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Don't Practice Stupid Stuff

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Our local high school runs a summer league a couple night a week for all the schools in the county and last summer my daughter and I would always go the gym an hour or so early so she could get in a few extra shots. Every time we got there one of her teammates was already there working with her "skills trainer." After warming up, most of her workouts seemed geared towards breaking down a defender off the move from the top of the key.

Between the legs, behind the back, crossover. Between the legs, behind the back, crossover. Between the legs, behind the back, crossover. Over and over again. Always the same sequence from the exact same spot again and again for probably 40 minutes. She was intense, focused, and persistent no matter how many mistakes she made and so her dedication was pretty impressive.

Fast forward to this past basketball season when I probably watched my daughter's team play about 20 times. Not one single time did I ever see her teammate use that breakdown move that she practiced for hours and hours on end - not once!

What I did see was an off guard who usually struggled when the defense pressured her right hand and forced her left, who had trouble making an entry pass (especially with her left hand) and who missed way too many wide open catch and shoot jump shots.

The question I kept asking myself was "Why do players spend so much time working on things they don't really need and will probably never use?" Of course, this wasn't entirely the player's fault as my second question is "Why do so many coaches and skill development trainers teach so many unnecessary skills?"

What are you currently working on? Are they skills you actually need and use or are they skills you only dream about using in the NBA All Star game? Don't get me wrong - you should be working on your game!

You want to make your weaknesses strong and your strengths even stronger. However, most players tend to overcomplicate things and as a result choose style over substance; flash over fundamentals.

What should you be working on? Well that largely depends on your current situation and skill level but I can offer a few general suggestions. You need to be able to handle the ball well enough with both hands to get from one baseline to the opposite top of the key while under extreme pressure.

Not only do you need to be able to dribble hard and fast in a straight line but you also need a change of pace move and a change of direction move. You also need the ability to make a one handed pass with both your right and left hands. Entry passes, wing passes, reversal passes, and passes in transition all require the use of this skill.

Most players need three types of jump shots: off the catch standing still, off the catch while moving, and off of a couple dribbles. If you don't think that's enough then add an effective finishing move like a floater or Euro step.

Until you completely master these fundamentals you don't even need to think about working on anything else! Of course after you master them, which isn't going to happen in one day, one week, or even one off season, you just might find out that you don't need anything else!

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