We will have no workouts until the weekend of May 25th & 26th. We have had over 3 straight months of basketball on the weekends and it’s been a blast! We are taking a small break before summer. So far, we’ve had over 150 players participate in our weekend workouts and we have a dozen private training clients during the week. It’s been a great start for us and we can’t wait to have more basketball this summer!
Most of the time, I coach in a very relaxed way. However, when it comes to actually practicing certain drills that will soon become habits, I up my intensity. I coach a little harder knowing that if I don’t, players won’t practice at the speed they need to so they utilize their new skills in game situations. During certain drills when I’m coaching hard, yelling out “Dribble harder!”, “Go faster!”, “Don’t stop!”, I turn to my staff and joke about how coaching reminds me of Patches from the movie Dodgeball. As if the next words out of my mouth are going to be ”If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball!”
Beyond the details of the game, I know that if they can learn basketball, they can learn anything. The determination and repetition to learn basketball is not very different than what it takes to study to get an A, or to learn how to play violin. It’s hardly any different than what it takes to be successful at a job, or be a good friend. It always takes effort, determination, repetition and persistence. I take pride in knowing that basketball and our workouts are a small piece of what builds successful people for the future.
After last weekends’ workout, I had a player approach me and say that he feels he’s moved beyond the level of our workouts already. He said he learned all that we’re able to teach him. He’s 11 years old and probably had less 6 months of basketball experience in an organized setting, however he’s improved quite a bit in the past few weeks. He’s using skills we just taught 30 minutes prior and using them in scrimmages right away. But he still has a lot to learn. Knowing what the answer would be, I asked him “Well, did you learn anything new today?” He said, “Yes” with a smile.
That alone should be good enough reason to continue learning. New skills and new knowledge is hard to come by for the experienced basketball player, but we should always remain a Student of the Game. If there’s one thing you can take away from a practice or lesson, then it’s time well spent.
For such a quick paced game, basketball is also very rich with detail and requires concentration even in the heat of the moment. Since the game moves so quickly, it requires not just skill and ability, but the muscle memory to make the right move at just the right time. That’s why I encourage players to go home and practice. That’s why we send them home every week with a piece of paper describing the workouts they did for the day, so they know what they should work on at home.
As far as our workouts go, every week players participate in practice games. They are beginning to learn the rules and discover the skills needed in basketball. Meanwhile, more experienced players are taking the skills we practice and attempting them in game situations so they learn when is the appropriate time to use them. The past two weeks we’ve worked on 1 v 1 moves. Our 6 year olds all the way up to our 13 year olds have all been learning the proper footwork and appropriate basketball words so they’re better equipped to perform well in real games.
All of our players already understand the game better. But we’re far from finished.
In the near future we will introduce 2 v 2 concepts such as pick & roll and give & go. Then we’ll delve further into 3 v 3 things such as drive & kick, pass & screen, help defense etc. Eventually we’ll make our way into 5 v 5 situations and it will start to look more like real basketball. There is a lot to learn when you break it down into 90 minute workouts, but we’ll get there. And I have confidence that our participants can be become great athletes with some devoted practice. And if they can learn basketball, imagine what else they could learn?! If you can learn basketball, you can learn anything!
For now, here’s what our players have learned in just the past two weeks. More to come!
- jab step
- shot fake
- pass fake
Moves to basket
- Behind the back
Foot work & shooting
- jump stop (Saturday group only)
- layups (Sunday group only)
- Shooting off the dribble (Saturday group only)
- Floaters (Sunday group only)
Since starting For the Love of the Game, I’ve been more motivated to work on my own game again. The consequences of not practicing enough creeps up on you, but then all of a sudden you’re not able to do what you use to do easily. My shooting, dribbling, and overall basketball skills haven’t been up to the level I know they could be, not to mention being out of shape in general.
But now, I’m seeing my ball handling comfort come back, my shooting is getting better and I feel much more comfortable on the court again. It’s important to me as a coach that I can do what I teach. I know my work isn’t done, but I can feel the progress. And it gives me much more appreciation for the players that can maintain a high level for so many years.
Ray Allen, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are NBA veterans, with 15+ years of NBA experience each. To stay in shape and maintain their skills is incredible. Being the best doesn’t happen by accident. It’s very hard work. And it’s even harder to stay on top, to be the best for long periods of time. Everybody is trying to take you down. Every one is motivated to be the one to beat the best.
Right now everybody is watching Lebron James, the likely candidate for MVP this year. He’s been considered one of the best for years, but never has he been challenged like he will be this year. He’s worked hard to be the best, but he’ll have to work even harder to stay on top. It’s going to be interesting how Lebron James handles the pressure this year.The Chicago Bulls ended the Heat’s massive winning streak which is noteworthy in itself. But what’s interesting to me is how Lebron is reacting to the pressure. Those were hard fouls, but not necessarily dirty. They looked like “playoff fouls” to me. Playoff fouls are hard fouls, but not dirty. Playoff fouls happen when the defense is determined to not allow any easy baskets. These kind of fouls are hard and direct, but aren’t meant to injure the player. If Lebron is complaining now, imagine how much he’ll protest come playoff time. In the end though, he is a competitor, so I believe he’ll find a way to accept the physical nature of late season games and find a way to succeed.
For basketball fans and basketball competitors alike, it’s important we don’t dismiss the difficulty in being the best and staying on top. It takes hard work, consistency and determination to not let anyone beat you.
Well, my bracket is busted, but not entirely. 3 of my 4 final four teams are still in it. I took a chance on New Mexico and got burned. However, there are some correct predictions. I had a feeling Gonzaga wasn’t going to make it far, I just didn’t think Wichita State was going to be the one advancing to the Sweet 16. Still crossing my fingers for Indiana to win it all. They just need to get past Syracuse and I like their chances!
There is a lot discussion among coaches about what is best for young players. One of the key discussions is for teams to practice man to man or zone defense. While most, if not all, agree that players should learn man to man defense at some point, the main controversy is what is the appropriate age. Some coaches think that man to man principles are too complex for younger players and resort to only teaching them zone.
I believe this is an important topic for all parents because while you may not be the coach, you certainly want your child to be playing for a coach that’s teaching appropriate skills to your child. You also want to make sure your child is reaching their full potential and having fun while they do it! If your child is playing in a league right now, I hope he/she is getting taught how play both man to man and zone.
As I’ve said before, after you’ve been coaching for a while, you begin to develop a coaching philosophy. These are opinions and beliefs about the game of basketball that occur gradually over time as you gain more experience. Or in my case, my basketball philosophy came through purposeful experimentation, just to see what potential there is for young basketball players. Some seasons, I coached several teams due to a lack of volunteers. While it can be draining to coach back to back practices and back to back games, I learned a lot. And I had plenty of chances to try new things with players to see what sticks.
To cut straight to the point, I believe man to man defense can be taught at any age. Zone defense has its uses, and I’ve had teams that only ever used zone in games. However, I believe man to man principles such as on ball defense, help defense, and ball-u-man are a must-know for any young player. These man to man principles can be taken with them anywhere they play, which is what makes the skill so valuable. By only teaching zone to young players, you are seriously handicapping their potential in situations that require man to man, such as 2v2 games.
I believe the earlier players learn man to man, the better. That’s because when you get to competitive levels or high school basketball, some coaches solely use man to man defense. What a huge advantage it is for players if they learn how to play man to man at age 5 or 6, compared to learning it just before entering high school.
Yes, man to man can be complex, but it can be taught gradually as players get older. I’ve learned to use words that all players understand, while slowly teaching them new words that apply to basketball. If you’re attending our weekly workouts, then maybe you’ve been pleasantly surprised by how well a 6-year-old actually plays man to man defense.
If taught the correct way, a very young player can play help defense, deny his man the ball and play great on ball defense. He even understands what he’s doing without knowing all the details or the fancy basketball words a high school coach uses. Part of that is because good defense is more based on effort, than technique. But it’s also because the game of basketball is only as complex as you want it to be.
So if you’re a coach, or the parent of a player, I urge you to encourage your players to play man to man defense. In games, a mix of man to man and zone defense is very effective. In practices, man to man principles can lead to great opportunities for defenders, and it gives them a more realistic impression of how basketball should be played.
Last week we discussed strengths and how to use them. This week’s theme is in the same category, which is basically, know yourself. I know this is a hard thing for children to do, which is to think about themselves with any objectivity. It’s even hard for adults to do! But this weekend, my intention was to get players to at least think for a second about themselves and what they really can do in basketball (and the successes they achieve in basketball can be repeated in life). It’s not just about what their parents want or friends, or teammates.
One of the definitions of “know thyself” is to ignore influence and simply do what pleases you. I wanted players to understand that people unknowingly try to place limits on them, but those expectations can be broken if there is enough determination to do it. In fact that’s one of the requirements if you ever expect to do something extraordinary with your life.
One of the most popular examples is how Michael Jordan didn’t make his varsity team. If he simply listened to what people told him, he would have believed he wasn’t good enough. But he knew himself and was motivated to keep working on his game until he proved how good he really was. Failing to make the team didn’t stop him from being successful because he was confident in himself and what he was capable of.
Everybody is put in a similar position as MJ. Everyday, there’s probably someone that doubts your potential. It’s up to you to persist anyway to prove them wrong and so you can reach your full potential!
In case you haven’t been keeping up with the NBA, the Miami Heat are on one of the longest winning streaks in NBA history. Currently they have 24 wins and it seems like there’s no end in sight. The NBA record is 33 wins by the Los Angeles Lakers over 40 years ago! Here is a game summary of the Heat’s latest dramatic win against Cleveland by ESPN.com:
CLEVELAND — Miami’s winning streak was in danger of disappearing — in Cleveland, of all places.
But LeBron James wouldn’t give up.
“That guy right there doesn’t want to lose in this building,” teammate Dwyane Wade said, nodding toward James, who left many angry Cavaliers fans behind when he bolted for Miami as a free agent three years ago. “Not tonight.”
James scored 25 points as the Heat overcame a 27-point deficit in the third quarter and won their 24th straight game, 98-95 over the short-handed Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night to extend the second-longest winning streak in NBA history.
The Heat are within nine games of matching the record of 33 consecutive wins held by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers. Once believed to be untouchable, the mark is now within reach.
James and his teammates have insisted the record isn’t one of their goals, and for more than 30 minutes the defending champions seemed disinterested and on the verge of losing for the first time since Feb. 1. Miami trailed 67-40 with 7:44 left in the third quarter.
But behind the irrepressible James, who added 12 rebounds and 10 assists in 42 minutes, the Heat inched closer to history and matched the NBA’s biggest comeback this season, according to STATS.
“This was one of the most bizarre, unique days of my life with everything that happened,” said James, referring to a homecoming in which a fan ran onto the floor and the opening tip was delayed 35 minutes by a leaky scoreboard. “It also was one of the best comebacks I’ve ever been a part of.”
James had 14 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals in the fourth as Miami rallied to win for the second game in a row. The Heat were down 17 points — 13 in the fourth quarter — and stormed back to beat Boston 105-103 on Monday and surpass the 2007-08 Houston Rockets for the second-longest streak in NBA history.
“I knew there was a lot of time, so we never panicked,” James said. “We were down 27 with 18 minutes left. That’s a lifetime in basketball.”
It wasn’t until James, playing his fourth game back in Cleveland since leaving, made two free throws with 4.7 seconds left that Miami could relax, but just a little. The Cavs had one last chance to tie it, but C.J. Miles was long with a 3-pointer in the final second, letting Miami off the hook.
Following the game, James stopped to sign a few autographs as he made his way to Miami’s locker room. This was much tougher than he and the Heat could have imagined. The win also completed a five-game road trip, dubbed “The Reunion Tour” by James because Miami visited Wade’s home in Milwaukee, Chris Bosh‘s former team in Toronto and Ray Allen‘s in Boston.
“The streak wasn’t on my mind, but us getting blown out was,” James said. “I was going to be the only guy to take an ‘L’ on the reunion tour.”
Mario Chalmers added 17 points and Wade had 11 for the Heat, who outscored the Cavs 30-18 in the fourth quarter and 64-40 in the second half.
“We knew it was coming,” Thompson said of the Heat’s comeback. “They were the NBA champions last season. They’re not going to lay down. Champions don’t lay down even when they’re down by 27. We knew they were going to make a push. Guys went out and made plays, so you have to give them credit.”
Down by nine to open the fourth, the Heat were up 95-86 with 3:02 left and seemed to have the Cavaliers on the ropes.
But Cleveland bounced back and closed to 96-95 on Thompson’s two free throws with 44 seconds to go. Wade then missed a jumper, but Ellington misfired on a step-back 23-footer with 5.2 seconds to go.
James was fouled and the reigning MVP, with a sellout crowd of 20,562 roaring, stepped to the line and dropped both free throws to make it 98-95.
Miles was contested on his final shot, and once it clanked off the rim, the Heat headed home with a chance to extend their streak to 25 on Friday against Detroit.
This game had a little of everything, including a fan running on the floor in the fourth quarter. The young man was wearing a T-shirt that said: “We Miss You, 2014 Come Back,” a reference to James’ possible free agency and return to Cleveland, where he played seven seasons.
James went out of his way and patted the fan on the head as security rushed him off the floor.
“He said he missed me and come back, please,” James said. “It happened once before in (Madison Square) Garden, so I wasn’t worried. There are metal detectors here, so we were OK. I embraced it.”
The start of the game was delayed because of a spill on the floor caused by condensation from a carbon dioxide container inside the scoreboard.
James scored eight straight points to open the fourth, hitting a 3-pointer to tie it 77-all. He then turned toward the crowd and delivered an icy stare, his way of saying, ‘OK, enough is enough.’
“When he made that one and turned to the crowd,” Wade said, “you knew it was coming.”
Starting with the Cavs, Miami’s next 10 games are against opponents with a combined winning percentage of just .399. … The Heat play the Pistons and Charlotte at home before going to Orlando, Chicago, New Orleans and San Antonio. … It was the first time Miami overcame a 21-point halftime deficit to win. … The Cavs will wait a week before they evaluate Waiters, who has loose cartilage, and decide whether he needs surgery. Cleveland coach Byron Scott hopes his young guard comes back in the final month. “If he gets back, I’ll be thrilled to death,” Scott said. … Miami’s three wins over Cleveland this season have been by a total of nine points.
This weekend, we talked about players understanding their strengths. Players have different things they’re good at, shooting, passing, dribbling, defense, rebounding etc. The idea is, if you recognize your strengths, then you should play within what you do best. Don’t try crazy tricks if your strength is in making regular layups. Don’t take far shots if your strength is in closer shots.
I’m talking about using your strengths in games and practicing your strengths as well. If you’re really weak at defense, yes you should practice, but don’t forget to keep sharpening your skills at offense too!
Playing to your strengths is a great way to ensure success. While some people focus on weaknesses until they are no longer weak, why not also invest time in making your strengths even better?
Playing to your strengths builds confidence, increases your chances of success and it allows people to witness you at your best. It’s good to know all sides of yourself, strengths, weaknesses and how you learn new information. While your improving yourself, don’t forget to also utilize what you do best on a regular basis in competition!
This week we talked about leadership and what it takes to be a leader. Make no mistake, some people are just more natural as leaders than others, which probably comes by repetition. But I also think that it’s never too late to develop leadership traits if that’s your goal and you work at it. All of us at one time or another have to take a leadership role to accomplish goals, even if it isn’t our strength. This week’s theme is an article from ihoops.com:
Learn From Your Mistakes
To be a good leader you have to take calculated risks and you will certainly make some mistakes along the way. Admit them. Learn from them. Don’t repeat them! These mistakes can be in the classroom or on the court.
“Success comes from good decisions. Good decisions come from experience. Experience comes from bad decisions.”
Lead by Example
The old adage “do as I say, not as I do” doesn’t fly in today’s world. If you expect it from the people you are leading, you have to expect it from yourself. You must hold yourself accountable before you can hold anyone else. If you expect your players or teammates to be on time, then you need to be on time. If you expect them to know every play in your playbook, then you need to know them too. If you want to be a leader, people notice.
“Do what has to be done. Do it when it has to be done. Do it as well as you can. Do it this way all of the time.”
Put Others’ Needs First
Compassion and empathy are extremely important to quality leadership. It is impossible to be selfish and be an effective leader. If you are a player, are you playing for the scoreboard or the scorebook? Are you playing for the name on the front of the jersey or the back? If you are a coach, do you listen to your players’ feedback and thoughts? Treat your teammates and players right and genuinely care about them.
“No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Your attitude is something you have complete control of and will influence everything you do in life. A positive attitude helps build confidence. You must have a strong self-worth and be confident in your abilities, without being arrogant or cocky. It sounds corny, but you have to feel good about yourself to be a good leader. No one is going to follow someone who doesn’t believe in themselves. Confidence comes from a sound work ethic and from being prepared. If you are going into a game and aren’t confident you can win; it’s because you know you didn’t do what was necessary to prepare!
“Don’t ever take a shot you aren’t confident you are going to make.”
Set a High Standard
If you do everything to the best of your ability, then you can expect it from those you lead. If you are always on time, always work hard, and always put your heart and soul into every practice, workout, and game–then you can expect your teammates and players to do the same. But you have to believe your teammates and players can meet this standard. A good leader will motivate those they are leading to do so. You want to be the type of leader who raises the level of everyone around you. Set the bar high and then lead them to it!
“It is a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you often get it.”
These are just some of the traits needed to be an effective leader. Whether you are the point guard on a high school basketball team or an assistant college coach, your ability to be an effective leader will dictate your success as well as your team’s success.