition than their opponent.  If a basketball player has all of these attributes, then they will be highly successful on the court. 

As I was reading this weekend, I came across a quote by Abraham Maslow that is highly appropriate for my basketball training philosophy.  The quote is, “when all you have is a hammer, then everything else becomes nails.”  In other words, having only one tool will limit the work that you can do.  Similarly, having a limited offensive or athletic repertoire will make a basketball player less valuable on the court. 

Great basketball players have multiple tools that they can use to be successful.   They can dribble, pass, and shoot on multiple levels of these abilities.  For example, players that are labeled as jump shooters, like Ray Allen, can shoot the basketball in multiple ways.  They can shoot the ball off the catch, off various cuts, off the dribble, and any other way you can think of shooting the basketball in a game like situation.  This is not by accident, great jump shooters like Ray Allen players practice this.  Jump shooters go out and shoot games shots, at game spots, at game speed and they shoot in everyway imaginable.  Consequently, if a defensive player is overguarding them off the catch, they can put the ball on the floor and hit the pull up jump shot.  Furthermore, if a defensive player is playing off them, they can hit the jumper off the catch.  They do not just have one weapon in their offensive arsenal to go to, so they are not limited to what they can do on the court, they can shoot in multiple ways.  However, being able to shoot multiple different ways is only one example.  There are also guys that can really attack the rim and finish in numerous ways.

Basketball players who attack the basket well must be able to do so with a variety of different moves from the perimeter.  They need to be able to put the ball on the floor from a triple threat position while being able to do the same moves to both sides (left and right).  These players must also be able to score off the bounce (while already dribbling the ball) once again being able to perform many moves to each side.  Beyond just being able to get to the rim from the perimeter they must also be able to finish once they get there.  To do so, they need to have a variety of finishing moves around the rim.  The standard layup off the one leg will not always cut it.  These players work on finishing with the ball high, on a reverse, with their left hand on the right side, with their right hand on the left side, off the jump stop, the list goes on.  To do is what makes them so great, but it is still not enough.  Both of these players (the jump shooter and the driver) have more than one weapon to go to if necessary, but they also have the athletic ability to get their shot off or get by their defender.

Great basketball players spend many hours honing their offensive skills, but also getting themselves into excellent athletic shape.  They hit the weights hard for strength and power, work on plyometrics to build explosiveness, and practice their agility in order to change directions quickly.  Why?  Their skills are not worth anything if they do not have the athletic ability to compete.  If that jump shooter cannot elevate above their defender than they will not get their great jump shot off and it will be worth nothing.  If that driver cannot explode past his defender off the dribble than all his moves will once again be worth nothing.  Great basketball players need to be in excellent athletic shape as well.   

The top basketball players have the skills and the athletic ability to compete at the highest level.  That is what makes them so successful.  They can pass, dribble, and shoot on multiple levels to go along with the athletic ability to make all those skills effective.    Shooting off the catch is not their only weapon, the crossover is not their only move,  THE HAMMER IS NOT THEIR ONLY TOOL.  Everything else is not just nails.  Great players have every tool in the box.


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