Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Ok - school has started - the fanfare is over, and while much of the country spends time focusing on the  window dressing of their program, here is your chance to ensure your program of a couple extra wins this upcoming season by focusing on some small but critically important details with your on the court teachings.  These details are often overlooked or decided against in developing players for this simple reasoning.......
  • This is beginner level teaching and won't hold the players interest and attention.  
  • It is much more fun to dive right into the offense or defense and play games than instruct players on how to do specific little things. 
Learning to do specific little things correctly, leads to becoming a better individual player.  If you have 5 individuals on the court who have each become better individual players, your team dramatically becomes better.  This is one of my favorite quotes relating to this idea:
“He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying.”
Friedrich Nietzsche  (1844-1900)  

Thanks to Eddie Murphy in the movie Coming to America I learned about the wisdom of Nietzche! (Thanks to Eddie Murphy I learned a lot of other things in the '80's but that is a topic for another time!)  Keeping this philosophy in mind let's take Nietzsche's advice and teach our players to first learn to stand.  We will do that by taking a closer look at shooting the basketball - and exactly what makes a good shooter.

First of all - understand something - no shooters have the exact same form and shot technique.  There are countless ways to put the ball in the basket and no one particular way is better than another.  The KEY, especially when working with college and professional athletes is developing a simple and consistent shot that can easily be maintained and "tweaked" when necessary.  Rarely is there a situation when you completely need to rebuild a student-athletes shot.  Far too often that is the mistake coaches and players make.  Telling a player they need to "completely fix" something usually leads to frustration and confusion on their part.  Remember these players have been highly recruited and to tell them something needs to be "completely redone" would be hard for anyone to hear.  Instead, it is important for the coach to really spend time watching the player, studying their form and rhythm and really trying to identify ways to bring consistency to the shot.  Some things that are really important to focus on include:
  • Feet - The ball goes where the toes are pointed.  Watch the players feet and see which direction they face, and do they face the same way every time.
  • Feet - Where do they take off and where do they land?  
  • Hand Position - What part of their shooting hand is touching the ball? Is it on the fingertips? Is the Thumb nice and soft?
  • Off Hand Involved - Is the off hand manipulating the shot?
  • Balance - When the ball is released, what is the position of the body? Did they shoot "up and out of the phone booth?"
  • Finish - Are they "Enjoying their shot?" Is their "Hand in the Cookie Jar?"
The ability to instantly use video to help in  your teaching really can help drive home the point you are trying to make with your players.  To provide solid visual evidence to support your teaching can really help add credibility to your teaching.  Film the players shooting the basketball, then spend time analyzing it with them.  Perfect their shot on video - then compare it with game film of them shooting.  The closer they match, the more successful and consistent shooter the player will become.

I still use these simple guidelines every time I am on the court doing skill work whether I am working with an incoming freshman, or WNBA players.  Incorporate these simple ideals into your teaching early in the season to ensure by March your team will be dancing in postseason play and you will all be - "ENJOYING YOUR SHOT"

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Last week we talked about team expectations, and the importance of understanding each persons "role" in the organization.  While most would agree that defining and accepting roles is a critical part to the success of any organization, it isn't as easy as just telling someone their role and leaving it at that.  I thought it would be great to share with you the four key points to helping your team, coaches and anyone else in your program understand and accept the roles you are asking them to fulfill.

  1. DEFINE THE ROLE - How many times is this important part overlooked?  Either it isn't clearly explained, changes without notice, or isn't even explained in the beginning! I can't tell you the number of times I will hear from coaches who are frustrated with their players and the constant word tracks are - "They just don't get it!" / "They should know it needs to be done that way!" or "We knew to do that - why don't they?"  NEVER ASSUME - and even if the role was defined 1 week, 1 month, or 1 year ago - it is important to always remind them of their defined role, and the importance they play in your teams success.
  2. UNDERSTAND THE ROLE - Most often this is where all communication breaks off.  In the "old days" when we were playing, we were told what to do and never even thought to question our coach.  The idea that a player would "run through a brick wall" without ever questioning it is now the exception in athletics, not the norm.  Because of this, it is important you really spend time with the player and help them understand exactly what you are asking of them.  As always, be as specific as possible!  That way if anything happens done the road, it is very easy to refer back to your discussions with the player and remind them of the specific examples that hopefully were given to help them understand their role.
  3. ACCEPT THE ROLE - Another huge component that is so often overlooked.  Someone may have had their role defined, and they clearly understand their role - but if they don't truly accept the role they will NEVER complete the next part which is to fulfill the role.  Simply put - if you heart isn't truly in something, it's pretty hard to really put maximum EFFORT, ENERGY, and ENTHUSIASM into whatever you are supposed to be doing.  The challenge for you as a coach or leader of a program is to find the right way to get each player to whole-heartedly accept the role they are given and understand the organizations success is directly related to them performing their role.
  4. FULFILL THE ROLE - Once the first three points have been accomplished, this becomes the easiest and most rewarding part of the equation.  This is where the action takes place.  Remember the specific examples you gave earlier?  In this phase you can now circle back to those examples to see how the individual is handling the role given to them.  Measurable goals also work well here to really check to see if the role has been understood and accepted.  Always remember - without clear definition, understanding, and acceptance a role will NEVER be completely fulfilled to the best of their abilities.  And at the end of the day........isn't that what coaching is all about?