“Do Simple Better.” -Joe Maddon, Manager Chicago Cubs
“No matter the level, It’s all about basic. There’s no magic bullet. Even in the NBA, especially in the NBA, it’s all about fundamentals”. -Gregg Popovich, Head Coach San Antonio Spurs
“More NBA players need to work on the same things 4th graders are”. -Erik Spoelstra, Head Coach Miami Heat
“Kobe, you are the best player in the world. Why would you spend two hours on some of the most fundamental drills in the game and do them over and over again?” Kobe’s answer: “Why do you think I am the best player in the world?” -Alan Stein after observing a Kobe Bryant workout.
Before becoming advanced, elite, or select, we should master the basics. Fundamentals that are quickly executed in the correct manner with attention to detail. Do the simple things better than anyone else and you’ll develop the ability to be competitive and creative.
Before working on dribble combinations, hip swivels and floats, etc., I’d get great at the following:
1. The ability to go full speed with your off hand and finish.
2. Changing speeds.
3. Get great at one change of direction, either cross over or between the legs. We prefer between the legs. You are balanced, the ball is well protected, and you can still go by people.
4. Never fight pressure, be able to back the ball up and create space, get a new angle and attack.
Do you have a plan to master the above? I’d start building a ball handling program with one and two ball stationary drills. The younger the player the more time you need to spend on these drills. Constantly work to develop the ability to pound and become ball quick. Once you can do a drill ten times in a row, start to take thirty second timings. How quick can you cross the ball over? Get it between your legs? Behind the back? Stationary drills are crucial in building a base that allows you to start moving with the basketball.
I’ve always liked this teaching sequence I got from John Miller, the highly successful coach from Blackhawk High School in Pennsylvania. The offensive skills program he developed led to Blackhawk winning multiple state championships. He would teach a dribble move stationary first, then add one step, then attack on the move. He’d teach inside out by doing it stationary, first teaching players to circle the ball in the correct manner. He’d then add one step, teaching players to step hard with their left foot, selling left as they circled the ball with their right hand.
This allowed players to develop a great feel for the timing of the move. He would then have players work full speed for example, executing the commando drill for thirty seconds.
To become advanced, elite, or select-master the basics first. Do simple better.
Written by Forrest Larson, Take it to the Rim.