Measure Your Success By Your Effort

Footwork Makes You Smarter

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Teach Your Players How To Foul

Coaches do you not spend time teaching your players how to foul in end-of-game situations, when you’re hoping to get an extra possession? Of course you do. You tell your players that they must be making an effort at reaching for the ball. You probably also tell your players that there are situations where you must not let someone score. Foul the player without letting them release the ball. I’m sure most of you teach your players how to do this, in a safe manner.

Is this some type of secret society that we have failed to let referees in on? I see flagrant foul after flagrant foul at the end of games, and they go unpunished. Listen, a push to the back is never warranted. It’s unsportsman-like like, it’s cowardly, and it’s flagrant. Come on referees make the right call!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Getting on the floor – toughness factor

Often coaches coach the way they were coached. They stick to ideas that they learned not thinking the game may have changed since they were playing. It’s important that you look at situations with fresh eyes. How many coaches still run passing drills where partners facing each other are sliding and chest passing to their partner from one end of the court to the other end? When does this happen in the fast pace style of today’s game? The drill is just not relevant. Just like the importance of re-examining your drills to see if they are relevant it’s important to adjust your philosophies to match the rules of the game today.

We all know that possession is more important than position, but how does this affect your philosophy when it comes to alternation of the possession arrow. Does it make sense to have your players diving all over the floor in harms way just to give the ball up to the other team, because a jump ball was called? Are you as a coach aware of the possession arrow in loose ball situations? Should you be? Piling up on the floor is one of those situations that Referees choose to let any kind of contact go. You see players diving on each other, and the only time the Refs call a foul is when they are becoming untangled and out of frustration one of the players gives the other a shove. Referees are very willing to call ticky-tack calls...and coaches you know what I mean, but diving on a player during a loose ball…. Acceptable? It’s the same as a good strong screen when a player is unaware and gets clocked. No foul? Was there not a major collision?

Absolutely you should teach your players how to get on the floor safely in order to grab a loose ball. You should teach it, and then incorporate this into some of your drills. If you are not teaching these techniques, consider yourself negligent.

If two players are fighting for a loose ball and a jump-ball is called and it is determined by the alternating possession arrow, do you truly think the player that didn’t gain that possession now feels inferior? Do you think the arrow determined which player is tougher, and now the looser of the alternating arrow game will unravel? I think not.

Have you considered adjusting what your players do depending on the possession arrow? Would you consider having your player straddle the player in a crouched position and just like in a dead ball situation the rest of your players are in full denial trying to get a 5 second call or a travel as the player on the floor struggles to give the ball up?

Miscellaneous things you should teach your players
1. How to get on the floor safely
2. How to take a charge
3. How and when to save a ball going out of bounds.
4. How and when it’s good to foul

For more detail on items 1 through 4 feel free to contact me.

Coach Paul

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Bad Shooting Drills – Jerry West was a great shooter despite this drill

The object of teaching shooting mechanics is to create good, repeatable mechanics. See the 4 part Blog There Is a Reason There Is a Nail At The FT Line . Some coaches go to all sorts of trouble to try to eliminate pressure of not making shots, by taking away the rim. They want to work on mechanics away from the rim, so there is not the disappointment of having correct mechanics and the ball not dropping through the rim. It’s a coach’s job to let players understand that the ball does not always fall through the rim. Sports are an exercise in failure and how you deal with that failure. If you miss 60% of the time from the three-land, you are considered an excellent 3 point shooter. It’s a coach’s job to help players deal mentally with the failures. It’s also a coach’s job to help the player understand that they will eventually be more successful when using proper shooting mechanics. It will take less work to maintain a “good” shooting mechanics then a “bad” shooting mechanics. I read that Kevin Garnet puts up 1500 shots a day. I admire that work ethic to get better, but wouldn’t he do better to stop catapulting his shot and do fewer repetitions to maintain that. Guess what; there is probably no better feedback then the ball dropping through the rim. It’s a coach’s job to teach players proper shooting mechanics at a range where they can be successful. See Good Shooting Drills below.

Bad Shooting Drills

1.Jerry West Drill
I’m not sure if this drill was really in the staple of Jerry West’s shooting drills, but he is usually accredited for it. If it was, Jerry was a great shooter despite the drill. The drill has players lying on their back shooting the ball into the air and then catching it. The object is to make sure the wrist and finger mechanics are correct on both hands. This drill is bound to give you poor mechanics with your arms. It’s well known that if you want the ball to fly high, your elbow should be above your eye. This drill promotes having your elbow well below your eye. We do not need another drill that is going to promote youth players chucking up threes before they have the strength and mechanics to do so.

2.Shooting at lines
Players line up so their shooting elbow will be over a line on the floor. They release the ball on their shot and see how straight their shot is by determining if it landed on the line on the floor. This one is plagued with issues for me. Kids will look at the flight of the ball, or stare at the line on the floor. Unless they are working with a partner how can they check out their shooting mechanics? Do you want them to look to see if the ball hits the line, and then look back at their hands to make a correction? Come on this is nuts. Don’t you want your players to train their eyes on the rim, and make their corrections there? It’s hard enough trying to get players include looking at the rim for their shot fakes or getting early eye contact with the rim. I don’t want a drill that is contrary to those habits.

3.Shooting at edge of backboard
Player stands facing the side of the backboard and works on shooting the ball and hitting the side of the backboard. I guess this so suppose to parallel the old golf analogy of the golfer asking his caddie where he should aim. When the caddie tells him aim towards the woods, the golfer replies which tree. Here is my issue with this drill. There is a perfectly good thing to shoot at on the front of the backboard, it’s called a rim. If you want a small target to shoot at then use the eye at the back of the rim that holds the net in place. It doesn’t mater which angle you are facing the rim, you will always find a front of the rim and a back of the rim, and at the back of the rim you will find an eye. Aiming at a spot on the side of the backboard, will not allow a player to hold their finish and look at their arms and hands and determine if they need to correct something. They will be too busy retrieving the ball off a weird bounce. This drill is limited to two players at a backboard.
4.Shooting at Walls
Shooting at walls, picking a brick out and seeing if you can hit that is not unlike shooting at the side of a backboard. Although you will probably have far more wall real-estate then the sides of backboards, it too means the player must catch the ball and take their hands and arms away from checking their mechanics. Yes you could let the ball hit the floor and catch it on the bounce while checking your mechanics, but it also has another flaw. Players will be aiming their shot directly at a brick. Maybe that’s why they call flat shots bricks. You are promoting shooting directly at the rim. Unless you are telling your players that you are shooting the ball in an arc so that it comes down and kisses off the intended brick, why wouldn’t you just use the rim.

If you want to use the wall, use if for passing overloads drills. It’s a great way to get repetitions for passing in. You can have players try to hit a brick or spot on the wall while using all different types of passes. You can have them use 2 or 3 balls while firing the balls off the wall trying to hit a certain spot. You can have them use 2 basketballs and a tennis ball or any computation of that. You can combine the passing with dribbling, or creating space to make the pass. You can number spots on the wall and have the player hit those numbers as you shout out the numbers. You can have the player face the wall and you can their partner standing behind them bouncing the ball off the wall as a reaction drill to have them jump to the ball to catch it in their core. Walls can be very useful in practice, but in my opinion not great for shooting drills. For more information on these passing drills email me

Good Shooting drills

1.Zero Points
This is an excellent way to start your practices. Include this as part of your pre-practice if you can. Players face the basket from at least 5 different spots and need to make 5 – 10 shots from each spot. The 5 spots should include:
a.Directly in front of the rim (1 spot)
b.45 degree angles (2 spots one on either side of rim)
c.baseline (2 spots one on either side of rim)

Players are working from a distance away from the basket where they do not need to include their lower body in their shot. They are working on their upper body shot mechanics. Have your players hold their finish on each shot, so that they can check them out to see of they are correct. I like to have my players make 70 shots. 10 in from each of the 5 spots, and the bonus 20 shots are banks from 45 degree angle. When working on the banks, I like them to get a real feel for the glass by working the shots in from different heights on the glass.

As with all shooting drills where your players are working in close like a Mikan drill you need to challenge them so they will not just move through the motions of doing the drill. Keep them focused by making sure they are always holding their shot mechanics and checking them ( hold your finish till it goes in or hits the rim) and by challenging them to make the shots clean (rimless, nothing but net).

Not only will this drill help your players warm up their shot properly, work on their shot mechanics, but I think you will find as I do, your player’s confidence goes up with their shooting. They get to the point that if they miss a shot, it’s odd. They can get 50 – 70 shots in, in a very short period of time without missing.

If you don’t have a pre-practice, start making up tasks for your players. Players left on their own will come into the gym, start talking and chatting with no focus and start chucking up shots from between half court and the three point line, or dunking before warmed up. If you have access to the gym before practice actually begins they can include Zero Points in what they need to get done. If you don’t have accesses to the gym have them do some of the pre-practice drills in the hallway. This is a little off topic, but include, all aspects of the game, passing, dribbling, shooting, rebounding. For more information see up-coming blog in pre-practice routines.

2.Shooting to the top of your partner's head
If you are still looking for a shooting drill that helps with mechanics but takes away the rim, I think this one has some true benefits. Players stand facing their partner approximately 15 feet away from each other. They have one ball between them. Player 1 shoots the ball to player 2, and holds their mechanics so that after the catch by player 2, they can help correct anything in their partner’s shot. Have your players aim for the top of the head of their partner, but in a way that the ball is going up in an arc and dropping down on their partner’s head. This at least gives the idea or concept at shooting the ball at a target but not directly at a target like the side of a backboard or a brick on a wall. You can vary this drill by having your players jump 50%, 50%, 75% or 100% while shooting the ball and observing the effects on the flight of the ball. Make sure it’s the catcher that is watching the flight of the ball and not the shooter. You can also have the shooter close their eyes, so that they can visualize, or get into the kinetics of the shot. You can also have them mimic bad habits, like bringing the ball back too far to the crown of your head, or elbow out and they can compare the two feelings an the effect on the flight of the ball.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

There Are Few Assurances In Life - Part 2

Coming home from a tournament, my wife, my son and two of my son’s teammates, we found ourselves in one of those situations where there are no assurances. Snowy conditions and travelling at a conservative speed, an oncoming car came into our lane. In an effort to avoid the collisions, we ended up hitting the soft shoulder. The wheel buried into the gravel and we started to spin and flip down into a ditch. My son was asleep at the time when it all began and didn’t even hear me should hang on. He awoke as we were sliding down into the ditch. When we came to a standstill our vehicle was on the passenger’s side. The boys managed to open the door on the back driver’s side and get out. I kicked out the windshield and my wife called 911. My door wouldn’t open, but I got the window open. My wife then climbed out, over me. I unbelted my seatbelt and followed the escape path out my window. The Police, rescue workers, fire department, CAA all at the scene in a timely manner.
We were lucky. My son took the worst of the punishment, his back and neck are bothering him, but he is used to dealing with adversity. I’ll add safety to the list of things that have no assurances.

Friday, December 3, 2010

There Are Few Assurances In Life

There are few assurances in life. Your job, your relationships, your health; those things will be challenged. You may not succeed at all of them, but there is no excuse for not trying your best at making them work. There is no excuse for quitting. There is no excuse for not measuring your success by your effort.
Basketball is no different. Your effort is the only thing you can truly control. As in life, your very best effort might bring you great results, it may bring you mediocre results and it may bring you poor results. But if you work hard and are learning from the experience you are successful. Never disrespect the game, your team or yourself by leaving it to chance.

One’s real life is often the life that one does not lead
Oscar Wilde

I would much rather have regrets about not doing what people said, than regretting not doing what my heart led me to and wondering what life had been like if I’d just been myself
Brittany Renee

Monday, November 29, 2010

Chris Bosh we want to chill

I have to tell you I’m enjoying watching the Heat loose, and enjoying watching the Celtics win. LBJ’s commercials make him look like a fool. If he thinks he is doing damage control, from his Decision, then maybe he should stick to selling shiny shoes or maybe he should just disappear. You want to see some good juxtaposition, watch the version with Jordan’s voice dubbed over Lebron’s antics. Or Bosh with his statement “we just want to chill”

How is this for a work ethic? Ray Allen said, “In every practice and in every game, I am auditioning for my spot on the team”. “I am given the opportunity to earn my spot and prove I can help my team win games”.

The constant talk about the Heat just needing to get our team chemistry going. Are you kidding me? These are professional players, they can’t figure it out. It’s called sacrifice, and perhaps that’s the problem. When Kobe was on the Olympic team he said “coach l want to be the best defender”. This is a man who can clearly score the ball. He was willing to make a different contribution to the team to help the team be successful.

People give me Ray-Ray, give me The Truth, give me K.G., give Rondo, and give me Big Baby. You can have your King because I love the Working Man.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Coach Independent Thinkers

One of the primary goals of coaching should be to help develop the desire for players to think on their own.

As the coach you should have final say, but always encourage players to contribute their ideas. How can that be wrong? You are trying to encourage communication right? This is a form of communication. In a time out, I have to speak first. All systems have a hierarchy. I called the time out so I must have a reason. I need say what I need to communicate to the team, and then I encourage the players to contribute. Quick sound bites, you don’t have much time to do so. Sometimes your players will come up with a good idea that stands on it’s own. Kevin Eastman once said to me “you never know where your next good idea is going to come from”. Something someone says might spark a great idea for you. Sometimes they might have an idea that, you can build on, and sometimes it might not be a good idea in your mind, but you have final say.

Independent thinkers strengthen a team because they understand that different perspectives bring different ideas and solutions. Willingness to share ideas and perspectives makes for more robust solution solving and a true team approach. Independent thinkers must be selective. It is not productive to impede progress with the process of questioning everything, but they must have the confidence to voice their opinion.

Fostering independent thinking is the first step to creating critical thinkers. Once a player is a critical thinking they can access the situation to come up with logical conclusions. Encourage your players to contribute. After all it’s a team sport, and all should be contributing.

Dependent thinkers accept whatever they are taught and rarely question information or ask themselves if the information really make sense. Is this the type of player you want?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Practice does not make perfect.

Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.
Vince Lombardi

It’s true what Vince Lombardi said about practice. You need to learn form, and then steadily increase the intensity so that you are always out of your comfort zone to become better. It’s the same overload principal that body builders use to make muscles bigger. The catch is to make sure you are not creating bad habits, by logging hours doing the wrong thing. That is bad practice no matter how hard you are working at it. Not everything will be perfect in a drill. Maybe the pass isn’t quite perfect, maybe you bobble the dribble on your approach, maybe your footwork was not quite right and you should strive to get it right each time, but if it does break down, don’t go to the end of the line or the start of the line and start over again. Use that bobbled dribble, that imperfection in that repetition to simulate what happens in a game. It is the same as a broken play in a game. Finish that broken play. How many times to quick thinking players make something good happen out of a broken play? It happens a lot. The same holds true for a missed shots in a drill. Always finish, but finish game like. Fight for your rebound, and create a habit. Maybe the habit is to chin it, with a fake, and then put it up high to get the defender in the air and get it over the shot blocker. Whatever that habit is practice is game like and game speed. When you make a mistake just remember when life hands you some lemons, make lemonade with them.

Monday, November 1, 2010

What's In Your Head - Becoming A One-For-One Shooter

Have you ever witnessed the phenomenon of the player who walks in the gym jacks up a three pointer cold and hits it? This is usually followed by a small crowd jeering or taunting, and the player misses everything or nearly everything after. Or conversely a player with extra time to shoot because of good ball movement misses that shot, even at the pro level.

In both these scenarios the misses are probably a result of thinking too much. Too much going on in the players head other than automatically shooting the ball letting the practiced mechanics of hours spent in the gym take over.

Like all skills, being able to clear your mind and be in the moment and just shoot the ball can be a learned skill that can be improved through practice. Like all skills there should be a progression to getting to this state. You want your shot to be as automatic as dribbling the ball or breathing. You don’t think about either of those processes. It should be autonomic.

We want to move towards being a one-for-one shooter. There needs to be a progression in your development to become a one-for-one shooter. In a game you rarely get to come down and take the same shot, from the same spot, with the defense set up the same. Nearly every shot in a game is unique.

So how do we get there? How do we make ourselves a good one-for-one shooter? We need to come up with a practical guide for players that makes sense. A guide that is a progression of steps that incorporates both repetitions of shooting mechanics, repetitions for the mental aspect of the game and repetitions of game like shooting situations.

I think these steps will help.
Achieving proper mechanics
• There is probably no better place to work on your shooting mechanics then the FT Line.
• Zero Points – self coaching very powerful
• Practice is where you should correct your shot. This requires concentration and focus under the instruction of a coach with knowledge of shooting mechanics. In a game you do not want to hesitate.
• No matter how much you practice or how good of a shooter you usually are, there will be times when for a variety of reasons you find that you are having trouble making shots. Left untreated or reacting in a negative manner, these slumps can turn into major confidence busters and can distract you so that you are not effective in other aspects of the game either.

Achieving focus
• There are many programs available to helping players achieve better focus. Most of these programs use forms of meditation to achieve these states. I have used many of these programs to do directed meditations or hypnosis with teams I have coached. I believe it helps. Like any skill the players need to take ownership and practice this skill on their own.
Achieving confidence
• Like achieving focus, achieving confidence is a skill. More detail in my blog Is Confidence A Skill Achieving
Autonomic Shot

• Constructing shooting drills that are fast paced, game spots and game speed and one for one.
• There should be a progression.
• You will need to have your mechanics automatic. Putting in a lot of work does not make you better. Putting in deliberate work makes you better
• You will need to get many receptions in. It is not uncommon for good shooters to put up 500 – 1500 shots a day. Depending on the habit we are trying to create it could be deliberate practice over 21 days, or if you are familiar with books like Malcolm Gladwell Outliers it could be up to 10,000 hours of deliberate practice.
• Once you have become efficient at hitting shots from spots, you need to now challenge yourself by hitting game shots from game spots at game speed. You can achieve this on your own or with partners. You can time your drills to make this competitive. You can make sure you are hitting 70% of your shots when they are uncontested in drills. You can combine these tow factors time and percent to make your drills deliberate.
• You add into your drills shooting from a different spot with each shot. You might be working on 5 spots, but make sure you move to the next spot each shot. This helps with becoming one for one.
• Add in defense. You must master one-on-none before you got one-on-one, but when you are ready, this will add another element that will help you become a one-for-one shooter.

Achieving Zone• The hallmark of flow or being in the zone is a feeling of being emotionally “neutral”. Having interviewed many players and reflecting back at my own experiences. I have come to this conclusion. Players all describe the experience the same, in that they are able to see plays ahead of the game, the game seems to be at a slow speed, that every shot feels like a winner, the hoop seems the size of a child’s swimming pool, but the emotional scale of joy are anger is always neutrals while this is taking place. To achieve a flow state, a balance must be struck between the challenge of the task and the skill of the performer. If the task is too easy or too difficult, flow cannot occur. This is partly why I oppose coaches who say if you want to get better you must play up age groups. I say when it’s appropriate. Sure way to kill confidence in a player is to give them a challenge they are just not up to the task of achieving. Can you call on this state of mind? I think you can do it more frequently then how most players describe it, including Bill Russell “it’s great when it happens, but it’s random when it does happen”.
• There are more and more books on the market about achieving Zone. I think the key to achieving it is tying some type of mental imagery to the sensation. I think through meditation and this association you are more likely to be able to call upon this state of mind.

If you are interested in One-For-One Shooting programs. You can purchase a 744 shot program that can be completed in 1.5 - 2.0 hours depending on the level of your players by contacting me.
Coach Paul

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Coaching is like parenting

I think it is important that you find your own voice when it comes to coaching. Much like how you find your way as a parent. Look to people that have expertise in the area, and take what works for you, so that you can develop your own style. Make sure your players and their parents understand your style. All players should always want more floor time, but they shouldn’t have issues with your philosophical style of coaching. When you have found your style, your confidence, you will be able to motivate your players more easily. The aim is to then transfer this motivation and confidence to your players, so that they become self-motivated and self-confident.
Hopefully the following tips will help you in your journey.

Before we get started, you must realize that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. How you teach players depends on the age and yes sometimes the gender of your players. With younger groups you can’t expect them to be as focused. To call younger groups into circle I would use techniques like clapping the beat of the song carwash When speaking to younger groups you may want them to put their ball behind them on the floor so that it is not a distraction. Certainly you want to have clear well understood rules. Coach by consequence . Don’t be the type of coach that is always screaming and yelling to get things done. It always amazes me how difficult it is to find mentors that conduct themselves without all the theatrics of yelling. I don’t know what that behavior is, but I can tell you this. It is not coaching. When the opposing coach is acting in this manner, I’m know he is no longer coaching and probably not getting the results he wants. None of us are perfect so if you have a “coaching-episode” apologize. When my children were younger they had the fortune of having a teacher who managed to maintain a quiet orderly classroom, by having set specific code of conduct on the board. If a rule was broken she would not break from teaching, but walk over to the rules, and start a lumber-jack tally on the board beside the broken rule. A friend of mine who is a teacher said it’s amazing what you are allowed to get away with when you are in a gym, compared to the classroom. Personally I think it’s appalling.
Like parenting with experience comes knowledge. When you become proven and you have had some success, that success breeds success. You may not have to put as much energy into convincing players in what you do.
Treat your players as individuals and take interest in them outside of the confines of the gym. Those of you that have coached any age level that is looking at the next level, regardless of that next leap, will know that few make it. There has to be more to teaching this game then just the W. You must use the game as a way to teach players about life. Many would disagree with this statement, saying “hey that’s the parents job”. Yes, your right it is the parents job, but why can’t you contribute to that experience. It’s a very powerful position. Just like a teacher or a parent the power-base is in your favour. Don’t abuse it, use it. You wouldn’t treat all your children the same would you? Fairness is not when everyone is treated the same, but when everyone’s needs are met. Years ago, when I use to run a skills clinic early Saturday morning, I could walk by any player in a shooting drill and make that player shoot better with positive sound bites correcting small things. I’m convinced that it has more to do with the positive statements, more than the small correction. All but for one player. When I moved closer to the station he was working at, he would not shoot as well. I had to find a way to give him positive attention, without disturbing his flow.
I know this can sound like flowery talk and you can say, it doesn’t move the finishing line. If a player is going to make it, then he or she needs to buck up and get there within a certain time. It’s true, you can’t move the finishing line, but remember how many players actually move on. Don’t forsake all the other players experience to generate one that makes it. I’ve seen coaches that use the “crab-in-a-bucket” type of style. I have to wonder what the point of that is. Is it to see one player rise to the top, so that the coach can associate their name with that player’s name. It’s a team sport, and it seems like North America has forgotten that aspect with all the emphasis on the two-man-game. You wouldn’t raise your family that way, why would you use that approach with the family of athletes we call a team.
When you listen to hall of famer John Wooden could you think of a more fatherly image? Firm, but caring, he coached in a way, which allowed him to teach by using precise, informative, positive, corrective sound bites. He gave information, without commentary or blame. When you praise a child, it is best to be specific with your words. If a child brings home a painting, it’s better to say, “I like the way you used purple when you painted the sky, then to say “I like your painting”. Obviously saying something like "great job" or "nice shot" is better than nothing but being specific is more effective.
Be a teacher and a motivator! In being a teacher you should be more concerned with the progress of your student, and less about the wins and losses. This makes things a bit more difficult for coaches; because you need to be sure you have a system of measuring improvement. Set specific goals teach specific skills and make your players excited about learning those skills and reaching their goals. Use the S.M.A.R.T. method Much like parenting when coaching the response “because I said so” is not really all that effective. Explain the reason why. Many times coaches need to put their sales hat on in addition to teaching hat because you need to make sure players believe.

Coach Paul

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Footwork Makes You Smarter

Footwork Makes You Smarter
I like to say footwork makes you smarter. All things being equal in terms of athleticism, it’s footwork that will make you a more effective player a more efficient player. You need to let your feet get you to a spot where your hands can take the shot. You need to be able to create space from your defender. When creating space, we need to think three dimensionally. We don’t just want to create some space on the floor, but also in the air.

I like to introduce footwork drills into our practice warm up. It’s a good way to get repetitions and a good way to ingrain footwork that you want established in dribbling and shooting drills.
Each one of these footwork dance-steps, we do for a full length of the floor. It’s a good way to help get warmed up and work on your footwork at the same time.

You can do these footwork drills without a ball. I tell my players they can get repetitions in on the way to super, on the way to the washroom, on the way to their next class. Do you care more about getting better than looking different from the rest?

Teaching Points
1. Athletic Stance
• Seat down
• Straight back with your chest up
• Eyes down court
• Legs at a less than 90 degree angle and on the balls of your feet
2. Ball Handling
• Keep the ball below knee and outside of knee on
• On dribble moves keep the ball low, shoe lace high, and receive the ball low. Remain ball quick by keeping the ball low.
3. Explosive
• Foot first ball second. The ball needs to be out of your hand before your pivot foot lifts.
• Explosive steps. Your first step should be low and long.
• The ball should be passed out to yourself. You should lead your with the ball when you make your move.
4. Shot Fakes
• Jab steps should be short quick and violent. You only need to jab about six inches to the reaction of your defender.
• Seat should drop during shot fake.
• The ball should rise above the brow.
• Eyes should draw a bead on the rim.
• All three of these motions should happen simultaneously.

Kobe Dance Steps
Use one length of the floor baseline to baseline for each of the three footwork moves. Make sure you are low and athletic. Foot first ball second. Pass the ball low to your opposite hand, and receive the ball low.

Nash Dance Steps

Shot fake, 1 dribble right and 2-step into shot

Shot fake, 1 dribble left and 2-step into shot

Shot fake, 1 dribble right, step-out

Shot fake, 1 dribble left, step-out

Shot fake, 1 dribble right, step-hop

Shot fake, 1 dribble left, step-hop

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ballers – What Can We Learn From Other Sports?

There is an inherent toughness build into this sport. You can’t be effective playing this sport if you do not like contact. Although there is not near the same amount of contact in basketball, ask anyone that has played in the post or driven to the hoop, there is plenty of contact to be dealt with. The physical toughness of football translates into a mental toughness that is required to play both sports. Football players have long trained for speed, strength, agility and quickness. In the game of basketball you are falling behind these days if you are not following suite and working on your body. Not only will it make you a more explosive athlete, but it will help ward off injuries.
Is there a sport that requires more concentration? Not only is there a huge mental factor to the game of sports, but a golf swing and the technique required to perform properly certainly rivals the technique required to shoot a basketball effectively. Golfers are looking to improve by honing their golf swing, looking to perfect it. Basketball players should be looking for those types of nuances in their shooting mechanics. Basketball players should also actively work on their mental game, to become more focused and more confident.
The two biggest parts of volleyball that I have observed: 1) teammates really rely on each other to get the job done. Each player’s roles can be specific but there are certain skills that all must be able to do. If you can’t receive a serve, you will be centered out and it will have a bad outcome for your team. Good teams are skilled and trust each other, and they spend considerable time in their rituals between points cementing that culture. 2) Volleyball player’s ability to shuttle their focus between plays. Point ends, they group together, cheer or encourage, then right back to being focused on the next point. Basketball players could do well to learn to trust each other as teammates and to shuttle their focus. Clear their head on bad plays and get focused on the next task. We have all seen players celebrating too much on a good offensive play only to get burned at the other end, because their minds were not focused on the next task of getting a stop.
Body Building
Introspective, self-assessing and self motivated. You have to possess these qualities to be successful in this sport. Basketball players need to take stalk of where they are, where they want to go, and how to get there. Moreover they need to have the self motivation to do it on their own. Basketball players are built in the off-season. Teams are built during the season. It’s not uncommon depending on how your practices are run, to actually become less skilled during the season. If your team does not shoot much in practices or run ball-handling drills, then you can see those skills can diminish over the course of a season. Can you be honest with yourself, take a hard look at where you are, and be motivated to work constructively on getting better? That’s what body builders are constantly doing. Looking at their symmetry, their size and making a plan to change what needs to be changed.
Communication is essential in rowing. So much so, that the sport has gone high tech with microphones and speakers built right into the cox box. The cox box gives specifics for stroke rate, stroke count and time. It is the responsibility of the coxswain to guide the crew in the perfect execution of a race plan. In basketball the single most effective thing you can teach your players how to execute team defensive principles is to get them to talk on defense. Communication between the 5 players on the floor can elevate the teams effectiveness.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Would you prevent your players from breathing?

Would you prevent your players from breathing? Then why use hydration as a reward or punishment for your players. This blog will not cover the pros and cons of water versus sports specific drinks. It will not cover how much you should drink, or pre, mid and post hydration techniques. I’ll leave that for another blog. It’s more about the mind set of coaches controlling their players’ health by denying them a drink of water. Water accounts for around 70% of your body weight, the loss of even a tiny fraction of this water can significantly reduce your performance, which is why maintaining good hydration is vital for all serious athletes.
I’m old, old enough to remember that in order to get a drink of water during school I would have to raise my hand and ask for permission. Today it is common for students to have a bottle of water on their desk. Which method is more humane and less disruptive? Do you really want that much control? Do you really want to answer the question “can I get a drink of water”? I have three children. Those parents with multiple children know if you have to explain something once, surely you will have to do it for as many children you have. The same holds true if you are the type of coach that needs to grant permission for a drink of water. Don’t you want your players to learn how to manage that, as long as it doesn’t affect or delay your practice?

Need ideas on how to get his done? Well there are probably many ways, but here is one suggestion. In between each drill, I have my players shoot two Free Throws and record their makes and misses. They can also get a sip during this time. They can also take additional Free Throws if they want, as long as they don’t disrupt or delay the practice. Boom! Your players are managing their own water intake, they are recording their own scores, and they are time managing so they can smoothly get into the next drill. As a coach you have the extra bonus of getting game-like Free Throws into your practice. Shooting two Free Throws when your players are tired from a drill is just like a stop in play where you have to shoot two Free Throws in a game.

Mirror Work

Basketball players would do well to learn from boxers and dancers. Both boxers and dancers use mirror work to improve their techniques, footwork, coordination and alignment.

Working in front of a mirror to improve your shooting technique can be a very powerful tool. You should be able to observe your shot from the front and both sides. If you had to mirrors facing each other you could also look at your alignment from the back.

If the mirrors are long enough you can even focus on your footwork, making sure you are shoulder width apart, that you are powering up through both feet etc.

You don’t need to go to a facility that has full length mirrors. You can check out your shooting mechanics in your bathroom with or without a ball. When I was young and working on my game outdoors at the local school, I would practice my form looking at my reflection in the school window. I would also work on my ball-handling doing the same, looking in the window at my reflection. Great way to keep your head up.

Hey if you have a video camera and you have someone willing to shoot you will you work out from front, back and both sides, fantastic. Sometimes you have to use the tools that are all around you.

Do yourself a favour and incorporate mirror work into your daily routine.

Monday, July 19, 2010

There Is a Reason There Is a Nail At The FT Line - Part 4 of 4

11. Finish and Follow Through: On your shooting arm you elbow should be locked out.Your elbow should be higher than your brow on the release.Your guide hand should be above your brow, with fingers pointed at the ceiling or slightly forward but still spread.You should hold your finish till the ball goes in or hits the rim.
If you are not locking out your elbow and you are not holding your finish, you will not have a consistent shot. Locking out your elbow is a consistent end point. You know it’s the same each time.Your elbow should be above your brow to get the proper lift on the ball. Discourage younger players from shooting 3’s. Teach fundamentals of getting to the rack and the mid-range game. I see kids that are younger with good accuracy but I know they will have to change their mechanics as they grow. To gain distance they are chucking the ball with their elbows below their brow, instead of using the upward force of their legs.

If your Guide Hand turns in you will be effecting the rotation of the ball. The ball should be shot out of teh Guide Hand. It's a one hand shot.

Example Of Thumbing The Shot With Guide Hand

12. Determining Dominant Eye: The path of the ball should move through your shot pocket come close to, but not obstructing your dominant eye. You can determine your dominant eye by the following method.

a) Extend your arms in front of you with your palms facing away. Bring your hands together, forming a small hole by crossing the thumbs and fore fingers.
b) Choose a small object about 15-20 feet away from you. With both eyes open, focus on the object as you look through the small hole.
c) Close one eye and then the other. When you close one eye, the object will be stationary. When you close the other eye, the object should disappear from the hole or jump to one side.
d)If the object does not move when you cover one eye, then that eye is dominant. The eye that sees the object and does not move is the dominant.

It is possible to have a dominant eye opposite to your dominant hand. In fact two of my children are built this way. This means when shooting the ball with their dominant hand the ball can move through their shot pocket closer to the middle of their face. Remember you want to bring the ball close to the dominant eye, but not obstructing it.

13. Eye Contact: As mention in “what are we trying to do” You need to train your eyes on the back of the rim. To read about the math behind a perfect shot click here. A perfect shot is one that drops through, hits the floor, and slowly bounces back to you. Don’t watch the flight of the ball. Keep your eyes on your target.

14. Simple Routine: I tell my players that I don’t care what they do, as long as it’s 1 dribble, 2 dribbles or 3 dribbles. I am a 3 dribble guy. I also tell them I don’t care what routine is, as long as they get a chance to make eye contact for the same amount of time it takes to do their routine. Ok, then with FIBA rules and 5 seconds to shoot the ball. Your routine should be efficient and consistent. You want to kiss your biceps or your wrist or spin it around your waist for each member of your family, that’s fine. If you shoot greater than 90%. Once you are doing that, you have earned the right. Having a routine at the free throw line will ease the tension.

15. Mental Aspect: Once the player has proper shooting mechanics, mental mistakes are the main reason why a player misses free throws. The Free Throw is a unique event in basketball, and therefore, a unique skill. It is the only moment when the action stops, but play continues.

The action stops and waits for the shooter who has, depending on the rules 10 or 5 seconds to concentrate, focus, think and shoot. Since you are shooting the same shot from the same spot, with no defensive pressure, the target if fixed, it is the mental aspect that is responsible for most misses.

If a players begins to think about the importance of the shot or the consequences of a miss they will feel pressure. When players feel pressure, they get tense. Tense muscles fail to perform smoothly and shots are missed. Players need to allow their bodies to do what it has done countless times in practice and games; make the shot! Michael Jordan said: "I never looked at the consequences of missing a big shot. Why? Because when you think about the consequences, you always think of a negative result."

The mind cannot focus two things at once. You can not have internal negative thoughts and focus on making your shot. One will replace the other. The focus must be on the target, not on inner doubts, to shoot optimally.

Players should approach the free throw with a positive mindset. For players that become expert in visualization, a good approach is to close one's eyes and visualize a perfect free throw.
Their routine can include a deep breath and a strong exhale. This change in deep breathing can help center and relax the player.
Many players do well with having a mantra or anchor word. For one of my players I had him breathe in deeply through his nose, then exhale through his moth and say the word quotient on the breath out. Certain words can evoke calm. For me, when I played;
a) Deep breath in, with exhale thought the mouth.
b) Internal voice “get in”.
c) Bounce ball three times focusing on the same spot on the floor with each bounce.
d) Focus on the rim, and let my body take over.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

There Is a Reason There Is a Nail At The FT Line - Part 3 of 4

3. Don’t be a slave to the T formation: Depending on your body mechanics this T formation might be a stylized T. It is a term that should not be taken literally, with a perfect 90 degree angle. You’ll find with most players if you make a perfect 90 degree T formation with their thumbs, their guide arm will come up so that it’s parallel to the ground. This creates tension in their guide shoulder. You do not want tension in your shot. You want to be relaxed in your shot. Your guide hand should be upward facing fingers pointed at ceiling OR slightly forward. You should not be able to see your last two digits, and with these two fingers you should be able to balance the ball.
Perfect 90 Degree T Formation With Thumbs

As A Result Tension In Guide Arm,Elbow Pointing To Wall

Stylized T Formation With Thumbs

Relaxed Guide Arm Elbow Pointing At Floor

4. Hand Placement: Your hands should not be flat on the ball. It is a misconception that more surface area touching the ball the better control. If your hands are flat on the ball, you will draw the ball back too far to the crown of your head and catapult the ball. Use finger tips and finger pads on both hands. Also your fingers should be spread on both hands. Since we are at the Charity Stripe, let us gain more control over the ball by making sure our index finger is pointing at the air valve, and it is on the seem of the ball.

Finger Pads and Tips On Both Hands Creates A Gap And Better Control

5. Shooting Arm At 90 Degree: And your arm should be in a 90 degree angle. Watch Nash even on a fade-away J, he doesn’t vary from this 90 degree angle. Too much or too little angle will take away from your arc and harden your shot.

At 90 Degrees A Basketball Will Fit Will Fit Between Your Bicep,Forearm And Hand

6. Elbow Over Knee: Your shooting elbow should be over your shooting knee.

7. Wrinkled Wrist: Your wrist should be bent back so the ball can rest in it. Players that start with their wrist as a straight extension of their forearm will tend to bring the ball back to the crown of their head or further in-order to get their wrist parallel to the floor. The result is a catapult shot that is hard and without arc.

8. Shot Pocket: You should have the ball in your shooting pocket and you should leave from your low stance. Don’t go high-to-low-to-high. Go low-to-high. Again we are trying to give lift to the ball with our bodies, and guide the ball in its flight with are arm and hand. To read more about Shot-pockets read Quick Draw Blog.

9. Power Through Both Feet: transferring your weight to the balls of your feet. Not your toes. You want to remain balanced. Don’t jump; just use the up-force from your lower body to lift the ball. The muscles and joints of your lower body are far less complicated that the muscles and joints of your upper body. We want to minimize variables in motion in your shot. We want to make it efficient.

When a player’s stance is too narrow, you will often see them become unbalanced. With girls we see you often get what I call the squirrel tail. Their guide arm will whip out to their side to maintain their balance much like a squirrel’s tail flips from side to side, while they run across a hydro-line. With boys it’s falling forward or backwards from the line. With your stance shoulder width apart and transferring the force from heels to balls of your feet, you will remain balanced.

Exmple Of Squirrel Tail Guide Arm

10. Break 1 not 4: As stated in the Shot Pocket section, we want to shot the ball with our body, and direct it with our arms and hands. We want to eliminate as much motion in our upper bodies as possible. The joints in your shoulder, elbow and hands are more complicated in their motion then knees and hips. Breaking your knuckles can add a 5 degrees change in your shot per knuckle. The motion in the hand should be a flop motion. Your fingers should be spread and pointing towards the rim. If you watch this action in slow motion, when done properly you will notice a slight bounce. The thumb should be tucked under in this motion to send the ball off the peace sign fingers (index and middle fingers). So we break the wrist (one joint), lets call that breaking one. We do not want to point our fingers to the ground. That would be breaking four joints. 5 degrees times * 12) Avoid using terms like “reach in the cookie jar” or goose neck when teaching. Mimicking these actions will have players breaking 4. Back spin rotation; too much too little. Breaking 4 will surely put too much spin on it making shot harder and deflections off the rim lessen the chance of it sitting up softly and dropping through.

Example Of Breaking One
Fingers on both hands remain spread.

Example Of Breaking 4

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

There Is a Reason There Is a Nail At The FT Line - Part 2 of 4

So what are we trying to do?
Firstly: we are trying to throw the ball in a straight line. I hate the word throw when it comes to basketball. Makes it sound like there is not much to it.
Secondly: we are trying to throw the ball up instead of out; gravity becomes your friend and kills the speed of the ball. You want a slow shot. The more vertical you shoot, the better gravity works to your advantage by slowing the ball down. As it starts to descend toward the target there is only the weight of the ball, approximately 24 ounces, propelling it. This also results in a soft shot that has a better chance to bounce in if slightly off line, or for a close-in rebound. The ball at its peak height should be about 1 meter above the rim (approximately the top of the backboard) when it is about 1 meter away from the rim.
Thirdly: We are trying to change the size of the target, the ball goes through. Although the rim does not actually change size, it will appear differently to the ball depending on the angle it enters the rim and its closeness to the back of the rim.
That’s right the target is close to the back of the rim. Forget what you have been told about the front of the rim or aim for the middle, as if you can aim for the middle of the rim. For the mathematics to prove this click here

Here is the break down on missed shots from the Free Throw Line. You can see that as long as you are shooting in a straight line you have a pretty good chance of putting it in. We can also see the majority of shots missed are short. It’s important that you aim at the back of the rim.

• 5 % left, 5% right, 5% long 85% short

1. Feet Shoulder Width Apart: Your feet should be staggered and shoulder width apart
• Your feet fit like a puzzle. The curved ball of the inside of one foot fits into the insole of the other foot. This is a good way to judge how staggered you stance should be. Your shooting foot should be forward but no more than 6 inches ahead.

• Line your shooting foot up with the nail in the FT Line. It’s directly in front of the rim, and you want to shoot directly towards the rim. We are trying to shoot with our body’s up-force and guide the flight of the ball with our arm and hand. If you straddle the line, then your arm has to move across your body to shoot the ball towards the rim.

Some prefer perfect feet where all ten toes point at the rim. This is a good approach,

But if you find you have tension in your upper body, as a result of perfect feet open your stance so that your guide foot is angled outward slightly.

2. Athletic Stance: Everything you do in basketball should start with an athletic stance.
o Stance shoulder width apart
o Back straight, leaning slightly forward
o Hips low
o Legs at a less than 90 degree angle

There Is a Reason There Is a Nail At The FT Line - Part 1 of 4

Building Your Shot From The Ground Up – Part 1

Watching March Madness how many times have I seen a player at the FT line fall back? Where are they going? Stick your feet and get the task done. There is a reason they call them free, and there is a reason there is a nail at the Free Throw line. Maybe some of these players should drive the nail through their shoe.
How important are Free Throws? Check out these stats.
• 67 % of all points scored in the last minute by the winning team are at the free throw line
• 35% of points scored in the last 5 minutes are at the FT line
• 25 % of all points scored in a game are from the FT line
Still need convincing? If you are not working on your Free Throws, you just won’t improve much. Here is the break down of Free Throw averages from high school to NBA.
• 66% high school
• 68% college
• 71% NBA
Still need convincing. Did you see Duke beat Baylor? That happened at the Free Throw Line.

For this exercise we will concentrate on shooting from the Free Throw Line. It’s the only time in basketball you get to shoot the ball uncontested from the same place each time. So stand in the same place each time! Coaches this is the best place to help correct your players shots. Correct only 1 or 2 things at a time. Have your players concentrate on those things for 5 shots or so each and then move to the next player. Make the loop back and if they have corrected the things you had them change on the first set of corrections, add a new correction. This takes time, but well worth it. From experience, you can correct the bulk of a player’s mechanics by correcting their footwork. I’ve seen players with their feet pointed in the same direction but not at the hoop, making all sorts of compensations in their upper body including:
• Tilting their head
• Powering through one foot more than the other
• Crossing their body with the ball
• Bringing the ball back to the crown of their head and giving it the catapult action.
So let us start building the shot from the floor up. Stay tuned for Parts 2 - 4

Playing Like A Goose - A Lesson In Teamwork

One of my favorite examples of teamwork comes from nature. There is much we can learn from Geese. By flying in a “V” formation each goose flapping it’s wings creates uplift for the birds that follow in that formation. The flock gains 71% greater flying range than if the birds flew alone. How significant is this? Is this not an example for teams to pull together with common goals and benefit the team by helping each other? Players who share common goals can reach them much quicker and easier if they trust one another and play like a team.

When flying alone, a goose will experience the drag and resistance and return to the formation. The goose understands the power of being helped. It’s important for coaches and players to offer help to each other, but equally important for players to check their egos and accept that help.

The lead position in the “V” is often shared. When the lead goose tires it drops back in the formation and another goose will take that spot. Great teamwork involves sharing of hard tasks and sharing leadership.

When geese are flying in formation you can hear them honky. This honky is a form of encouragement. Great teamwork includes encouragement from within the team. Coaches foster and environment where your players cheer for each other. If your drill is competitive and some are doing a consequence for the loss in that drill have the rest of your team clap them in and use positive talk during consequences, during drills, during game warm-ups and during games.

When geese are wounded or sick and need to drop out of formation. Two other geese will follow it down on its landing and stay to help protect it. The guardian geese stay until the wounded goose is able to fly again. Those geese then re-join the flock or fly in formation themselves on their journey. Great teamwork includes players that stand by each other in difficult times. They value all members of the team.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Progression In Teaching Skills

I believe there should be a progression to teaching any skill including Post moves/footwork. I think it is detrimental to learning if you introduce competition in the drill or the defense too early. The players must be able to do the footwork automatically. They need to be able to go one on none, and get out of their comfort zone in that format, before they move to the next steps of learning. If you add competition too early the players will cheat on the footwork to win the drill. If you add defense into the drill too early then they will try to score at any cost and not make the correct read and therefore not use the correct move or footwork. BUT if you don't add competition once they have the footwork, they are not challenged, they stop working outside their comfort zone and they will get bored. If you don't add in defense at some point, they won't be able to recognize what the defense is giving them, and will not use the correct move. Adding in the defense can be staged. It could be a coach with a pad, over playing high so whatever you teaching when going baseline they can read it, understand how to play against some contact, and do the correct move. Or you could later have them face a series of different defensive stances. A failure to add in defense will not prepare them for the amount of contact and the ability to make the correct read. I had a player who mastered the up and under in the post one on none. But in games he would do it regardless of what the defense was doing, he would shake a defender, not knowing he had done so and come back to the defender with his under move. Adding defense into the drills and competition helped this player as it will help all players

For additional views click here

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Teamwork is extremely important to the success of any team. Unselfish play creates a better chance for the success of the group. You can have a group of great individual talent that will be less successful than a team of lesser athletes that work well as a cohesive unit.

What are the characteristics of a cohesive team?

1. Leadership: Teams must have leaders that they can believe in. They must believe in what the coaching staff is bringing to them in terms of skills, systems and direction. They need to believe in each other’s ability to carry out what is being taught.
2. Common Goals and Vision: They can only have this, if you sit down with them and hammer these details out. The entire team needs to be in agreement.
3. Team-centric Players: You need players that buy into the concept of team first. Players that will sacrifice their numbers in order to get the wins. The concept of team should be bigger than the concept of self.
4. Good Communication. Players need to be able talk on defense, direct on offense, and be able to openly discuss issues with each other and with coaching staff.
5. Commitment To Constant Improvement. This process requires the ability to evaluate the team and it’s players and critically solve any problems or issues that arise.
6. Supportive Environment. Players should have each other’s back. Team-mates need to be supportive of one and other. They should openly encourage each other, but they should also be able to call a player out, that is not holding up his end of the bargain.
7. Role Players. Players need to be able to take on a role. A player must be able to take on a role in a game or for the entire season if need be. Will your players sacrifice their scoring to lock down an offensive threat? Will they sacrifice their touches to grab rebounds?
8. Respectful. Teams need to be respectful. The team needs to foster respect for each other, for the referees, for the coaching staff.
9. Known Identity. A successful cohesive team needs to have an identity. They need to know what they do well, and what they need to do better.
10. Valued Team Members. Players need to understand they provide value to the success of the team regardless of their floor time.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Importance Of Measurable Tasks In Tryouts.

I witnessed an excellent tryout this week for the U17 Provincial Team. After a few warm up drills where players were being accessed for their basic movement, skill, athleticism the structure of the Try-Out began.
The Tryout was set up with an initial footwork drill. The players were shown an offensive move driving from the perimeter to the paint. The footwork was finishing with a 2-step, outside inside foot, pivot back for the reverse jumper creating space on the finish. The footwork was demonstrated, the separation was demonstrated, but the reasoning was not explained. It’s a Tryout, so the details of why are not as important as determining if the players are at the stage that they can pick up on the nuances and perform the skill. There was a series of progression drills that followed with 2 players based on that move, then three players incorporating proper rotations and spacing. Again the reasoning was not explained and I agree with that stance in a Tryout.

The next series went to 2 on 2 drills, where the players if they understood what was going on would then try to incorporate the skills learned in the previous drills into the 2 on 2 games. The Tryout then progressed to 3 on 3 games and eventually 5 on 5 games.

Now truly you can’t expect to see those concepts being applied in the 5 on 5 situations. You can only hope you’ll find a few players that get it. The rest think it’s about them scoring.

At each station there were coaches with clip-boards assessing the situation and taking notes. My hat goes off to that group of coaches.

Brad Rootes - Head Coach
Chris Cheng - Assistant Coach
Fatih Akser - Assistant Coach

Coach Paul

Monkeys In A Cage

There is a difference between a captive audience and an audience held captive.
Coaches any drill can be good or bad depending on what you do with it. Make sure your drills are teaching skills that can be applied to the game. Change your drills so that your players are not bored when they come to practice. I know it’s better to be razor sharp at a few things then mediocre a many things, but that does not mean you can’t teach the skills you want to emphasize in different ways and in different drills. Give your players new challenges in your teaching environment. It’s been my experience players actually want to work hard for you. They are bored when they are not working hard.
Find a job you love and you'll never work a day in your life. – Confucius

Coaches give your players a job they’ll love.

Coach Paul

Coach By Consequence

Coaching by Consequence, it is not for everybody but just consider the following.

Turn on any game, and you will see Coaches parading up and down the sidelines, leaving their designated boxes, throwing clipboards, chairs, swearing, shouting at players, shouting at Refers. We see this behaviour at all levels of competition. We see very successful Coaches displaying this behaviour. Is it any wonder that this trickles down to youth levels? Where are the mentors?
What does any of this type of behaviour have to do with coaching? You are not coaching when you are acting in this manner. Personally if the opposing Coach is acting in this way, I think I have an advantage. He is no longer coaching, and I will take advantage of that. I never think, “hey he is getting an edge up on me with the Refs and he’ll get all the good calls”, quite the opposite. You are not putting yourself in a good light with parents, referees or players You are simply not setting an example Do you actually think Refs don’t log that type of behaviour? Do you think it won’t have an effect on the game? Referees are people they are influenced by their emotions. Why do you think we have phrases like “the make up call”. Think about the amount of energy goes into this behaviour and the percent of times you get the expected result (the elusive call reversal). More often the flamboyant complaints end up in a call against you. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Albert Einstein
The bulk of coaching happens in practice. That is where you prepare your students/players for the exam/game. That is where you teach skills. That is where you teach behaviour. That is where you teach your systems. That is where you give life lessons. That is where you become an example and mentor to your players.
I see a strong parallel between coaching and teaching. I also see a strong parallel between coaching and parenting. In a picture perfect world we want a Coach to present the best knowledge he or she can about the game in an exciting or interesting way so that the players are sparked to learn. Is this not the job of a teacher? You want them to know their material, and to make it interesting. In the end, it’s the player that has to do the learning, but you can change the learning curve by knowing your material and presenting it in an enthusiastic way. You would also want to know where the boundaries are for behaviour and what the expectation for performance is. Is this not the job of a parent?
Be clear about what is expected. Have rules for performance and behaviour. Do you want to be the Coach that is always screaming or the Coach that motivates by making players want to learn? Have a consequence when they break a rule. I’ve always used a rule for being late for practice. I like to know ahead of time if you will be late but regardless of the reason you must buy your way into practice. Depending on the age, the buy-in is adjusted. An example would be 30 push-ups, 30 sit-ups and 3 minutes on the jump-rope. No yelling, no screaming, just a natural consequence for being late. It’s been my experience there is no fuss about it either. They just do it. I don’t mind players talking in drills, matter of fact I encourage them cheering each other on, but you must not talk when I’m talking. When I’m talking I’m teaching. You can’t learn if you are talking while I’m teaching. Consequence for breaking the rule can be as simple as sitting out of the drill. If the kid is a player, he won’t want to sit out. For more Rules for games, practices and floor time click here

When you coach by consequence you have to be willing to removing the safety net. A fall and get-back-up experience can be a helpful tool in a player’s / person’s development. Self realization learning may take longer, but it is always more powerful. All men make mistakes, but only wise men learn from their mistakes.
-Sir Winston Churchill
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
Martin Luther King Jr.
Don’t accuse me of being Pollyanna. I’m not so na├»ve that I don’t understand that there is big money on the line, and jobs at stake. I understand the immediate effect that screaming and shouting can have. But the law of dimensioning returns dictates that this behaviour must be amplified each time to stay effective. Why do we have one expectation of behaviour for a teacher in a classroom, and when that same teacher moves to a different room in the school, the gym, we accept a different set of behaviours. Best run class I ever saw when my children were in elementary school was from a young petite teacher. She set out the rules early. She wrote them on the board, and soon as one was broken she pointed to them and placed a checkmark against the rule that was broken. Second checkmark there was a consequence. When walking through the halls of that school, that class was always well behaved and the students were happy and in a frame of mind to learn. Other classes looked like chaos, with yelling a little control.

Coach Paul

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Is Confidence A Skill?

Is confidence a skill? If confidence is a skill, who owns it? Just like ball-handling or shooting, confidence can be taught. Just like any skill some learn quicker than others, and some are more naturally adept to excel in that area.
With deliberate practice a player can become more confidence just as they can become a better ball-handler or a better shooter

Coaching parenting and teaching are very similar in that the power structure is not balanced nor should it be. As a coach you should be someone that is mentoring and teaching. You can be friendly but you are not the player’s friend in the sense that both parties are equals. When you teach it is your responsibility to make it an interesting and exciting environment in which to learn. In the end, any thing taught, whether it is ball-handling or confidence, it is up to the individual to learn it. They own that skill. When a player thanks you for making them better, remind them that they did the work. They learned the skill, and that you were happy to be part of that. That skill belongs to them. They worked at making it better under your guidance.

With the power balance being skewed there is no doubt you can have either a positive or negative effect on a players confidence.

What can you do to help players improve their confidence?

• Positive feed back during drills in the form of sound-bites in drills. Give teaching point and its pure information
• Provide an exciting and positive environment for players to learn
Visualization Exercise For Improving Focus
Shuttling (Internal- External Concentration)
Recognizing, Stopping And Replacing Thoughts
Positive Self- Talk And Thought-Stopping For Improving Focus
Managing Distracters And Focusing On Relevant Cues
• Help players set goals for themselves and for the team. Use S.M.A.R.T. technique
• Conduct sports meditation sessions or introduce them to the concept.
• Help them form rituals
• Have them reflect on their achievements. Hard work and dedication equals results. Have them take a mental snap shot of where they were, where they are now, and where they want to be.
Help them live in the moment.
Coach Paul

Monday, May 3, 2010

Complete Scorer

How many weapons do you have in your arsenal? To be a complete scorer you need to have many.

I see most players practice their catch and shoot. This is good, but what if that shot is working for you today, do you have other weapons to help you and your team.

Coaches love the extra pass to get the ball to the player for the clean uncontested catch and shoot, how many times will that happen for you in a game.

If you are the designated sharp shooter, and that’s the only weapon you have, most good coaches will shade their help defence towards you, to take that weapon away.

More importantly are you shooting at game speed when you practice? Are you charting your progress? Are you timing yourself?

In order to be a completed scorer you need to have the following weapons.
1. Shoot with left hand off of right foot
2. Shoot with left hand off of left foot.
3. Shoot with right hand off of left foot
4. Shoot with right hand off of right foot
5. Catch and shoot
6. Shoot off the dribble (ability to create 3D space)
7. Shoot when you have lost your dribble.
8. Shoot in the Post

Monday, April 26, 2010

Two Steps, Hops & Quick Stops

I’m often asked what footwork do I use when shooting off the catch-and-shoot or off a screen. I think different coaches have different rules for which foot you establish when catching the ball and getting up into your jump-shot. Coaches usually determined which foot to use by which side of the floor the player is on. I think nearly all coaches will tell you that when coming off a screen you will be planting your inside foot.
If inside foot is the standard then let’s extend that logic to which foot should be planted during the catch and shoot. I think you’ll find that it’s not so much which side of the floor you are on, but your orientation to the passer.

Coming Off Screens

If you are on the right side of the court coming off a screen, every coach will tell you to catch the ball on your inside foot. Said a different way, establish your inside foot as your pivot foot In this case your inside foot will be your right foot. In a game situation and hopefully in your drills, the passer will be to your left.

Which hand do you catch the ball with?

It's important to catch the ball in your shooting pocket, and if you are not catching two handed, and the passer is to your left, then you are probably guiding the ball into your shot pocket with your left hand.

The opposite also holds true. If you are coming off a screen on the left side of the court, the passer will be to your right, and you will establish your inside foot as your pivot foot, in this case your left foot, and you will probably guide the ball into your shot pocket with your right hand.

In a game situation, if you were on the right side of the court you could receive the pass from either the deep right long corner or from the middle to left of the court. Try to think of these two situation as the same as coming off a screen.

Also remember we are shooting transition jumpers now, so forget the jump-stop or quick-stop, we'll come back to quick-stops, but the game is just too fast for that type of footwork when shooting in transition. You must two-step into shots to be able to go full out and keep your balance.

So if the ball is coming from the deeper right side of the court, and you are receiving the pass on the right side of the court, it is the same as if I'm coming off a screen on the left side of the court. I want to guide the ball into my shot-pocket with my right hand and two-step into the shot using my left foot as my inside foot.

If the pass was coming from the middle or left of middle, and you are receiving the pass on the right side of the court, then you would establish your right foot as your pivot foot guiding the ball into my shot pocket with my left hand.

Cutting To And From The Basket

Let us move this same concept to cutting to the basket and away from the basket. If I'm cutting to the basket the ball is being passed to me from above the key in most cases. The player could be coming off a Pin Screen or just cutting back door. If moving from right side perimeter of the court to the basket, my inside pivot foot is the one closest to the baseline, so I want to catch the ball on my right foot. This mimics the same footwork as coming off a screen on the right side of the floor with the pass coming from the receiver’s left side.

If I'm cutting away from the basket to FT line extended on the right side of the floor, then I want to catch on my outside foot (left foot) You will be angled to the basket so you can create space between you and the defender and able to catch the ball on your outside hand (left). In actuality you are landing both feet at the same time, and the outside pivot foot is really not established until you choose it. Using your outside foot as your pivot foot you have numerous options. The sweep and go on the closeout from your defender, or the rubber band move. From both of those moves, you can get your pound dribble and two-step into a Jump-shot, or get right to the rack. In this same position when you receive the ball, on the perimeter, if the defender over plays you high side, you would establish your right foot as the pivot foot and drop-step towards the baseline to create your space for your drive to the hoop or pull up for the Jump-shot.

One of the great thing about the game today is you can choose which foot is your pivot foot. When I played whichever foot was furthest behind when you stopped, was automatically your pivot foot, and that is why people teach the jump-stop or quick-stop. It's really left over from back then, and like I said the game is too fast to shoot shots in transition hoping into shots. There is a place for the Quick-Stop or Jump-Stop in the half court setting of offense, but not in transition.

Quick-Stops Jump-Stops and Hops into Shots

Quick-Stops Or Jump-Stops
There is a time to do these, and I do run drills to get reps for players so they recognize when you would use them.
Catching the ball in a half court offense if the defender is off you a bit, with the jump-stop is a good idea. You are square to the hoop and it is an equal-foot-opportunity when you decide to drive to the hoop

Hops Into Shots
Again the game is just too quick to hop into a shot in transition and maintain your balance. You will float. But, if you are weak-side and you receive a skip pass, then I think it is appropriate to hop into that shot. You could also be waiting with your shooting foot back and step into the shot, but with cross court skip passes, it's probably going to be high, so the pass is not likely to get into your hands even if you are giving shot-pocket targets. You will probably have to reach a bit for the pass. In this situation the hop is a great way to gather your feet and get into the up-force of your Jump-shot.

Coach Paul

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Duck Behind Ball Screens - Part 4 of 4

When a defender goes under the screen, the ballhandler should be able to get a good uncontested shot off.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Switch – Ball Screens Part 3 of 4

The read on the switch depends on personal setting the screen. If you have a big setting the screen and there is a switch, we have the classic small covering big going to the basket, and we want to find him and get him the ball. If there is a mismatch for the ball-handler, and he has the opportunity to turn the corner, then that is a good option.

Let us watch Duane Notice (blue jersey # 10) set a screen for Sean Patrick. Sean (blue jersey # 7) sees the switch and turns the corner to get to the rack.

The Trap – Ball Screens Part 2 of 4

On the Trap or Double Team the read should be pretty obvious. If you have two defenders on you, then your screener must be open. Even if the help the help is quick to respond, the screener once they get the ball should have the option of the dump off.
Let us watch Ave Bross (blue jersey #5) draw the double team, and then find the screener, Sean Patrick (blue jersey # 7) rolling to the basket.

Trimming The Hedge – Ball Screens Part 1 of 4

If you use the ball screen, you'll more than likely face many types of defense;

1. The Hedge
2. The Trap
3. The Switch
4. The Duck behind

On the Hedge you should go hard toward the hedging defender’s outside shoulder. He must consider you a threat to get to the cup. Make your dribble long and low, and get to the rack.

Watch Sean Patrick (blue jersey #7) do exactly that.
See upcoming Bogs on dealing with;

2. The Trap
3. The Switch
4. The Duck behind

Monday, March 29, 2010

Off the Rack Versus Custom Made

In an earlier blog “Be a Triple Threat Player” I talked about players who are athletically gifted. Witnessing a gifted athlete, should never discourage you from continuing to work on your athleticism. You should be trying to reach your potential not match someone else’s potential.
But the truth of the matter some players are “Off-The-Rack” in this sense. They don’t work on their verticals other than practicing jumping and yet they can sky. Others need to be “Custom-Made” athletes by building their verticals from a well balanced program, including;
1. Core Strength
2. Dynamic Stretching
3. Resistance Training
4. Plyometrics
5. Sports Specific Jump Training
6. Speed Quickness Agility Training
7. Skipping

How much of each? That should be determined per athlete based on testing on each area. The results from testing will allow for a customized program that will target the areas that need the most improvement. A balanced program will also help in injury prevention.

Check out this video of and up and coming baller, Brandon John. It’s been my pleasure working with this young man from Toronto. Other than practicing his jumping, by working on his dunks, he has done very little specific vertical training. This player is “Off-The-Rack” athletic. I can’t wait to see him become “Custom-Made”.

We just came back from the King of New York Tournament in Rochester New York, where the team won Silver. Watch BJ throw down.

Oh did I mention Brandon is 5.11! (white jersey # 23)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Mirroring The Ball – The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

How do you teach mirroring the ball? Many coaches set the drill up with a close-out to the ball. The player with the ball stands straight legged, and swings the ball around wildly while the defender goes to work at tracing the path of the ball. What muscle memory are we creating here?
Good: Defender gets reps at tracing the ball
Bad: Offensive player develops the bad habit of being inefficient with the ball.
Ugly: Your player stands up in a game under the defensive pressure, swinging the ball around and even takes a negative step while being bellied up.

Try having the player with the ball stay in athletic stance. Have the player use an economy of motion when moving the ball. The player with the ball can rip the ball to the hip, and then countering when the defender reaches towards the ball to mirror its path. The player with the ball can then counter by sweeping the ball below the hand of the defender or sweeping it above the hand of the defender.They can step through to deliever a pass to their partner. Alternatively the player with the ball can create space by sweeping the ball by the defender’s face, or stepping into the defender with one leg between the defender’s legs. When the defender backs up, or straightens up, then the player with the ball can then face the defender squarely.

Now we are creating a good habit for both players. Defender is applying pressure to the player with the ball, trying to disrupt their movement. The offensive players are more able to read the floor, by protecting the ball, and moving it in an efficient motion.

Set this up as man in the middle. Defender can start with 10 push-ups. Every time they get a deflection, touch the ball or get a steal, they can subtract 1 push-up. Every time the player with the ball takes a negative step, or does not rip the ball assertively in a counter to the pressure, they do a freeze-push-up for 30 seconds.

Coach Paul