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Basketball Training & Coaching Library

4 Ways to Get a Jump Shot Off When Defended

It’s one thing to shoot a wide open jump shot where all you have to do is catch and shoot and an entirely different thing when you have to get a shot off when you are closely guarded. Each of the four techniques below require a lot of work before you can use them in […]

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Can’t Get Open on the Wing?

If defenders can keep the offensive point guard from passing the ball to the wing then they can stop a great majority of offenses before they can even get started. Here are 5 things you can do if you are having trouble getting open on the wing because of extreme pressure: Dribble at the wing […]

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House of Payne Shooting Workout

Ashli Payne is a 5’11 guard who currently plays for Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. After playing primarily inside at Olympic High School in Bremerton, WA, Payne knew that she had to improve her perimeter skills if she wanted to eventually reach her goal of playing Division 1 basketball. To do so she attended […]

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4 Ways to Protect the Ball on the Drive

In today’s game there is a huge premium on getting the ball into the lane and attacking the rim. However, to stop the dribble drive help side defenders are packing the paint and trying to force the ball handler to weave through a defensive gauntlet to get to the rim. As a result the ball […]

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Separate to Dominate

Just like spacing is essential to running an effective team offense, creating separation is absolutely crucial if you want to be an effective and productive offensive player. There are 4 areas where players need the ability to separate from their defenders. These areas include: Getting open to catch a pass Being guarded while dribbling the […]

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The Proper Way to Closeout on a Shooter

Closing out is simply closing the gap between you and a potential shooter. This usually occurs after you have dropped off into a help position and the ball is passed or reversed quickly to your man. Unfortunately, when a shooter is wide open you can’t just run at him or he will usually wait until […]

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Step Back to Get Your Shot Off

Coach Rick Majerus used to always teach that spacing is offense and offense is spacing and that certainly applies to getting a shot off in a one on one situation. To understand the concept of creating space to get our shot off, it helps if we consider what our defender is trying to accomplish. Most defenders […]

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5 Triple Threat Essentials

Here are the 5 basic essentials of getting into a triple threat position: Catch the ball off your Inside Foot. Some players have a permanent pivot foot but I think it’s much more effective to pivot on the foot closest to the basket. Get in and maintain an athletic stance. Feet shoulder width apart, knees bent, […]

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5 Finishing Essentials

With the abundance of dribble drive and pick and roll based offenses in the game today the ability to finish at the rim is more important than ever. While there are dozens of specific finishing moves that can be used by the advanced offensive player, there are 5 essentials skills that are necessary regardless of […]

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5 Defensive Essentials

It doesn’t matter what kind of defense that your team plays – man-to-man, zone, run and jump, combination, etc. – there are 5 defensive essentials that you need to master if you want to be considered a good defender. Since a great many coaches are defensive minded, if you don’t master these skills you might […]

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Latest Articles

Are You a Ball Handler or a Bouncer?

In 1964 legendary John Wooden won his first of many NCAA Championships while coaching at UCLA and a couple of years later published an extremely detailed book called "Practical Modern Basketball" that became an instant coaching classic. What's amazing to me is that even though the game has changed in many ways in the last 50 years (terminology, shot clock, 3 point line, better athletes, etc.) some things are exactly the same! For example, in his chapter on Individual Offense, Coach Wooden states that "Entirely too many players have a tendency to fancy themselves as dribblers when in reality they are only bouncers of the ball."

He then goes on to list some of the effective uses of the dribble and his top three uses include: 1) Short drive for the basket when in the open 2) To advance the ball when the defense is back and when teammates are covered and 3) For a quick getaway after an intercepted pass. One use that Coach Wooden DID NOT mention was to stand there and take five or six dribbles and not go anywhere!

How about you? Are you a dribbler or just a bouncer of the ball? Or to put it in a little more modern terminology - are you a ball handler or just a dribbler?

One day some guy came to our school and put on a dribbling show that could've been on America's Got Talent. He could do figure 8's, go behind his back, between his legs, use one ball, two balls, dribble one ball while spinning the other - you name it he could do it - all while standing in the exact same place.

From a fan's point of view was pretty impressive! However, when I walked by the gym later I saw the exact same guy playing in a pickup game with a few of the students. He wasn't a bad player; but he wasn't a good one either - and I noticed that he couldn't use a single "move" with somebody guarding him. (Even though the word "guarding" might be over exaggerating as it was a lunch time pickup game!)

I'm not exactly sure when young players started to fall in love with being "bouncers of the ball" but if I had to guess it's about the time when the "And 1" street ballers started to show up everywhere. Guys like Hot Sauce, Skip 2 My Lou, and the Professor started doing some unbelievable things while dribbling a basketball and the game hasn't been the same since. Kids started spending hours perfecting dribbling routines and moves and couldn't wait to show off their new skills even though most of them were useless. Dribbling became the new break dancing! Now years later, too much dribbling has almost become an epidemic and I see way too many players who catch the ball and immediately go into a predetermined dribbling sequence before they do anything else.

Dick DeVenzio was another very successful old school coach who went on to start the nationally acclaimed Point Guard College. Legend has it that whenever Coach D would walk into a camp session and see a player just standing there dribbling a ball without going anywhere he would yell out "What are you doing? It looks like you're getting ready to pee!" From then on coaches and staffers at the Point Guard College would refer to any non productive dribble as a "pee dribble."

One of the keys to being a great ball handler is to eliminate all pee dribbles. Sure, there's some value in spending a few minutes of your workout doing some two ball stationary drills to improve your off hand, your dexterity, and your vision. However, come game time if the dribble is not advancing the ball down court, improving your angle to pass to a teammate, or taking you closer to the rim then don't use it. That was good coaching advice 50 years ago when John Wooden said it and its still good advice now!

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How Do You Respond to Coaching?

Believe it or not there once was a time when each team, and its players, had one basketball coach and one coach only. That one coach was responsible for teaching each player how to improve his skills, organizing practice, conditioning the team, deciding which offenses and defenses to use, and managing the entire game (substitutions, timeouts, foul trouble, strategic adjustments, etc.) all by himself.

Today's game is absolutely entirely different. Every team has a bench full of coaches and many players have their own shooting coach, strength and conditioning coach, ball handling coach, mental toughness coach, school coach, and club coach. A lot of these coaches are paid by the athlete or his parents and so are forced to juggle the sometimes conflicting tasks of helping the player improve and not upsetting him to the point where he will leave and take his money with him. As a result some of these coaches spend much more time entertaining and encouraging than they do critiquing and coaching.

So what happens when you come across a demanding, no nonsense, results oriented coach who spends more time yelling "Again!" and "Hold your follow through!" than "Atta boy!" and "Good shot!" ? First of all be thankful! In this day and age of "everyone gets a trophy" it's the so called negative feedback that can actually help you get better and take your game to another level. So if you're lucky enough to have a coach who is willing to critique and sometimes criticize your game in order to help you improve there are really only four ways you can react. Choose wisely!

1. Ignore it

As long as you are completely satisfied with the way you are playing and the direction in which your career is headed then ignoring your coach's feedback is a viable option. However, most coaches don't like being ignored. You also need to realize that in order to get better something needs to change because if you do the same things you've always done you'll get the exact same results. It could be a minor tweak in technique, more quality repetitions, or an increase in intensity but something needs to change. Would you rather do things your way or be successful?

2. Quit

Some players just can't handle constant criticism and correction, so they quit being coached. I was in Portland, Oregon recently and was able to catch a game while I was there. During one of the media timeouts they had a contest called "Find the cheerleader." A guy was pulled out of the crowd and blind folded and was told to find the cheerleader who was standing somewhere on the court. When the guy was moving in the right direction the crowd would yell "Yay!" and would yell "Boo!" when the guy was getting off track. There was at least 10x more "boos" than "yays" especially in the beginning. But the blindfolded guy didn't take the criticism personal and didn't quit when he was constantly yelled at. Instead, he kept making corrections and eventually found the cheerleader and won the game. Neither would have happened if he had ignored the booing or quit being coached.

3. Hate the coach

I've never really understood this reaction but it happens all the time. A coach will tell a player that he needs to work harder defensively, that he needs to get his elbow under his shot or that he needs to develop his left hand and the player starts treating him like an arch enemy. Supplying feedback in the form of coaching is nothing more or less than providing information. Why would a student ever hate a teacher for trying to help him learn?

There are even some players who will reluctantly listen to their coach, take the necessary steps to improve their game, reap the rewards and satisfaction that come with improvement and still be mad at their coach for correcting them. It happens all the time and just thinking about it makes me shake my head in disbelief.

4. Listen, learn, and apply

The fourth option is the only one that is really productive and can be game changing in a positive way. When your coach is actually coaching you don't be upset that he's not stroking your ego or telling you that you're perfect. Listen to him, learn from the situation or circumstance and find the best way to apply it to your game. Appreciate the fact that he thinks enough of you as a player to help you make corrections. It's when he stops coaching or correcting you that you should really start worrying!

If you're lucky enough to be around this game long enough, you are going to be coached, criticized, and corrected. How you respond both mentally and physically to that feedback is going to largely determine what kind of player you become and what kind of career you enjoy. Choose wisely!

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Good Hands Equals Better Post Play

Just for a second think about the following scenarios and quickly decide if any of them apply to you.

1) The ball is entered to you in the post but before you can make your move the passer's defender drops down into your lap and rips the ball out of your hands.

2) You go up for a rebound and get both hands on the ball but someone knocks it away right after you grab it.

3) You establish a strong post position, give a great target, and call confidently for the ball but when the pass does come it goes right through your hands.

Have any of these situations ever happened to you, a friend, or a teammate? If so, you know the effect they can have on a team's success (or failure) and you also know they can be personally frustrating and sometimes embarrassing.

Fortunately, in most cases it's a simple fix as it just comes down to strengthening your hands and fingers and improving your ability to catch the ball.

Here are several things you can do to accomplish this:

1. Constantly squeeze a tennis ball, racquetball, or hand grippers

This is good advice for all players as strong hands and fingers will help improve ball handling and shooting as well as rebounding and overall post play. This is especially effective in strengthening your off hand and the best part is that it can be done while riding in a car, sitting in class, or watching a movie.

2. Use a heavy ball

Start by doing some stationary pound dribbles to warm up your hands and then play catch with your workout partner using chest passes, overhead passes and baseball passes. After a couple minutes move in closer together and start passing the ball harder. As your hands get stronger you can start using the heavy ball in the other drills listed here too. If you don't have a heavy ball you can get one here.

3. Play one handed catch

Have you ever watched a water polo game? It's amazing how much ball control the players have while using only one hand! You can develop the same control by getting a workout partner and playing catch with only one hand at a time. First, pass the ball back and forth several times from your right hand to his right hand. Then pass several times from your right hand to your partner's left hand. Follow that by playing catch with your left hand and his right hand and conclude the session with each of you using only your left hands.

4. Play catch with a wiffle ball

This drill is more for developing soft hands and hand eye coordination which are crucial for improving your catching skills. The nature of a whiffle ball is to randomly float, drop, and curve and the unexpected movements force the pass receiver to concentrate and watch the ball all the way into his hands

5. Use the Mark Eaton bad pass drill

When former NBA All Star Mark Eaton was a rookie Coach Frank Layden implemented a simple drill that paid big dividends. Eaton would slide across the free throw lane while a coach constantly threw bad passes in his direction. Knowing that rarely are perfect passes thrown into the post these passes were thrown too high, too low, too hard, and often behind Eaton, forcing him to constantly adjust. When game time rolled around Eaton was ready for anything!

Don't let weaker hands or an inability to consistently catch the ball ruin all the hard work you put in improving your post moves and rebounding. These drills won't have to be done your entire career - I've seen drastic improvements take place in just a few weeks. However, the benefits you gain from doing drills such as these will last for years!

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