Category Archives: Skill Development

Alan Stein’s “Great Players”

AlanHere is an awesome list compiled by Alan Stein who is one of the most respected teachers of the game in the entire country:

  • Great players… can pivot both ways off of either foot and can dribble, pass, and finish around the basket with either hand. They don’t have a ‘weak’ hand.
  • Great players… love and respect the game of basketball. They don’t play for money or fame; they play for love.
  • Great players… are unselfish passers. They hit open teammates. They know the goal is to get THE best shot; not THEIR best shot.
  • Great players… don’t commit stupid fouls.  They know their greatness is eliminated if they are on the bench in foul trouble.
  • Great players… are students of the game. They watch film. They study opponents. They study themselves.
  • Great players… value every possession.  They aren’t careless with ball.  They make smart passes and take high percentage shots.
  • Great players… don’t wait for the workout or practice or game to start… they prepare for it! They prepare mentally and physically.
  • Great players… are super competitive. They hate losing more than they enjoy winning. They compete in everything they do!
  • Great players… always know the time and score. They know how many time-outs they have as well as who is in foul trouble on both teams.
  • Great players… log the game in the mind. At any point in time, they can tell you exactly what happened, on both ends of the floor, the last 3 possessions.
  • Great players… are assertive with the ball, welcome contact when driving to the cup, and get to the free throw line.
  • Great players… immediately think ‘Next Play.’  They don’t dwell on mistakes (missed shot or TO)… they make up for it on the other end.
  • Great players… make plays, not excuses. They don’t care if the refs suck, if the floor is slippery, or if they have a cold. They get it done.
  • Great players… are the first ones in the gym… and the last ones to leave EVERY day.
  • Great players… don’t worry about getting exposure.  They focus more on never getting exposed!
  • Great players… elevate their teammates to become great players too!
  • Great players… know that their legacy will be judged on their ability to win championships.
  • Great players… would rather play ball than anything else.  They truly love to play.
  • Great players… are well rounded and have a complete game.  They can ‘hurt’ you in a variety of ways.
  • Great players… are top notch communicators.  They talk with a presence on both ends of the floor.
  • Great players… want the ball in their hands when the game is on the line because they know they have put in the work to DESERVE success.
  • Great players… train with a purpose. Their workouts are focused, intense, and progressive.  Nothing they do on the court is casual.
  • Great players… give back to their program and are humble and grateful for what basketball has done for them.
  • Great players… are responsible for tone and effort of the entire team… every workout, practice, and game.
  • Great players… are always thinking two plays ahead.
  • Great players… hold themselves, their teammates, and their coaches accountable. They believe in collective responsibility.
  • Great players… play in straight lines and sharp angles. They make hard basket cuts and set solid screens.
  • Great players… love playing and competing against other great players.
  • Great players… know that no detail is too small and that the smallest of details can make them even better.
  • Great players…have high values. They value their teammates, winning, and self improvement.
  • Great players… are never content and never complacent.

How many of these traits do you have?



My Coach Sucks

Here is a great video that demonstrates how hard it can be for coaches having to deal with all the outside influences their players have around them.

Players: Please watch this and internalize how important it is for you to be accountable for your own actions. The more you push blame aside in your life the less likely you are to be successful in whatever path of life you choose!

“Bobbleheads” Can’t Shoot

Bobbleheads Can't ShootWhen players start to experience a mid season shooting slump they usually look for any possible flaws in their mechanics.

They check their shoulders, their elbows, their feet and their fingers. One thing they hardly ever check is their head!

Here is what Thomas Emma, President of Power Performances has to say about a shooter’s head:

Too much head movement can drastically hinder shooting accuracy by causing the shooter to
lose balance and focus. This shooting defect is a common problem for athletes at all levels of play from junior high school on up through the professional ranks.

When shooting it is imperative for the shooter to keep the head stationary. Even the slightest head tilt can be enough to send an otherwise perfectly aimed shot awry. Coaches should consistently be on the lookout for players who move their heads when shooting because it is very difficult for a shooter to detect this subtle flaw in shooting form on his or her own.

If you find yourself in a shooting slump and all your other shooting mechanics seem to be “normal” try taking a look to see if your head is moving.

Have your coach help you or have a friend or parent record a short video while you are going through a shooting workout.

Once the problem is recognized it becomes much easier to fix.

Back to the Basket Workout

Back to the BasketDuring the course of the season when we are all worried a bout the next game it is easy to forget about skill development work and the process of getting better.

Over the next few posts I’m going to include some individual workout ideas that you can either use with your team or individually.

This particular workout will help you if you play with your back to the basket.

Start under the basket and spin the ball out to yourself so you catch it about the first hash mark above the block. Keep your center of gravity low and catch the ball out of a jump stop with your feet wide. Give a quick head and shoulder fake one way and drop step the opposite direction. Take no more than one dribble.

Drop step baseline from both right and left sides making (not shooting) 10 shots with the right hand and 10 shots with the left hand.

Drop step middle from both right and left sides making (not shooting) 10 jump hooks with the right hand and 10 jump hooks with the left hand.

Double drop step. Do a normal drop step one way, pick the ball up and drop the opposite foot in the opposite direction. Make 20 shots going in both directions.

Up and under. This is a great counter tot he jump hook. As the defense slides to one side show the ball, step through, and jump off two feet. Make 10 shots from each side.

Turn around jump shot. Make 10 shots turning to your right and 10 shots turning to your left. Do this from both sides of the floor.

Turn around up and under. Turn over your shoulder like you are shooting a jump shot, show the ball and then step through. Make 10 shots from both sides and in each direction.

Finish the workout with 25 free throws because as you do these moves correctly and become a bigger scoring threat you are going to be fouled more than ever before!


Use Hockey Steps to Shake Your Defender

Hockey StepsHere is a great tip from the Concord Storm that can be used either with or without the ball:

“As you run forward at a moderate speed, take a series of short, quick, parallel steps. Stay low with your knees flexed. Combine this with a change of direction move and you will have your defender scrambling behind trying to catch up.”

“Also while you are running and taking these hockey steps alternately thrown in some head and/or shoulders fakes. This will help confuse the defense because with different body parts all going in different directions the defense can’t be totally sure which way you will eventually cut.”

Viglione Ball Handling Part 2

Part 2Here is Part 2 of Coach Danielle Viglione’s high intensity ball handling workout:

Start by standing on the baseline under the basket facing half court or you can start on the elbow facing the basket. Use the line of the key from the baseline to the elbow to make your dribble move.

You will take one dribble and make your move midway between the baseline and the elbow. Start at 50% speed and shift gears on the crossover to 100% speed dribble.

Stop at the other side and turn around and do the same move on the way back, Change speeds and work on explosive bursts as well as your ball handling moves.

    • Crossover dribble: 10-15 moves in 30 seconds switching hands each time
    • Between legs dribble: 10-15 moves in 30 seconds switching hands each time
    • Behind the back dribble: 10-15 moves in 30 seconds switching hands each time
    • In and out right hand: 10-15 moves in 30 seconds with only your right hand
    • In and out left hand: 10-15 moves in 30 seconds with only your left hand
    • In and out crossover: 10-15 moves in 30 seconds switching hands each time
    • Bounce out one dribble and go: 10-15 moves in 30 seconds with only right or left hand
    • Bounce out one dribble and cross: 10-15 moves in 30 seconds switching hands each time
    • Retreat dribble with 2 dribbles back and then go: 8-10 moves in 30 seconds with same hand
  • Retreat dribble with 2 dribbles back and crossover: 8-10 moves in 30 seconds switching hands

Viglione Ball Handling Part 1

Ball Handling Part 1A couple days ago I posted some excellent advice from Danielle Viglione. Here is the first part of one of Coach Viglione’s ball handling workouts that she uses at The Sacramento Skills Academy:

Make sure you go game speed. If you get tired during any part of the workout, shoot free throws until you can go full speed again.

Stationary Dribbling: (keep your chest up, your eyes up, your hips down and pound the ball through your wrist and elbow. Never let any air between the ball and your hands!)

    • Pound dribbles right and left hand without a mistake: 20 reps in 15 seconds
    • Pound dribble into crossover: 15-20 reps in 15 seconds
    • Pound dribble into between the legs: 15-20 reps in 15 seconds
    • Pound dribble into behind the back: 15-20 reps in 15 seconds
    • Pound dribble right hand into in and out dribble with left foot jab: 15-20 reps in 15 seconds
    • Pound dribble left hand into in and out dribble with left foot jab: 15-20 reps in 15 seconds
    • In and out dribble with crossover continuous without a dribble in between: 15 reps in 15 seconds
  • Pound dribble and mix and match any of the above for double moves (double crosses, between leg and crossover, behind back and crossover, crossover between leg, etc.)


Be Great When You Don’t Have to Be

Be BetterThe following advice comes from former high school, college, and professional star Danielle Viglione, who is now helping others follow in her footsteps at the Sacramento Skills Academy.

It is so simple yet can have a major impact on any player’s (and/or coach’s) career. I am going to read this to my own team this afternoon!

I’m sure you all have dreams in basketball. When I was a girl about your age all I had was a ball and a dream. I think about all the countless hours I spent in a gym or on an outdoor court by myself when no one else was watching.

I broke Cheryl Miller’s record for points in a season my junior year in high school. That same year I broke the national record for three pointers made in a game with 14 and I scored over 3000 points in my high school career in just 3 years.

I was the California player of the year two years in a row  and went on to play at the University of Texas where I started breaking records my freshman year.

I still hold the Texas single game scoring record of 48 points and also received countless scholar-athlete awards because I put an emphasis on school. I started my professional career playing for the Sacramento Monarchs and then spent 10 years playing overseas in Israel, Turkey, and Italy.

But the thousands of hours of relentless training, the hours with no one in the stands, no one to cheer me on but my own ambition and desire – that is what made me successful. I was great when I didn’t have to be!

 I was giving 100% when no one was watching. The toughest competition in my life is that which I set up for myself when no one else was watching. You need to do the job that doesn’t have to be done and do it better than it needs to be done.

Be great when you don’t have to be great!



Improve Your Passing to Get More Playing Time

Better PassingWithout a doubt, passing is the most under developed skill in the game today yet it is definitely one of the most important.

Because so few players can pass the ball really well, becoming a great passer is one of the quickest and surest ways to get a lot more playing time. If you can accurately deliver the ball to your teammates than you are an invaluable asset no matter what offense your team is running.

Here is a simple series of passing drills that you can work on by yourself – all you need is a wall and a ball. If you regularly stay after practice and spend a few minutes working on your passing (Who else does that? Probably no one else on your team!) not only will your passing skills improve but your coach will know you are serious about getting better and getting more court time!

  • Right hand and left hand behind the back pass: 12 reps in 10 seconds with each hand
  • Pound dribble into a behind the back pass: 12 reps in 20 seconds
  • Right hand and left hand fake high then bounce pass low: 12 reps in 20 seconds
  • Right and left hand fake low and air pass by the ear: 12 reps in 20 seconds
  • Fake right and pass left with a left foot pivot: 12 reps in 20 seconds
  • Fake left and pass right with a right foot pivot: 12 reps in 20 seconds
  • Dribble moves followed by right and left handed passes: 10 reps each, no time limit

Each pass above needs to be thrown hard off the wall and needs to be aimed at a specific target (use a piece of tape if necessary).

Just throwing the ball in the direction of the wall is not game-like and won’t help you improve!

Great Shooters Do These 12 Things

  1. The Shooters 12Shoot well off the catch and the dribble
  2. Use screens effecticely
  3. Are not great by accident – they put in serious work
  4. Shoot the same way every time
  5. Are always shot ready
  6. Go to the gym and MAKE 500 shots (anyone can SHOOT 500 shots)
  7. Have a pregame routine
  8. Practice game shots at game speed from game spots
  9. Don’t make 500 different shots – they make 1 shot 500 times
  10. Shoot whether they’re on or off
  11. Focus on the next shot not the last one
  12. Always think the next shot is in

The above list comes from Coach Daniel Makepeace of Pure Intensity Basketball