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Small & Simple Things That Make a Big Difference

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In the house I grew up in my mother had a quote framed on the wall that went something like this... "Enjoy the little things in life because one day you'll look back and realize that they were the big things".

It didn't have a big impact on me when I was a kid because like most other kids, I couldn't see past Friday night and lived day to day.

As an adult now, I realize just how true those words are.

All of us get to a point where we realize that most of the stuff we stress about every day and consider to be such a big deal really don't matter very much when compared to family and relationships.

I've experienced this as I've watched my first son grow from a tiny baby to a now curious, soft-hearted 10 year old. The memories I have of him pulling on my leg calling me "da da" and greeting me at the door when I get home are the most precious memories I have but at the time I didn't see it as a big deal at all.

I was more concerned about the normal stresses of the day and what needed to be done to enjoy it as much as I wish I would have. I now fully understand why my mother placed so much value in that quote. I now understand that the little things in life are more important than the things that consume our time energy.

So let's talk basketball now. You're probably wondering if you stumbled on a long Hallmark Card after reading the introduction paragraph. Rest assured this is basketball related. The reason for the sappy introduction was to point out some similarities that the game of life has in common with the game of basketball. There are a lot of things about basketball that get overlooked because they seem so simple and mundane.

A lot of coaches and players want to focus their thoughts on more complex facets of the game because they feel like they have graduated from the fundamentals. It really bothers me when I see coaches get so consumed by the x's and o's of the game but yet their players don't execute or understand the simple things like they should.

They quickly realize that the fanciest offense in the world isn't going to do a bit of good if the small things aren't taken care of. Just like in life, they don't realize until it's too late that it's the little things that matter most.

This article points out a handful of "little" things that have a huge impact on the game. It doesn't matter how athletic you are or how good of an offense you run, if you don't take these things serious your teams will always underperform.

Location of passes

The important thing to point out here is that it's not enough to simply get the ball to the open player. You have to make sure that when the pass is caught it's easy for the player who receives the pass to make their move in rhythm. If you're coming off a well set screen there is about a 2 second time period that you'll be wide open. If you receive a pass shoulder high on the right side of your body, you'll be able to catch and shoot in perfect rhythm with nobody in your face. That's a very high percentage shot.

On the other hand, let's say you come off of the screen and the pass is headed for your shins or maybe a little bit over your head. You'll still be able to catch it but because of the fact that you are forced to either crouch or jump to receive the ball, that 2 second span of being wide open gets cut down to about 0.5 seconds. If you try to get a shot off it's very likely that you'll have someone right on top of you defending the shot. Thus making it very low percentage.

Players need to be involved in passing drills that focus on passing the ball with the intent of hitting a specific target. Most coaches overlook this and therefore their players never pick up on it. They go their entire career thinking that a good pass simply is one that gets to the player it is being sent to without being deflected or taken away. That's not the case.

Catching the ball and rebounding with two hands

It's lazy, sloppy and flat out stupid to try and receive the ball with one hand. When you go up for a rebound you want to grab that ball tight with two hands and pull it out of the air. I see so many turnovers caused by players being careless with the ball and it drives me crazy. It's only a matter of time before it will come back to haunt you.

Not waiting for the pick

When a pick is being set for you and you make your move before it is set, nothing good will happen. You have to be patient and wait until your teammate is able to firmly plant his feet and get set and then you cut off of the pick as tight as you can. I tell my players to actually bump shoulders with the person setting the pick because then it's very hard for the defender to get through the pick and defend you.

If you leave before the pick is set it's very easy for the defender to follow you right through the pick and it's almost as if nothing gets accomplished at all. You're simply moving around with no meaning. Many times I've watched coaches scratch their heads thinking that the offense they are running is ineffective when really the players aren't giving it any chance to succeed because they are cutting off of picks before they are set.

Getting a hand in the face not just "up"

Players are always told to "get a hand up" on defense. I think it's more appropriate to communicate to players that they need to put a hand in the face of their defender when they are attempting to shoot. Most shooters aren't all that bothered by someone standing in front of them with their hands up in the air but when a hand is right in their face, that's another story.

It can make all the difference in the world. Be aggressive and make an attempt to really bother the shooter (without fouling) as opposed to just going through the motions.


This is probably the biggest problem I see in youth basketball right now. Most kids just don't understand what it means to pivot, how to do it or what advantage it gives you on offense. The situation that is all too familiar is when a player picks up their dribble and then either falls over, travels or forces a pass when the pressure comes.

A simple pivot would have allowed them to get away from the pressure and make a good pass. Pivoting also gives post players so many options to score. If you watch some of the highest scoring post players in the NBA you'll soon notice that the best scorers have tremendous footwork.

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