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A Simple Trick to Improve Team Chemistry

Want to bring your team a little closer together? Then try this really simple yet effective technique – from now on have every player and every coach touch every other player or coach he sees throughout the day. High five, fist bump, choreographed team hand shake – it doesn’t matter as long as there’s some […]

The post A Simple Trick to Improve Team Chemistry appeared first on HoopSkills Basketball Training & Coaching Blog.

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Who Do You Play For?

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Viglione Ball Handling Part 2

Here is Part 2 of Coach Danielle Viglione’s high intensity ball handling workout: Start by standing on the baseline under the basket facing half court or you can start on the elbow facing the basket. Use the line of the key from the baseline to the elbow to make your dribble move. You will take […]

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Your Comfort Zone is What Hold You Back

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Viglione Ball Handling Part 1

A couple days ago I posted some excellent advice from Danielle Viglione. Here is the first part of one of Coach Viglione’s ball handling workouts that she uses at The Sacramento Skills Academy: Make sure you go game speed. If you get tired during any part of the workout, shoot free throws until you can […]

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Be Great When You Don’t Have to Be

The following advice comes from former high school, college, and professional star Danielle Viglione, who is now helping others follow in her footsteps at the Sacramento Skills Academy. It is so simple yet can have a major impact on any player’s (and/or coach’s) career. I am going to read this to my own team this afternoon! […]

The post Be Great When You Don’t Have to Be appeared first on HoopSkills Basketball Training & Coaching Blog.

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No One Person is Bigger Than the Team

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Coaching Advice from Ohio State’s Urban Meyer

When Ohio State was announced as the fourth and final team to get into this season’s inaugural football playoff many were disappointed, especially TCU and Baylor. Anyone who has followed Urban Meyer’s coaching career certainly couldn’t have been surprised because the guy flat out knows how to win! However, when author Pat Williams asked Coach […]

The post Coaching Advice from Ohio State’s Urban Meyer appeared first on HoopSkills Basketball Training & Coaching Blog.

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5 Ways to Use a Ball Screen

1. Reject the screen. Fake into the screen and when your defender starts to cheat over the top drive in the opposite direction 2. Attack the hedger. If there is a hard hedge by the screener’s defender then attack his front foot. As soon as he opens up his stance you will have a clear […]

The post 5 Ways to Use a Ball Screen appeared first on HoopSkills Basketball Training & Coaching Blog.

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Improve Your Passing to Get More Playing Time

Without a doubt, passing is the most under developed skill in the game today yet it is definitely one of the most important. Because so few players can pass the ball really well, becoming a great passer is one of the quickest and surest ways to get a lot more playing time. If you can […]

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Latest Articles

Which Defense is Best?

When deciding which defense is best for your team there are three things to take into consideration: your personnel, your overall philosophy and style of play, and your opponent's personnel. Let's take a look at each one.

1. Personnel When evaluating the personnel of your own team there are again three things to consider: athleticism, size, and depth.

Athleticism. If as a group your players have above average athleticism (speed, quickness, agility, and jumping ability) then you can pretty much play any defense you desire. Not only can you play either man to man or zone but you can also use a variety of full court and half court presses to either speed up your opponents or to slow them down. Defensively, the sky's the limit if you have the most athletic team on the floor! However, if your squad is lacking in overall athleticism then you might need to think about playing some type of zone or sagging, switching man to man in order to prevent getting beat off the dribble.

Size. Both individual and team size often dictates which defense you should use. Teams with one big player often use a 2-1-2 zone or a 2-3 zone in order to keep their only size close to the basket. Of course, if that player happens to be extremely athletic as well then man to man is still a viable option. Size, like athleticism, is often relative. You can be bigger and slower than your Tuesday opponent so choose to play zone but are the same size yet quicker than your Friday opponent so man to man would be more effective.

Depth. How many players can you realistically use effectively? If you can go 10 deep on your bench without any significant drop off then you can play more aggressively without worrying about foul trouble or wearing your players out. However, if you only have four and a half kids who can legitimately play then you probably need to sit back in a pack line zone and stay out of foul trouble. Then if you need to you can play more man to man in the second half when you don't have to worry about conserving energy or fouling out.

2. Opponent's Personnel

When evaluating your opponent's personnel you need to look at the exact same three areas - athleticism, size, and depth. Too many coaches make all their defensive decisions based entirely on their own roster. Sure, you might not be as quick, tall, or fast as you were last year but you still might be all those things when compared to the other teams on your schedule. Likewise, just because you're quicker than you were last year doesn't necessarily mean you're quick enough to pressure this year's opponents.

3. Program Philosophy

The third thing to consider when deciding which defense to use is your overall program philosophy. For example, say you want to keep our opponent's off the free throw line and out of the paint. Let's reason that you also want to keep our best scorer and best overall post player out of foul trouble and that you hardly ever have backups as good as those two players so you want them at your disposal for the entire game if necessary. When all those requirements are combined the result is probably some type of zone defense. Now this might not be your philosophy and that is okay but whatever you decide should be aligned with how you want to play on both ends of the court.

If you were expecting me to tell you exactly which specific defense is better than the rest and/or which one you should use with your team then you are possibly disappointed with this article. The truth of the matter is that only you have enough insider information to know what's best for your team in their current situation.

However, if you consciously consider your own personnel, your opponent's personnel, and your overall program philosophy then the exact answer you're looking for will soon become crystal clear.

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5 Reasons You Need to Develop Great Practice Habits

1. There are no shortcuts to the top. Jordan, Magic, Bird, LeBron, Kobe, KD, Karl Malone, Tim Duncan, Ray Allen, are all arguably some of the greatest names in the history of the NBA. I don't think it's a coincidence that they also have the reputation of being the game's hardest workers.

Height, length, and athleticism might be enough to get you by when you are younger but if you want to play at higher levels then you need to be more skilled and as far as I know the only way to develop great skills sets is through many, many hours of purposeful practice.

2. Practicing hard is not enough. You can practice hard and still not develop the necessary skills to be a great player. How does that happen? Because a lot of players work long and hard on skills they will never use in an actual game. Instead of just working on things that look cool or are fun you should be practicing those things you are going to do most often.

If you're not sure where to begin, start with the fundamentals of ball handling, passing, defensive footwork, and shooting. No matter what skill you are developing don't be satisfied practicing until you get it right but instead practice it until it is impossible to do it wrong! It's far better to have one or two automated skills than to be only average in several different aspects of the game. Remember, just because you're tired and sweaty doesn't mean you are necessarily getting better.

3. Not everyone cares about your success. Some people don't even care that much about their own success! If you happen to be practicing or working out with someone who is not as serious as you are then chances are they don't have great practice habits. If you let them negatively influence the way you practice you are going to suffer the consequences more than they will since they really don't care that much in the first place. Your practice habits need to be so firmly established that no one can convince or influence you to get off track.

4. Great practice habits can help you measure your success. Compare these two players: The first one takes a jump shot, walks after the rebound, picks a different spot to shoot from and keeps repeating the process. If the rebound bounces extremely long he might grab a quick drink on his way to retrieving he ball and of course he has to talk to anyone and everyone who sticks his head into the gym.

Player #2 sets the timer on his phone and times how long it takes to make 20 3's from five different spots. He sprints after every made or missed shot and is completely oblivious to anything and everything going on around him. Once the drill is over and his time is recorded in his notebook, then and only then does he get a drink of water. This second player can periodically refer back to his notebook to chart his progress and to see if he's getting any better. However, how does the first player know if he's getting any better or not?

5. We are what we repeatedly do. This might be the most important reason why you should develop great practice habits - because it's the right thing to do! Developing the habit of setting reasonable goals, working hard (and smart) and staying focused are fundamental life skills that will help you for decades. Is there a better, or more fun, way to develop these skills than by applying them to the best game ever created? I don't think there is! Remember, it's not necessarily all about what we get by practicing to be better players; it's about what we become!

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Concussion Training for Basketball Players and Coaches

It used to be that the only injury a basketball player really had to worry about was a sprained ankle. Sure, there was the occasional fat lip or split eyebrow caused by a flying elbow but sprained ankles were by far the biggest worry in terms of injury. However, as players have become bigger, stronger, and quicker there have been drastic increases in knee and head injuries at all levels of play.

When a knee is injured it is fairly obvious to almost everyone in the gym and the athlete is usually cooperative when the coaching steps in to intervene. Unfortunately, that is not the case with concussions which is s traumatic brain injury that can affect how the brain functions. Many times the athlete doesn't even realize that he is hurt and is extremely resistant to any kind of medical attention, especially if it involves removing him from the game.

It is during these situations where a coach must step in and put the long term health and safety of his players before anything else.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention the following signs and symptoms may indicate that the athlete has suffered a concussion and should be acted upon immediately:

Signs Observed by Coaching Staff

  • Appears dazed or stunned
  • Is confused about assignment or position
  • Forgets an instruction
  • Is unsure of game, score, or opponent
  • Moves clumsily
  • Answers questions slowly
  • Loses consciousness (even briefly)
  • Shows mood, behavior, or personality changes
  • Can't recall events prior to hit or fall
  • Can't recall events after hit or fall

Symptoms Reported by Athlete

  • Headache or "pressure" in head
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Balance problems or dizziness
  • Double or blurry vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sensitivity to noise
  • Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy
  • Concentration or memory problems
  • Confusion
  • Does not "feel right" or is "feeling down"

If for any reason a coach suspects that one of his players has suffered a concussion, he should adhere to the CDC's four step protocol even if the athlete swears he is fine:

1. Remove the athlete from play. Look for signs and symptoms of a concussion if your athlete has experienced a bump or blow to the head or body. When in doubt, keep the athlete out of play.

2. Ensure that the athlete is evaluated by a health care professional experienced in evaluating for concussion. Do not try to judge the severity of the injury yourself. Health care professionals have a number of methods that they can use to assess the severity of concussions. As a coach, recording the following information can help health care professionals in assessing the athlete after the injury:

  • Cause of the injury and force of the hit or blow to the head or body
  • Any loss of consciousness (passed out/knocked out) and if so, for how long
  • Any memory loss immediately following the injury
  • Any seizures immediately following the injury
  • Number of previous concussions (if any)

3. Inform the athlete's parents or guardians about the possible concussion and give them the fact sheet on concussion. Make sure they know that the athlete should be seen by a health care professional experienced in evaluating for concussion.

4. Keep the athlete out of play the day of the injury and until a health care professional, experienced in evaluating for concussion, says they are symptom-free and it's OK to return to play. A repeat concussion that occurs before the brain recovers from the first-usually within a short period of time (hours, days, or weeks)-can slow recovery or increase the likelihood of having long-term problems. In rare cases, repeat concussions can result in edema (brain swelling), permanent brain damage, and even death.

It should go without saying that all head injuries are serious and can have long lasting effects on a player's life. Many schools and organizations are requiring that coaches go through training in the recognition, treatment, and prevention of concussions. This link will take the reader to an online concussion training offered by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

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