Past Coaches Corner
This is a favorite drill that we often run at the end of practice. It helps us with our left-handed lay-ups, left-handed dribble and conditioning. It is a competitive drill where the team has to make a certain number of left-handed lay-ups within 2 minutes. We use 75 for high school boys varsity and 65 for girls varsity. If they fail to make the goal, they run or do push-ups.
Half of the players are on each end of the court with the just first two players in each line having a ball. With only two balls on each end, this is a much more difficult goal to make than if every player has a ball. On "Go!" the first two players from each end start the left-handed speed dribble and shoot the left-handed lay-up. The next player on that end gets the rebound and speed dribbles up the other side. Players must speed dribble quickly and make most of their lay-ups to achieve the goal.
If the team fails to make the goal, they run or do push-ups. If we have had a good practice with good effort, we give them a "second chance" by allowing everyone a chance to make a half-court shot. If just one player makes it, nobody has to run and instead they should celebrate as a team mobbing the shooter with lots of "high-5's" ... it's a fun thing and a good way to end practice on a positive note.
Variation #1: Adding a Dribble Move
Have each player do a prescribed dribble move when reaching the 3-point arc. You can do a rocker step, in and out, crossover, behind the back, thru the legs, spin move, etc.
Variation #2: Finish the Lay-up Against Pressure
Place a defender in the paint at each end (a coach or manager), who offers a token defense against the lay-up... no blocks or steals allowed (nothing that would slow the flow of the drill).
Of course, you could run this drill with right-handed lay-ups as well, especially for younger teams and make the goal easier to achieve.
Basketball Tag & Game of Defense
At the elementary level I make sure that practice is more about fun, to really get the kids to fall in love with the sport and want to get better. Here are two drills that the kids love and that teach them basic skills.
A good dribbling game at this age is basketball tag. Our team is about 20 kids, so I give 5 of them a ball, and they are "it".
They have 3 minutes to tag all the other kids while dribbling. The other kids have to stay inbounds and of course they need to try not to be tagged, or the kids with the ball won't be able to practice their dribbling.
This is not only fun for the kids, but they have to keep their heads up, and make quick turns. It also builds endurance and teamwork. For the kids that are proficient with their strong hand, I make them only dribble with their weak hand.
Game of Defense
This drill is for the younger ages. It puts a competition to a defensive slide drill.
They can't get enough. It teaches good defensive posture and it also teaches good footwork.
Use the three point line.
Have your team on one side.
Have them set up in a defensive stance.
Tell them it is a game.
They are going to receive a score between 1 and 10.
They need to slide around the 3 point line as fast as they can and they will be judged on quickness, form, and how close they stay to the line.
Remember to have them keep their heads up, do not cross feet, bend knees and palms up.
Developing Great Communication
By Jeff Haefner (breakthroughbasketball.com)
If you want a great team, then you've got to make sure they're talking to each other on the court. After all, how many players have been knocked down (resulting in an easy bucket) from a perfectly played screen? One shout from another defender could easily warn his teammate of the impending screen. If he spoke up, that is. Without communication, your basketball defense will never be great. So, it pays to emphasize communication to everyone on your team.
Your team's on-court communication should always have a point. Here are a few examples of purposeful communication.
- Shot: Every time a player makes a shot, you should yell "shot" to make sure everyone knows that a shot just took place.
- Screens: When a screen is put into place you should yell "screen" so players can position themselves to go around the screen.
- Ball: When you're guarding the ball then you should yell "ball" to let everyone know that you're on that player.
- Skip: If a skip pass is thrown, yell "Skip" three times. This will raise the flag for defense to find the ball and get into position.
- Got Your Help: If you're in a good position to help on a dribble drive, then yell "Got your help!" to let the team know that you're there to stop the ball if things get out of hand with the offense.
- Call Your Man: You should always call out who you're guarding. Every player should be accounted for and good communication can help make sure everyone's covered. These are just a few examples of how words can be used effectively on the court to win the game. There are plenty more you could work into your routine!
How To Improve Communication:
- Use Overload Drills. Overload basketball drills practically make your players talk to each other. When they're overloaded, defensive players have to scramble and help each other out. If they don't talk, they fail. This is a natural way to get your player talking to each other.
- Make Communication A Habit. You need to keep reminding your team to talk to each other during games. Want a sure-fire to get them remembering? Bench them when they forget. Yeah, it's extreme, but you can bet they'll remember for next time.
- Focus On Game Situations. If your practice sessions are like real games, and you're running basketball drills that require your team to talk to each other, they'll begin to develop the habit. Practice game situations, and keep stressing communication. They more they talk in practice, the more they'll talk during games.
Twenty Questions Every Coach Must Ask
By: Alan Stein (strongerteam.com)
While I certainly can't argue how helpful it is to have very talented players, I have learned it is actually the little things that make a big difference in making your program successful. It is the little things that make an average team a good team, a good team a great team, and great team a championship team! I have the utmost respect and appreciation for basketball coaches and have been fortunate enough to have worked with some of the best in the world, at every level, from high school to the NBA. Here is a summation of many of the little things I have picked up from them along the way. If you are a coach, you need to ask yourself these 20 questions. But keep in mind, I am sure you know the answer to these questions, but do your assistant coaches and players? Are you sure you have effectively communicated these messages?
- In addition to winning a championship, does you team have other goals? What are they?
- Does each assistant and player on your team know their exact role?
- Does each assistant and player know your opinion of their strengths and weaknesses?
- Do your players know what a good shot is? Have you defined this? Does it depend on time and score?
- Does your staff prepare for practice with the same mentality that they prepare for games? Do your players? Do you prepare the same way if you are playing the worst team on your schedule as you do for the best?
- Do you truly believe that on any given night any team can beat you? Along those same lines do you truly believe that you can beat anyone?
- Are your players on top of their school work? Don't let academics be a distraction during the season.
- Are your players getting eight hours of sleep every night? They will never be able to perform up to their potential if they aren't well-rested. Do you know studies show that getting a great night's sleep two days before a big game is just as important as the night before? Do your players know this?
- Are your players eating breakfast every day? There is no way they can give 100 percent for an entire practice or game if they are running on fumes. Pancakes, waffles, bagels, cereal, oatmeal, and fruit are some fantastic high energy foods.
- Do your players eat an appropriate pre-game meal? Some studies have shown that eating a light meal (with adequate carbs and protein) 3-4 hours before a game is ideal. Do your players know this?
- Are your players drinking enough water? Their performance can decrease severely with the slightest bit of dehydration. Make sure water is readily available at all practices and games.
- Are your players tending to any nagging injuries or soreness? In most cases, ice and Advil (only taken with parental consent) can cure most minor issues. If pain persists, make sure they go see a doctor or physical therapist for a professional diagnosis.
- Do you require your players to wear ankle braces or get taped for every practice or game? It is definitely something to consider as a way of reducing devastating ankle injuries.
- Do your players get to practice 10-15 minutes early to get in some individual shooting and ball handling work? Do they stay after practice to get in additional shots and/or free throws?
- During practice, are you an energy giver? Is your enthusiasm contagious to your staff and players? It all starts with you!
- Do you recognize and reward the players who do the little things? Do your players know that taking charges, diving for loose balls, and thanking a teammate for a great pass are just as important as scoring?
- Does your team warm-up and stretch properly before all practices and games? Your team should go through a standardized warm-up before every workout, practice and game. It will make sure they are mentally and physically ready to play.
- Does your team continue to strength train during the season? Strength is an attribute that is quickly diminished. In as little as three weeks your players will begin to lose strength if they don't continue to lift weights!
- Do you know how to really motivate your team to play hard and play well? Are you sure?
- Do you treat every player the same? While there is certainly validity to another approach, you should "treat every player fairly, but not equally." Every player on your team is different and need to be handled differently!
If you can't answer "YES" to all of these questions, they you aren't doing everything you can to have your team reach their potential. You need to do the little things every day to make a big difference!
An Approach to Cutting Players
By Coach Vic Pruden (eteamz.com)
Each season begins with tryouts. Deciding who is to be on your team can be difficult. Informing those who will not be on the team can be even more difficult. There are several approaches to cutting players.
Like many coaches, I have posted a team list. Those not on the list had been cut. Invariably, a number of those players came to ask why I didn't pick them. Dutifully, I tried to provide reasons why.
Some years later, I stopped posting a list. During tryouts, I would speak directly to players, informing them that they would not be on the team. If anyone asked why, I would try to provide a suitable answer. All of the answers, in one way or another, tended to focus on a deficiency in some aspect of their play.
The reactions of those who asked "why" were mixed. Although all were disappointed, many handled their disappointment with a no-hard-feelings attitude, while others were bitter and angry. This latter situation was not a positive experience for me or them.
Players who are trying out want to know only whether or not they are on the team. Giving them reasons why you did not select them does not ease their disappointment and pain. Indeed, it is likely to make it worse. Also, what happens if one of your players, say a point guard, cannot continue to play? You then have to contact a player you just cut, having, for example, "explained" that he/she is too short, has a weak left hand, and has a poor perimeter shot. Think about it.
Now, at the beginning of tryouts, I explain the following: "My job is to select players. I will not select all of you. I'm sure that what you're most interested in knowing, as soon as possible, is whether or not you're on the team. Consequently, as soon as I decide, you'll be the first to know. I will explain neither why I picked you nor why I did not. However, if I do not pick you, I would be happy to meet with you later to answer any questions you may have about any aspect of your game. Play hard, play smart. Let's begin."
Two Alternatives to 1-on-1 Basketball
By Don Kelbick (breakthroughbasketball.com)
It is unfortunate that the game players play the most is also the least relevant to the game of basketball--One-on-One.
Go past any schoolyard and you'll see two players playing one-on-one. Take the ball out on the top of the key, take 10-12 dribbles to back the opponent down to the basket and then try to shoot over him. That is the way 99 percent of all one-on-one games go. It builds bad habits, limits understanding of the game and erodes needed skills.
Below are some different one-on-one basketball drills that might do a better job of improving players' skills and help them reach playing objectives.
Half Court One on One
- Place two chairs just short of mid-court on the right side of the court.
- Players start on the baseline, opposite the chairs.
- The player on the outside has the ball.
- On "Go," both players take off at full speed. The player with the ball goes on the dribble, the player without the ball goes on the sprint.
- Both players go around the right side of the chair and head back toward the basket.
- Once headed back toward the basket, the player with the ball becomes offense and the player without the ball becomes the defense.
- Add a dribble limitation, such as 2 dribbles after turning on the chairs, to add effectiveness.
- Place two chairs on the right side of the court, a little higher than the foul line extended.
- Place two more chairs on the other side of mid-court, just above the 28-foot marker (or above the coach's box).
- Players start on the baseline and the player on the outside has the ball.
- On "Go," both players take off. The player with the ball goes on the dribble, the player without the ball goes on the sprint.
- The players cross with the dribbler going around the inside chair and the player without the ball sprinting around the outside chair.
- Once the players clear the chairs, they cross again with the dribbler going around the outside chair and the player without the ball sprinting around the inside chair.
- Once clearing the chairs, the dribbler becomes the offensive player and the other player is the defensive player and the game is on.
- Add a dribble limitation, such as 2 dribbles after turning on the last chairs, to add effectiveness.
These basketball drills work on ball handling, explosiveness, decision making, defense in transition, finishing at the rim and are great conditioners. They are also high intensity and a lot of fun so players will enjoy them.
Basketball Give and Go
Give and go's are simple, but it's important that coaches the importance of fundamentals. With all offensive sets proper spacing, timing and communication are key to successful execution.
Get your players in the habit of passing and moving (pass and cut or pass and screen away from the ball). Players should never stand around after a pass. The give and go is about reading the defense and making the right cut to the basket.
Two basic cuts to teach is the ball side cut and the back side cut. Most defenders work hard when their player has the ball, but it's a common mistake for defenders to relax and think that their job is done with the player they are guarding passes the ball away. Use these cuts after the pass is made if your defender take a moment to rest and straighten their legs. It only takes an instant to break free from your defense, cut to the basket and score.
Three Ways to Make Nutrition Work for You
By Danny McLarty (CSCS)
You've been working hard on your game. Your handles, your jump shot, your pull-up J -- it's all coming together. That's great, keep at it!
But there's an area of improved performance that most people don't even consider: nutrition.
Eating right will help you perform at your highest. It will help with recovery from tough games, practices, and lifting sessions. Proper nutrition is also HUGE in putting on strength and size. After all, you can't build a bigger house (body) without having enough bricks (calories).
Let's Be Realistic
I'd love to sit here and tell you that I want you to have a few servings of chicken breasts and broccoli everyday. But I'd bet on the Washington Generals winning a title before I'd bet on the chicken breast/broccoli combo happening with any consistency. I mean, I have a difficult enough time getting my adult clients to follow my nutrition advice. There's no way I'm getting a 16-year old that is used to eating fast food, soda, and Twinkies (as their staple), to jump on the lean protein, fruit 'n veggie, healthy carb and healthy fat bandwagon.
With that in mind, it's going to take some work to make this whole nutrition thing work for you, rather than against you. Let's find out how to make it happen.
It Doesn't Have To Taste Bad
When most people think of healthy food, they think of boring, bland and nasty tasting food (i.e. the chicken and broccoli mentioned above). Well I'm here to tell you it doesn't have to be that way. There are many great recipes out there that are both healthy AND tasty. I believe Gourmet Nutrition is the best resource out there that delivers that coveted tasty and healthy combination. At our house, we make meals that come from this cookbook on a weekly basis.
Tip No. 1: Find a way to make healthy foods taste good. It is the only way (for most people) that you are going to stay with it over the long haul.
Parents/Coaches: It's Time To Step Up
Parents are the ones that are bringing the food home. So it is up to them to supply their children with fuel that will contribute to improving their kid's health and performance. It is pretty difficult for the athlete to properly fuel their body when they open their cupboards up to a bunch of chips and other snacks.
And coaches, you have the ability to lead by example. If your athletes see a coach that works out and eats healthy, the chances of him/her following your lead goes way up.
Tip No. 2: Parents and coaches, you have the ability to influence your kids in positive, or negative manner when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle. The choice is yours.
Cook In Bulk
This tip is quick and to the point. Teenagers seem to have a bottomless gut! If you cook for just the meal at hand, then you'll be falling behind. With all of the games and practices kids play, they NEED to constantly be eating good quality foods. The easiest and most convenient way to do this is to cook in bulk and store the leftovers for later. This seems like such a simple tip but believe me, this can make or break you nutrition-wise.
Tip No. 3: When cooking, cook for the meal at hand, and make extra for the next few days to come. This will make life so much easier, and increase your chances for "nutrition success."
If eating healthy is just too boring for you, look into the Gourmet Nutrition cookbook. Parents and kids NEED to work together to make the above tips work. Together, you CAN use nutrition to help take your game to the next level!