“I was so hungry I ate everything in front of me and I’m still not satisfied. Plus, my stomach hurts. You took your sweet time eating a ham sandwich and you’re smiling like it was the best thing you ever had.”
Me: Are any of you guys playing for other teams?
MCS Phoenix basketball player: I play in three other leagues in the summer.
Me: Do you feel like it has improved your game? What have you learned this past summer that you can share with the team?
Player: I don’t really know. I just know I play a lot.
I am a huge fan of basketball -playing it, watching it, coaching it, analyzing it, talking it. I’ve followed collegiate and professional basketball for decades and even challenge myself to name what college NBA players attended. I’m a bit obsessed. So, I don’t have any issues with any of my players who are immersed in basketball and want to play daily and in multiple leagues.
What I caution parents and coaches of young basketball prospects is if your player has the potential to become very good or even phenomenal basketball players, simply playing the sport without propercoaching could help develop and establish bad habits that are very difficult to change later in life.
Coach Mike Phillips often speaks to our young players about fixing the “belly shot,” a form of shooting where the ball and hands start right under the chest making it easier for a defender to block or even negate the shot from being taken. A player with this shooting style who doesn’t receive proper coaching early will simply take this form to his other teams, his other leagues, in every game, now and forever.
Coach Phillips attempted to teach the team to shoot by releasing the ball from above their heads. Add a jump to this shot and it becomes much more difficult to defend. Well, without much surprise, our players were completely resistant to changing their shooting style. In one practice session, Coach Phillips and I worked with one particular player for almost 30 minutes just on this one shooting drill. We started at the low post and then moved him out to about 10 feet on the baseline. He improved his shooting by more than 50%. When game time came, he reverted back to the belly shot. When I asked him why, he said simply “that’s how I’ve always shot Coach.”
Players who turn their bodies in the lane because they have become scared of contact will simply become “matadors” with their other teams.
Encourage your players to play a lot of basketball, talk basketball, watch basketball -the whole game, not highlights on youtube. But I suggest that they have one main basketball guru who they trust to teach and help them improve their game fundamentals while they’re having fun and making friends. This is the same concern around the old adage, “Practice makes Perfect!” Well, practice is extremely important. A player’s performance will not be determined on game day, but rather during the preparation period during practice sessions.
But in my opinion, “Practice makes Perfect!” needs a slight shift to “Perfect Practice makes Perfect!” It’s the idea that practice without focus, without purpose and without understanding what needs improvement ends up just being two-hours of hanging out with friends on a court. That’s not a bad thing but that’s not the reason they joined the team or why you signed on to coach.
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