Category Archives: Skill Development

Are You Making Things Harder for Your Coach?

USA CoachIn a recent article in the Hartford Courant, UCONN’s Hall of Fame coach Geno Auriemma says coaching is harder now than ever before.

Why would he say that?

“Most of it is the players who are coming out of high school now, they’re not as well prepared to play college basketball.

What you’re dealing with is a certain level of expectation that they have vs. the reality of what they can and cannot do.

Kids get in there and the minute they struggle, which they are supposed to do, they want to find somebody who is at fault for it.

Coaches are dealing with the expectations these kids have but it takes a while to reach those expectations. Unfortunately, we live in a society now where everything has to happen quickly or it’s somebody’s fault.”

As a player are you realistic about what you can and cannot do? Do you expect to be great without taking the time to put in the necessary work? How do you (or your parents) react when your development doesn’t happen overnight? Is your approach and mindset making things easier or harder on your coach?

Position Requirements for Point Guards

Point GuardsAt the Nike Basketball Skills Academy players are taught that In order to effectively play the point guard position they should be able to do the following:

  • Bring the ball up the floor against full court pressure
  • Change speed and direction to create separation
  • Use a ball screen and shoot a floater or a pull up jumper
  • Play a two man game off of the post
  • Be an effective 3 point shooter
  • Have twp separation moves off the dribble and out of triple threat
  • Shoot the floater as well as a second finishing move
  • Defensively pressure a ball handler the length of the court
  • Pass with either hand
  • Effectively hit players in transition when they are open
  • Make shots off a pin down (down screen)
  • Make open shots – shoot 70% in practice so you can shoot 45-50% in games
  • Have an assist to turnover ratio of 2:1
  • Recognize the hot hand and get him the ball where he can score

Position Requirements for Post Players

Post Play RequirementsAt the Nike Basketball Skills Academy players are taught that In order to effectively play in the post they should be able to do the following:

  1. Sprint the floor
  2. Shoot a trail jumper consistently
  3. Have a low, mid, and high post game with separation moves and counters
  4. Own the mid line by consistently posting deep
  5. Pick and roll; pick and pop
  6. Be able to contest all post ups and face ups on defense
  7. Be mentally tough
  8. Be in great shape to play end line to end line
  9. Must be a great rebounder
  10. Be able to run rim to rim in four seconds
  11. Be able to defend the low, mid, and high post areas

Positon Requirements for Wing Players

Wing PlayersAt the Nike Skills Academy players are taught that In order to effectively play the wing they should be able to do the following:

  1. Create their own shot in two dribbles
  2. Get separation off the catch with right and left foot in triple threat
  3. Master the pin down (down screen)
  4. Shoot the 3 effectively – shoot 60-70% in practice so you can shoot 35-45% in games
  5. Play the pick and roll game consistently
  6. Cut and split off the post
  7. Sprint the floor and shoot in transistion
  8. Contain dribble penetration
  9. Be mentally tough. Commit to what you are supposed to do
  10. Be in great shape
  11. Have to have a floater – a layup over taller defenders in the lane
  12. Make open shots. Shoot 70% in practice from 15-19 feet so you can shoot 45-50% in a game

Fred Litzenberger – a Coach’s Coach

Lessons LearnedLast week I had the opportunity to talk to one of the best basketball minds I’ve ever met – Fred Litzenberger, who is currently helping Luke Jackson put the Northwest Christian University men’s team on the map.

Coach “Litz” has been teaching and coaching basketball for over 40 years and has coached at Northern Colorado, Hamline University, Northwestern State, Eastern Washington, Fresno State, Colorado State, the University of Miami, Oregon (both men and women) and Vanguard University.

He has also worked with the United States Basketball Academy and the Chinese Junior National team. His teams have been in 18 NCAA Tournaments and have lead the country in scoring defense four times.

Several years ago he produced some defensive instructional tapes that were nothing short of awesome. Unfortunately, those tapes aren’t being sold anymore and so even a bootleg copy is considered by many to be coaching “gold,”

The thing that has always impressed me about Litz is his accessibility to other coaches. I first met him at a basketball camp over 20 years ago and was immediately in awe of his ability to enthusiastically and passionately teach a gym full of campers how to front pivot and reverse pivot for nearly an hour.

The time flew by and the kids were genuinely disappointed when the session ended. Ever since then when I’ve been lucky enough to bump into him in a gym somewhere, Litz has greeted me like a long lost friend instead of just a coaching colleague.

During the last 20 years I’ve called or emailed Litz four or five times with a question or strategy that I’ve wanted his opinion on and he’s never been too busy to help.

No one answers his phone for him or screens his emails and if you don’t realize how rare that is these days then you probably haven’t been coaching very long yet.

If you ever have a chance to see one of Coach Litzenberger’s instructional tapes or better yet, see him teach in person, then by all means do yourself a favor and do it. You’ll be a better coach because of it!

6 C’s of Mentally Tough Players

Mental Toughness 1. Mentally tough players look at competition as a challenge to rise up to rather than a threat to back down from.

2. Mentally tough players are confident. They have a “can do” attitude and a belief they can handle whatever comes their way.

3. Mentally tough players are in control of their thoughts and behaviors. They focus only on things that are under their control.

4. Mentally tough players are composed. They maintain poise, concentration, and emotional control under pressure and challenging situations.

5. Mentally tough players are committed. They focus all their available time and energy on their goals.

6. Mentally tough players are courageous. They are willing to take risks. It takes courage to grow up and reach for your full potential.

The following ideas are from skill development trainer Luke Meier.

6 Qualities of Great Shooting Guards

  1.  Shooting GuardsGreat shooting guards aren’t ball stoppers and score within their teams’ system. They let  the game come to them but also know when it’s time to take over.
  2.  Great shooting guards remember the makes and forget the misses. They ‘play present” and always have confidence in their game and in their scoring ability.
  3.  Great shooting guards love getting buckets but also take pride in shutting down their opponent’s best scorer. They love making their opponent feel useless.
  4.  Great shooting guards can their own shot but can also create for others. Great shooting guards are play-makers and not just scorers.
  5.  Great shooting guards sprint the wings ever time. They know sprinting will reward them with open shots and finishes at the rim and open up opportunities for others.
  6.  Great shooting guards can make 3’s consistently but don’t just settle for 3’s. They take on balance 3’s but can also score in mid range or at the basket.

The above concepts were taken from a series of tweets on the Pure Sweat Twitter Timeline.

LeBron’s Core Workout

Core WorkoutA few days ago we posted a simple yet effective jump rope routine that can help you start getting in better shape.

Here’s a workout that skill development trainer Ganon Baker uses to help LeBron strengthen his core.

It was originally printed in a Nike Skills Academy handout. Each set is done for 30 seconds with no rest before moving on to the next exercise.

  1. Crunches – feet never touch ground – ball is squeezed between the calves. Lift the knees to the chest and then straighten.
  2. Lifts – same as above but the legs come over the head with the knees straight.
  3. Toe touches – lay on your back with your legs locked. Bring your right leg up and touch toes with a basketball while keeping the left leg straight on the ground. Repeat while alternating legs.
  4. Twists – sit up on your butt with your legs off the floor. Hold a ball in both hands and twist from side to side.
  5. Bicycle – touch ball to knee, keep other leg straight, laying on your back, touch ball to elbow.
  6. Side planks – place one hand on the floor with the other hand up in the air while laying with your body and feet sideways on the floor. Elite players can place their hand on a ball instead of the ground.
  7. Front planks – place forearms on the floor and lift your body up while keeping your back straight and your body square to the ground.
  8. Push-ups – do regular push-ups while  placing both hands on a basketball and keeping both feet on the floor. Elite players can place both feet on another ball.