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