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Basketball Training & Coaching Library

May 26, 1987 – Larry Bird Steals the Ball (and the Game)

Larry Bird’s entire career was a highlight film but one of his most famous moments came on this day, May 26, in 1987 during the NBA Eastern Conference Finals. The Boston Celtics and Detroit Pistons were tied at 2 games apiece and the crucial Game 5 was being played at the historic Boston Garden. Detroit […]

The post May 26, 1987 – Larry Bird Steals the Ball (and the Game) appeared first on HoopSkills Basketball Training & Coaching Blog.

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Will the Refs Determine Who Gets to the NBA Finals?

I certainly don’t want to take away from what they have accomplished this year but is there anybody in America, outside of their home cities of course, who are hoping to see a Houston Rockets & Atlanta Hawks match-up in the NBA Finals? I’m willing to bet most fans want to see LeBron & Steph […]

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Alan Stein’s “Great Players”

Here is an awesome list compiled by Alan Stein who is one of the most respected teachers of the game in the entire country: Great players… can pivot both ways off of either foot and can dribble, pass, and finish around the basket with either hand. They don’t have a ‘weak’ hand. Great players… love and respect […]

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Curry or Westbrook? Shooter or Scorer?

Charles Barkley has stirred up some controversy lately by going on the record and saying he doesn’t believe a team that relies primarily on jump shots can consistently shoot well enough to win an NBA championship. While we will all know soon enough if he is right or not, this does seem to be a good […]

The post Curry or Westbrook? Shooter or Scorer? appeared first on HoopSkills Basketball Training & Coaching Blog.

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Takeaways from Calipari’s “Players First”

The University of Kentucky’s John Calipari is one of the most polarizing figures in basketball today as fans across the country either love him or hate him. The most important and interesting thing to me, however, is that Coach Cal’s players all seem to love him and that tells me he must be doing something right. […]

The post Takeaways from Calipari’s “Players First” appeared first on HoopSkills Basketball Training & Coaching Blog.

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The Platinum Rule

The Golden Rule has been the standard for centuries. Coach Stricklin talks about in this video how it might not be ideal for coaches to use. He introduces the Platinum Rule and explains why coaches should live by it instead.

The post The Platinum Rule appeared first on HoopSkills Basketball Training & Coaching Blog.

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3 Tips for Drawing up Game Winning Plays

Time is expiring and your team gets the ball out of a timeout. You’re down by one and you need a bucket to win the game. What type of play do you run? You run what you saw Rick Pitino run to beat Duke a few years back right? The problem with many basketball coaches […]

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How to Defend Baseline Out of Bounds Plays (BLOBS)

Offenses have gotten better and better over the years at creating open shots on out of bounds plays. If your team isn’t 100% clear on what your overall strategy is for defending these plays, the offense will always win. Here’s some tips on how you can better defend out of bounds plays and make it […]

The post How to Defend Baseline Out of Bounds Plays (BLOBS) appeared first on HoopSkills Basketball Training & Coaching Blog.

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Using a Screen Away from the Ball

The cutter has the best chance of getting open if he waits for the pick to be set before cutting tot he ball. Cut shoulder to shoulder off a screen to eliminate any chance your defender can slash through the screen. There are four basic options depending on how your defender plays the screen. Go […]

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Dean Smith – Loyalty Above Everything Else

By now most basketball fans have heard that legendary UNC coach Dean Smith passed away last night at the age of 83. Throughout the day today former North Carolina players have been interviewed on television to share some of their experiences with Coach Smith. Every single one of them mentioned their off court relationship with […]

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Latest Articles

Why Today's Players Are Different

If you happen to be one of those coaches who swear up and down that players today are somehow different than the players you've coached in the past then you should know two things: 1) You are not alone and 2) You are absolutely correct!

In his book "Not Everyone Gets a Trophy," author Bruce Tulban says this generation of young people (which includes your players) "have been nurtured, scheduled, measured, discussed, diagnosed, medicated, programmed, accommodated, included, awarded, and rewarded for as long as they can remember." Now does that sound like your childhood and/or adolescence? It certainly wasn't mine, that's for sure!

As a result most players today possess a combination of qualities that many of your previous players didn't possess. Recognizing these qualities will give you a better understanding of who you are working with and this understanding will hopefully help you become a better coach.

These qualities include:

Overconfident. Because many of today's players have never failed at anything their entire lives they are often convinced that they know everything and can do anything. After all, didn't they get a trophy on every youth team they were ever on while growing up? Yes they did, so they must be really good players, right?

Sheltered. Back in the day kids who wanted to play basketball would go to the park or to the playground or to the city gym (every player knew exactly where to go to find a game), find out "who's got next" and just play. If there wasn't enough to run 5 on 5 then they would play 3"s or 4's. Today's players have been so overprotected and over supervised that many have never played in a pickup basketball game; they've never argued over the score or a foul and have never had to decide whether to go home or to wait two hours to play again since they lost a game. In fact some have never had to make any kind of decision at all.

Needy. Because this generation of young players aren't used to hearing much negative feedback they don't handle it very well when it is presented. However, they are used to immediate feedback and so expect to constantly hear from you about how well they are doing. Criticizing their performance might bring out the tears but not saying anything to them could drive them right into depression.

Now those are some of the negative qualities, the ones that drive you crazy and slow the players' growth and development. Following are some positive qualities that will help you win more games.

Team Oriented. Quite a few of your players have never really done anything by themselves. Even babysitters often work in pairs these days! These players have worked with shooting coaches, personal trainers, strength coaches, etc. and have relied on organized teams to find competition. Working with others and being part of a team is completely natural to them.

Achievement Oriented. It's very likely that the majority of your players have never been recognized or applauded for their work ethic or perseverance. Instead, their lives have been a steady stream of rewards, trophies, and gold stars that they've received any time they've accomplished something. They might not be very process oriented but they are extremely achievement oriented. They want those trophies!

Technologically Advanced. Smart phones and tablets loaded with Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and other assorted apps are the norm for the players you coach. Not only do these things allow you to build strong relationships but they also allow you to coach them up by sharing game video, YouTube links, and detailed diagrams with the touch of a button or swipe of a finger.

Look, I'm not going to tell you how to take advantage of these 6 qualities because everyone's situation is different. What I am saying is that instead of complaining all the time give yourself a competitive advantage by understanding your players and then finding the best ways to coach them! All of your coaching peers are working with the same types of players - the coach who does the best job of adjusting his teaching methods is going to be the coach who is most successful. Why shouldn't that coach be you?

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Never Play the Blame Game

Have you ever noticed those players who never seem to make a mistake? It doesn't matter how many turnovers they might have or how many shots they miss or how many times their man scores or gets an offensive rebound - it's NEVER their fault!

If anything "bad" ever happens on the court to one of these players it's because his teammate couldn't catch the ball, the referee didn't like him, the coach called the wrong offense, or no one helped him out on defense.

Unfortunately, most of us know at least one of those types of players. In fact, this type of player is so common former Notre Dame Coach, Lou Holtz, likes to say, "The guy who complains how the ball bounces is usually the one who dropped it!"

There's also a couple other guys who are just as annoying. First is the guy who played a good game; maybe even a great game but who is looking for some undeserved sympathy.

This guy readily tells everyone "It was my fault," hoping that those who hear him will say "No it's not - you were awesome!" Look, I'm all for a player who willingly shoulders the blame to take the pressure or attention off of his teammates but I have no respect for the guy who does it just to make himself look heroic.

The second is the "My bad" guy. Everything is his fault - even when/if it's not. First of all it removes all the accountability from everyone else and secondly, when the guy does screw up and says "My bad," no one knows whether he actually believes it or not!

The ironic thing is that whenever anyone plays the blame game, everybody loses. Unlike the game of basketball itself where there is always a clear cut winner and loser, those who participate in the blame game in any capacity never win. Why? First of all, the average fan has heard so many athletes and coaches make excuses and blame others that they just don't believe them anymore. In fact, the only people who believe a player when he is blaming someone else for his mistakes and shortcomings is the player himself and his parents! No one is fooled!

Secondly, blaming others and making excuses is one of the quickest ways possible to lose the respect of your teammates and coaches and once you lose their respect it's extremely difficult to ever get it back. Of course, the same is true if you half-heartedly take the blame if it's not warranted and/or take the blame for everything. Coaches and teammates on all levels want honesty and accountability from every member of the squad.

Making mistakes and then using them as learning opportunities is standard practice if you really want to accelerate your development and improvement as a player. If you are one of those players who never make a mistake then you are simply not going to improve as quickly as your competition. Therefore, there is absolutely nothing wrong with making a mistake or not performing as well as you can as long as it serves as a catalyst for improvement.

The key is to take responsibility for your own actions and for your own development and to never, ever, play the blame game!

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5 Ways Coaches Overcomplicate Things

As coaches, we often "blame" our players for the need to simplify everything but in reality is often us that make things more complicated than necessary. I think there are five reasons for this even though we don't always do these things intentionally.

1. We worry about things that will never happen.
I'm all for being prepared; in fact I'm a big fan of being over prepared. However, my team does not practice three different jump ball plays and four different offenses to run against a triangle and two defense just in case we ever go into double overtime and see a junk defense! Instead, we concentrate on using the 80/20 rule - 80% of our practices are focused on the 20% of things that take place every game.

(Sometimes it's more like 90/10 because we want to be very good at the things that happen most often.) Conversely 20% of our practices are focused on the other 80% of things that don't happen as frequently.

2. We have a strong desire to impress others.
Most of us will say that we don't, but many coaches, especially younger ones, want to impress their peers, their players, their players' parents and their fans with their coaching ability. They mistakenly think that will happen if they run several complicated and intricate offenses. 

If that happens to be you keep in mind that Vince Lombardi's Packers ran only five plays and John Wooden's famous UCLA teams had only three offenses and he never used all three in the same season. If you want to be as impressive as Lombardi or Wooden don't overcomplicate things and instead create better leaders, help players improve and execute, and win more games!

3. We don't consider basketball IQ.
Even though we talk about it all the time some coaches forget that their own basketball IQ and their ability to grasp and process detailed concepts is much greater than that of their players. Remember, it's not what a coach knows that is most important but rather what the players know and can execute. 

Look at it this way - the majority of students are average. A few will get mostly A's and B's and a few will get mostly' D's and F's but the vast majority are average in academic knowledge and/or execution. What makes you think your team would be any different? A few of your players will understand everything; a few will understand nothing, and the rest will be average.

4. We mentally get bored.
Earlier I said that many younger coaches want to impress everyone but older coaches have their stumbling blocks too. Many eventually become mentally bored and so start looking for other challenges and other ways to stimulate their thinking. 

These coaches often begin studying other coaches and their systems and take detailed notes on every book, video, drill, and diagram they can get their hands on during the off season. 

When practice starts in the fall they are still excited about what they've learned and try to put in everything whether they completely understand how to teach it or not. Before long the players' heads are spinning and the same coaches are pulling their hair out.

5. We never throw anything away.
Have you ever laughed at your parents or grandparents for never throwing anything away? Of course you have! Well coaches are the exact same way! A coach will put in a quick hitter for a particular game that involves using four post players and will win a game with it. 

Then every year after that he will put in the same quick hitter and will practice it regularly even if he doesn't have a single post player on his roster. Don't laugh because it happens all the time!

Throw old drills, offenses, and defenses away or at least put them in storage. Your team doesn't need to have 10 offenses, 20 out of bounds plays, and 40 quick hitters - especially since your team is not going to learn/remember/use most of them.

Before you blame your team for overcomplicating your program take a good look at yourself and see if any of these four things apply to you. It might not completely solve the problem but will certainly be a good start.

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