By Russ Williemson
Great players and teams not only work hard, but they also work smart. They maximize their gym time. Here are a few keys that will help in taking your basketball workout to the next level and help you maximize your gym time.
One of the keys to skill development is intensity of the drill. A coach has a duty to push players to their limits and require each technique and action to be done at game speed. Obviously when learning a new skill, players need to grasp the concept before increasing speed, but once they feel confident with the skill, everything must be done at a high level of intensity. The pressure of cutting full speed, getting shoulders square to the rim, balanced feet, and being able to knock down a jump shot in a game can and should be mimicked in daily workouts. Remember – quality over quantity.
Another way to improve skill development is building relationships with your players. The old cliché that no one cares how much you know until they know how much you care, is very true. Our Head Coach, Steve Payne, talks all the time about leading our league in minutes spent with our players off the court. Mike Dunlap of the Charlotte Bobcats talks about learning each of your kid’s stories. Your players will work hard and trust what you tell them, if you spend time with them outside of basketball.
One thing we like to do at Tennessee Tech is contour our basketball training to our offense. For example, we rarely allow our posts to use a post move with more than one dribble so we do not practice it. We want our guards to create a shot for a teammate, so instead of attacking off a ball screen and shooting a 3FG, we take two hard dribbles to the paint and kick out for a penetrate and pitch 3FG. This trains your players to stay within your offense, gives them confidence to score and be an effective player in your system.
One final way to help improve skill development is to use a variety of drills and challenge your players. Sometimes we as coaches get comfortable with what we teach and that’s all we do. In today’s society, player’s minds need to be stimulated more frequently. If your player becomes bored with the workouts, their intensity will weaken. It’s our jobs as coaches to keep their minds fresh and hungry to learn.
These are just a few ways to help improve your skill development. While all these drills and tips are great, I have learned the most that it comes down to the player. They either have it or they do not. By “it”, I mean the work ethic to make him or herself a good player. The best players are gym rats that continue to work and improve their game on a daily basis!