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Death of a Basketball Season

Death of a Basketball Season

This is a conversation between PGC founder Dena Evans and a High School Player. What a great conversation about between coach and player. It touches on the death, or end, of a basketball season.


Death of a Basketball Season

Dear Coach Dena,

I’m writing to share with you some feelings I’ve been having since my season came to an end. I am hoping that you will have some insights or thoughts to pass along to me.

First, let me just give you some facts about my season so you get a general overview. We finished 18-6 in the regular season. We won our first game and lost in the semi-finals to the team who won comfortably in the finals. Our game against them was a close game.

What I’m basically feeling is a strong sense of disappointment and sadness.

Last year, I was upset that we had lost (in the first round of the playoffs), but I was able to look back on the season and I was happy about it. But this year it’s a different story. I’ve been left with that feeling of wanting more, thinking about what could have happened, or how it could have been different had we won that game.

Perhaps part of it is knowing that I’ll never get the chance to play competitive basketball with some of my teammates ever again. Perhaps part of it is just missing spending time with the guys in the locker room, or out at team dinner. Either way, it’s been a tough pill to swallow for me. This year it just felt as if the dream and the goal of winning the State Championship had kind of slipped through our hands, and it was really just two games away…and the fact that I think this was our best shot, is maybe irrational, but something that makes it harder.
It’s tough to really get it all out there on the page, but that’s about the best I can do as far as explaining my thoughts for now. Any words would be greatly appreciated.

-Josh

Death of a Basketball Season: Coach’s Response

Hey Josh,

First off, congrats on a GREAT season. I say “great” not because of your record or how far you got (or didn’t get) in the playoffs. The ‘congrats’ is because (based on your email and on what I know about who you are) you gave this basketball season, your team, your coaches, your school, and yourself the very best you had to give. I realize that may sound hollow to you in this moment, but one day, when your career is over, I promise you that this will be the one thing you will be most proud of, and it’s what will give you the most peace about your career, no matter how many championships you win or don’t win.

But for now, I can totally understand and relate to everything you have said. I’ve been there. More than once…

My senior year of high school, we lost in the game to go to “State” (a big deal in Texas because only 4 teams go). My goal since 6th grade was to win a state championship. I was devastated.

One of the main reasons I went to the University of Virginia was to win a national championship. My sophomore year of college, after being ranked #1 most of the season, we lost to Tennessee in overtime of the national championship game. Devastated again.

My junior year, again after being ranked #1 all season, we lost in DOUBLE OT of the national semi-finals to Stanford. Once again…devastated.

My senior year, after all the best players on our team had graduated and I had become the unquestioned team leader, we played as the underdog all year. We made it all the way to the Elite 8 and lost to Ohio State in the game to go back to the Final Four when my coach called time out just as I was releasing the game-winning 3-pointer. I hit nothing but net as the buzzer sounded, but it was waived off because the ref said my coach called the time out with 0.7 seconds on the clock. That was the way my college career ended. Devastated times a thousand.

Unless you’re the team that wins the last game of the season, I have never been able to figure out how to feel anything *but* sadness and disappointment at the end of a season, at least for a while.

I think you just need to allow yourself time to grieve. The word “grieve” may sound crazy because I know it’s not like anybody died or there was any great “tragedy.” But you *have* suffered a profound loss. The death of your basketball season (which you cared deeply about) is difficult. You will never play on this particular team (which you gave so much of yourself to for so many months) again; and you will never be high school teammates with some of those guys again (and those kinds of bonds are rare and special and hard to replicate in the “real world”).

People who have never experienced those kinds of losses can never understand just how much all of that hurts. You gave yourself completely to something, and it didn’t turn out like you wanted. And to make it even worse, now it’s gone. Over. Done. That’s hard and it hurts.

But (and this is the part you probably don’t want to hear, but it’s true so I’ll say it anyway…) that’s how life works. Everything passes. You’ll eventually lose everything-your parents, your friends, your health, your pets, your youth, and, inevitably, your life. It’s all gonna pass away, just like this season, and this team.

Which, to me, is all the more reason to give those things you love and care about everything you’ve got. It all goes by so fast, and the ONLY thing you’re guaranteed is that it WILL, in fact, go by.

This can all be pretty depressing UNLESS you just accept it as reality (because it is), and THEN you can be freed up to focus all your energy and attention on giving every single moment of the rest of your career the very best you’ve got….which brings me back to my very first point in this email.

As the seasons go by, and as you experience the feelings of sadness and disappointment that you’re experiencing now, and as you begin to get a clearer and clearer sense of the finite-ness (not sure if that’s a word) of your career, your sense of urgency will grow exponentially. That’s why seniors often play with such care and passion. It’s why aging superstars are willing to take less money and less playing time to get on a team that has a chance to win a championship. You begin to realize what matters and what doesn’t, and you begin to sense how precious an opportunity it is to get to be an athlete who’s playing for something that matters with people who matter to you.

So my point is…everything you’re feeling right now is appropriate and even good. Don’t resist it. Be sad. Be disappointed…Until you’re not anymore (and it will go away, I promise). And then, you will do what every great athlete and every great hero does…you will pick yourself up, dust yourself off, dream your next dream, and you’ll go at it again…even though you know the risk and how much it will hurt when it’s over. But really, that’s the only way to fly in my opinion. Way more fun, exciting, meaningful, and fulfilling than living a life where you play small and never put your heart on the line for anything that matters to you.

And one last thing…while winning a championship *would* feel really sweet and could be incredibly rewarding, the truth is that even THAT feeling will pass after a few weeks or even days.

And then you would STILL have to feel the sadness and disappointment of not playing with some of your teammates again and of not ever having this particular team together again. So don’t fall into the trap of believing that winning a championship will make you not have to feel the pain of the ending of something you love. Granted, it would make it a lot easier and is the preferable way to end a season. But what’s *more* important is always that you gave your best in every moment, regardless of whether or not you were fortunate enough to be on the team that won the last game of the season.

Those are my quick thoughts. I’m really glad you decided to write me. You’re doing big things, even though you may be feeling like you came up short this season. These are important conversations and important life moments, and it’s an honor to get to share them with you.

Stay in touch,
-Dena”

Related: Post-Season Basketball Team Meetings


If you found this useful, don’t forget to check out additional blog posts at TeachHoops.com. Also, check out TeachHoops on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.

Summer Basketball: Individual Development Drills

Summer Basketball: Individual Development Drills

Summer stands out as one of most integral points for any basketball program from year to year. This stretch of time allows for both individual and team-wide development, depending upon your set up. No matter if you’re participating in summer basketball team camps or simply conducting workouts, giving your players specific summer basketball development drills will make all the difference come next season.

However, like teams, not all developmental drills are created equal. Coaches need to scale the drills to optimize the success for their players. Provide your team with different phases to progress through as the summer moves on, and this will allow your basketball players to maximize these developmental drills.

Summer Basketball Individual Development Drills: The Basics

The first phase of your summer basketball development drills should address the basic skills your players need to master. This set of exercises remains particularly useful for youth basketball teams, especially those with younger players just getting into the sport. The drills here help players with the familiarization of necessary skills for competitive play. (Court length is 94 feet from baseline to baseline.)

  • Full Court, Right-handed Dribble
    • You should go down go down and back the court without losing control once before switching to the next drill. If you lose control, start over. Practice maintaining control, balance and stability in dribbling. ​
  • Full Court, Left-handed Dribble
    • You should go down go down and back the court without losing control once before switching to the next drill. If you lose control, start over. Practice maintaining control, balance and stability in dribbling. ​
  • One-handed layups, right side
    • You should make at least 70 percent before finishing. Don’t run for these layups, stand under the basket and use the backboard. This is a variation of the Mikan Drill.
  • One-handed layups, left side
    • You should make at least 60 percent. Don’t run for these layups, stand under the basket and use the backboard.
  • One-handed form shooting
    • Start within 2-3 feet of the basket standing in the paint. Practice same form every shot. Once you’ve made three in a row, take one step back, and do the same process. Must make three in a row to move back. Continue until you reach the free throw line.
  • Free Throws
    • Complete the same pre-shooting routine every time. Take a deep breath before you shoot and don’t move over the line. Start with 20 free throws and keep track of how many you make.

Summer Basketball Individual Development Drills: Intermediate Work

The next phase of your summer basketball development drills should up the skill-level necessary to complete each exercise. This intermediate work stands to sharpen each player’s skill if completed correctly and consistently.

  • Full Court, Crossover Dribble
    • You should go down go down and back, using a crossover dribble to switch hands every two dribbles,  without losing control once before moving on to the next drill. If you lose control, start over. Practice maintaining control, balance and stability in dribbling. ​
  • Wing Layups
    • Start from the three-point line and complete slow, half, and full speed layups where you finish under the basket. From the right side, make at least 70 percent of your shots. From the left, at least 60 percent. Use the backboard with each layup attempt.
  • Elbow Shooting
    • Start on the right side, free throw line extended. Similar to the form shooting drill from the basics phase, practice same form every shot. Once you’ve made three in a row, shift to the left side and do the same process. Add a set number for completion.
  • Spot Shooting
    • Find a spot on the court within the three-point arc. Start 8-10 feet away from that spot, dribble quickly to it, pull up and shoot. Focus on stopping and shooting with good form. Complete a walk through the first couple of times if necessary. Do this for the same spot at least 15 times and keep track of how many shot you make.
  • Free Throws
    • Complete the same pre-shooting routine every time. Take a deep breath before you shoot and don’t move over the line. Start with 20 free throws and keep track of how many you make.

Individual Development Drills Progression

These summer basketball development drills can be completed both individually or within a team setting. The beauty of these basic and intermediate exercises is they can be incorporated into team workouts or players can complete them on their own at a neighborhood park or with at their basketball hoop at home.

Over the summer, players should look to complete these drills at least five times a week, unless they’re involved in other sports. But even if a player is participating in summer training for another sport, they should crave out time to complete these summer basketball development drills so as to not fall behind.


Related: Summer Team Basketball Work

Resources:


Coach Unplugged Podcast

Ep: 1083 Summer Basketball Takeways

Ep: 1072 Favorite Summer Coaching Books


If you found this useful, don’t forget to check out additional blog posts at TeachHoops.com. Also, check out TeachHoops on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.

Basketball Conditioning

Basketball Conditioning

A well-conditioned team is a team that has an opportunity for great success on the basketball court. To become this kind of team though, basketball conditioning must take place. There are a variety of ways to do this: sprints, distance running, tough drills to improve game conditioning, or a combination of the previously mentioned activities.

While we do complete longer distance running, that is something we do the least amount of. That’s because when playing basketball, rarely do you jog or run for a really long distance. We prefer to implement more conditioning through wind sprints and drills that promote conditioning. Below are 3 wind sprint drills that are different from doing basic down/back line touches or suicides.

Basketball Conditioning: the Basketball Mile

This is a great conditioning drill that we got from PGC Basketball. Basketball is divided into four quarters, so the basketball mile is divided into four quarters. The premise behind the basketball mile is the players do run a mile. But they do it in shorter spurts/springs to mimic basketball actions.

To successfully complete this, you need a running clock. At each interval on the clock, coaches must hit the buzzer and players start. The faster they run in the allotted time, the longer rest they get. The slower they run in the allotted time, the shorter amount of rest they receive. A table below shows the breakdown of basketball mile.

Basketball Conditioning

Basketball Conditioning: Champion Runs

This is a run that I ran in my high school under my coach Andy Elkins. It is a long sprint where if you don’t give 100 percent effort, it is impossible to complete.

The Champion Run consists of the following: 1 valley (see note in intro paragraph) followed by 5 full court touches (full court touch= start at 1 baseline and sprint to opposite baseline is 1). Coach Elkins always said the beauty of the Champion Run is that you will end up on the opposite baseline from where you started, so you might as well run two Champion Runs!

We do these runs when we don’t make free throws like we should, commit too many turnovers, or for just some good old-fashioned conditioning. We time these. Boys, especially guards and wings, should complete a Champion Run in the 1:00-1:07 range. Girl basketball players should complete a Champion Run in the 1:10-1:16 range.

Basketball Conditioning: the Riley Test

This is a conditioning test from the Xavier Newsletter #198. This is a great conditioning exercise because it is tough but achievable for players to accomplish.

The Riley Test is five “down and back” runs. The players start on the baseline and must run those five down and back sprints. It is best to group your players by position. After each set the players get a 2:30 break.

The goal for high school boys has always been anywhere from 1:05-1:10 per set and for the girls has been 1:10-1:20. This can decrease as you go throughout the season or get more conditioned. We always started with 3 sets but never did more than 6 sets.


Related: Summer Basketball Prep Work

Resources:


Coach Unplugged Podcast

Ep 101 Practice Planning, Pre-Season Planning, Conditioning

Ep 152: Conditioning, Building Relationships & Defensive Sets with Coach Todd


If you found this useful, don’t forget to check out additional blog posts at TeachHoops.com. Also, check out TeachHoops on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.

Basketball Quick Hitter Series: Pistol Action

Basketball Quick Hitter Series: Pistol Action

Getting good looks at the basket remains the primary focus of most offenses. Although there’s value in developing intricate offensive sets, sometimes in a close basketball game, getting a quick hitter releases the pressure and allows your team to thrive. A good basketball playbook features a number of options across a variety of situations, and having a consistent quick hitter is an absolute must. Sometimes, getting your best basketball players going downhill toward the basket with a pistol action helps create easy looks.

This is especially true as a season winds down or teams begin their postseason tournaments. You’re team’s already been well-scouted at this point, and you may have matched up with your opponents more than once. So it’s important to keep your opponents on their toes with a fresh playbook. The tricky part remains how to add to our repertoire without providing an extra burden on our players.

Enter the Basketball Quick Hitter series. These simple sets afford any offense release valves that players learn in a matter of minutes.


Basketball Quick Hitter: Pistol Action Progression

The basketball pistol play refers to an early offense action between the point guard and a wing player, with a post player at the top of the arc. The two main Pistol options to start a play are a dribble handoff and a pick and roll. In the Pistol action, the offense attempts to catch the defense before it sets in hopes to find optimal mismatches or blown coverage by a lack of defensive rotation, which makes it one of the best basketball quick hitters.

basketball pistol action

The sequence of this play begins with your point guard hitting ahead quickly to the wing. From there, Player 1 follows his pass and sprints into a dribble handoff with Player 2. As this pistol action develops, Player 4 sets a screen for Player 3 on the weak side. 4 rolls to the basket while 3 slips to the corner.

Player 1 needs to sprint up the basketball court into this pistol action. Completing the dribble handoff creates the quick-hitter here, because 1 is now going downhill to the basket at full speed.

basketball pistol action

If the defense covers this initial pistol action, the secondary scoring option unfolds for your basketball team. Player 2 cuts off a flare screen from Player 5. Player 1 on the wing has two options at this point: a pass to Player 2, who will have either a shot or a drive.

After setting the flare screen, Player 5 dives toward the hoop, drawing the defense down with him. While all that action is going on, 4 and 3 can screen for each other on the weak side to keep the defense honest.


Related: Entry Play & Quick-Hitter Offense

Resources:


Coach Unplugged Podcast

Ep 97: Quick Hitter: Drills and Practice – Quick Hitter and Talking about Drills and Practice


If you found this useful, don’t forget to check out additional blog posts at TeachHoops.com. Also, check out TeachHoops on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.

Basketball Quick Hitter Series: Quick Backdoor Cut

Basketball Quick Hitter Series: Quick Backdoor Cut

Getting good looks at the basket remains the primary focus of most offenses. Although there’s value in developing intricate offensive sets, sometimes in a close basketball game, getting a quick hitter releases the pressure and allows your team to thrive. A good basketball playbook features a number of options across a variety of situations, and having a consistent quick hitter is an absolute must. Sometimes, a simple quick backdoor cut provides all the offense you need.

This is especially true as a season winds down or teams begin their postseason tournaments. You’re team’s already been well-scouted at this point, and you may have matched up with your opponents more than once. So it’s important to keep your opponents on their toes with a fresh playbook. The tricky part remains how to add to our repertoire without providing an extra burden on our players.

Enter the Basketball Quick Hitter series. These simple sets afford any offense release valves that players learn in a matter of minutes.

Basketball Quick Hitter: Quick Backdoor Cut

This quick hitter generates a great, quick backdoor cut opportunity for your offense. The play requires precise timing to ensure maximum efficiency. You’ll want to design this play with the player you want shooting the ball on the left wing.

quick backdoor cut

The play opens with a fairly traditional set up, with both bigs starting down low and the shooters occupying the wings. The point guard brings up the ball, and as he crosses half court, the action of this quick hitter begins. The wings exchange positions on the floor, with Player 3 starting the movement and Player 2 waiting until 3 passes the right elbow. Player 3 initiating the movement draws the eyes of the defense away from Player 2.

Once the wings have exchanged, the bigs cut up to the elbows. The point guard, Player 1, can lead the defense to the left with his dribble before an entry bounce pass to Player 5 at the elbow. Player 3 clears from the wing and floats to the weak side corner at this point.

quick backdoor cut

This is where the quick-hitting element of this quick backdoor cut takes place. As Player 5 receives the ball at the elbow, Player 2 starts his quick backdoor cut. Player 2 can set up his defender with fake or hard step toward the top of the key before his backdoor cut. 5 looks for 2 on the cut. 5 should use his peripheral vision to read the play

As the pass happens, Player 4 sets a flare screen for Player 1, who cuts to the left wing. Should the defense cover Player 2’s cut, 5 should look to skip the ball to 1 on the wing. This secondary action keeps multiple actions occupying the defense.


Related: Quick Hitter Series: Post Player Touch

Resources:


Coach Unplugged Podcast

Ep 97: Quick Hitter: Drills and Practice – Quick Hitter and Talking about Drills and Practice


If you found this useful, don’t forget to check out additional blog posts at TeachHoops.com. Also, check out TeachHoops on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.

Basketball Quick Hitter Series: Post Player Touch

Basketball Quick Hitter Series: Post Player Touch

Getting good looks at the basket remains the primary focus of most offenses. Although there’s value in developing intricate offensive sets, sometimes in a close basketball game, getting a quick hitter releases the pressure and allows your team to thrive. A good basketball playbook features a number of options across a variety of situations, and having a consistent quick hitter is an absolute must.

This is especially true as a season winds down or teams begin their postseason tournaments. You’re team’s already been well-scouted at this point, and you may have matched up with your opponents more than once. So it’s important to keep your opponents on their toes with a fresh playbook. The tricky part remains how to add to our repertoire without providing an extra burden on our players.

Enter the Basketball Quick Hitter series. These simple sets afford any offense release valves that players learn in a matter of minutes.

Basketball Quick Hitter: Post Player Touch

The best basketball quick hitters on offense are designed around getting the ball to your key players in the right spot. This play is particularly effective for teams with a talented post player who has good hands and can finish around the basket. It helps to have your best wing scorer used as a decoy here.

basketball quick hitter

The play begins with your point guard coming up the left side of the basketball court, and Player 5, the quick hitter target, on the opposite block. 1 uses a high-ball screen from Player 4. As that happens, 5 comes across to screen for Player 3.

After the ball screen, 4 pauses at the top of the key. 1 begins a dribble penetration and looks for Player 3, who cut to the right corner. Player 5 acts like he’s setting a cross-screen near the elbow as Player 4 clears to the wing. 1 makes the pass to 3 in the corner.

basketball quick hitterFrom there, Player 2 sets a cross screen for Player 5. Player 3 looks for 5 as he cuts to the hoop. It’s important that Player 5 cuts to the rim and not the opposite block since this is a basketball quick hitter.

If 2 sets a solid cross screen, 5 should be open for a clean touch down low and a layup. Player 3’s pass must hit 5 in the hands to minimize the time needed to get the shot up.

If you have a left-handed post player, you can reverse this play. The important part of this play is you want to have the player that screens across for the post (2 in this play) to be a major scoring threat. You want the defense to respect this player and not cheat off onto your post. 

Related: Basketball Quick Hitter Series: Pistol Action

Resources:


Coach Unplugged Podcast

 

Ep 97: Quick Hitter: Drills and Practice – Quick Hitter and Talking about Drills and Practice


If you found this useful, don’t forget to check out additional blog posts at TeachHoops.com. Also, check out TeachHoops on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.

Coaching Youth Hoops Podcast

Coaching Youth Hoops Podcast

Coaches Steve Collins and Bill Flitter have joined forces for a new basketball podcast: Coaching Youth Hoops! This latest venture joins Coach Collins’ portfolio of popular podcasts on coaching basketball, both youth hoops and high school. These coaches bring a wealth of knowledge from their experiences in the game of basketball, developing talented players across the spectrum of talent levels.

If you’re new to coaching youth hoops, or perhaps an experienced coach looking to cut through the noise, this is the podcast for you! Coach Steve and Coach Bill will provide weekly episodes to simply your processes. They’ll help you avoid wasting time and money learning to coach basketball players from as young as kindergarten.

Goal of the Podcast

This podcast is designed to help volunteer coaches, or coaches getting a small stipend, that jump in and try to figure it out in their spare time. Join these seasoned youth basketball coaches as they give you the blueprint you need to succeed on and off the court. In each episode, you’ll discover easy-to-implement tips and techniques that you can apply to your next practice.

As Coach Flitter says in the first the first episode:

“I want to help one million kids learn the game of basketball. But how do you do that? By helping the coaches.”

The episodes for the show will drop on Tuesday mornings. They’re designed to educate coaches from rec leagues all the way to competitive youth leagues. It doesn’t matter if you have a team of third graders who can’t dribble, or a group of eighth graders being recruited. You’ll find something helpful here.

Check out the dedicated Facebook group right now. As the podcast grows, you’ll find downloadable resources and deep dives into the nitty-gritty of coaching youth basketball. Subscribe today!


Coaching Youth Hoops Podcast on YouTube:


More Coaching Youth Hoops Podcast Episodes:

Coaching Youth Hoops podcast2nd Episode: 5 Things I Wish I Had Known About Coaching Youth Hoops

3rd Episode: The Skills Needed for K-2 Players

4th Episode: Thoughts on Running A Youth Basketball Camp

5th Episode: Basketball Skills for Grades 3-5

Related: Missed Free Throw Set Play

If you found this useful, don’t forget to check out additional blog posts at TeachHoops.com. Also, check out TeachHoops on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.

Missed Free Throw Set Play

Missed Free Throw Set Play

At some point in your career, if not your season, a situation will arise where you are down three points with two free throws on tap. Or, you could be down two points with one free throw. In these situations, you’ll need a missed free throw play for a chance to extend or win the game.

The question is: Are you ready for this situation? Is this a situation you have worked on in practice? While this does not need to be a huge part of your practice planning, it is something that should find a place. This is especially true as you head into your postseason tournament.

Below is a play that we implement each season called Desperado. In it, we work on a missed free throw play to give us a chance to tie or maybe even win the game! This is not something we work on a ton, but we will sprinkle it in at times throughout the season to ensure we are ready for this situation.

Missed Free Throw Play: Desperado

missed free throw play

Situation: A free throw shooter MUST miss a free throw at end of a game.

Process:

  1. Run this on side of shooter’s arm (R handed shooter= R side, L handed shooter= L side).
  2. Shooter must line their shooting hand up with the vertical side of the backboard square.
  3. Shooter will shoot a high a high arching shot to ball banks off backboard and onto top of rim. This will cause a long rebound for offensive rebounder on 2nd block.
  4. If down 2, rebounder gets it and attempts a shot quickly.
  5. If down 3, rebounder either boards and passes out or tips it out to shooter for 3.
  6. Shooter will go to top of key and 1 guard at top will go to ball side corner while other will got to ball side wing.

missed free throw play

The two players at the top need to start moving on the flight of the ball but need to be sure not to cross the top of the key extended until ball is released to avoid a violation. Once ball is released, these players must sprint to their spots.

We like to overload the rebounding side to give us multiple looks for a shot.

In addition to running this play in a situation, you need to find time to allow all of your players to work on missing a free throw in this way. In addition to practicing missing the free throw, practice players grabbing the rebounding for a quick putback or receiving a tip back for a 3 point shot. Just make sure you are prepared for all situations!

 


Kyle Brasher
Gibson Southern High School
Social Studies Teacher
Lady Titans Basketball Coach


Related: Teaching Situational Basketball at the High School Level

Resources:

Coach Unplugged Podcast

Ep: 686 End of Game Situations

Don’t Miss: Coaching Youth Hoops Podcast

If you found this useful, don’t forget to check out additional blog posts at TeachHoops.com. Also, check out TeachHoops on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.

Post-Season Basketball Team Meetings

Post-Season Basketball Team Meetings

As coaches, it is vital that we check in our players frequently, but especially at certain points during the season. We schedule three basketball team meetings with our players throughout the basketball season. These check ins allow us to connect with our players and make expectations clear. It provides a forum for open communication, which is always important.

Basketball Team Meetings

The first meeting is the Beginning of Basketball Season Team Meeting. We will always have a beginning of the season meeting where we inform them of what team they will currently be on and what their role will be. This meeting allows us to make our expectations clear, so the players understand how best to improve their games and help the team succeed.

Our second sit down for a team meeting comes in the middle of the basketball season. During this meeting, we review the team and player performances thus far. By the middle of the season, we have a decent sample size for statistics, so that data is helpful. This meeting will consist of going over their stats. We discuss what they’re doing well and areas to make sure they are focusing on for improvement going into the second half of the season.

The final basketball team meeting of the season comes after we’ve completed our schedule. This meeting consists of a season-long review, going over what went well and what the next steps in development are. This post-season meeting provides a launching point for our team’s off-season work.

The Post-Season Team Meeting

The post-season team meeting provides coaches and players an opportunity to reflect on the season. You can touch on the highs and lows of the season, both the good and the bad. This is particularly useful for your returning athletes Improving as individuals and as a collective unit needs to be the emphasis for your off-season plans.

It is important to motivate players about where they currently are and hope to be over the upcoming off-season to prepare for next season. As coaches, we must engage in this dialogue and realize the important role we play. We need to make sure our players can state specific goals and ambitions they hope to achieve to become the best basketball player they can be.

Goals of “getting better,” “getting shots up,” and “getting into the gym” just will not cut it. We need our players to be specific about their goals and ambitions. Think of goals like:

  • “I want to make 10,000 shots this off-season,”
  • “spend 3 hours a week working on ball handling,” or
  • “increase my squat max by 35 pounds.”

These are tangible, specific goals that can be measured. The more specific we can be with our athletes and make them the main character in their story the better player they will become and the bigger impact they will have on our program.

Post-Season Basketball Team Meeting Handouts

In addition to thinking about the physical side of the game, we must consider the mental and leadership side of our players as well. In these basketball team meetings, we strive to get our players reading leadership material. Anything from Jon Gordon will resonate with any high school athletes. Some of the best we have given include “The Energy Bus“, “The Hard Hat“, and “Positive Dog“. We want to make sure we are molding and building our future leaders to help take our program to the next level.

With the reading of the book, we also include a short assignment for them to complete as well to help in their learning of leadership qualities.

Handout 1- Off-season player handout.

We will go through this chart with each player, fill it out together, and they get a copy to take home with them.

Player: 22/23 Grade: Spring:
3 Success from Season:
3 Areas of Improvement:
What do you want from basketball?
Plan to accomplish?
Handout 2– Spring Leadership Book Assignment.

This is a short assignment they can complete over the leadership reading of their choice.

Assignment: In a 1 page double-spaced paper, answer the following 2 questions:

  1. Summarize the book. What are important lessons/themes you learned from this book? Be sure to provide some examples.
  2. How can you take what you have learned from this book and apply it to both your teams and life at large? Be sure to provide 3 examples of how you plan on applying these principles in your life.

We are anxious to see what you learn from this reading!

At the end of the day, we need to make sure our players are improving as much as possible. We need to be their guide on their journey and make them become the main character in their story.

Related: Summer Basketball Prep Work

Basketball Team Meetings Resources:

PDF Download: Post-Season Basketball Team Meeting Handouts

 

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Summer Basketball Prep Work

Summer Basketball Prep Work

The season is over and spring workouts are starting to commence. It’s now time to start thinking about your Summer Basketball plans. As your players ease into their time off from school, summer stands out as the perfect opportunity to improve their game. It’s never too early to prep for next season!

As you prepare for the next season, it’s important to remember every other team will be doing the same. Communicate to your players that teams are planning and working towards defeating them on the floor. It’s up to them to be ready for the next challenge. Urge them not to wait until the next school year. Definitely tell them not to wait until September to physically prepare. Impress upon them the value of being the person that’s going to work harder than everyone else to improve. Your journey starts with summer basketball prep, so ignore the noise, embrace the grind, and love the challenge!

Consider these elements to help streamline the summer basketball prep work and to help have a great off-season.

Returning Opponent Data

Our staff loves to go through our upcoming opponents for next season and start gathering data on them. Summer is a great time to start this basketball scouting work. We look at their previous season record, returning players and starters. We also look at offensive average and defensive average.

By doing this, we consider what the strengths and weaknesses of our opponents are. This helps us think about the main question of our program: What do we have to do to be better than our opponents?

The answer to that question will help dictate what we focus on starting in our summer basketball practices.

Promote Basketball Summer Camp

The youth/feeder program is the lifeline of any successful high school program. It is important to have these upcoming athletes coming into your gym.

There are a variety of ways to run a summer basketball camp, but the most important thing is to find one that best fits you and your players schedules. With this ever-changing world, it is important to have all hands on deck. If your school requires service hours for their students, using your players as counselors for the youth summer basketball camp might fill that graduation requirement for them. It also keeps them busy and in the gym!

After locking in a date for your camp, promote it! Get into the schools to talk to your future campers, create a YouTube video, promote on social media, do whatever it takes to get as many people in the gym as possible.

Schedule Summer Basketball Games & Practices

This is something that needs to be done with your high school athletes, but you may want to even consider doing practices and games with your middle school athletes, too. Communication is key at either level, especially with parents. Make your expectations clear for the involvement with summer basketball work in your program.

Chat with your returning players about their schedules, get a feel on where they’d like to play games, and find ways to make these as fun but as cost effective as possible. Find local games against your local high school opponents but also consider an out-of-town trip to bring about some extra bonding with your team.

In addition to practicing with your high school players, find time to get into the gym with your middle school players, too. They can start to hear your voice, hear your philosophies, and start prepping them to be part of the high school program.

Overnight Summer Basketball Camp Trip

If possible, find a team summer basketball camp that is out of town. Get a hotel and find some activities to enjoy as a team. Take your players to cities they have never been to. Partake in activities they’ve never done (escape rooms, billiards, bowling, etc.). Eat at restaurants they haven’t been to, and play games against opponents they otherwise may never see.

These activities provide valuable team building opportunities that will strengthen the bonds between players and coaches. Summer basketball trips often create life-long friendships and memories that your players will cherish.

If you have some players with aspirations of attending college to play basketball, find schools they may be interested in attending after high school.

10K Shot Club

Motivate your players to get shots up on their own. As all high school coaches know, you can never have enough shooting. Encourage your players to log their shot attempts and track this. Reward them in the fall with prizes, recognition, food, whatever it may be. Do a shooting program not only for your high school athletes but your feeder athletes, too.

Summer basketball work is important for any high school program. It is essential that you are maximizing your time and make sure your program is in a great position to have success in the upcoming season!

Related: Basketball Conditioning

Resources:

Coach Unplugged Podcast:

Ep: 1069 How to Evaluate Yourself and Players in the Summer

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Box Set Series: Box Set UCLA Cut

Box Set Series: Box Set UCLA Cut

The Box Set offense in basketball stands out as a popular offense because it is purposefully designed to get easy buckets. This offense requires precise movement and timing, but when properly executed, the box set leads to scoring opportunities. These sets incorporate both on-ball and off-ball screens, and can be deployed against both man-to-man and zone defenses. This box set uses a UCLA cut for a quick-hitting first action.

Some of the most famous coaches throughout the history of basketball, including Chuck Daly, Mike Krzyzewski, and Dean Smith, used variations of the box set offense at different points in their careers. Box allows the ball to flow into the hands of your best playmakers in sports on the floor where they will be successful.

Box Set Offense: UCLA Cut

Unlike the Box Set Isolation play, this set uses multiple actions to create good shots. This set, like the others in the Box Set Series, begins with the same alignment. This helps prevent opposing defenses from immediately recognizing the play. Having the same set up also makes scouting your team more difficult.

This box set is designed purposefully as a quick-hitter with the initial UCLA cut. If the opposing defense covers up that cut, the second action of this play creates a pick-and-roll opportunity on the strong side. It also adds a weak side stagger screen to a potential jump shot. This play is great if you want to isolate a post defender on a ball screen and/or if you have a player that is great coming off a ball screen. This play is very effective because it keeps both sides of the floor busy to really allow that ball screen to get as open of a look as possible, either on the drive or roll.

Box Set UCLA Progression

box set UCLA

This set starts with the same alignment as the Box Set Three-Pointer play, with your team’s two big men occupying the elbows. Your wing players, 2 and 3, start on the low blocks.

The play begins with both Player 2 and Player 3 popping to the wings. The point guard passes to the open wing. Depending upon the defensive coverage, Player 1 can pass to either wing. Another variation to this play could have Players 2 and 3 cut to the opposite wings from the low blocks.

The Box Set UCLA cut comes following the first pass. If Player 1 passes to Player 2, he cuts off an elbow screen from Player 4. 2 immediately looks at the cutter for this quick-hitter opportunity.

box set UCLAIf the defense covers this box set’s UCLA cut, then Player immediately moves into a ball screen on the wing for Player 2. As that’s happening on one side, Player 1 uses stagger screens on the opposite wing as well.

Player 2 can attack the lane, hit Player 4 on the roll, or look to kick the Player 1 on the weak side wing. Another layer for this could see either 3 or 5 slip the screen and cut.

This play works in either direction. All the box set offense plays can easily be flipped to either side of the court and with them all starting out of the same base look. It makes scouting your set plays that much harder.

Related: Box Set Series: Box Set Offense for Low-Post Look

Resources:

Coach Unplugged Podcast:

Ep: 897 Transition Offense and Man-to-Man Offense

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Box Set Series: Box Set Offense for Low-Post Look

Box Set Series: Box Set Offense for Low-Post Look

The Box Set offense in basketball stands out as a popular offense because it is purposefully designed to get easy buckets. This offense requires precise movement and timing, but when properly executed, the box set leads to scoring opportunities. These sets incorporate both on-ball and off-ball screens, and can be deployed against both man-to-man and zone defenses. The box set can also create solid low-post looks.

Some of the most famous coaches throughout the history of basketball, including Chuck Daly, Mike Krzyzewski, and Dean Smith, used variations of the box set offense at different points in their careers. Box allows the ball to flow into the hands of your best playmakers in sports on the floor where they will be successful.

Box Set Offense: Low-Post Look

Unlike the Box Set Isolation play, this set sports multiple actions to create good shots. Ideally, this set begins with the same alignment as other Box Set plays in your playbook. This helps prevent opposing defenses from immediately recognizing the play. Having the same set up also makes scouting your team more difficult.

This box set is designed purposefully to get an open low-post look for your best post player. If the opposing defense covers up that shot, the second action of this play creates an open look for your team’s best shooter. It’s imperative to stress the importance of cutting hard for both the post and the guard in this set.

Box Set Low-Post Progression

Box Set Low-Post

This box set play begins with the same alignment as the Box Set Three-Pointer play, with your team’s two big men occupying the elbows. Your wing players, 2 and 3, start on the low blocks.

The play starts with a series of cuts. Player 5 pops from the right elbow to the left wing and receives the initiating pass from Player 1. The point guard then cuts down to set a screen for Player 4, who curls to the top of the key. Following the screen, Player 1 cuts to the weak side wing. As this action unfolds, Player 2 cuts to the strong-side corner, and Player 3 moves from the left block to the right elbow.

The next action involves 5 reversing the ball. Player 4 receives the centering pass and reverses to Player 1 on the wing. As those passes occur, Player 3 sets a back-screen for Player 5 at the elbow. Player 5 uses that screen and cuts down the lane. Player 1 can either hit Player 5 on the cut to the basket, or once 5 establishes himself on the low-post.

box set low-postThe second action for this box set low-post play creates an opportunity for your team’s best shooter.

If Player 1 can’t get Player 5 the ball, the next movement begins. Player 3 and Player 4 set stagger screens on the weak side for Player 2. The shooter cuts up from the corner, curling along the three-point line.

In this box set, Player 1 can ball-fake to the low-post before passing to the shooter. Player 2 uses the stagger screens and receives the pass at the top of the key. He can either take that shot, or attack the lane. A hard dribble drive could draw Player 5’s defender, leaving the low-post open for a drop off pass.

Related: Box Set Series: Box Set Offense for Backdoor Lay-Up 

Resources:

Coach Unplugged Podcast

Ep: 682 5 Ways to Turn a GOOD shooter to a GREAT shooter

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Box Set Series: Box Set Offense for Three-Pointer

Box Set Series: Box Set Offense for Three-Pointer

The Box Set offense in basketball stands out as a popular offense because it is purposefully designed to get easy buckets. This offense requires precise movement and timing, but when properly executed, the box set leads to scoring opportunities. These sets incorporate both on-ball and off-ball screens, and can be deployed against both man-to-man and zone defenses. The box set can also create certain three-pointer opportunities.

Some of the most famous coaches throughout the history of basketball, including Chuck Daly, Mike Krzyzewski, and Dean Smith, used variations of the box set offense at different points in their careers. Box allows the ball to flow into the hands of your best playmakers in sports on the floor where they will be successful.

Box Set Offense: Three-Pointer

Unlike the Box Set Isolation play, this set is designed purposefully to get an open look at a three-pointer for your team’s best shooter. Ideally, this set begins with the same alignment as other Box Set plays in your playbook. This helps prevent opposing defenses from immediately recognizing the play. Having the same set up also makes scouting your team more difficult.

This box set three-pointer generates a wipe open look for your team’s best shooter when executed correctly. The most important part of this set is that the screeners must be shoulder-to-shoulder on both screens. If that happens, your shooter will be open a lot.

Box Set Three-Pointer Progression

Box Set Three-Pointer

This box set begins with your two bigs, players 4 and 5, occupying the elbows. Your two wings, players 2 and 3, start off on the low blocks.

The point guard dribbles up and the box set three-pointer play starts with player 3 popping to the wing. Player 1 passes 3 the ball and cuts to the opposite wing. As the pass takes place, 2 fills the strong-side low block vacated by 3.

Once 3 has the ball on the wing, player 5 sprints across and stands shoulder-to-shoulder with player 4 at the elbow, free throw line extended.

3 uses the double ball screen and puts pressure on the lane, with 1 spread out wide for a potential kick out. 3 can attack the basket at this point if the defense overplayed on the wing.

Box Set Three-PointerThe box set three-pointer play’s progression continues with players 4 and 5 pivoting to set a second screen.

4 and 5 stay shoulder-to-shoulder and drop to set another double screen, this time for player 2, ideally your team’s best shooter. The key to this second screen is setting it well below the three-point line to give your shooter space behind the arc.

Player 2 uses the double screen and curls up the floor. The shooter must have his hands ready to receive. This is a catch-and-shoot opportunity.

Player 3 drives toward the land, but picks up his dribble and reverses his stance. He hits player 2 coming up following the off-ball screen.

If players 4 and 5 set their screen properly, this box set should get your best shooter a wide open look at a three-pointer. Player 1 can drop for an offensive rebound opportunity. Player 3 remains high as an outlet to reset the offense if the defense covers the shot.

Related: Box Set Series: Box Set Offense for Isolation 

Resources:

Coach Unplugged Podcast

Ep: 682 5 Ways to Turn a GOOD shooter to a GREAT shooter

If you found this useful, don’t forget to check out additional blog posts at TeachHoops.com. Also, check out TeachHoops on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.

Box Set Series: Box Set Offense for Isolation

Box Set Series: Box Set Offense for Isolation

The Box Set offense in basketball remains one of the more popular offenses because it is purposefully designed to get easy buckets. This offense requires precise movement and timing, but when properly executed, the box set leads to scoring opportunities. These sets incorporate both on-ball and off-ball screens, and can be deployed against both man-to-man and zone defenses. The box set can also create certain isolation opportunities.

Some of the most famous coaches throughout the history of basketball, including Chuck Daly, Mike Krzyzewski, and Dean Smith, used variations of the box set offense at different points in their careers. Box allows the ball to flow into the hands of your best playmakers in sports on the floor where they will be successful.

Box Set Offense: Isolation

Box Set Isolation

Unlike the Box Set Backdoor play, this set is designed purposefully to get an isolation opportunity for your team’s best attacker. Ideally, this set begins with the same alignment as other Box Set plays in your playbook. This helps prevent opposing defenses from immediately recognizing the play. Having the same set up also makes scouting your team more difficult.

This is a great box set isolation play to get your best penetrator a cleared side of a court. The key to this play is the player that gets the ball for the isolation must make a quick move. We have always coached our players up to do a quick jab to the middle of the court and go towards the baseline side. If you have a left handed player, this play could easily be flipped to the other side.

Box Set Isolation Progression

This box set isolation play begins with the two bigs, players 4 and 5, on the left box and elbow. 2 and 3 complete the box set on the opposite side.

The point guard, player 1 in this figure, dribbles hard toward the left, stopping at the three-point line elbow-extended. 1 picks up his dribble and looks to pass.

As that action happens, player 3 sets a down screen for player 2, who is the team’s best isolation player. 2 uses the down screen and pops up to the three-point line on the weak side of the floor.

As 2 pops up to the top, player 5 slides down beside player 4 in order to set up a double-screen along the baseline.

This box set isolation play continues as player 2 cuts to the right wing. Box Set Isolation

After setting the down screen, 3 then cuts to the strong side corner. 3 uses the double-screen set by players 4 and 5 along the baseline to draw the defense.

1 can ball fake to the corner before finding 2 with a pass on the right wing. From there, 1 holds his position to flood the left side, leaving 2 to operate along the right with this opportunity.

The box set isolation design creates an open side of the floor for your team’s best attacker to create off the dribble. 2 should look to penetrate hard, knowing he has a drop off on the opposite block as well as an outlet in the weak side corner. As player 2 begins his drive, the point guard can float toward to right wing to provide his teammate with a safety valve.

Related: Box Set Series: Box Set Offense for Backdoor Lay-Up

Resources:

HIGH SCHOOL HOOPS Podcast


Ep: 127 A Quick Hitter and Scoring Offense

If you found this useful, don’t forget to check out additional blog posts at TeachHoops.com. Also, check out TeachHoops on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.

Box Set Series: Box Set Offense for Backdoor Lay-Up

Box Set Series: Box Set Offense for Backdoor Lay-Up

The Box Set offense in basketball remains one of the more popular offenses because it is purposefully designed to get easy buckets. This offense requires precise movement and timing, but when properly executed, the box set leads to scoring opportunities. These sets incorporate both on-ball and off-ball screens, and can be deployed against both man-to-man and zone defenses.

Some of the most famous coaches throughout the history of basketball, including Chuck Daly, Mike Krzyzewski, and Dean Smith, used variations of the box set offense at different points in their careers. Box allows the ball to flow into the hands of your best playmakers in sports on the floor where they will be successful.

Box Set Offense: Backdoor Lay-Up

This play out of the box set offense is designed purposefully to create a quick and east backdoor lay-up opportunity. When facing a man-to-man defense, this set can be used once or twice a game, depending upon how disciplined the opposing defense is. The key to running this play is misdirection.

Box Set Offense Box 1

This box set offensive play begins with the two bigs, 4 and 5, on the left box and elbow. 2 and 3 complete the box set on the opposite side.

The point guard initiates the play with a hard dribble drive toward the left elbow. As he makes that move, 4 slides down to create a double screen for 3, who races to the string-side corner. As 3 makes his cut, he yells “Ball!”

While this action takes place, 2 steps back to the three-point line. 1 picks up his dribble and does a ball fake to the corner. With all eyes and flow heading toward the left, 2 executes a backdoor cut at that point. 1 hits 2 with a bounce pass as he cuts down the lane.

Box Set Offense Progression

Box Set Offense Box 1If 2’s cut gets covered up by the defense, the progression out of this box set offense remains simple.

First, 2 must clear to the right side corner. Then, 4 sets a screen for 5, who curls into the lane. If neither of those players is open on their cuts, 3 must sprint up from the left corner to take a handoff from 1.

This variation allows the offense to flow into another set if need be, or create a scramble situation if 3 can attack an open lane.

The box set offense stands out as an adaptable set for almost any team. These plays can be quick-hitters, or designed to generate open three-point looks.

One of the benefits of using the box set offense can make scouting difficult for opposing teams. Using the same starting look with the set keeps the defense from immediately knowing the progression of the play, even if they’ve scouted well. Check back for more on the box set series.

Related: Box Set Series: Box Set UCLA Cut

Resources:

HIGH SCHOOL HOOPS Podcast


Ep: 127 A Quick Hitter and Scoring Offense

If you found this useful, don’t forget to check out additional blog posts at TeachHoops.com. Also, check out TeachHoops on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and YouTube.

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3 Ways to Maximize Your Time (As a Coach and Player)

3 Ways to Maximize Your Time (As a Coach and Player)

To maximize your time means to be as efficient as possible with a given task. For coaches, this often results in hours of prep time practicing planning. That time provides coaches with the opportunity to organize their thoughts and approaches. There are ways to simplify practice planning, but what if you’re a player? Maximizing your time as a player is just as important.

Maximize Your Time: Stretch Yourself

The idea here goes beyond the physical. Of course, athletes need to stretch to prepare and prevent injury. Muscles require this sort of physical manipulation in order to perform at their peak. Stretching also helps athletes gain more from their muscles in terms of ability and reach.

But it’s important to remember the concept of stretching yourself goes beyond the physical. Our brains are muscles, and they need stretching too. During down moments, how do you maximize your time? Coaches and players, really everyone, should look to learn new skills and appreciate new ideas as often as possible.

Being an athlete or a coach shouldn’t mean you’re consuming only sports-related content. Stretch beyond the limits of your sport to other realms. NBA coaches often turn to business gurus for advice on team building. Coaches seek bonding events and different ways to create connections for their players. And many of those ideas often comes after looking to places other than the gym.

Stretch yourself as often as possible, being a lifelong learner.

Maximize Your Time: Drop Comparisons

Comparing yourself to others can often be a rollercoaster ride. As coaches, we can’t help but look at the teams on our schedules and immediately stack our team right beside those. While it’s valuable to assess our team, to do so through the lens of another team can often be harmful. In the same way that people should avoid constantly comparing themselves to those around them, coaches need to focus on developing the team they have, and not necessarily the team they want.

Coaches can’t worry about what other teams are doing during the summer, or how their rivals are preparing for the season. You should evaluate your squad, and seek to develop practice approaches to improve your players. Constantly comparing your team, or yourself, to another can be an exercise in futility.

Drop comparisons with others because you’re not that team, or you’re not that coach. Focus on yourself, your team, and how to make things better. Coaches can look for way to improve focus and fun at practice and might immediately see dividends being paid.

Maximize Your Time: Be Okay with Making Mistakes

Teachers often assign homework to their students in order to gauge the understanding of a given lesson. Coaches practice similar habits following games and fold this information into the next day’s practice plan. None of us are perfect, so we should understand that we’re going to make mistakes from time to time. It’s important to accept that reality so we can see these moments as learning opportunities instead of abject failures.

It’s okay to make mistakes, as long as you’re learning from them. By learning from your mistakes, you can avoid making the same ones in the future. You’re growing as a coach, as a person. For the players, making mistakes is part of the game. There’s literally a column for it on the stat sheet: turnovers. Players should push themselves to hone new skills in individual workouts. Understand that it won’t be perfect, especially not at the start.

Coach Collins says when his team is working on two ball drills, “if the ball isn’t bouncing all over the gym, you’re not pushing yourself.”

Steve Nash famously said: “I am uncomfortable being comfortable.” NBA trainer Tim Groover said something similar:

“Bottom line–if you want success of any kind; you have to be comfortable being uncomfortable.”

Understanding and accepting that you’re going to make mistakes, as a player and as a coach, will help maximize your time. This is an important part of the growth process. Coaches can help prepare their teams to learn from their mistakes by teaching situational basketball.

 

Related: 3 Key Basketball Intangibles for Young Players to Develop

 

Coach Unplugged Podcast

Ep: 461 Three Ways to Maximize your Time as a Player or Coach

 

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Developing Focus and Fun at Basketball Practice

Developing Focus and Fun at Basketball Practice

In my coaching education workshops, I always asked coaches if they thought sports should be a fun experience for their players. Should there be fun at basketball practice? Of course, everyone said yes. So then I would make them the following offer: “If you can give me an adequate definition of ‘fun,’ I’ll sign off on your certification right now and you can leave six hours earlier than everyone else.” I made that offer for almost 15 years running and there were no winners.

Focus & Fun at Basketball Practice

Since the majority of your athletes’ time is spent in practices, it is vital that practice time be a fun, enjoyable experience. If it’s not, it’s not going to be effective. Unfortunately, some coaches feel that, because learning sports skills require discipline and focus, it’s incompatible with fun. But focus and fun are not incompatible at all.

In fact, focus is necessary for fun to occur! Just think of some of the fun experiences you’ve had in your life. You probably remember them very clearly. And that’s because you were very focused on what you were doing, who you were with, and what your surroundings were like.

It’s the same with sports. Sports are fun when three things are happening:

  • Kids are deeply involved in what they are doing
  • They feel closely connected to their “mates” (e.g., teammates, coaches, parents)
  • Kids feel like they are performing to the best of their ability

All three of these items require focus on the part of the athlete. And, as a coach, you can make all of these things happen in your practices and your games. There are ways to maximize your time as a coach. Here are some suggestions.

Developing Focus and Fun

Encourage your players to participate with all their senses.

For example, if you’re outside on a beautiful summer day, take a deep breath, pound your chest and say, “Don’t you just love the way the grass smells on a day like this?” If you’re poolside, you could say: “I love the ‘swoosh’ sound you guys make as you glide through the water. It’s better than therapy!”

Help your players to get to know each other better.

When everyone is pulling for each other, even the hardest drills become more enjoyable.

Focus on skill development.

Improved skills lead to feelings of competence, satisfaction, and accomplishment. These feelings, in turn, create enjoyment and fun at basketball practice.

Provide realistic challenges.

Kids learn and grow through a progressive series of challenges that are appropriate for their skill level and development.

Emphasize personal successes.

Playing well, or the feeling that a person has played well, is an essential part of the fun in sport.

Keep winning in perspective.

Being on the winning side is less important than striving to win. By striving to win, your players learn to concentrate, try hard, and be the best they can be.

Look for ways to energize kids and jazz up your practices.

Be creative. Cal Ripken saw a mannequin in a ski lodge and got the idea to use old mannequins to help kids learn to hit the cutoff man in the infield grass while practicing throws from right field. Just imagine how entertaining (and educational) it was when someone hit the mannequin in the wrong spot.

Other ways to incorporate fun into your practices might include ending a week as ”crazy socks day,” and doing fun, teamwork-oriented drills like “follow the leader.” Don’t think that just because your coach always made you run laps, you have to do the same thing to your players!


Dr. George Selleck, Stanford University Basketball Hall of Famer, Founder of Lead2Play, and author of Kian and Me: Gifts from a Grandson.

A former Hall of Fame athlete and coach, Dr. Selleck—a retired psychologist, organizational and management consultant, and sports education specialist—is the founder and director of Lead2Play, a comprehensive program that encourages youth participation in sports while promoting healthy living and the development of key life skills, such as organization, management, and team-building.

Dr. Selleck was inducted into the Stanford University Basketball Hall of Fame, the Pac-12 Hall of Honor, and named one of the “100 Most Influential Sports Educators in America” by the Institute for International Sports at the University of Rhode Island.

 

Related: 3 Practical Steps to Create Connections

 

 

 

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Basketball Team Building: 3 Practical Steps to Create Connections

Basketball Team Building: 3 Practical Steps to Create Connections

Incorporating team building exercises into practice has been one of the most impactful things I have done as a coach! My mission when coaching is to create an environment where everyone feels safe, valued, has a voice, and experiences joy every day! Coaches should strive to incorporate focus and fun into their basketball practices.

If you want to learn more about basketball specific principles and drills to create a championship culture, please check out my book, “Help Them Up” on Amazon.

The below exercises can be used for all team sports!

3 Practical Steps for Team Building

Question of the Day

Every day at the start of practice, we circle up. I ask if anyone has anything they want to share with the group. I have also used this time to praise someone for a good teammate moment I observed them do, had the team sing happy birthday to a team member, etc. Then, I share a question of the day or ask the team to think of one.

Everyone gets into groups of two or three and during a warmup lap and they ask each other the question. I ask them to pick a different teammate every day, so they get a chance to connect with everyone. They jog back to the circle, and I ask if anyone wants to share something they learned.

The team always enjoys learning about teammates. I have seen friendships develop through this exercise because they find commonalities about each other they previously didn’t know about.

A few examples: 
  • What is your favorite topic to talk about and why?
  • What do you like to do on the weekends?
  • Do you have any pets? If so, how many and what are their names? (With my team, they love talking about their pets!)
  • What is a goal you have for today’s practice and is there anything I can do to help you with it?
  • What are you grateful for?

Dynamic Warm-Up

A few years ago, I attended a UConn Women’s basketball practice. It was incredible! They were in complete unison when executing their dynamic warm-up. Since that day, I have been very intentional with warming-up as a team which prevents side conversations, shows unity, and creates elite level communication!

I have my team line up on the sideline and they do the exercises to the opposite sideline. I select someone to be the leader of the day or ask for a volunteer who then energetically yells out the exercises. The team then responds in a loud and energetic tone the name of the exercise. Then the leader yells, “go” and the team, while in unison, travel across the court trying to stay synchronized with all teammates.

For example, the leader will yell, “high knees” and then the team yells, “high knees” followed by the leader yelling, “Go”. We proceed with exercises like defensive slides, skips, lunges, jog, back pedal, etc.

I love to make this player led and have them take accountability over their team.

Accountability Circle 

A few years ago, I attended a USA Basketball youth development clinic. I was amazed by Coach Joe Mantegna at Blair Academy (New Jersey) and his presentation on building a culture. He shared this concept which happens at the end of practice for 5-10 minutes and after games.

We meet in a circle so everyone can make eye contact with each other. You can choose to have players put their arms around each other to stay connected.

When first introducing and teaching the team this exercise, I shared, “This is a safe space, and everyone needs to be respectful of one another. We will invest time everyday doing this because it will help us all grow as individuals and as a team. We are not stating things about any specific person, rather their actions and words that we witnessed that specific day. For the first few weeks we will only say positive things about each other and then if we do a good job, we will allow everyone to share feedback that may be tough to hear but said with the intent to help us improve.”

However, the coaches can interrupt if someone shares something unkind or not helpful to the team. The coach can explain why what was said was not helpful and why.  It works best when the coaches don’t speak first and allow for some silence so teammates can use their voice to build up teammates. This exercise was key to our team building. It single handedly elevated my team’s culture and use it consistently.

 


Dan Horwitz

Author of HELP THEM UP” 
Leadership Development, Culture & Team Building Consultant
Basketball Coach/Trainer
Website: DanHorwitz.com
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Related: Basketball Team Building: Developing a Positive Culture

 

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3 Key Basketball Intangibles for Young Players to Develop

3 Key Basketball Intangibles for Young Players to Develop

One of the many challenges as I have faced as a coach who has coached at lower levels is keying on the skills younger players need to develop over the summer. The “Dog Days of Summer” bring family vacations, traveling baseball and players expanding their game through AAU teams and individual workouts with personal trainers. In today’s coaching world, it’s important to encourage our players to participate in these activities. But developing the mental skills for our younger players preparing for the varsity level is crucial. This article will focus on 3 basketball intangibles you want to key in on as a coach to help your players prepare for their next season at the lower level, and prepare for the grind of the season.

Basketball Intangibles

1. Being Coachable

This is the most overused phrase in coach’s vocabulary but it is one of the most important traits for my players to have when the season rolls around in November. As coaches, we have all been at the summer league game where two fouls are called all game or the ref leisurely gets across half-court because they have worked several games in a row. The importance of these games goes beyond a few bad calls or getting into the gold bracket.

Don’t get me wrong, success in these games is important, but summer brings a unique opportunity for us as coaches to teach our players what it means to be coachable. The most important key as coaches in a summer league atmosphere is to teach our players through mistakes. In addition, to help them understand how to be responsive to constructive criticism.

It is imperative to talk, respond, and give our players positive feedback to enhance their skills physically. Also, to build rapport and install the understanding that being coachable is a win for our team, themselves, and for their teammates. Rewarding coachability in the summertime builds better relationships, will get you the most out of your players, and build a culture that creates accountability and understanding.

2. Accountability

Building accountability within your players is a necessary skill for the most successful teams. As I alluded to previously, guys have a lot going on in the summer. One of the more frustrating challenges as a coach is having different guys every weekend or having 6 guys for a whole weekend. We understand as adults, that life happens, families travel and kids need to be kids.

As a player and young coach, I have found that players become very frustrated when their teammates are no shows without communication. I tell my guys that your how successful you are in the season is how hard you work when no one is in the gym. This principle applies to showing up and being accountable as a player. I tell my guys I am a reasonable person and my family traveled a lot when I was a kid too. But the idea of not showing up without notice or communication is a slap to the face to your teammates who come to work every day.

Hey, I know if I didn’t show up teach my class without calling in or communication I would be in hot water. So this is a quality to teach your players for success on the court and success off the court later down the road. But, holding players accountable cannot just be on you, it is our job as coaches to teach and develop our players into leaders. Inspire your players to hold each other accountable to show up and work.

3. Communication

Teaching communication comes from multiple angles in the summertime. The most important key of teaching communication is teaching communication on the court. The most successful programs teach communication. Summer league can be frustrating because of the factors discussed above. But it is important as the leader to facilitate and stress the importance of on-court communication despite the unusual circumstances of summer basketball. Good teams communicate, and that is essential to tell your guys. Demand that they talk through on screens on defense, pick each other up on the bench, and communicate with you during the game.

The second angle of communication that is necessary to focus on is player-to coach communication. Educators and coaches know the importance of positive relationships in motivating players to get the job done. Relationships cannot just be a 6-month season but rather a 365-day commitment by us as leaders.

Don’t be the coach that needs to be the “LaVar Ball” of the gym. Be tough on your players, but understand the situation. Summertime is supposed to be a time for players to refine their skills, build rapport and develop confidence.

Focus on Developing Basketball Intangibles in Young Players

Not every player is going to be able to develop an opposite-hand or a floater. They might not add 25 pounds to their frame in the off-season. Something I learned as a coach is to have systems in place for the summer to develop these physical skills. However, we also need to focus on developing young players’ intangibles. The mental development is just as important as the physical skills developed in the off-season. The teams that work on and develop communication skills, accountability, and coachability in the summer find ways to win on the last shot, dive on loose balls, take charges and are willing to go the extra mile to win basketball games when it matters.


Brett Pickarts <pickartsbrett@gmail.com> / @Coach_Pickarts

 

Related: Youth Basketball: Reducing Turnovers with Gold

 

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401 Inspirational Basketball Quotes To Motivate Your Team

401 Inspirational Basketball Quotes To Motivate Your Team

Are you looking for basketball quotes for you team to motivate them on and off the court?  I have done the work for you. I think that what makes these quote unique is that they are basketball quotes for girls and boys.

John Wooden Basketball Quotes

My philosophy of defense is to keep the pressure on an opponent until you get to his emotions – John Wooden
  • 1. Be on time. 2. Never criticize a teammate. 3. Never use profanity.
  • You’d like to see your team reasonably happy, but that’s not your job. Gain their respect and get them to accept their roles.
  • I do not judge success based on championships; rather, I judge it on how close we came to realizing our potential.
  • When the legs go, the heart soon follows.
  • Young men need more models, not critics.
  • You’d like to see your team reasonably happy, but that’s not your job. Gain their respect and get them to accept their roles.
  • I do not judge success based on championships; rather, I judge it on how close we came to realizing our potential.
  • My philosophy of defense is to keep the pressure on an opponent until you get to his emotions.

Winning Basketball Quotes

Instead of wanting to win, we expected to win. There’s a lifetime between wanting something and expecting something. When you expect something, it means you’ve prepared, done the work, and EXPECT TO WIN!! – Red McCombs, Minnesota Vikings Owner
  • Don’t think about winning. Think about dominating! – Pierre Pryor
  • The reason most people never reach their goals is that they don’t define them, or ever seriously consider them as believable or achievable. Winners can tell you where they are going, what they plan to do along the way, and who will be sharing the adventure with them. – Denis Watley
Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is. – Vince Lombardi
  • The superior man blames himself. An inferior man blames others. – Don Shula, Former Miami Dolphins coach
  • The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will. – Vince Lombardi
  • It is better to be boldly decisive and risk being wrong than to agonize at length be be right too late. – Marilyn Moats Kennedy
  • Men who try to do something and fail are infinitely better than those who try to do nothing and succeed. – L. Jones
  • The true champion loses many battles before winning the war. – Unknown
  • The greatest match a man can win is won within. – Unknown

Attitude

I can take anyone down at anytime; they can’t take me down; no one can ride or turn me; I can control anyone. – Dan Gable
  • When we trust God, He can make the ordinary extraordinary! – John C. Maxwell
  • The greatest revolution of our generation is the discovery that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives. – William James
  • Change your thoughts and you change your world. – Norman Vincent Peale
  • Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it. – Lou Holtz
  • Look at everything as though you were seeing it either for the first time or last time. Then your time on earth will be filled with glory. – Betty Smith
Winning is a habit, but unfortunately so is losing. – Vince Lombardi
  • A great many people seem to end up over the hill without ever having actually climbed it!- Unknown
  • Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm. – Ralph W. Emerson
  • Our attitude is the primary force that will determine whether we succeed or fail. – John C. Maxwell
  • “I can’t do it” never yet accomplished anything; “I will try” has performed wonders. – George P. Burnham
  • Ability is important, dependability is critical! – Alexander Lockheart
  • The wise does at once what the fool does at last. – Gracian Baltasar
  • Some people who yearn for endless life don’t even know what to do with a rainy afternoon. – Harvey H. Potthoff
  • To avoid criticism do nothing…say nothing…be nothing! – Elbert Hubbard
  • Life is 10 percent what you make it and 90 percent how you take it. – Irving Berlin
  • The roads we take are more important than the goals we announce. Decisions determine destiny. – Frederick Speakman
Yes, it’s true: We can’t control the wind or the rain or the other vagaries of weather. But we can tack our sails such that we can steer the course we desire. – Unknown
  • He is rich or poor according to what he is, not according to what he has. – Henry Ward Beecher
  • Common sense is the knack of seeing things as they are, and doing things as they ought to be done. – Josh Billings
  • Four things come not back: the spoken word, the spent arrow, the past, the neglected opportunity. – Omar Idn Al-Halif
  • Habit is habit, and not to be flung out of the window, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time. – Mark Twain
  • The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.- Albert Einstein
  • Maturity is the capacity to endure uncertainty. – John Huston Finley
  • I’ve always felt it was not up to anyone else to make me give my best. – Akeem Olajuwon
  • She didn’t know it couldn’t be done, so she went ahead and did it. – Mary’s Almanac
  • The only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible. – Arthur C. Clarke
  • You’ve got to think about big things while you’re doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction. – Alvin Toffler
  • Empty pockets never held anyone back. Only empty heads and empty hearts can do that. – Norman Vincent Peale
  • A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent in doing nothing. – George Bernard Shaw
  • Whenever you’re in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude. – Timothy Bentley
It’s not your blue blood, your pedigree or your college degree. It’s what you do with your life that counts. – Millard Fuller
  • No one knows what he can do until he tries. – Unknown
  • Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are. – Marianne Williamson
  • To help me stay positively charged I will practice maintaining a positive attitude each day. – Unknown
  • There are two ways of spreading light – to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it. – Edith Wharton
  • When you do not know what you are doing and what you are doing is the best – that is inspiration. – Robert Bresson
  • He that will not sail till all dangers are over must never put to sea. – Thomas Fuller
  • Life’s battles don’t always go to the stronger or faster man; but sooner or later the man who wins is the man who thinks he can. – Vince Lombardi

Adversity

Adversity weakens the weak and strengthens the strong. – Unknown
  • If it weren’t for the dark days, we wouldn’t know what it is to walk in the light. – Earl Campbell, former NFL fullback
  • Life’s blows cannot break a person whose spirit is warmed at the fire of enthusiasm. – Norman Vincent Peale
  • That which does not kill us, makes us stronger. – Unknown
  • Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors. – African Proverb
  • Tough times don’t last, but tough people do. – Unknown
  • It is a rough road that leads to heights of greatness. – Seneca
  • In order to discover new lands, one must be willing to lose sight of the shore for a very long time. – Anonymous
  • We all face a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations. – Unknown
  • Close scrutiny will show that most crisis situations are opportunities to either advance, or stay where you are. – Maxwell Maltz
  • I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish that He didn’t trust me so much. – Mother Teresa
  • Over every mountain there is a path, although it may not be seen from the valley. – James Rogers
  • The Difficult is that which can be done immediately; the Impossible that which takes a little longer. – George Santayana
  • Much of the best work of the world has been done against seeming impossibilities. – Dale Carnegie
  • The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain. – Unknown
  • Triumphs without difficulties are empty. Indeed, it is difficulties that make the triumph. It is no feat to travel the smooth road. – Unknown
  • Determination gives you the resolve to keep going in spite of the roadblocks that lay before you. – Denis Waitley
Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it. – Michael Jordan
  • If I’d known how many problems I was going to run into before I finished, I can’t remember a single project I would have started. – Andy Rooney
  • A desire can overcome all objections and obstacles. – Gunderson
  • Undertake something that is difficult; it will do you good. Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow. – Ronald E. Osborn
  • Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you; they’re supposed to help you discover who you are. – Bernice Johnson Reason
  • Little minds are tamed and subdued by misfortune; but great minds rise above it. – Washington Irving
  • Real difficulties can be overcome; it is only the imaginary ones that are unconquerable. – Theodore N. Vail
  • No matter how difficult the challenge, when we spread our wings of faith and allow the winds of God’s spirit to lift us, no obstacle is too great to overcome. – Roy Lessin
  • Stand up to your obstacles and do something about them. You will find that they haven’t half the strength you think they have. – Norman Vincent Peale
  • Every adversity carries with it the seeds of a greater benefit! – Napoleon Hill

Character

Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits, they become your character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny. – Unknown
  • Be more concerned with your character than your reputation. – John Wooden
  • The real measure of a man’s worth is how much he would be worth if he lost all his money. – Harold J. Smith
  • It may be all right to be content with what you have; never with what you are. – C. Forbes
  • A person’s true character is revealed by what he does when no one is watching.- Unknown
  • Reputation is made in a moment; character is built in a lifetime. – Unknown
  • Good intentions are not good enough… ultimately we are measured by our actions. – Unknown
  • Language is the expression of thought. Every time you speak your mind is on parade. – Unknown
  • Your words are windows to your heart. – Unknown
The true measure of a man is not how he behaves in moments of comfort and convenience but how he stands at times of controversy and challenges. – Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Ignorance is always swift to speak. – Unknown
  • Although the tongue weighs very little, few people are able to hold it. – Unknown
  • Character isn’t inherited. One builds it daily by the way one thinks and acts, thought by thought, action by action. – Helen Gahagan Douglas
  • Your temper is like a fire. It gets very destructive when it gets out of control. – Unknown
  • How a man plays the game shows something of his character; how he loses shows all of it. – Frosty Westering
  • Dollars have never been known to produced character, and character will never be produced by money. – W. K.Kellogg
  • Sports do not build character; they reveal it. – Unknown
  • A man of character does not expect to be liked by everyone, nor does he worry about being liked by anyone. – William A. Welker
  • What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do. – Henry Ford

Coaching

What you tolerate you encourage. – Unknown
  • Hire the best people and then delegate. – Carol A. Taber
  • A coach’s job is to see the team not as it is, but as it can become. – Unknown
  • The fullness or emptiness of life will be measured by the extent to which a man feels that he has an impact on the lives of others. – Kingman Brewster
  • It’s not what you tell your players that counts. It’s what they hear. – Red Auerbach
  • Success … has nothing to do with what you gain or accomplish for yourself. It’s what you do for others. – Danny Thomas
  • Mama wanted me to be a preacher. I told her coachin’ and preachin’ were a lot alike. – Paul “Bear” Bryant
  • The standard of excellence on any job site is defined by the sloppiest piece of work you will accept. -F. Jones
But it’s still a coach’s game. Make no mistake. You start at the top. If you don’t have a good one at the top, you don’t have a cut dog’s chance. If you do, the rest falls into place. You have to have good assistants, and a lot of things, but first you have to have the chairman of the board. – Paul “Bear” Bryant
  • Always have a plan and believe in it. I tell my coaches not to compromise. Nothing good happens by accident. There must be a plan for everything and the plan will prevent you from overlooking little things. By having that plan, you’ll be secure and self-doubts will never become a factor. – Chuck Knox
  • Effective coaches live in the present, but concentrate on the future. – Unknown
  • I would rather be known for coaching great men then coaching great wrestlers – Howard Fergusson
  • You have the greatest chance of winning when your first commitment is to a total and enthusiastic involvement in the game itself. Enthusiasm is what matters most. – John Brodie
  • There are no little things. – Bruce Barton
  • We make a living by what we get. But we make a life by what we give. – Winston Churchill
  • Some coaches are so busy learning the tricks of the trade that they never learn the trade. – Pete Emelianchik
  • You can accomplish anything in life provided you do not mind who gets the credit. – Harry S. Truman
As teachers and coaches, we must remember that when mere winning is our only goal, we are doomed to disappointment and failure. But when our goal is to try to win, when our focus is on preparation and sacrifice and effort instead of on numbers on a scoreboard then we will never lose. – Mike Krzyzewski, Duke University basketball coach
  • To a group of wrestling coaches: Promote your sport or lose it! – Bobby Douglas, Iowa State University
  • People matter more than winning and courage matters more than skill. – Michael J. Gray
  • One of my goals is to have NO wrestler go undefeated. – Jeff Buxton, Blair Academy
  • The most important statistic for a wrestling coach isn’t how many dual meets the team won nor the number of state champs they produced. It’s the number of wrestlers they had in the room on the last day of practice. – Greg DeMarco
Yelling doesn’t win ball games. It doesn’t put any points on the scoreboard. And I don’t think words win ball games all the time. Players do. Preparation does. – Jerry Tarkanian
  • Little things make the difference. Everyone is well prepared in the big things, but only the winners perfect the little things. – Paul “Bear” Bryant
  • If you want to coach you have three rules to follow to win. One, surround yourself with people who can’t live without football. I’ve had a lot of them. Two, be able to recognize winners. They come in all forms. And, three, have a plan for everything. A plan for practice, a plan for the game. A plan for being ahead and a plan for being behind 20-0 at half, with your quarterback hurt and the phones dead. With it raining cats and dogs and no rain gear because the equipment man left it at home. – Paul “Bear” Bryant
Don’t overwork your squad. If you’re going to make a mistake, under-work them. – Paul “Bear” Bryant
  • If there is one thing that has helped me as a coach, it’s my ability to recognize winners, or good people who can become winners by paying the price. – Paul “Bear” Bryant
  • Children have more need of models than critics. – Carolyn Coats
  • Greatest gift you can give another is the purity of your attention. – Richard Moss, M.D.
  • The happiest people are those who have harvested their time in others. The unhappiest people are those who wonder how the world is going to make them happy. – John C. Maxwell
Winning is the science of being totally prepared.- George Allen
  • Find your own picture, your own self in anything that goes bad. It’s awfully easy to mouth off at your staff or chew out players, but if it’s bad, and your the head coach, you’re responsible. If we have an intercepted pass, I threw it. I’m the head coach. If we get a punt blocked, I caused it. A bad practice, a bad game, it’s up to the head coach to assume his responsibility. – Paul “Bear” Bryant
  • The old lessons (work, self-discipline, sacrifice, teamwork, fighting to achieve) aren’t being taught by many people other than football coaches these days. A football coach has a captive audience and can teach these lessons because the communication lines between himself and his players are more wide open than between kids and parents. We better teach these lessons or else the country’s future population will be made up of a majority of crooks, drug addicts, or people on relief. – Paul “Bear” Bryant
If anything goes bad, I did it. Anything goes semi-good, we did it. If anything goes really good, then you did it. That’s all it takes to get people to win football games for you. – Paul “Bear” Bryan
  • You have to learn what makes this or that Sammy run. For one it’s a pat on the back, for another it’s eating him out, for still another it’s a fatherly talk, or something else. You’re a fool if you think as I did as a young coach, that you can treat them all alike. – Paul “Bear” Bryant
  • I’m no innovator. If anything I’m a stealer, or borrower. I’ve stolen or borrowed from more people than you can shake a stick at. – Paul “Bear” Bryant
  • If you whoop and holler all the time, the players just get used to it. – Paul “Bear” Bryant
  • Praise in public, criticize in private. – Unknown
Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs. – Henry Ford
  • Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day. -Unknown
  • After eating an entire bull, a mountain lion felt so good he started roaring. He kept it up until a hunter came along and shot him. The moral? When you’re full of bull, keep your mouth shut. – Will Rogers
  • Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment. – Will Rogers
  • It is a fine thing to have ability, but the ability to discover ability in others is the true test. – Elbert Hubbard
  • There are three kinds of men: The ones that learn by reading, the few who learn by observation and the rest of them who have to pee on the electric fence for themselves. – Will Rogers
  • What you tolerate you encourage – Unknown
  • Some days you’re the bug; some days you’re the windshield. – Unknown

Discipline

Concentrate on each task, whether trivial or crucial, as if it’s the only thing that matters. – Mark H. McCormack
  • Show me a man who cannot bother to do little things and I’ll show you a man who cannot be trusted to do big things. – Lawrence D. Bell
  • Nothing is more harmful to the service than the neglect of discipline; for discipline, more than numbers, gives one army superiority over another. – George Washington
  • When I’d get tired and want to stop, I’d wonder what my next opponent was doing. I’d wonder if he was still working out. Then I tried to visualize him. When I could see him still working, I’d start pushing myself. When I could see him in the shower, I’d push myself harder. – Dan Gable
  • Bad habits are like a good bed; easy to get into but difficult to get out of. – Unknown
  • If you doubt you can accomplish something, then you can’t accomplish it. You have to have confidence in your ability, and then be tough enough to follow through. – Rosalyn Carter
  • Without self-discipline, success is impossible, period. – Lou Holtz
  • A closed mouth gathers no foot. – Unknown

Competition

Nobody who ever gave their best effort regretted it. – George Halas
  • Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat. – Theodore Roosevelt
  • It’s not important whom you wrestle; your biggest opponent wears your uniform. You must overcome your own short comings. – Mitch Clark
  • When I go out there, I like to mark out that area of the mat and own it. I want to dominate and I want to humiliate. I want to show that guy and everyone in the gym that I am the best. “Abuse” doesn’t sound right, but that’s it. – Peter Yozzo, Lehigh University
  • Anybody can win the matches you can dominate, but it’s the tough matches that are going to make the difference. -Jim Zalesky

Drill

Repeated actions are stored as habits. If the repeated actions aren’t fundamentally sound, then what comes out in a game can’t be sound. What comes out will be bad habits. – Chuck Knox
  • If you haven’t got the time to do it right, when will you have the time to do it over? – Jeffrey J. Mayer
  • Thoughts, positive or negative, grow stronger when fertilized with constant repetition. – Unknown
  • You can drill and waste your time or you can drill and get better. Either way we will drill! – Unknown
  • It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen. – Claude M. Bristol

Education

The biggest thing that I felt basketball could do for me was help me get a good education. – Julius Erving
  • If I went back to college again, I’d concentrate on learning to write and to speak before an audience. Nothing is more important than the ability to communicate effectively. – Gerald R. Ford
  • Even in the dictionary, academics come before athletics. – William A. Welker
  • I will study and prepare myself . . . and someday my chance will come. – Abraham Lincoln
  • Apply yourself. Get all the education you can, but then, by God, do something. Don’t just stand there, make something happen. – Lee Iacocca
  • Generally speaking, you aren’t learning much when your lips are moving. – Unknown

Goals

If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else. – David Campbell
  • More men fail through lack of purpose than lack of talent. – Billy Sunday
  • Set goals – high goals for you and your organization. When your organization has a goal to shoot for, you create teamwork, people working for a common good. – Paul “Bear” Bryant
  • The poorest man is not without a cent, but without a dream. – Unknown
  • Remember a goal isn’t a goal until it is in writing, until then it’s a dream and everyone has dreams. – Unknown
  • Setting goals for your game is an art. The trick is in setting them at the right level neither too low nor too high. -Gleg Norman
  • The achievement of your goal is assured the moment you commit yourself to it. – Mack R. Douglas
All our dreams can come true – if we have the courage to pursue them. – Walt Disney
  • You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the other shore. – Unknown
  • The secret of unleashing your true power is setting goals that are exciting enough to inspire your creativity and ignite your passion. – Anthony Robbins
  • High achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation. – Jack Kinder
  • An obstacle is what you see when you take your eyes off the goal. – Unknown

Hard Work

Most men stop when they begin to tire. Good men go until they think they are going to collapse. But the very best know the mind tires before the body, and push themselves further and further, beyond all limits. Only when their limits are shattered can the attainable be reached. – Mark Mysnyk
  • I don’t choose to be a common man. I want to be better tomorrow than today. And through a commitment to work and discipline, but mostly hard work. I’ll be a little more content, and a little different from the average guy. – J. Robinson
  • Vision without action is a daydream; action without vision is a nightmare. – Japanese proverb
  • If you don’t invest much of yourself, then defeat doesn’t hurt very much and winning isn’t very exciting. – Dick Vermeil
  • Hard work is the best remedy for all of life’s trials. – Unknown
  • The harder you work, the harder it is to lose. – Unknown
  • Time will come when winter will ask what you were doing all summer. – Henry Clay, American Statesman
  • Think like a man of action, act like a man of thought. – Henri Louis Bergson
Before I’d get in the ring, I’d have already won or lost it on the road. The real part is won or lost somewhere far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights. – Muhammad Ali
  • It’s not the will to win that matters – everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters. – Paul “Bear” Bryant
  • I am a great believer in luck, The harder I work, the more of it I seem to have. – Coleman Cox
  • What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus. – Alexander Graham Bell
  • There is no great achievement that is not the result of patient working and – J. G. Holland
  • Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do. – Goethe
  • Ideas without action are worthless. – Harvey Mackay

Leadership

Leadership, like coaching, is fighting for the hearts and souls of men and getting them to believe in you. – Eddie Robinson
  • Leaders are like eagles… they don’t flock. You’ll find them one at a time. – Knute Rockne
  • A prime function of a leader is to keep hope alive. – John W. Gardner
  • The leader demonstrates confidence that the challenge can be met, the need resolved, crisis overcome. – John Haggai
  • The capacity to develop and improve their skills distinguishes leaders from their followers. – Warren Bennis
  • It is more than willingness to change that sets the true leaders apart. Seeking out change and wringing every bit of potential out of it that takes you to the next horizon. – Ty Boyd
  • Leadership is the ability to get men to do what they don’t want to do and like doing it. – Harry Truman
  • The most valuable gift you can give another is a good example. – Unknown
  • A big man is one who makes us feel bigger when we are with him. – John C. Maxwell
The higher you want to climb, the more you need leadership. The greater the impact you want to make, the greater your influence needs to be. Whatever you will accomplish is restricted by your ability to lead others. – John C. Maxwell
  • Personnel determines the potential of the team. Vision determines the direction of the team. Work ethic determines the preparation of the team. Leadership determines the success of the team. – John C. Maxwell
  • A man who wants to lead an orchestra must turn his back to the crowd. – Max Lucado
  • There are no office hours for leaders. – Cardinal J. Gibbons
  • It is truly said: It does not take much strength to do things, but it requires great strength to decide what to do. – Chow Ching
  • It is the men behind who make the man ahead. – Merle Crowell
  • Leadership is practiced not so much in words as in attitude and in actions. – Harold S. Geneen
  • If you’re riding ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it’s still there – Will Rogers

Losing

The things which hurt, instruct. – Ben Franklin
  • How a man plays the game shows something of his character; how he loses shows all of it. – Frosty Westering
  • There is always another chance… This thing called ‘failure’ is not falling down, but staying down. – Mary Pickford
  • It’s not whether you get knocked down. It’s whether you get up again. – Vince Lombardi
  • If you can’t make a mistake, you can’t make anything. – Marva Collins
  • Failure is a far better teacher than success. – Unknown
  • Nobody makes a greater mistake than he who does nothing because he could only do a little. – Edmund Burke
If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something. – Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed it. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeeded. – Michael Jordan
  • If I could have one hope for our young people as they go out into the world, it would be this: I hope they fail. I hope they fail at something that is important to them, for failure, like nothing else, is able to stimulate the right kind of person to that extra action that always makes all the difference. – Lyman Fertig
When things go wrong, don’t go wrong with them. – Unknown
  • Losing doesn’t make me want to quit. It makes me want to fight that much harder. – Paul “Bear” Bryant
  • In great attempts it is glorious even to fail. – Vince Lombardi
  • Sometimes you have to lose major championships before you can win them. It’s the price you pay for maturing. The more times you can put yourself in pressure situations, the more times you compete, the better off you are. – Tom Watson
  • Being defeated is often a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent. – Marliyn vos Savant
  • If you blame others for your failures, do you also credit them for your successes? – Unknown
  • In great attempts, it is glorious even to fail. – Cassius
Failure isn’t fatal, and success isn’t final. – Don Shula
  • Winning is a habit, but unfortunately so is losing. – Vince Lombardi
  • It’s not whether you get knocked down. It’s whether you get up again. – Vince Lombardi
  • There are some defeats more triumphant than victories. – Montaigne
  • The man who never makes mistakes loses a great many chances to learn something. – Unknown
  • It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed. – Unknown
  • Defeat isn’t bitter if you don’t swallow it. – Unknown
  • Nobody is a failure until he stops trying. – Unknown
Failure is the opportunity to begin again, more intelligently. – Henry Ford
  • The things which hurt, instruct. – Ben Franklin
  • Success requires no explanations. Failure permits no alibis. – Napoleon Hill
  • A failure is like fertilizer; it stinks to be sure, but it makes things grow faster in the future. – Dennis Waitley
  • The successful man will profit from his mistakes and try again in a different way. – Dale Carnegie
  • You have within you right now, everything you need to deal with whatever the world can throw at you. – Brian Tracy
  • The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one. – Elbert Hubbard
  • You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try. – Beverly Sills
I have always grown from my problems and challenges. It’s from the things that didn’t work out, that taught me the most. – Carol Burnett
  • The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and over and over again, but expecting a different result. – Albert Einstein
  • Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment. – Will Rogers
  • Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom. – General George Patton

Opportunity

Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don’t recognize them. – Ann Landers
  • Luck sometimes visits a fool, but it never sits down with him. – German Proverb
  • We all face a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations. – Unknown
  • Opportunity may knock, but you must open the door. – Unknown
  • All good things are difficult to achieve; and bad things are very easy to get. – Morarji Desai
  • Desire is the key that opens the door when opportunity knocks. – Unknown
  • The individual who knows the score about life sees difficulties as opportunities. – Norman Vincent Peale
  • Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. – Theodore Roosevelt
  • Great opportunities come to those who make the most of small ones. – Unknown
If not us, who? If not now, when? – John F. Kennedy
  • Challenges should not be seen as obstacles but rather as opportunities for acquiring new experiences in life. – Unknown
  • Destiny is no matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for. But it is a thing to be achieved. – William Jennings Bryan
  • In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity. – Albert Einstein
  • Never miss a good chance to shut up. – Will Rogers
  • There are costs and risks to a program of action, but they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction. – John F. Kennedy

Persistence

He who endures conquers. – Italian Proverb
  • Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race. – Calvin Coolidge
  • Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. – Thomas A. Edison
  • Rome wasn’t built in a day. – Unknown
  • Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go. – William Feather
  • The secret of our success is found in our daily agenda. – John C. Maxwell
  • I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion. – Muhammad Ali
  • Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all. – Dale Carnegie
We will either find a way, or make one! – Hannibal
  • Within each of us is a hidden store of determination. Determination to keep us in the race when all seems lost. – Roge Dawson
  • Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced. – James Baldwin
  • An invincible determination can accomplish almost anything and in this lies the great distinction between great men and little men. – Dr. Thomas Fuller
  • What this power is I cannot say; all I know is that it exists and it becomes available only when a man is in that state of mind in which he knows exactly what he wants and is fully determined not to quit until he finds it. – Alexander Gulialll Bell
  • Progress is a tide. If we stand still we will surely be drowned. To stay on the crest, we have to keep moving. – Harold Mayfield
Failure is the path of least persistence. – Michael Larsen
  • If at first you don’t succeed, skydiving is not for you. – Unknown
  • Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough. – Og Mandino
  • So long as there is breath in me, that long I will persist. For now I know one of the greatest principles on success; if I persist long enough I will win. – Og Mandino

Positive Thinking

Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out. – John Wooden
  • Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier. – Colin Powell
  • It isn’t the load that breaks us down; it’s the way we carry it. – Unknown
  • Your mind can hold only one thought at a time. Make it a positive one. – Unknown
  • A cloudy day is no match for a sunny disposition. – William A. Ward
  • Never think of the consequences of failing for you will always think of a negative result. Think only positive thoughts and your mind will gravitate towards those thoughts! – Michael Jordan
  • Although elementary, turning negatives into positives is the best foundation to having a happy life. – Unknown
  • If you think you can, or you think you can’t, your right! – Henry Ford
  • Don’t limit yourself. Many people limit themselves to what they think they can You can go as far as you mind lets you. What you believe, you can achieve. – Mary Kay Ash
A positive mind has extra solving power. – Alexander Lockhart
  • There are three types of people in this world: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who wonder what happened. We all have a choice. You can decide which type of person you want to be. I have always chosen to be in the first group. – Mary Kay Ash
  • When fate hands you a lemon, make lemonade. – Dale Carnegie
  • To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream, not only plan, but also believe. – Anatole France
  • Always remember that you are unique. Just like everyone else. – Unknown
  • A positive attitude is like a fire – Unless you continue to add fuel, it goes out. – Alexander Lockhart

Practice

When I played with Michael Jordan on the Olympic team, there was a huge gap between his ability and the ability of the other great players on that team. But what impressed me was that he was always the first one on the floor and the last one to leave. – Steve Alford
  • But it’s the wrestler who can put the fatigue out of his mind and break through the “wall,” like a marathon runner after 18 or 20 miles, who will survive. The key to that survival is in hard workouts that develop mental confidence to the point where you won’t submit to fatigue and pain descending upon you. – Lou Banach
  • If I had stood at the free-throw line and thought about 10 million people watching me on the other side of the camera lens, I couldn’t have made anything. So I mentally tried to put myself in a familiar place. I thought about all those times I shot free throws in practice and went through the same motion, the same technique that I had used thousands of times. You forget about the outcome. You know you are doing the right things. So you relax and perform. – Michael Jordan
  • Practice without improvement is meaningless. – Chuck Knox
There’s a lot of blood, sweat, and guts between dreams and success. – Paul “Bear” Bryant
  • It takes less time to do something right the first time, than it does to explain why you did it wrong. – Unknown
  • It isn’t the hours you put in, but what you put in the hours. – Unknown
  • Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together. – Vincent Van Gogh
  • The wise does at once what the fool does at last. – Gracian Baltasar

Preparation

I’ve found that when you go the extra mile, it’s never crowded. – Unknown
  • Most battles are won before they are fought. – Sun Tzu
  • Spectacular achievements come from unspectacular preparation. – Roger Staubach
  • Before I’d get in the ring, I’d have already won or lost it on the road. The real part is won or lost somewhere far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights. – Muhammad All
  • The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war. – Chinese proverb
  • Winning is the science of being totally prepared. – George Allen
  • There will come a time when winter will ask what you were doing all summer – Henry Clay
  • The secret of our success is found in our daily agenda. – John C. Maxwell
  • Yelling doesn’t win ball games. It doesn’t put any points on the scoreboard. And I don’t think words win ball games all the time. Players do. Preparation does. – Jerry Tarkanian
Spectacular achievement is always preceded by spectacular preparation. – Robert Schuller
  • The only preparation for tomorrow is the right use of today. – Unknown
  • Confidence comes from being prepared. – John Wooden
  • If you plan to go the distance, you have to do the roadwork. – Chuck Parker
  • If you fail to plan, plan to fail. – Unknown
  • Create a definite plan for carrying out your desire and begin at once, whether you are ready or not, to put this plan into action. – Napoleon Hill
  • Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. – Unknown
  • Chance favors those who are prepared. – Louis Pasteur

Success

Failure isn’t so bad if it doesn’t attack the heart. Success is all right if it doesn’t go to the head. – Grantland Rice

  • Everybody is looking for instant success, but it doesn’t work that way. You build a successful life one day at a time. – Lou Holtz
  • The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand. – Vince Lombardi
  • The secret of successful people lies in their ability to discover their strengths and organize their life so that these strengths can be applied. – John C. Maxwell
  • Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it. – Henry David Thoreau
  • The dictionary is the only place where success comes before work. – Mark Twain
  • Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful. – Albert Schweitzer
The greatest possession you have is the 24 hours directly in front of you. – Unknown
  • The reward of a thing well done is to have done it. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Our days are identical suitcases – all the same size – but some people can pack more into them than others. – Unknown
  • Success comes in cans; failure comes in cant’s. – Unknown
  • Start by doing what’s necessary, then what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible. – Francis of Assisi
  • Luck: a loser’s excuse for a winner’s success. – Unknown
  • You will never plough a field if you only turn it over in your mind. – Irish Proverb
  • The first step to wisdom is silence; the second is listening. – Unknown
To be successful you must accept all challenges that come your way. You can’t just accept the ones you like. – Mike Galka
  • Your companions are like the buttons on an elevator. They will either take you up or they will take you down. – Unknown
  • My father always told me, “Find a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” – Jim Fox
  • There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure. – Gen. Colin L. Powell
  • To demand more of yourself than you do of others is the first step on any ladder of success. – Unknown
  • A man can be as great as he wants to be. If you believe in yourself and have the courage, the determination, the dedication, the competitive drive and if you are willing to sacrifice the little things in life and pay the price for the things that are worthwhile, it can be done. – Vince Lombardi
Success seems to be connected to action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit. – Conrad Hilton
  • Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom. – General George Patton
  • The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a person’s determination. – Tommy Lasorda
  • Some of the world’s greatest feats were accomplished by people not smart enough to know they were impossible. – Doug Laison
  • You can’t fly a kite unless you go against the wind and have a weight to keep it from turning a somersault. The same with man. No man will succeed unless he is ready to face and overcome difficulties and is prepared to assume responsibilities. – William J.H. Boetcker
  • Success is getting what you want. Happiness is liking what you get. – H. Jackson Brown

Teams ( Basketball Team Quotes)

Great teamwork is the only way to reach our ultimate moments, and create breakthroughs that define our careers and fulfill our lives. – Pat Riley
  • An effective organization holds a purpose that is shared by all its members and to which they will willingly commit their efforts. People working together can do almost anything. – James L. Hayes
  • People acting together as a group can accomplish things which no individual acting alone could ever hope to bring about. – Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • Coming together is the beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success. – Henry Ford
  • Commitment to the team – there is no such thing as in-between; you are either in or out. – Pat Riley
  • We must all hang together; else we shall all hang separately. – Ben Franklin
  • All men like to think that they can do it alone, but a real man knows that there no substitute for support, encouragement or a pit crew. – Tim Allen
The will to win, desire to succeed, urge to reach your full potential – these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence. – Eddie Robinson
  • There is one quality which one must possess to win, and that is definiteness of purpose, the knowledge of what one wants, and a burning desire to possess it. – Napoleon Hill
  • I’ve got a theory that if you give 100 percent all of the time, somehow things will work out in the end. – Larry Bird
  • If you want a place in the sun, you have to expect some blisters. – Unknown

Worry

  • My religious beliefs teach me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. – Stonewall Jackson
  • It is not work that kills, but “worry.” – Dinah Mulock
  • How much pain has cost us the evils which have never happened. – Thomas Jefferson
  • The reason why worry kills more people than work is that more people worry than work. – Robert Frost
  • Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God – (Philippians 4:6)

Related: Basketball: Remember the Dream

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Basketball Passing Drill: Passing Lanes & Patience

Basketball Passing Drill: Passing Lanes & Patience

Developing a patient team can be one of the most difficult aspects of coaching. Young and inexperienced teams tend to rush through sets and often leave scoring opportunities unexplored. These teams need to reduce turnovers and play with more purpose. So finding the right drills and competitive practice games becomes a challenge. So here’s a look at a basketball passing drill that works on both the offense and the defense simultaneously.

Basketball Passing Drill: Passing Lanes and Patience

The Passing Lanes and Patience drill promotes multiple things. For the offense, it promotes patience and making good passes. It stresses the importance of working for great shots. It also helps build habits like crashing the offensive boards.

For the defense, this drill promotes getting into the passing lanes, blocking out, and limiting teams to one shot. It stresses toughness in taking charges and playing hard without fouling.

The Set Up

This basketball passing drill requires two even teams. The drill uses competitive 5-on-5 action that should be high intensity.

Coaches implement four 2:30 minute quarters for the drill, with a 45 second break in between each segment. The two teams split time as offense and defense, alternating after each quarter. Subs can be incorporated with each dead ball situation.

basketball passing lanes

The Rules

Coaches set a specific number of passes the offense must complete. (We do 6 passes.)

The offense “scores” 1 point if they reach that number of passes without a turnover or deflection. They also get 1 point for each offensive rebound. The offense gets 3 points for made three-pointers, but 4 points for a made two-point field goal. We stress working for great shots.

The defense “scores” 1 point for each deflection of a pass. They get 2 points for a steal, and 3 points for limiting the offense to one shot in a possession. They get 4 points for each charge drawn. The defense loses a point when a player commits a foul.

basketball passing lanes

COACHING POINTS

  • Emphasize the importance of getting in passing lanes to get deflections & steals. On the line, up the line is a way of life for our program.
  • Discuss scoring with teams & ask them why they think 2’s are worth more than 3’s in this drill & ask them why they think securing a D-Board after one shot and taking a charge are worth so many points.

Kyle Brasher
Gibson Southern High School
Social Studies Teacher
Lady Titans Basketball Coach

Related: Favorite Basketball Practice Drills

 

 

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Youth Basketball: Reducing Turnovers with Gold

Youth Basketball: Reducing Turnovers with Gold

Gold. Basketball turnovers. What do these two items have in common? The answer is more than you may realize! As all coaches know, a turnover in basketball is one surefire way for your team to be defeated each and every game out. Not only do turnovers mean you do not get a field goal attempt, if the turnover is a live ball turnover, it could mean an easy bucket for your opponent. So basketball coaches seek new and innovative ways in reducing turnovers.

Gold is one of the most precious metals on earth, and an item that has monetary value. Gold is something that people want to protect and ensure that they retain. When playing the game of basketball, we like to think of the basketball as a piece of gold, We like to think of it as something that is very precious, which we hope to retain more than we lose. So using special gold basketballs to aid in reducing turnovers created a competitive practice game with stakes.

Reducing Turnovers with Gold Basketballs

As a program, we instituted gold basketballs in many of our live scrimmage segments to help encourage our players to be more focused on reducing turnovers. Players do not like the punishment of running; players will do almost anything to avoid running, so as a staff we decided to tap into that mindset and try to become a team that commits fewer turnovers.

In live scrimmage segments, we place three gold basketballs out for each team playing. (To create gold basketballs, we found three old basketballs that would not retain air and spray painted them gold.) During the scrimmage, each time a team commits a turnover, they lose one of their gold basketballs. Once a team has lost all three of their gold basketballs, we stop the scrimmage and that team gets on the line to run. After their run is complete, they only get two gold basketballs back.

It is imperative that they retain a high level of focus in not turning the ball over. Once those two balls are gone and they run again. Then, they get the last ball back. Once that final ball is gone and they run, they get all three back and we repeat the process again. The goal is for the players to understand the value of limiting our turnovers and putting ourselves in the best position possible to succeed.

Limiting Use (and Turnovers)

The Gold Basketballs are not something we use every day. As a staff, we feel they may lose their luster if we commit to doing them every practice. We utilize the balls once or twice a week. If we have a game where we just committed a lot of turnovers or an upcoming game where reducing turnovers is important, we may utilize the balls a tad more.

It has given our players a visual cue to look at and realize the importance of retaining possession and putting ourselves in the best position to succeed in all game situations.

Related: Basketball Team Building: Giving Out Game Awards

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Teaching Situational Basketball at the High School Level

Teaching Situational Basketball at the High School Level

Understanding situational basketball comes only after playing the game competitively for some time. Getting young and developing players to understand the ins and outs of different situations takes time, and experience. Coaches can carve out practice time for situational drills, but often, players won’t fully understand until they’ve experienced it in a competitive game.

Situational Basketball: The Background & Problem

Let’s start by setting a scene: low-scoring, hard fought playoff game in a loud high school gym in the first week of March. We worked for this all year long. It’s the month of the season where any coach would work for free just to have the chance to feel that utterly different, barely describable adrenaline that comes with a win to advance to the next round.

So that’s where I was as an assistant coach. Up off the bench trying to diagnose the intended action of a play before our team forced a five-second call on a sidelines out of bounds play. It’s where I was a few moments later, using what was left of my voice to remind our inbounder that we were out of timeouts. It’s where I was when his inbounds pass took our best free throw shooting guard back toward our own basket.

I exhaled as a late whistle negated a steal that would have led to our opponent tying the game. With both hands pressed behind my head, I felt a tap on my shoulder from our older and more composed assistant coach.

“We’ve got to work on late game situations tomorrow in practice,” seemingly oblivious to the fact that we still needed to make a pair of free throws to ice the game.

“I hope we have a practice tomorrow,” I shouted back to him.

We survived and advanced. I knew he was right. Teaching situational basketball was integral. But, in my career and with the coaches I had played for, worked for, or even spoken to, it’s always been the thing that got cut out of practice.

I first heard this response as a high school player when I was talking to a respected and decorated retired coach from my high school as I explained the newfangled approach of fouling in the closing seconds when up three points.

“You’d have to practice that and then hope you get it right with the same players,” he said. “And no one is going to find time to practice that.”

I next heard the response as an eager young coach, trying to offer something different to a coach in my first job.

“That’s great, Bennett,” he said. “But have you noticed that we aren’t even good enough to be in late-game situations?”

“This is why we don’t do this,” I heard another coach say as I watched a comical close to an otherwise fine practice when my situations were marred by managers not being able to run the clock and JV players incapable of handling any sort of pressure defense.

But my idea persisted. I tucked it away in a notebook until finally, called for out of complete frustration, it got its chance to make its way into a practice plan.

“Bennett,” our head coach said. “We’ve got to figure out ways to teach our players what to do in different situations.” I heard this after a weekend where we nearly choked away a double digit lead in a Friday night game. We suffered a very frustrating loss a night later when we gave up not one, not two, but three 3-point shots to close quarters.

 

Our Solution

So what did I propose and implement? Nothing too time consuming. Nothing too difficult. But something that has helped our players think situationally better.

Three to four times in each practice, in little short segments, we blow a whistle, gather two teams, and conduct a situation. It works as a palate cleanser for whatever else has happened to that point in practice or to what might happen next. Of course, there are also consequences. We run when we don’t achieve our stated goal for that situation.

But, above all, it’s a chance to teach, talk, and coach players through a situation that they have seen or could see. It’s the opportunity to work on that last second play, see how long it will take to get into a set and execute it. Teaching situational basketball can reaffirm a recently taught point, or test the mental mettle of your team.

Defining Situational Basketball

Too often, I think coaches envision working on situations to mean the last two minutes, holding a lead or last 45 seconds trying to come back. Those kinds of situations often do take too much time or can lead to frustration when a JV team can’t pressure or a manager doesn’t know when to stop the clock.

Our situations are often short. I think back to the idea of getting a pass inbounded with two seconds left and no time outs. After that situation, we can grade our players immediately as to whether we got what we wanted. Did the right player get the catch or was the pass thrown to a place where it would hurt us the last if it were to be intercepted?

Often our situations aren’t end game either. One of my favorites is putting 45 seconds or so on the clock, giving the ball to us on a sideline out of bounds and saying that I want to win the end of the quarter. Our players have learned to look for quick action off the sideline out of bounds and then to move into a “get the last shot” situation.

Other times, we simply talk about urgency and give the ball to the opposition with 20 or so seconds to go. Give up that last shot? Enjoy a few sprints before we move on to the next part of practice. I reiterate that the most important thing that we do is huddle again after the situation and address exactly what we thought went right and what still needs to be fixed in future situations.

 

What We Like Best

Competitiveness

It’s a great way to bring some intensity to practice, even amongst coaches. I have been given free reign to coach our top varsity unit through the situations. Our other varsity assistant and JV coach, who both work in our building, often find me at lunch to try to figure out what situations we’ll be working on that day and what lineups I plan to use.

By the beginning of practice, I find that they’ve schemed to come up with sets they want to run against the top group in order to force them to have to run sprints. There’s been a healthy amount of competition while our players are also learning. As I mentioned earlier, it can also act as either a bridge to the next segment of practice or a cap on the previous portion.

Teaching

How often do we say to our guys “know the time and situation” or “be aware of the situation”? Now, we have three to four chances each day to teach our basketball players situational awareness. Want to know how and when to foul up three? How about focusing on getting 2-for-1 at the end of a quarter or half? Want to practice turning a ball handler after getting a score with a few seconds left on the clock?

These are all little quizzes that you can more easily incorporate into practice. Better yet, it’s a great way to review the situations you might have failed in previous games. Finally, it even gives us a chance to fit in sets/tendencies of our upcoming opponent.

Lineups

So often because of fouls, you wind up with strange groups on the floor. How often is your big on the floor at the end of the half because of foul trouble? This is a great way to try out different lineups as you envision the best or worst case that might come Friday night.

It’s also a great way to know who you can trust to do certain things. Going back to my high school’s old coach – I can pick one or two guys and teach them how to foul with a 3-point lead.

Data

How often as coaches do we say things like “Can we do this?” “Can so-and-so run that?” “How much time do we need to do this?” So much of the intel that I try to collect and have ready for our games comes from these situations.

I have an “end of quarter” column on a sheet I have with me each game that lets me know exactly how much time each set might take us to run. That way when our head coach calls something out at the end of a quarter, I can let our point guard know exactly what time to start the action. It’s similar with lineups. I know, based often by what guys have done in the past couple weeks, who can handle what assignment or what certain guys actually know how to do.

 

Takeaways

Does this cure all situational ails? Of course not. But, what it does do is it gets players thinking throughout practice. Just the other day, we had worked on how we wanted to finish a quarter by getting a stop and then running a bit of clock before going to a closing seconds set that we call “tap.”

Toward the end of practice, we worked a simple 8-minute quarter as a scrimmage situation. A ball got batted out of bounds with about 30 seconds left on the clock. Without prompting, our shooting guard turned to me and said “You want this like we did earlier?” I nodded and he right away called out and gave direction to his teammates. Something had clearly stuck with him.

How has it helped though? I think some. And the wins and losses do show that to be the case. Going back to that frustrating weekend where our current head coach tasked me with coming up with some solutions. We were 3-12 in two possession games over the past year and a half. Since then, a sample size of a little more than a year now, we are 8-1 in two possession games.

I go back to the coach I worked for (and highly respect) who said there were so many other things that needed to be done before we worried about end game situations. He was exactly right. But, I think winning situations in the first three quarters is integral in getting a lot of teams to the fourth with a chance. Nevertheless, it is something that you can work on in practice tomorrow – if there even is a practice tomorrow.


Brian Bennett is the associate boys basketball coach for Richmond (Indiana) High School. He has coached high school basketball for more than a decade in Indiana high schools. Bennett teaches composition, speech, and journalism.

 

Related: Basketball End of Game Situations

 

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Basketball Team Building: Developing a Positive Culture

Basketball Team Building: Developing a Positive Culture

Basketball team building can be a difficult task. Whether a coach is looking for bonding events or building morale through game awards, building a positive basketball culture remains integral.

Developing a Positive Basketball Culture

A positive basketball culture is the first thing you will need to build in your program.  You will need to fight for this every single day in every thing you do–from the weightroom to your open gym sessions.  When you face adversity your culture will be able to overcome any negativity if you have a strong foundation.

Jon Gordon is a master teacher on culture and I strongly recommend you check out some of my favorite books of his–The Energy Bus, The Power of a Positive Team, The Carpenter, and You Win In the Locker Room First.

When you start to establish your culture and identity as a positive team, you will then need to establish some core values for your program.  We stole ours from Alabama and Nate Oats: Max Effort, Continuous Learning, and Selfless Love.  We even tied Bible verses into these so we can reach our players spiritually.

Our program spent some money and put some cool signage up to improve our facilities with these words all around it for our players to see daily.  The important thing is, you must fight for these values daily as a coach and hold your players accountable to them!

We talk about these values daily and what it means to live them out on and off the court to develop the entire individual.  A few things we do is ask a player at the end of practice or a weight room session to name a core value.  Then we will ask them to tell us how one player on our team lived it out today and why.  This gets our kids thinking about the values constantly!

 

Getting Player Buy-In

When you are building your culture, you have to have players buy into your culture. One way you can do this as a coach is to have your players have some input. We asked our players to create a vision statement and standards they would like to live out daily that correlate with our core values.

One tip I got from a few experts on culture was don’t limit yourself when setting goals. For example: we want to win districts, go undefeated at home, and go to the State Tournament.

While those are great things, oftentimes everyone has those same goals.  And what happens when you lose that first game at home?  What happens when you don’t win districts but you can still advance? Or an even better question: what if your players do get complacent when they accomplish winning districts and going undefeated at home?

You can get complacent and think you achieved enough and you fall short of going even further than what you were capable of doing.  So we made a vision statement instead that has seemed to really motivate our players to the next level.

They came up with the following: The FCS basketball team is a united group of brothers here to glorify Jesus through the game of basketball while exceeding the expectations of others, with the expectation to win everytime we step on the floor.

A few standards our players came up with through guided discussion include: Accountability, CommunicationElevate, Grit, Selflessness, and Servanthood.

 

Avoiding Burnout

Kids have to have fun with the game of basketball and so do coaches! Basketball is a long season, and in a lot of ways it’s year round with post-season workouts, summer, pre-season, and in season.  One way to avoid any burnout is to celebrate little things.  Celebrate progress in the weight room. Celebrate winning two games in a row in season. And celebrate simple things like winning a situational segment in practice!

Another tip to have a positive basketball culture comes with making time for relationships with your players. Something I got from T.J. Rosene at Emmanuel College and PGC Basketball is to write out the names of three players on your practice plan and have a meaningful conversation with those players that day.  Mix up the names each practice and you will be able to reach all of your players consistently.

 

Use Your Assistant Coaches

As coaches we have to trust our assistant coaches–we hired them for a reason!  A tip I want to suggest is to delegate your work and let your assistant coaches lead in some areas of the program.  For example, in the pre- and post-season, my assistant coaches lead all my weight room and skill development days. As the head coach I serve as the manager and see the big picture.

My assistants will run everything by me and make sure it is in alignment with what we are trying to accomplish.  This allows your players to hear someone else’s voice and allows you to save yours more so for the season!  You also are helping your assistant coaches who want to move on to become a head coach one day.

I would also encourage you to write out other areas of your program you can delegate to your assistants.  I really like the defensive end of the floor, so I call one of my assistants the “offensive coordinator.”  We run a read and react/dribble drive hybrid offense, so I give him free reign out of that to come up with ways to improve our offense, drills, small sided games, etc.  This also limits my film, as he will watch everything on us offensively and I will watch everything defensively.

I hope you found some useful tips and strategies that have worked for our program.  Best of luck this season!


Jeff Long is the Head Men’s Basketball Coach at Friendship Christian School in Lebanon, TN.

 

Related: Basketball Team Building: Bonding Events

 

 

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