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Basketball Training & Coaching Library

Steve Alford 30 Minute Shooting Workout

Current UCLA men’s basketball coach Steve Alford was a legendary high school and collegiate player in the state of Indiana at New Castle High School and Indiana University. Here is one of Alford’s 30 minute shooting workouts that he would go through when he was short on time. 15 shots – form shooting – 5 […]

The post Steve Alford 30 Minute Shooting Workout appeared first on HoopSkills Basketball Training & Coaching Blog.

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Every Day is Game Day

The following excerpt comes from the book “Every Day is Game Day” by Mark Verstegen. The book is part motivation and philosophy and part cutting edge training program. Regardless of whether you agree with Verstegen or not, his take on performance is definitely thought provoking and worth reading. YOUR BEST ISN’T GOOD ENOUGH. That sounds […]

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5 Reasons to Work Out With a Partner

1. Working out with a partner makes both players responsible and accountable to each other. Miss and not only let yourself down but your partner as well. 2. Working with a passer and/or defender makes your workouts more game like. 3. The natural tendency is to work harder with much more focus if you’re with […]

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Pre-Game Feet and Ankle Warm Up

During regular basketball season many teams can take the court anywhere from 20-45 minutes early to warm up. However, during club season when games are scheduled continuously throughout the day, teams often find themselves with hardly enough time to shoot a few layups and fire up a few jump shots. With such little court time […]

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Did the Heat Really Get The Top Spot by Finishing Second?

Every season there is always talk about at least one of the NBA’s worst teams “tanking” the end of the season in order to hopefully improve their position in the upcoming draft. But it’s not often that one of the TOP teams can be accused of tanking games! Is it possible that is exactly what […]

The post Did the Heat Really Get The Top Spot by Finishing Second? appeared first on HoopSkills Basketball Training & Coaching Blog.

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Ricky Rubio’s Crossover

Ricky Rubio’s mastery of the behind the back crossover has helped make him one of the elite guards in the NBA. In case you missed them in the latest edition of ESPN Magazine, here are the 6 steps that Rubio uses to break down his signature move. 1. A good crossover starts with footwork. If I’m […]

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Shoulders to Hips Equals Driving Success

The best offensive players always get their shoulders below their defenders’ shoulders because once in that position it is much easier and quicker to attack the basket. Not only does getting low make your move quicker but it also allows you to absorb all the defensive contact with your shoulders so you can remain in your […]

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10 Commandments of Stretching

Before stretching, do an aerobic warm up to get muscles warm. Stretch before every work out. Stretch daily, and if you are exceptionally tight, stretch twice a day. Stretch within 10 minutes after every work out. Stretch to the edge of the discomfort in the muscle but not to the point of pain. Breathe normally […]

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KG’s Work Ethic

Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Karl Malone, Ray Allen, and Kobe Bryant have all been known for their legendary work ethics. Another player who belongs in that elite group of focused workaholics is Kevin Garnett, currently of the Brooklyn Nets. The following, written by  J.P. Clark, an Assistant Skill Development Coach for the Boston Celtics, offers […]

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Bob Hurley’s Point Guard Absolutes

Watching the NCAA Tournament has reminded all of us that you need good guard play in order to advance in the post-season. Here are some ideas on point guard play from Hall of Fame coach Bob Hurley of St. Anthony’s High School in New Jersey. Philosophy of PG Play Think pass first…shot second 1st step […]

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Latest Articles

How to Choose a Summer Basketball Club Team

Believe it or not at one time it was really easy to choose a summer basketball club team. In fact, there were so few teams that you had to be the one chosen to play! Clubs would hold a weekend tryout right after the high school season ended and literally dozens of players would show up and compete for a few coveted roster spots.

Those who made the team were literally the "best of the best" in their geographic region and club tournaments then became ultra competitive battles between several "All-State" teams. Many of those players received college scholarship offers at the end of the summer and it wasn't long before more and more players wanted to be involved.

The obvious solution was for existing clubs to add more teams and then to divide the players according to skill level. This allowed many more players to play "club" basketball even if they weren't considered to be one of the elite. At the same time completely new clubs and teams were formed and suddenly nearly anyone and everyone who wanted to play in the spring and summer could find a team to join. Now with so many options at their disposal, athletes can actually pick and choose which club team is the best fit for them.

While it sounds over simplified, finding the right fit should be the number one priority when it comes to choosing a summer club team. If the fit is right then playing club basketball can be a lot of fun and very worthwhile. However, if the fit is not right then the entire experience can turn out to be a gigantic waste of time and money.

The first question that a player must ask himself is "Why do I want to play club basketball?" Is it because you just like to play? To travel and see new places? To play against different/better competition? To get seen by colleges and universities? To improve as a basketball player? To work on playing a different position? The primary answer to that question alone can be a great indicator of which direction you should head in looking for a club that fits your wants and needs.

The next thing you should consider is who is doing the coaching as there are a wide range of coaching options when it comes to club basketball. There are some extremely qualified and legitimate coaches on the club circuit but there are also those on the other end of the spectrum as well. Some teams are coached by well meaning adults who happen to love working with young athletes; others are coached by parents with enough game knowledge and experience to run subs in and out but not enough to actually help you get better and improve your skills.

What is the coach's practice philosophy and schedule? Does he hold a couple practices before the season starts but never again once the team begins to play games? (It's really hard to improve your skills that way!) Do the practices involve working on all the fundamental areas of the game or do they just involve scrimmaging and nothing else? Is there any individual work and attention or is everything done in extremely large groups?

There should be a good balance of practices and games and of individual attention and group work. In other words, practices should be very similar to what you would experience on a top notch high school or college team. Remember, if you primarily want fun and exposure then pick a team that plays a lot of games. (Keep in mind though that if you don't improve your game the exposure you get may end up costing you a scholarship instead of landing you one!) If you want to improve your overall game then pick a club that emphasizes practice and skill work.

Along with a coach's practice philosophy and schedule you should also find out about his playing and coaching styles. Is he laid back and quiet or is he intense and loud? There's nothing wrong with either style as long as you can respond and play for a coach like that. What does he like to do on offense and defense? Is the offense built around multiple scorers or just one main scorer?

While checking out the different coaches you should also do a little research on the roster makeup of the team. Is there a balance of perimeter and post players? That could be an important thing to know. For example, many players are forced to play in the post on their high school teams because they are the biggest guy in school and so look for club teams where they can play out on the perimeter. If that is you, then you don't want to join an undersized club team who will put you right back into the post because you are the only one with any experience in that position. The same holds true for other positions as well.

Last but not least you need to check out the "business" aspect of choosing a club team. Where will the team be practicing; is it close or really far away? Will you be able to make it to the practices? What nights are the practices? If you routinely have something else going on that night (practice for another sport?) the choice of clubs might turn out to be an easy one.

How much money is everything going to cost? Not just club dues but travel, food, hotel, uniforms, entry fees, gym rental for practice, etc. Does everyone pay the same amount or do some players pay more so the "elite" players can be given a "scholarship"? (It happens a lot!) Who pays for the coach's family to travel with the team? Are there any other hidden costs that could affect your decision?

As you can see, there are a lot of factors in deciding which basketball club team is the right one for you. As with all big decisions you have to make, carefully weigh out all the options and factors and don't rush into something too quickly. If you are going to invest a significant amount of time and money you want to make the best decision possible!

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Is Your Bench Attitude Helping or Hurting You?

Have you ever wondered why in the day and age of great video technology that coaches who want to scout and/or recruit still go watch games in person? Why do they spend all that time and money travelling to and from a game site when they could just watch a game on video?

Well the answer is relatively simple: game videos usually don't show everything that coaches want to see! As a college coach I watch dozens, probably closer to hundreds, of games each and every year and I would guess that at least 95% of the time I try to sit across from the team benches.

Even though this often puts me right in the middle of a rowdy student section or even worse, right next to the band, it allows me to see things that I generally can't see on video. From this vantage point I can watches the coaches coach and more importantly I can watch each player's reaction when he is not in the game.

Are the players actively engaged in the game or do they seem uninterested in the action? Are they cheering and encouraging their teammates; are they calling out back picks, flare screens, and isolations on the defensive end? Do they stand and acknowledge their teammates when they come out of the game or do they just ignore them?

Watching how a player acts while on the bench gives me some great insight into that player's overall attitude towards the game, his coaches, and his teammates and helps me determine whether or not that player would fit into our program.

Not too long ago I was watching a summer tournament game while sitting right next to a fairly famous coach who had led his team to the Final Four the previous April. One of the players in that game stood out amongst all the rest and seemed to be the prototype All American - tall, long, athletic, quick and skilled.

In most areas of the game he absolutely dominated the action. However, his shot selection could have been a little bit better and after three straight forced shots the coach subbed him out.

As the player walked towards the bench the coach was waiting to talk to him but was completely ignored and so was each player standing by the bench with their hand out. The superstar player finally got to the end of the bench where he kicked the last chair before getting a drink and then chucking the water bottle.

The Final Four coach saw this reaction (like we all did) and almost immediately pulled a red pen out of his pocket, opened a notebook containing a list of potential recruits and drew a line through the player's name. Then he got up from his seat and immediately walked out of the gym - presumably to go watch a different player on his list.

I've wondered many times since then if that player had any idea that the Final Four coach was there to watch him play and that he ruined his chance of being in that program because of his bench behavior. The Final Four coach didn't cross the player off the list for taking bad shots - he crossed him off when he didn't appear to have a good attitude or to be a good teammate.

Remember, there is almost always someone watching you from the time you walk into the gym to the time you walk out. It might be the varsity coach, a younger player who looks up to you, a teacher, a potential employer, or even a college recruiter with a potential scholarship offer. Don't let your attitude on the bench completely undermine your performance on the court!

Let us know what you think!

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5 Ways to Prepare for the End of the Game

Nearly every coach that I know is most comfortable when he or she is in control of what is happening on the court. They will spend days trying to determine who should start the game and weeks deciding which is the best offense and defense to use with their personnel.

Many put rules and guidelines in place so their players know who should shoot, when they should shoot and precisely where they should shoot.

These same players are taught how to defend their opponents by taking away specific team and individual strengths right from the opening tip. However, it's this same desire to control their surroundings that often drives coaches crazy in late game situations when there are so many surprises and unexpected variables involved.

While many things are indeed uncontrollable (officials, sickness, injury, etc.) here are 5 ways to improve your team's preparation for those crucial end of the game situations.

1. Mix up the teams

If your starters are constantly practicing together, what happens when one of them fouls out, is injured, or is just having a horrible game? Make sure a back-up post, wing, and point guard are systematically worked in with your normal starting five. Chances are at least one of those guys is going to be in the game if it's close in the last minute.

2. Use the clock

A lot of players have no idea how long (or short) 5 or 10 seconds can be and what can and can't be accomplished in that time. I've seen some coaches verbally count down the final seconds when they work on end of game situations but that's not realistic or game like. Crowd noise, gym size, and the coach's own game time emotions can make a verbal count unreliable or difficult to hear. Your school has a clock so use it!

3. Practice timeouts

There's nothing more frustrating than trying to set up a game winning play and discovering one of your star players is standing over by the water cooler getting a drink. Assign specific seats on the bench, who gets the water, and who watches for any substitutions by your opponent. Practice sprinting over to the bench and getting in the right seat. Real timeouts are one minute long so don't take 5 minutes setting up your end game offense or defense in practice. Practicing timeouts and last minute situations is as much for the coach's preparation as it is for the players.

4. Teach team foul scenarios

There will be times when your team will have a foul to give and using it wisely will force your opponent to inbound the ball again and reset their offense. There will be other times when you might want to use a "Hack a Shaq" strategy. Don't expect your players to naturally know how to do these things already. Teach them exactly what to do and then practice them several times before it really counts.

5. Simulate end of the game scenarios

There are several ways to do this and all can be beneficial in their own way. You can put up a predetermined score up on the board and two minutes on the clock and see what develops. You can also work on a few specific scenarios every day - things like down 2 and need to go the length of the court in 6 seconds; you are up 1 and your opponent has the ball out underneath their own basket with 2 seconds left; you are down 3 and shooting 2 free throws with 3 seconds left, etc. A third way is to put 67 points for each team on the board and 2 minutes on the clock. Start scrimmaging and as soon as one team reaches 70 points start the clock. Do any (or all) of these two or three times a week and you'll eventually find your team prepared for almost anything.

Don't spend all your time preparing for the first few minutes of the game and neglect the last few minutes. There will undoubtedly always be some surprises and some things out of your control but if you use the five ideas mentioned above you can keep those surprises down to a minimum.

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