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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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My Coach Sucks

Here is a great video that demonstrates how hard it can be for coaches having to deal with all the outside influences their players have around them. Players: Please watch this and internalize how important it is for you to be accountable for your own actions. The more you push blame aside in your life […]

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Don’t Look Now but the NCAA’s Elite are Playing “Junior College” Basketball

Is it just me or has anyone else noticed that NCAA college basketball has become junior college basketball? Well whether you’ve noticed or not, it has – at least in the elite programs! I’m definitely not saying that it’s a bad thing but I am saying that it’s a fact. Now before you get your […]

The post Don’t Look Now but the NCAA’s Elite are Playing “Junior College” Basketball appeared first on HoopSkills Basketball Training & Coaching Blog.

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Shane Dreiling’s Match Up Zone Rules

Shane Dreiling’s match up zone defense is a combination of defensive principles that he learned from Fred Litzenberger and the late Don Meyer. These match up rules are fundamentally sound and can (and should) be applied to all defenses. Continually point to your man and talk to your teammates. Guard someone – do not have […]

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Bob Hurley’s Thoughts on Practice

1. Shorten practice as the season progresses, but maintain intensity. 2. Alternate easy and hard segments of practice. 3. Only emphasize one side of a drill. 4. Don’t stay on one thing more than 10 minutes. Come back to it the next day. 5. Stress fundamentals early in practice and build to team play later. […]

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“Bobbleheads” Can’t Shoot

When players start to experience a mid season shooting slump they usually look for any possible flaws in their mechanics. They check their shoulders, their elbows, their feet and their fingers. One thing they hardly ever check is their head! Here is what Thomas Emma, President of Power Performances has to say about a shooter’s […]

The post “Bobbleheads” Can’t Shoot appeared first on HoopSkills Basketball Training & Coaching Blog.

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Social Media “Don’ts”

Several times a year I’m still amazed at some of the things that college and high school athletes share on their social media accounts despite the troubles that others have experienced by posting without thinking. Here are some guidelines that the University of Michigan give its student athletes to prevent potential problems. While a couple of […]

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Back to the Basket Workout

During the course of the season when we are all worried a bout the next game it is easy to forget about skill development work and the process of getting better. Over the next few posts I’m going to include some individual workout ideas that you can either use with your team or individually. This particular […]

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Use Hockey Steps to Shake Your Defender

Here is a great tip from the Concord Storm that can be used either with or without the ball: “As you run forward at a moderate speed, take a series of short, quick, parallel steps. Stay low with your knees flexed. Combine this with a change of direction move and you will have your defender […]

The post Use Hockey Steps to Shake Your Defender appeared first on HoopSkills Basketball Training & Coaching Blog.

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How to Seperate Yourself from the Pack

Here is some great advice from basketball Hall of Fame coach Pat Riley who is now the President of the Miami Heat. It is taken from Riley’s book “Showtime.” Although the book is a little older it is still full of awesome insights for players and coaches alike. The ones who can really separate themselves from […]

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Latest Articles

How to Create Game Changing Mismatches

As coaches we are always on the hunt for new, simple, and effective ways to put points on the scoreboard. There is almost a mystic lure that attracts coaches and players to points and most of us think you can never score enough. If you are one of the fortunate ones who have a big time scorer on your team then you don't need not to worry as much as most of us do about scoring points. Just put the ball in the scorer's hands and let him go to work!

However if you are like the majority of coaches who does not have a big time scorer on their team, one way to increase your team's chances of scoring the basketball is by creating mismatches on the court. If you can force an opposing post to defend a guard, a guard to defend a post or a slower player to defend a faster player you can give your team a decided advantage.

Bottom line: creating mismatches puts your players in a better position to be successful on the offensive end of the court. If you are interested in creating mismatches for your players then there are some very specific tactics that you can employ.

Here are 4 of those tactics:


One of the easiest ways to create a mismatch is to have your post players sprint the center lane during a fast break! Most opposing post players are either not disciplined enough or not in good enough shape to sprint back each and every time on defense. If you can hit your post player for a few lay ups on the break the opposing coach will be forced to sub in a quicker (and usually smaller) player to get back. This substitution will immediately create a size mismatch for someone on your team when you run your half court offense.


One of the oldest offensive tactics in the game is the Pick and Roll. The main reason why teams at all levels still use this play today is because it is still so effective! By using one of your biggest players (typically your post) to set a solid on-ball screen for a quick ball handler you can usually create a mismatch by forcing the defenders to switch assignments. This switching will provide with your team with a definite mismatch both on the perimeter and in the interior!


Along the same lines of the Pick and Roll, setting a solid back screen can be another effective way to quickly create a size mismatch. Depending on which end of the mismatch you want to exploit you can determine the best starting position for each of the players involved. If you want to post up your big player against their guard, start your guard on the block with your post player on the perimeter. This way when the switch occurs, their guard will be left to defend your post on the block. If they DO NOT SWITCH your team will have a wide open layup!


The fourth way you can create game changing mismatches is by systematically developing the all around offensive skills of your players. If all your athletes can shoot from the perimeter, are comfortable in the post, and can put the ball on the floor and attack the basket then there will certainly be a mismatch somewhere! Every team has a weak link defensively and if all of your players have solid skill sets then that weak link won't have anywhere to hide.

If you find yourself needing to score more points, instead of putting in several new offenses or plays, try concentrating on creating mismatches instead. If you can score just two baskets a game using each of these four tactics then you can increase your team's scoring average by a whopping 16 points!

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Drill Fast to Play Fast

I recently went to watch my daughter's high school team play and arrived at the gym in time to watch the second half of the JV game. Both teams warmed up with a standard, generic two line layup drill where each player jogged about half speed, caught a pass, took a couple of dribbles and shot an uncontested layup.

Not a single player traveled, dribbled the ball off her foot, or missed a shot. Then the second half started with both teams playing full court pressure man to man defense. The home team's point guard built up a head of steam and blew by her defender but lost complete control of her dribble as she crossed the half court line.

A visiting defender scooped the ball up and raced to the opposite end but had trouble managing her speed as she approached the rim. As a result, her layup attempt clanked hard off the backboard and bounced nearly all the way out to the free throw line.

A player from the home team grabbed the rebound and sprinted towards her own basket at the other end of the gym. She made it all the way to the opposite free throw line before she was blindsided and the ball was tipped loose from behind. Of course one of her opponents came up with the loose ball and back the other way all 10 players ran.

It was the most exciting, action packed, non productive 10 seconds of basketball I had seen in a long time! It was a remarkable contrast to the slow, easy going layup drill I had watched only a couple minutes earlier!

If you want to be an above average, varsity caliber player then you need the ability to control your body and the ball while moving at high speed. More specifically, you need to start quickly, run fast, stop suddenly and then eventually be able to do all three of these things while constantly and efficiently changing directions.

The key to improving in these areas is not so much WHICH drills you use but HOW you use them. Have you ever heard a coach yell "Stay under control!" to either you or one of your teammates? If you've been playing for any length of time I'm sure you have. Well while working on this set of skills is not the time to heed that advice.

In fact you need to run, dribble, and change direction so fast that you occasionally get out of control and have difficulty coming to a stop! As you run through your drills over and over at the fastest speed possible you will undoubtedly make several mistakes. However, as you become accustomed to the faster pace the mistakes will decrease and your efficiency will improve.

When that begins to happen you should increase your speed once again to the point where you are "out of control." Keep repeating the process and it won't be long before you are not only playing faster and quicker but you'll be doing so while staying under complete control.

There are lots of drills you can use to improve these skills but if you need some ideas look under the coaching articles or training articles pages on our site.

Remember, once you have mastered the basic fundamentals of a skill you should drill fast to play fast!

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7 Ways to End a Shooting Slump

As a former player and a current coach I can easily tell you that there are few things as frustrating as being in a slump. Most players know when they are not playing as well as they can or should and it bothers most of them whether they readily admit it or not.

In fact some players are so distraught at being in even a minor slump that they never fully recover and it adversely affects the rest of the season for everybody. Just like kids need their parents the most when things are rough, players need their coaches when they're not playing well.

Unfortunately, too many coaches have a tendency to push the struggling players aside and concentrate their attention on those players who are already playing great. Coaching is synonymous with problem solving and "fixing things." Here are 7 ways you can help a player who is in a slump:

1. Set Goals. Not big lofty goals but goals that can be reached fairly easily. Once those are reached then slightly increase their level of difficulty. I recently advised a player who was in a shooting/scoring slump that she needed to quit worrying about points and take a closer look at the shots she was getting. We initially set a goal that she would try to get a driving layup, a fast break layup, a put back, a mid range jump shot, a three point attempt, and also get to the free throw line. Getting various types of shots made her more active and helped her realize that if one type of shot wasn't dropping there were other options available.

2. Teach & Reinforce Mental Skills. I realize this is much easier said than done but it can be a huge help. Players both in and out of slumps need to learn how to stay positive, focus on the process not so much on the results, keep their emotions under control, visualize, and move on to the "next play." Use one or more of these mental skills as the basis for at least one of the goals you help your athlete set.

3. Put the Player in Contact with a Mentor/Role Model. Take advantage of the fact that nearly every player has gone through some type of slump at one time or another. Contact a former player or a current college player, someone who been through it before, and ask if he would be willing to reach out to your player. He might be able to share some more ideas and tips that worked for him and will be able to reinforce the fact that everyone goes through it - and eventually snaps out of it.

4. Be Available. A player in a slump needs you now more than ever and so you need to be there for him both on and off the court. Under no circumstances can he ever feel that "I'm not playing well so coach hates me." Your unquestionable support of him during the rough spots may do more to get him back on track than any of these other steps. His teammates, friends, and even parents may be down on him and he may be feeling like he's trying to get through this all alone. Be there!

5. Double the Praise & Reduce the Criticism. Most slumps become more mental than physical and too much criticism only reinforces what he already knows - that he's not playing well. I'm not saying you should heap tons of unwarranted praise on him or make things up in order to help him feel good about himself - just don't let an opportunity slip by where you can praise him for actually doing something right.

6. Don't Add Anymore Pressure. I know coaches who have made things much worse by telling their slumping star "If you don't snap out of this our season is heading right down the drain," or "If you don't start playing better you'll never make All League," or something similar. Instead, try to take the pressure off of him. Tell the newspaper that it's not his fault; that you need to put him in a better position to succeed.

7. Individual Workouts. Get the two of you in the gym and work out together. The individualized attention will help fix any minor flaws in technique and I have found that repetition cures a lot of problems. Plus putting in extra time with him will show him that you care, that you have his back, and that you are available. (See Tip #4)

John Wooden once taught that success is never final and failure is never fatal. Use that same philosophy when dealing with players in a slump and he will be back playing well in no time.

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