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Here are some vital practice requirements for youth coaches that Jeff Haefner wrote:

In my opinion, this is something all youth coaches should adhere to when conducting practices…

1) Little to no standing in lines. Players should be active. Keep them moving. Improvise to keep them active (use stations, split into groups, use better drills, etc).

2) Lots of touches on the ball. Players should have a ball in their hands during a large portion of the practices. Sharing one ball among 10 players, severely limits their touches. Use drills for optimal development and touches.

3) Use small sided games (1v1, 1v2, 2v2, 3v3, etc) in addition to unopposed skill work (ex: cone dribbling). Competitive games are a dynamic and critical training tool for development.

4) Run some type of competitive 1v1 full court dribbling drill in at least 9 out of 10 practices. This is probably the best drill there is for ball handling, agility, on ball defense… do this daily.

5) Enforce the rule: Eyes on coach and listen carefully. When a coach is talking, require players to have their eyes on the coach and listen carefully. Be stickler. Have them sit out or do push ups any time they don’t abide by this rule.

6) Reward effort, not natural ability. If a player is trying hard, give them praise! Encourage discipline and effort. Really focus on emphasizing “effort”.

7) Be positive! Make things fun. There’s no need to yell. Give out high fives and lots of verbal praise when they do a good job. Set a good example by being a positive coach. We want to build up their confidence and make this a fun experience for the players. Keep in mind, you can still require discipline without yelling. For example, if they don’t listen, just sit them out of the activity for 5-20 minutes.

8) Allow Mistakes. Players will make lots of mistakes. That’s ok. That’s how you learn and “fear of failure” is probably the biggest hindrance to player development. Make sure they know it’s ok to make mistakes and they are in a safe zone.

9) Allow yourself to make mistakes. As a coach, you will mess up and make mistakes. Don’t worry about it. Hindsight is 20/20. I have been coaching a long time and I still make mistakes all the time. That’s how you learn. In addition, no one expects you to know everything on day 1. Slowly increase your knowledge and understanding of the game. As a coach, learning should never stop.

10) Eliminate the three Ls. Eliminate lines, laps and lectures. Running laps or wind sprints, especially without a ball, is a waste of time. All conditioning drills should be done with the ball in their hands. Lectures should be left for the classroom. Kids come to practice to be active and participate, not to be talked to for extended periods of time. Keep lectures short and concise. Players learn by seeing and doing.

11) Focus on player development! Put learning how to play basketball ahead of learning your system. This is paramount. Most of your time should be spent on things that will help players no matter what team or coach they play for in the future. Teach them fundamentals like spacing, cutting, screening, shooting, dribbling, 1v1 moves, passing, footwork, defense, and lay ups.


By Joe Haefner

Here is an effective tip for teaching skills in youth basketball. I picked this up from Bob Bigelow years ago.

With youth basketball players, it’s usually easier for them to learn skills that require the least resistance against gravity.

Footwork requires no gravity. Dribbling works with gravity. Passing works slightly against gravity. Shooting works against gravity.

So we advise to put more focus towards the skills where your players can see a greater improvement.


1 – You’re more efficient and effective with your time.

When it comes to shooting and even passing, there are limitations on the progress you can make regardless of the amount of time that you spend.

This is mostly due to natural physical and mental maturation. Things that you have little control over.

While with ball handling and footwork, your ceiling is much higher because it doesn’t have as many limitations due to maturation.

So let’s pretend you have a scale of 1 to 100 for rating the proficiency of skills. 1 being the worst. 100 being the best.

With shooting, your max might be a 40.

With ball handling, your max might be a 70.

2 – Players are more motivated.

From a psychological perspective, it’s also motivating because your players see more improvement.

This tends to happen when you spend more time on skills that have less resistance to gravity like footwork and dribbling.

I would even advise to film the first practice and maybe the first game. That way, your players and parents can visually see it.

Should you ignore the other skills like shooting and passing?

Absolutely not! I would still spend a significant amount of time on passing and shooting lay ups.

However, you probably want to minimize the time of shooting off the catch and shooting off the dribble.

Also, from a developmental standpoint, it’s hard to work on shooting form due to strength and coordination.

That’s also why we recommend smaller basketballs and lower hoop heights for youth players. You can spend a few minutes on form shooting this way.

If you don’t have access to lower hoops, you can also do form shooting against a wall.

Here would be an example of how you might approach practice planning with this mindset. This might work well for players that are 12 years old and under.

Skills primary focus – Ball handling and footwork

Skills secondary focus – Lay ups, passing, shooting

Offense primary focus – Cutting and getting open – V-cuts, L-cuts, basket cuts (give and go), and backdoor cuts.

Offense secondary focus – Introduce ball screens, introduce screens away from the ball, baseline out of bounds play, sideline out of bounds play, press breaker.

Defense primary focus – Defensive stance, 1v1 defense, positioning when 1 or 2 passes away, moving on the pass, sprinting to areas.

Defense secondary focus – Defending cutters, post players, ball screens, screens away from the ball.

Of course, there are exceptions. An advanced group of 11 and 12 year olds might be ready to emphasize more shooting and advanced concepts.

Then as the players mature and get older, you can shift more practice time towards shooting form and more shooting drills.

Around age 12 or 13 is when you can start to focus more on shooting form. The time put in leads to greater improvement and it can actually have a lasting impact. This often coincides with when players reach puberty.

By Joe Haefner

Personally, I don’t believe we should spend much time teaching basketball skills to children under the age of 8. Some might even say 9 or 10.

I still believe we should incorporate basketball skills, but so many coaches forget that this a crucial time to develop ATHLETES. We should play tons of games that incorporate all sorts of movements that help children become better all-around athletes for the future.  Who cares if they are the best basketball player at age 9.  We want the best basketball players at age 18!

If we ignore this, it doesn’t matter how skilled the kid is in a particular sport. If they are not athletic enough to get open, they can not shoot. It does not matter how skilled they are with the ball if they can not create separation from the defense.  This concept applies to almost all sports!

Do you need to be a stickler on movement technique?

No and sort of.

Between the ages 6 and 9. No.

When they reach age 9 or 10, they’re ready for SOME technical instruction.

According to athletic development expert Brian Grasso, kids between the ages 6 to 9 are in the Guided Discovery stage. Everything should be outcome-based with an emphasis on fun.

When working with athletes under the age of 9, Grasso states, “The entire premise of sport exploration should be based on guided discovery and nothing more –while the nervous system is at the height of its adaptability, kids should be encouraged to explore on their own, and under the ‘rules’ of outcome-based activities only.”

This means that we don’t want to be overly technical with this age group. Just give them a goal and let them do it. For example, “Johnny, try dribbling down the court with your right hand and shoot a lay up at the opposite end of the court.”

Be positive and have some fun.

At what age should I start to focus on the movement technique a little more?

According to Grasso, when the athlete is between the ages of 10 and 13, you start to emphasize technical skill a little more while still making things fun.

You don’t want to go overboard so you don’t cause paralysis analysis for the athlete, but you want to give them cues to help fix an improper movement pattern.

Other reasons to focus more on movement with youth athletes…

  1. A child needs to have a foundation of moving without a ball before you can expect them to move properly with a ball.  If a kid can not stop, how do we expect them to dribble and come to a jump stop? If a kid can not jump and land, how do we expect him to shoot a jump shot? If a kid can not run properly, how do we expect to dribble while running?A well-known athletic development specialist named Gray Cook references a performance pyramid for athletic development. It has 3 layers.

    The 1st layer  is “Movement” which is the foundation. It refers to just being able to move and do things such as skipping, running, running backwards, climbing, crawling, shuffling laterally, hopping, landing, and so on.

    The 2nd layer is “Performance” and that refers to the efficiency of the movements. Performing movements correctly with power & athletic explosiveness.The That refers to when you get sport-specific.

    3rd layer is “Skill.”

    For example, you have to be able to jump & land (1st layer – movement) before you can jump with power. You have to jump with power (2nd layer – performance) before you can dunk or shoot a jump shot (3rd layer – skill).

  2. Kids learn movements better at a younger age and should be exposed to numerous different movement activities.Children are like sponges when it comes to learning new movement skills. Research shows that if you try to teach them movement skills when they become physically mature, it often takes longer to learn these skills. That’s why it’s important for the development of an athlete to start at a young age!
  3. Produce well-rounded athletes. You can have extremely-skilled basketball players who never make it to the next level, because they were not athletic. And this could be a result of them never learning how to move properly.  This can be taught when they’re older, but it’s much more effective to GUIDE them at a young age. �I think everybody knows at least one player who can shoot lights out, but could not create sapce to get the shot off if his life depended on it.
  4. Since the young athletes are not developed, their shooting form and other skills will change drastically as they get stronger and older.Why spend a lot of time on that when they’re going to change in the future anyways? Shouldn’t we be worried about developing them as athletes instead?
  5. Prevent Injuries.If an athlete is not exposed to movement patterns at a young age or does not continue to use those movement patterns, the athlete may move incorrectly which can lead to an injury. If the child learns how to move, this will be prevented.  What good is an injured athlete?

How much time should I dedicate to practice?

I believe coaches who work with kids under the age of 10 should spend at least 20 minutes of their practice incorporating movement games/skills. The rest of the practice you can work on skills such as passing, shooting, and ball handling.

Athletes over the age of 10 should spend at least 10 to 15 minutes at the beginning of practice incorporating different movement skills through a progression to prepare their body to perform at the highest level, prevent injuries, and improve athletic ability. You want to avoid making the athletes do explosive movements without properly warming up first. We have warm up examples in this sample practice for 11 to 14 year olds.

What do you do to incorporate these movement skills into practice?

Play plenty of movement games. It’s fun and it:

  1. Gets the body warmed up and ready to play.
  2. Helps develop them as athletes.
  3. Prevents Injuries.

Here are 2 great games to incorporate right away for ALL age levels!

1. Tag

2. Red-Light, Yellow-Light, Green-Light.

Tag is probably one of the best games you can play. It teaches the athletes to move in all directions. It teaches them how to be elusive. Elusiveness is something many players are lacking these days, because they never play these games anymore. When I was younger, we’d play tons of games (touch football, tag, kickball, dodgeball, whiffle ball) that required you to be elusive to succeed. Kids don’t do that as much anymore, so we need to make sure to incorporate these things into practice.

Another great game is green-light, yellow-light, red-light. Pick a movement and when you say green light, they go. When you say “yellow-light”, they go at half speed. When you say “red-light”, they freeze. If you were to do lunges, the green-light would be lunges at a normal pace, yellow-light would lunges at a slow pace, and red-light would make them freeze. This is great way to teach them how to control the speed of their movements while making it fun. You can do this game with running, shuffling, jogging backwards, hopping, and anything else you can think of.

Just like anything else in life, you need a good foundation in order to succeed. You need to learn algebra before you can do calculus. You need to teach kids how to move before they can become a great athlete and excel in a certain sport.  At the very earliest, I would not specialize until they’re 15 years old.

If you would like to get an idea of how certain movement techniques should be performed, I highly advise to visit this site website called Core Performance. It has a ton of free videos you can look at.

By Joe Haefner

Back in college, I came back to my hometown for a Christmas break. I ran into one of my old high school coaches by the name of Casey Ditch and we were talking about youth basketball stuff. Then he said, “Man, I wish all they did with youth players was play 3-on-3. That’s all I did when I was younger.” This really caught my attention, because Casey had developed into quite a player back in his day. He led the state in scoring, beating out former Chicago Bull Bobby Hansen (for those of you who remember him). He did unbelievable stuff with the ball and still could. If it wasn’t for two bad ankles, who knows what Casey would’ve done. We had a particular coach in the area who bragged about holding him to 15 points.

If Casey became such a good player by mostly playing 3 on 3 HALF-COURT as a youth, don’t you think your players could benefit from this as well?

When I thought a little more about the conversation I had with Casey, I realized that I played a lot of 3 on 3 when I was younger, too. I started playing in 3 on 3 tournaments when I was in 4th grade. I didn’t start playing organized 5 on 5 until 6th grade, and I handled myself quite well against players who had been playing since they were 8 years old.

If you think about it, 3 on 3 HALF-COURT basketball makes a lot of sense. It will improve a youth player’s long-term development for a number of reasons.

1. Players touch the ball more often. In the 5 on 5 game, players can go almost the whole game without touching the ball. In 3 on 3, you could touch the ball EVERY possession. When the player gets more experience handling the ball during game situations, the player is going to improve much more than the players who hardly touch the ball in 5 on 5. It doesn’t matter if you are the point guard or the star post player, you’re still going to get more touches in 3 on 3.

2. More room to operate. A lot of younger players, especially under the age of 12 don’t have the skill, strength, or experience to utilize their basketball skills with 10 players on the court. 3 on 3 gives them more room to operate and practice their skills.

3. Players learn the game! When there are only six (3 on 3) players on the court, players are more inclined to run the pick-and-roll, screen away, and screen the ball without a coach even telling them to do so, because there are fewer options out there. After awhile, they will start to figure things out for themselves which is FANTASTIC and exactly what you want the players to do. With ten (5 on 5) players on the court, a lot of those options aren’t there, because they lack the skill, strength, and experience. Now, with fewer players on the court, it gives them a split second longer to recognize a situation.

4. No pressing & zones. Now, instead of spending time on breaking full court pressure, breaking half-court pressure, playing against a 1-3-1, playing against 3-2, playing against a 2-3, playing against a triangle-and-two, playing against a box-and-one, you can focus on the FUNDAMENTALS. Youth coaches waste so much of their precious time working on things that they shouldn’t worry about at an early age.

99% of the presses that are ran by youth coaches wouldn’t work in high school or college, anyways. Most of the presses I’ve seen, just run 2 to 3 players at the ball and hope he throws the ball high enough, so somebody else can pick it off. It’s just a tactic that takes advantage of a flaw in our basketball development system, because players lack the skill, strength, and experience to react correctly to these situations. Spending that extra time on basketball skills and concepts, will benefit them much more for the future. Not to mention, if taught incorrectly (which most of the time they are), the zones and presses can ingrain some terrible habits in your players that don’t work at the higher levels.

Personally, I feel that youth players should not play in 5 on 5 leagues before age 10 or 11. Part of me feels that may even be too young.

First to clarify, when Don says don’t read the defense, this is in reference to individual offense when you catch the ball. Moving without the ball is another discussion.

The main points that you take from this video are…

  • Attack immediately! Do what you do best.
  • Immediately counter if the shot is taken away.

First off, if you’re skeptical, I don’t blame you! Initially, I was a skeptic until I saw Don teach this in person. It also helped that I started having a lot of success with developing youth and high school players.

We even had an Olympic coach chime in with criticism as you’ll see below.


Do What You Do Best. Do It Immediately.

Why does this work so well…

As Don says, it steers you towards things you are successful and confident at.
It eliminates indecision. It improves reaction time. This allows you to attack the defense while they’re still scrambling and out of position.

Also, if you think about it… isn’t the defense forcing you to do that because you won’t have as much success? That’s what coaches do. They scout the opposition. Then they try to force the opponent to do things they’re not good at.

So why would we let them steer us towards something we’re not as good at… something where your success rate will be lower? That’s why you want to do what you’re good at.

The defense reacts to you, not the other way around.

You want to OWN the situation… its mentality too.


Immediately Counter If The Shot Is Taken Away.

As mentioned in the video, think about what happens when you attack immediately… and do what you’re best at.

Well, your move happens more quickly now.

To stop your move, the defense has to commit. This takes more speed and momentum to stop you. This forces them out of position.

And then BAM… you hit them with your footwork counter.

This makes it very difficult for the defense to stop, change directions, and defend your counter.

As you can see, this also perfectly complements mapping your attack and having your counter moves go opposite of the pass which were mentioned earlier in the educational series.

Now you add “Do What You’re Good At” & “Attack Immediately” principles into the mix.

Then through playing the game, studying the game, and countless repetitions, you get more scoring opportunities without sacrificing an aggressive, confident mentality.


Don’t Practice Both Hands and Feet Equally? Wrong!

If you believe that we’re saying that you should only practice what you’re good at, that’s dead wrong.

You need to practice footwork with both feet.

You need to practice dribbling & passing with both hands.

You need to practice finishing and close shots with both hands.

However, you need to instill the mentality of attacking immediately and doing what you’re good at.


An Argument From An Olympic Coach For Reading The Defense

Here is a comment we got from a subscriber…

For a coach to pass on the message to players that “I don’t want you to read your defense” (as Don said in the video clip) is very difficult for me to take. As a coach for more than 35 years at the youth, high school, NAIA, NCAA, and Olympic level, all of my teaching of offensive play is based on “reading the defense”.

If you want to develop intelligent players they must see the positioning and movement of the defenders. It should be taught from 1 on 1 play to 5 on 5 play. It is a long, tedious process but is necessary if you want players to be intelligent players rather than being robots.”

Maybe reading the defense works best for this coach. I used to teach “reading the defense”. You might too.

For 20 years, even Don Kelbick who invented this system taught his college teams to read the defense.

But this comment brings up some good points that we should look further into…


Long and Tedious Process To Teach Reading The Defense

Let’s address this. “It is a long, tedious process but is necessary if you want players to be intelligent players rather than being robots.”

1 – That’s why people LOVE Don Kelbick’s Attack & Counter System so much, it shortens the learning curve tremendously. To be effective, it isn’t long and tedious. It’s simple and it works right away..

Think about what happens when you attack immediately and then if needed you counter away from the help defense..

Your poor decision makers now are mostly making good decisions..

And your good decision makers have even more scoring opportunities..

So I believe you actually end up with smarter players. But who cares if they’re smarter as long as they play better!.

2 – You don’t need to have a group of kids for over 10 years and work with them every single day. And you don’t need olympic-caliber players to get it to work..

Is it perfect? No… there isn’t a perfect system. This is the real world… you have to do what is optimal for your situation. You have to do what’s going to bring you and your players the most success over the long run..

The Attack & Counter System is definitely ideal for the common coaching situation. And I believe it’s optimal for all situations, especially as you move up in competition..

Here was another part from the comment above….

“…If you want players to be intelligent players rather than being robots.” .

While I think the points above are sufficient, this comment leads to this story…


How The 4.3 GPA “Intelligent” Player & Johns Hopkins Graduate STOPPED Reading The Defense And Started Attacking… Then Turned Into An All Conference College Player

I coached a player named George Bugarinovic who had a 4.3 GPA and graduated from Johns Hopkins University for a medical degree. Obviously, he is very intelligent.

When we went over game film and strategies during practice, he knew how to do things.
However, he had a big problem. He thought way too much and reacted indecisively. In fact, he looked like a robot trying to read the defense.

Over time, Coach Dwight Williams did a great job of getting him to just attack. He told George to stop thinking so much.

And it worked… George went on to have 10 points and 20 rebounds in the 6A Kansas state championship game. The game went down to the wire and we ended up losing to powerhouse Wichita Heights. I think they ended the season ranked #12 in the country and won four state championships in a row.

And George battled future NBA draft pick Perry Ellis who starred at Kansas and Evan Wessels who played at Wichita State. No easy task!

George rode this momentum and went on to become an all-conference player in college at Johns Hopkins University. He even won the prestigious Jostens Award Trophy awarded to only one male athlete in the country.

Additionally, this concept helped me when training a player named Kyle Wolf. Kyle developed into a High School Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Missouri.

Kyle’s freshmen year, he started some games and was a contributor to a National Championship team at the University of Central Missouri. In college, he shot 46% for a season from 3-point land and was a career 40% 3-point shooter. To put things in perspective, Steph Curry is a 43% career 3-point shooter!


Why Making The Wrong Decision Is Right… Dwyane Wade And James Harden

Here is another really positive benefit that you might notice.

When you instill the Attack mentality, even when you make the “incorrect decision” at times… from an academic standpoint, good things still happen.

So you can “be wrong” and still be right because you or your team still scores or gets a high-percentage scoring opportunity.

Who cares how it happens… just put the ball in the basket. That’s the point!

If you study Dwyane Wade and his Euro step move, you might notice the same thing. Don’t get me wrong, Dwyane Wade attacked at the right time. However, there were also times that the defender would pre-mediate the move and position themselves perfectly. But somehow Wade would still score, get fouled, or sometimes both… even when the defense knew what was coming.

It was Wade’s mentality of attacking and his aggressiveness. “It doesn’t matter if you get in my way, I’m doing what I want and I’m still going to score.”

In today’s game, it couldn’t be any more apparent than with James Harden. He’s going left and he’s going left hard. You practically have to position your chest on the side of his left shoulder to stop him. Then a wide open lane appears to Harden’s right and he takes it!

He creates even BETTER scoring opportunities because of attacking immediately and doing what you do best.

Coincidence that James Harden’s long-time trainer Irving Roland is highly complimentary of Don Kelbick’s training methods… who knows.

Either way, study all the great players and the moves they scored on. You find similarities.

Their aggressive, attacking mentality made them great.

Also, by attacking immediately, you take advantage of the small gaps and small advantages.

When you first catch the ball, you have your biggest advantage. The defense is still moving. If you wait for them to position themselves, the advantage disappears. Attacking immediately enables you to take advantage of the gaps and advantages.


Won’t Your Players Attack Blindly? Won’t This Lead To Other Issues?

Are you open… Yes. Shoot it.

Is there an open lane… Yes. Attack.

Attack BLINDLY… no. We don’t believe you should do that.

In a perfect world, you attack and make the right decision. However, we don’t live in a perfect world.

It’s better to have a player who attacks and makes the “correct decision” 50% of the time than a player who slows down to make the “correct decision” 100% of the time.

If you slow down to make the right read when immediately catching the ball, the gap will disappear.

I believe through playing the game and countless repetitions, you improve decision making. And this allows you to play instinctively rather than timidly. If you sacrifice the attack mentality in order to make the “correct decision”, you can hinder the development of your game.


You Can’t Always Control A Player’s Reaction Time…

In “simple reaction time” scenarios, there is only one stimulus and one action.

For example, in this little test where you click the mouse when you see a flashing light.

In this scenario, a person’s reaction time is typically between 0.1 and 0.4 seconds.

And you can probably guess the reaction time of the best athletic performers in the world. They are closer to 0.1 seconds.

There is literally an electrical signal that shoots down from your brain, through the spine, and out your limbs that determines how quickly you can react. And this is highly dependent on the current state of your genetics. You can practice over and over and over… and your time can be improved minimally.

So that means, based on your genes… there are athletes out there who have “reaction time” advantage.

In Track & Field, this is why some sprinters are ALWAYS slow out of the blocks.

And in basketball, even hundredths of a second make a HUGE difference. It can be the difference between making a shot to win the game and getting your shot blocked to lose the game.

However, there is good news for you…

Traditionally, basketball is not taught as a “simple reaction time” sport. You are often taught to make a decision based off of many factors… “Read the Defense.”

And as discussed at great length, making a decision when there are many possibilities adds indecisiveness and creates analysis paralysis. This adds even more time when you try to read and react.

This is another reason that I believe in Don’s Attack & Counter System…

Through his “Attack Immediately” and “Mapping” techniques, he dramatically decreases the time it takes to act. He also eliminates the layer of indecisiveness.

It levels the playing field for the athlete with average reaction times, so they can compete against players with better reaction times. And it excels the athlete with above average reaction times.


Some Kids Get It. Some Kids Don’t.

No matter how much you try to teach your players to read the defense or make the right decision, some kids get it. Some kids don’t. It doesn’t matter what you do!

If you’ve coached for any length of time, I’m sure you can relate to that.

You can literally coach the same group for ten years. There will be some kids who just get it from day one. Then there are other kids, even after ten years that still don’t get it.

There are too many known and unknown factors that make it difficult and ineffective to teach this way.


Here’s Why You Should Stop Saying Read The Defense And Read And React

As I have studied psychology and social psychology, I’ve come to the conclusion that the words that you choose are very important. This is true for teaching and it’s even true for all areas of life.

Here are two interesting points from author Robert Cialdini.

There are dozens of examples in his book Pre-suasion, but here is a couple…

1 – Simply using the words attain, succeed, master increase performance on an assigned task and DOUBLES their willingness to keep working at it.

2 – Men were twice as likely to help a woman in distress when made aware they were on Valentine’s Street.

Words that you use are important!

Over the last few years, that’s why I stopped saying “Read the defense” and “Read and react.”

The word read is a passive word by nature. And here’s the definition of the word react: respond or behave in a particular way in response to something.

In both situations, you are being passive and giving ownership of your decisions to the defense! Instead, you want to have the mentality that you own the situation as mentioned earlier.

Attack… if necessary, counter!

Take action!


Even If You Think This Is Bonkers…

Even if you think “Attack Immediately” and “Do What You’re Good At” is not right for you, it really doesn’t matter.

If you ignore the mentality and just focus on the way that Don Kelbick teaches skill development, footwork, and counters, your team will still improve quite a bit.

Just the skill development side of his system…

  • Develops basketball moves faster and accelerates and simplifies skill development.
  • Teaches shooters how to use inertia to improve accuracy and shooting range.
  • Helps ball handlers beat their defender by being more effective with their feet.
  • Reduces practice planning time.
  • Reduces travels by developing better balance.
  • Develops better strength to finish through contact.
  • Develops counter moves that lead to more scoring because it takes advantage of the positioning of the defense.
  • Focuses on progressions and drills that happen the most frequently during games. That way, you’re not spending time on things that happen infrequently or other fluff.
  • Improves shooting percentages by focusing on progressions that are the most efficient shots.
From the moment
I started rolling my dad’s tube socks
And shooting imaginary
Game-winning shots
In the Great Western Forum
I knew one thing was real:I fell in love with you.
A love so deep I gave you my all —
From my mind & body
To my spirit & soul. As a six-year-old boy
Deeply in love with you
I never saw the end of the tunnel.
I only saw myself
Running out of one. And so I ran.
I ran up and down every court
After every loose ball for you.
You asked for my hustle
I gave you my heart
Because it came with so much more.I played through the sweat and hurt
Not because challenge called me
But because YOU called me.
I did everything for YOU
Because that’s what you do
When someone makes you feel as
Alive as you’ve made me feel.You gave a six-year-old boy his Laker dream
And I’ll always love you for it.
But I can’t love you obsessively for much longer.
This season is all I have left to give.
My heart can take the pounding
My mind can handle the grind
But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye. And that’s OK.
I’m ready to let you go.
I want you to know now
So we both can savor every moment we have left together.
The good and the bad.
We have given each other
All that we have. And we both know, no matter what I do next
I’ll always be that kid
With the rolled up socks
Garbage can in the corner
:05 seconds on the clock
Ball in my hands.
5 … 4 … 3 … 2 …
1Love you always,
It’s been almost 28 years since the first day we met. 28 years since I saw you in the back of our garage. 28 years since my parents introduced us.If someone would have told me then, what would become of us, I’m not sure I would have believed them. I barely remembered your name.Then I started seeing you around the neighborhood and watching you on television. I used to see you with guys down at the playground. But when my older brother started paying more attention to you, I started to wonder. Maybe you were different.
We hung out a few times. The more I got to know you, the more I liked you. And as life would have it, when I finally got really interested in you, when I was finally ready to get serious, you left me off the varsity. You told me I wasn’t good enough.I was crushed. I was hurt. I think I even cried.Then I wanted you more than ever. So I practiced. I hustled. I worked on my game. Passing. Dribbling. Shooting. Thinking. I ran. I did sit-ups. I did push-ups. I did pull-ups. I lifted weights. I studied you. I began to fall in love and you noticed. At least that’s what Coach Smith said.
At the time, I wasn’t sure exactly what was going on. But now I know. Coach Smith was teaching me how to love you, how to listen to you, how to understand you, how to respect you and how to appreciate you. Then it happened. That night, at the Louisiana Superdome in the final seconds of the championship game against Georgetown, you found me in the corner and we danced.Since then, you’ve become much more than just a ball to me. You’ve become more than just a court. More than just a hoop. More than just a pair of sneakers. More than just a game.In some respects, you’ve become my life. My passion. My motivation. My inspiration.
You’ve my biggest fan and my harshest critic. You’re my dearest friend and my strongest ally. You’re my most challenging teacher and my most endearing student. You’re my ultimate teammate and my toughest competitor. You’re my passport around the world and my visa into the hearts of millions.So much has changed since the first day we met, and to a large degree, I have you to thank. So if you haven’t heard me say it before, let me say it now for the world to hear. Thank you. Thank you, Basketball.Thank you for everything.Thank you for all the players who came before me. Thank you for all the players who went into battle with me. Thank you for the championships and the rings. Thank you for the All-Star Games and the Playoffs. Thank you for the last shots, the buzzer-beaters, the hard fouls, the victories and the defeats. Thank you for making me earn my keep. Thank you for #23.
Thank you for North Carolina and Chicago. Thank you for the air and the nickname. Thank you for the moves and the hang time. Thank you for the Slam-Dunk Contest. Thank you for the will and the determination, the heart and the soul, the pride and the courage. Thank you for the competitive spirits and the competition to challenge it. Thank you for the failures and the setbacks, the blessings and the applause. Thank you for the triangle. Thank you for baseball and the Barons. Thank you for forgiving me. Thank you for the assistant coaches, the trainers, and the physical therapists.
Thank you for the announcers, the refs, the writers, the reporters, the broadcasters and the radio stations. Thank you for the Pistons and the Lakers, the Cavs and the Knicks, the Sixers and the Celtics. Thank you for Phoenix, Portland, Seattle and Utah. Thank you for the Wizards. Thank you for the believers and the doubters. Thank you for Coach Smith, Coach Loughery, Coach Albeck, Coach Collins and Coach Jackson. Thank you for the education and the experience. Thank you for teaching me the game behind, beneath, within, above and around the game…the game game.
Thank you for every fan who has ever called my name, put their hands together for me and my teammates, slapped me five or patted me on the back. Thank you for everything you’ve given my family. Thank you for the moon and the stars, and last but not least, thank you for Bugs and Mars.I know I’m not the only one who loves you. I know you have loved many before me and will love many after me. But, I also know what we had was unique. It was special. So as our relationship changes yet again, as all relationships do, one thing is for sure.I love you, Basketball. I love everything about you and I always will. My playing days in the NBA are definitely over, but our relationship will never end.
Much Love and Respect,
Michael Jordan

“SOMEDAY” Disease

Posted: September 29, 2018 in Uncategorized

“Some Day” is a disease that will take your Dreams to the Grave with you.

(Written by Tim Ferris)

I have come to realize on my fifty-one-year journey that there is nothing more liberating than giving up the desire to be liked by everyone. Learn to love your struggles. The best day of your life is the day you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses.

If you cannot lead yourself, how will you lead others? Self-leadership is the art of getting extraordinary performance from your skill sets. Each person is free is to discover his or her own greatness. Our responsibility is to lift people up, not tear them down. The best use of power is in service to others.

A free person is one that conquers fear. Life is intended to be lived. Thus we must push our boundaries to their outer limits. The only real failure is the failure to act. Rejection can be the first step towards success. Many of life’s frustrations and adversities are wrapped in a package labeled opportunities.

My mission in life is to live a better, more fulfilling, more interesting, more balanced existence while being a positive difference in the lives of others. Competition inspires us to do more than what is required. Winning in sports is easier than winning in life. Failure is a growth opportunity. At some point in life, we have to unlearn most things to begin learning new things.

Be careful not to take one person’s opinion and make it the universal truth. Our minds should never be a place to store garbage. Uncluttered minds produce highly productive thinkers and results. The most worthless conversations take place when no one is listening. Open the windows of your mind to usher in fresh thinking. Always remain a student in life. It is the quality of your questions that determine the quality of your discoveries. The horizons are infinite. It is never too late to change and get better!

This could be one of the biggest mistakes in youth basketball.
In fact, if you’re making this same mistake, you could be crippling the development of your team.

Unfortunately, I learned the hard way and made this same mistake.
It’s running set plays and patterned offenses instead of teaching universal skills that apply to all offenses.

Now, so we get on the same page, let’s explain exactly what I mean by each term.

What is a set play?

A set play is a strategically planned and choreographed sequence of movements to get open shots and score points. Generally speaking, the sequence is ran through just one time.

Here is an example:


Step 1:

Four players start on the perimeter with player 1 in possession of the ball.

Player 5, who the play is run for, is positioned on the strong side low-block.

Player 1 passes the ball to player 2 and cuts to opposite corner.

Step 2:

After player 1 cuts to opposite corner, player 5 goes to set a back screen for player 4, who cuts to the ball-side block.

Player 5 then goes to set a ball-screen for player 2.

Step 3:

Player 5 sets a ball screen for player 2 and then rolls to the basket.

As player 5 is setting a ball-screen for player 2, player 4 cuts out to the near corner.

Player 2 dribbles towards the top of the key.

Step 4:

Player 2 passes the ball to player 4 in the corner.

In the meanwhile, player 5 is working to keep his defender under control (i.e. behind him).

Step 5:
Player 4 passes to player 5, who looks to score.

What is a patterned offense?

A patterned offense runs a sequence that turns over and over and over without the need to stop or reset.

An example would be the flex offense.

Basic Flex Motion – Guard to Guard Passes

When a guard to guard pass is made, the player on the low block sets a flex screen for the player in the corner which is followed by a down screen by the passer for the player setting the flex screen.

Any time this guard to guard pass is made, this action occurs. You could run the flex offense simply by passing guard to guard continuously. You will see this in this action over the next few diagrams.

1 passes to 2.

5 sets a flex screen for 4. 4 cuts across the lane looking for the pass from 2. This is the first option off of the flex. If 4 does not receive the pass, 4 finishes the cut at the low block.

After the screen is set, 5 opens up to the ball. This is the second flex offense option.

1 sets a down screen for 5.
1 clears to the corner.

2 passes to 5.

4 sets a flex screen for 3.

2 sets a down screen for 4.
2 clears to the corner.

And the flex pattern continues.

What are universal offensive concepts?

Universal offensive concepts are offensive skills that apply to any offense or set play.

It doesn’t matter what the coach teaches, you have developed skills that will make you a better player in their system.

This includes things like…

  • Getting open using cuts – V-cut, L-cut, basket cut, backdoor cut, post cut, flare cut, and more.
  • Utilizing screens – Down screens, ball screens, back screens, flare screens, and more.
  • Spacing
  • Counter movements to dribble penetration – Curl up, space out, cut backdoor, and so on.

As a high school coach, I would be extremely happy if you brought me a group of kids that simply knew how to keep proper spacing, basket cut (give and go), cut backdoor when overplayed, and v-cut to get open.

Then you spend the rest of practice developing 1v1 offensive skills and some man to man defense.

As all great coaches have said, it’s better to teach kids how to play rather than how to run a play.

And that’s a big problem I see at the youth level. Well-intentioned coaches will teach plays and patterned offenses, but they spend little time teaching universal offensive skills; the same skills that help them progress to the next level of basketball.

Teaching Offensive Concepts Within Plays and Patterned Offenses?

I’ve often heard the response… “But Joe, I teach my team plays (or patterned offenses) and I teach them universal offensive concepts.”

Is this okay?

Yes and no.

First, here is an example. This is a piece of the flex offense.

In the flex offense, when a player sets a screen and the player fills the guard spot.

In the diagram to the right, 1 sets a screen for 5.

However, let’s pretend that the defender guarding 5 is denying the pass.

This could cause the offense to stop and give the defense an advantage.

If you’ve ever taught plays and patterned offenses at the youth level, you know this can happen quite often.

So a coach who teaches universal concepts would simply have 5 cut backdoor or screen again for 1.

This is better than what most youth coaches do.

However, there is a big reason I’m still not a proponent of this.

Running set plays and patterned offenses wastes tons of practice time

At the youth level, I’ve ran set plays. I’ve ran patterned offenses.

I know how much practice time it takes to effectively run them during games.

I once saw a coach who ran 30 set plays with his middle school team. Each week, they had a practice day dedicated only to running plays.

90 minutes every week wasted.

Do that over a 16-week season. That’s 1,440 minutes!

Do that over 5 seasons… that’s 7,200 minutes!

Imagine if you take that time and you practiced 1v1 offensive skills and universal offensive concepts.

You would make a ton of progress. And the players would be much better.

And they would have a way better chance of making their high school teams. And the few fortunate ones might even play at the college level.

I was fortunate to coach a 7th grade team that had 4 future college players on it. And it wasn’t even an elite or all star team.

With a professional career, would you rather make less money or more money in the future?

Imagine that you are currently working and you had two choices in your profession.

Option 1 – Each week, you work 20 hours on tasks that develop your professional skills. These skills directly increase your future salary.

Then you spend another 20 hours each week on tasks that don’t increase your skills and won’t increase your future salary.

Option 2 – Each week, you work 40 hours on tasks that develop professional skills. These skills directly increase your future salary.

The answer is so evident that you already know the answer!

Now think back to what we just talked about with set plays.

You’re asking players to choose Option 1. You’re asking them to waste their time working on things that won’t make them better basketball players for the future!

Also since I know there are some people that are going to agree to disagree…

Now, I wholeheartedly believe you should teach universal offensive concepts in a progressive manner within a motion offense structure.

However, if you still disagree with me. Make sure you do this…

If you’re running a patterned offense with youth teams, use the flex offense and teach universal concepts. It puts players in all positions on the floor. It also teaches them how to utilize multiple cuts and screens.

Don Kelbick’s Dynamic Flex Offense shows you how to do that.

Absolutely do not run an offense that puts big players underneath the basket and guards outside. You want them to learn all positions and skills.

I’ve seen too many situations where a 6’1 twelve year old is a 6’1 eighteen year old. And because they were put under the basket, they never developed any guard skills.

I’ve seen other situations where a 5’5 twelve year old only practiced guard skills but grew to be a 6’8 player. Imagine a 6’8 player with guard and post skills!

Resource For Motion Offense and Universal Offensive Concepts:

Don Kelbick’s Motion Offense — DVD 2-Pack & Supplemental eBook

Tim Schuring’s Complete Offensive System — Transition, Secondary Break, Motion, Press Breaker

What do you think? Let us know by leaving your comments, suggestions, and questions… 

I don’t think this is debatable… Jay Wright’s Villanova program has been the best in NCAA Men’s Basketball over the last four years. Two national championships say a lot!

This year, Villanova had the #1 ranked offense according to Ken Pomeroy’s stats. And they were ranked #3, #3, and #4 the previous three years. And this is out of 351 teams!

And here is what they do offensively. Villanova teaches concepts. They don’t teach plays.

When one Big East scout was asked if Villanova had 5 plays, the response was “… If that.”

This might sound very similar to an article that we wrote on the importance of avoiding plays and teaching UOCs (Universal Offensive Concepts) to youth and high school teams. That way, they know how to play in any situation and for any program.

Additionally, your practice time isn’t wasted on teaching plays which does NOT make players better. Instead, you teach them how to play. This empowers you to spend every minute of practice developing better players. In my opinion, this is what every youth, middle school, and JV coach should be doing.

When you do this over multiple years, you really start to separate from the pack. That’s because these little incremental improvements really start to add up over time.

And obviously, the best college coaches like Jay Wright see the value in teaching this at the college level as well.

Consistency of the Basics

Posted: June 9, 2018 in Uncategorized

When building a community based team sport from the bottom up – there needs to be consistency.

Consistency in the Terms we use.
Consistency in the Values we teach.
Consistency in the our Goal.

Consistency in All the BASIC fundamentals of the game.

Starting our in the Youngest of groups (3rd grade and on UP) Consistency is key to getting everybody on board Parents, Parent Coaches, players, Refs, Park and Rec leagues and Coaches.

As we begin this Journey – the kids who are playing are the most important. We must make this game fun and energetic, involving all the kids in all aspects of the game. Defense / Offence / Ball Handling / Support across the bench as well as the players on the floor.

This will give each kid equal opportunity to take advantage of our knowledge and grow as a student athlete and person.

This will lead to more kids being involved further into their High School careers.

This will lead to having extremely successful programs go the distance in all aspects.

Kids grow up FAST – from year to year, the difference in their abilities will change dramatically. Always count all kids in everything. The next year they may grow 6 inches and develop in talents that are beyond our scope.

Keeping an eye on the BASICS is the Key. All kids have the knack to learn the simplest of skills and repeat that same training all through their entire career. This will lead to more kids staying involved.
Leaders will rise // Role players will develop and the team will come together and the PEAK.

More to Come – What are the BASics we should be teaching (Tactical Approach)