Basketball on the Edge – Get More From Pick-up Basketball – Vintage Edition

Pickup Basketball

When playing pick-up basketball whether that be at the local rec center, your school’s open gym, or the playground (becoming rarer every year) how can that time out on the court result in maximum improvement? Here are tips that will help you get more out of pick-up games.

1. Don’t call fouls – ever!

Why shouldn’t you call fouls? It makes you tougher. It makes you go to the basket stronger. It teaches you to finish through contact. You don’t want to be the whiny “foul guy (or girl)” on the court. I never called a foul in a pick-up game after junior high. I even refused fouls when opponents would give them to me (That may have got in their head and made them play me less aggressively, who knows).

2. Play a different position.

If you are a guard, take your opponent inside and work on your post-up game. If you are a big man, spend some time on the perimeter setting your teammates up with nifty passes. If you are a pass-first point guard, be a little selfish and work on creating your own shot for a change. Work on skills that expand your game.

3. Run the floor hard on every possession.

No matter what the level of competition, you can always get something out of a pick-up game by running the floor. Push yourself to run hard on every change of possession. This is a great opportunity to work on your conditioning while playing basketball. Don’t waste it by basket hanging or not getting back on defense. Develop the habit of outrunning the opposition now and during your season you’ll score a couple of easy baskets each game while preventing several easy baskets at the other end. That could be the difference in winning or losing a meaningful game.

4. Work on your weaknesses.

Not a great ballhandler? Bring the ball up court in pick-up games. Need to become a better rebounder? Crash the boards every time a shot goes up. You’re strictly a jump shooter? Look to drive to the basket. You get the idea. Use pick-up games to get better and expand your skill set.

5. Do the opposite.

Use your weak hand as much as possible. Try to dribble with your weak hand while bringing the ball up court. Finish at the rim using only your weak hand. Make passes with your weak hand. Look for chances to use your weak hand whenever possible.

Try these 5 tips the next time you get into a pick-up game and try to improve your skills. These tips are especially important if you are playing in a game where you are one of the best players and the competition is not quite as good as you. If you’re playing against great competition and there’s a long wait to get back on the court, you may have to play to your strengths a little more. Just don’t waste the chance to get better by going through the motions. Be purposeful in your play!

Basketball on the Edge – Blow the Whistle Less by Bob Walsh

Mike Whistle

If you are a coach at any level from kindergarten through the pros you should take 5 minutes to read this article about why you should blow your whistle less during practice. It really got me thinking about how I coach during practice, hopefully it will do the same for you.

Click here to read the article by Bob Walsh

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Basketball on the Edge – How Can We Help Players Be More Competitive? – Vintage Edition

James Thomas 2

Competitiveness is one of the areas that many youth basketball players (and their coaches) struggle with on a daily basis. Do players fight for every loose ball or rebound? Are they willing to get after it on defense and take pride in shutting down their man? Do players want to win the one on one battles that determine the outcome of so many games? Too many coaches I talk to say the answer is no. They believe players today just aren’t as competitive as players in the past. I would tend to agree as I’ve observed this on both teams that I have coached and in my work with players as a skills trainer. How do we develop that determination to win? What can be done to help improve the competitiveness of today’s young players? I have a couple of suggestions that can help coaches improve the competitiveness of their players.

Make sure that your players compete every single day in practice by keeping score. If there is a way to make a “drill” into a “game” try to do it. Don’t just have your players shoot layups, put them on two teams and see which team can make more layups in a minute. Don’t just do a shooting drill, set a goal so the team has to make a certain number of shots in a certain amount of time. Play short squad games like 1 on 1, 2 on 2, 3 on 3, etc. but make sure you are keeping score. In my experience, I have found that competitive kids always know the score. My youngest daughterplayed smurf soccer where no official score is kept, but every time a goal was scored she told her coach or her teammates what the score was. She competed hard for the ball during the game and wanted to win. Some kids have that naturally, others don’t. By keeping score during practice coaches can help all kids become more competitive in the moment. Coaching still requires teaching a skill first before you can get competitive, but once the skill has been taught your creativity as a coach can create competitive drills/games that will develop competitiveness in your players. If your players are never trying to “win” in practice, how will they learn what it takes to win a real game?

The second way to increase the competitiveness of your players is to put your players through drills or “games” that require contact and physical play. By creating games that require players to make physical contact (think rebounding or a drill where the offense can’t dribble allowing the defense to get right up on their man) coaches can put players in position where they have to play physical to be successful. Physical play tends to bring out the competitive spirit in most players. If you’re getting bumped and pushed around you’ll tend to play harder while bumping and pushing back. Remember that playing “physical” is not shoving other players in the back, tripping them, or taking cheap shots. It just means putting players in situations where physical contact is created and required for success in the drill/game. Doing this helps players become more comfortable with the contact that occurs during a real game.

In each and every practice, find ways to get your players to compete with each other and play physical. It will undoubtedly translate to success in games.

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Basketball on the Edge – Elite: The Most Overused Word In Basketball by Ganon Baker

The Elite

Stop selling “Elite” and start selling “Development”. That’s a quote from Matt King of USA Basketball and CCC Stars. In this article Ganon Baker shares his advice on what it takes if you truly want to be ELITE in basketball or any of your endeavors.

Click here to read the article by Ganon Baker

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Basketball on the Edge – Can You Get 1% Better Every Day? – Vintage Edition

1% Better

How can my son or daughter get better and make the team next year? How can they go from being a bench player to a starter? How can they go from being a starter to being the best player on their team? These are questions I hear from parents all the time. There is no one magic bullet that will suddenly transform your young child into a superstar with multiple college scholarship offers in hand, but I have recently come across a concept that is so simple in its approach that any player can do it and get better.

What is this concept? It is called Kaizen. (If you want to read the history of where the term came from you can read about it here – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaizen) In very simple terms Kaizen means “continuous improvement”, but what does that mean from a basketball perspective and how can your child apply it to become a better basketball player?

Sustaining an effort is the most important thing for any enterprise. The way to be successful is to learn how to do things right, and then do them the same way every time. Over the length of a season, a correlation always appears between great effort and great overall numbers. It may not show from one game to the next, but in the long run superior effort is reflected in the win column. – Pat Riley

Get 1% better every day! Sometimes the road ahead of a young player can look very daunting. Other players are much more skilled, or stronger, or faster. How can a young player “jump” a level and really improve? Help your child make continuous 1% daily improvement their goal.

“When you improve a little each day, eventually big things occur. Not tomorrow, not the next day, but eventually a big gain is made. Don’t look for the big, quick improvement. Seek the small improvement one day at a time. That’s the only way it happens — and when it happens, it lasts.” —John Wooden

How do you help your young player implement the concept of Kaizen into their basketball training? Have your child ask them self this question every single day: What’s one small thing I can do today that would make me a better basketball player?

What does that look like on a daily basis? Pick a reasonable amount of time for your young player’s age. (Start small, 10 minutes a day. After a while they can add time depending on their age, motivation, and desire to improve.) Then, simply practice a particular skill for that set amount of time each day. Let’s say your child wants to be a better ball handler this coming season. If they spend 10 minutes handling the ball EVERY day for the next 10 weeks until their official practices start they will be better. They key to Kaizen is the daily continuous effort that yields small 1% gains.

The Kaizen approach to improving your game completely breaks down the big, overwhelming goals into small daily increments. Getting 1 % better encourages action. The small successes a young player experiences compound on each other and start building momentum, which leads to taking bigger and bigger actions, (like adding minutes to their daily practice time).

In addition, one of the key components of Kaizen is that there is no magic bullet that will suddenly make them a great player. Change comes through small, continuous improvement. Instead of wasting time searching for the miracle that will change everything, Kaizen helps a young player direct their attention to their daily workout and reminds them: “You already know what you need to do. Get to work and find small ways to improve along the way.” This is a great message for your young player to hear and internalize, especially when it doesn’t always come from you, the parent nagging them to practice every day. Once their daily workout is in place intrinsic motivation should take over.

Success is a few simple disciplines, practiced every day; while failure is simply a few errors in judgment, repeated every day. —Jim Rohn

Finally, Kaizen isn’t a “one and done” approach to basketball training. It’s a process of continual improvement. Your child will never “arrive” as a basketball player with Kaizen, so the temptation to sit back and relax once they’ve seen a bit of improvement is reduced.

Success isn’t owned, it’s rented. And the rent is due every day. – JJ Watt

Start getting 1% better today!

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