By Tom Sadler
Coach Sadler shares three quick wins for more effective workouts...
All too frequently, I walk in to our gym and see players working out...
The problem is they’re not really working on the stuff that will have serious benefits for their game. Too often I see players just chucking up shots and ultimately messing around.
For me, this is not maximising their training time, and (let’s be honest) we have all probably been there at some point.
Now it’s very easy to be disciplined and to work hard when the coach is on hand and pushing you through your workout. But if you are going to succeed in this game there has to come a point in where you are self-disciplined enough to work hard and more importantly motivate yourself to attack sessions when the coach isn’t around.
One of the first things we do as a coaches is teach kids how to train effectively and how to maximise their workouts.
When working out on and off the court we try and implement the following 3 simple things that will enhance their workout:
1. Train with purpose and challenge yourself. We design and make our workouts not only challenging but force players out of their comfort zone. We make it more difficult, both physically and mentally. We purposefully make it tougher than anything they will face in a game. So when it’s time for tip-off we know our guys will be ready.
2. Shoot game shots. For me there is no such thing as casual shooting. Getting lots of shots up is great for rhythm and routine but even if your just spot shooting you should be working on your footwork as you receive the ball. You should be also be focusing and concentrating on getting the ball to your set position as quickly as possible. We always try and create game like conditions and situations for our players. This can be by having them working hard to get open, coming off screens, shooting off the dribble, and finishing around the basket. The drills and shots imitate that of a game, whether at full speed or not, the focus and concentration must be the same throughout.
3. Get a rebounder. Whenever possible you need to try and have someone there to rebound the ball. With someone there with you you’re not wasting time by chasing your shots around the hall. It will also allow you to hold your follow through on your shot. It’s really important that you should always look to finish each shot with holding your follow through. Repetition is great, but correct repetition is even better.
By ONE2ONE Team
An individual drill to build stamina while improving your finishing around the rim and in transition...
This week's drill is a great, quick one person workout for the summer - to help you build your stamina and finishing around the rim.
Start with a chair at each elbow, and a ball on each chair, plus another chair or cone set approximately six feet behind the three-point line. The player is under the rim with a ball in-hand.
The player makes 19 in the Mikan drill (alternating pivot and hook shot around the rim, no dribble). On the 19th make, the ball gets placed down, the player sprints around the cone, collecting the ball from the chair on a "catch and shoot" rep.
We run through until we have 10 made jumpers from each chair.
We think this is a challenging, quick off-season workout! Give it a go and let us know how you get on!
Alternatively, if you'd like to book a ONE2ONE Basketball Coach to work you out, get in touch or you can buy our Drill Bible or Session Plans from our webstore.
by Arron MacDonald
Coach MacDonald zooms-in on what we can all learn from The Big Fundamental...
I am not a Spurs fan. So for the longest time, I considered their basketball “boring”… and then I watched again, noticing all of the little things that went into the Spurs playing “the Spurs way”, and realised I was VERY wrong.
In a similar vein to the New England Patriots, every player simply did their job. They shared the ball, they talked on defence, they worked hard, they laughed and joked with one another on the bench – and then the cameras rolled and inevitably Tim Duncan was interviewed, or worse – Pop – and it went back to boring.
That was, for the longest time, what the Spurs boiled down to… they were all beholden to an inside joke that we simply weren’t party to.
Tim Duncan was the bedrock of the most consistently-successful franchise in the league for almost two decades, and so was the face I associated with that monotony. Then I started coaching, and I started paying more attention to the ruthless efficiency with which Duncan operated on the low block, his knack for hitting cutters and shooters in-stride and grabbing rebounds at key moments.
Being a fundamentally-polished seven-footer certainly helped things, but there’s plenty that any player can learn from Tim Duncan:
Style points don’t affect the scoreboard
One of the few stats not available on basketball-reference is for bank shots, but if I had to hazard a guess at the career leader, I’d suggest it would be “The Big Fundamental”.
Shaq blessed him with that nickname, as well as anointing him as one of the “family” of all-time great bigs. Shaq summed up Duncan’s grasp of the fundamentals superbly in saying:
“I was probably 80% talent and 20% fundamental. Tim Duncan was 80% fundamental and 20% talent; and he got five rings and I got four. That still bugs the s*** out of me.”
Duncan’s bank shot from the left block was a trademark, but in-fact, he was money from pretty much every angle. He was as much a low post master as he was some sort of genius savant of geometry.
This mastery of angles is not a coincidence. It comes with hours of focused practice. It did not, however, result in a dunk contest win, clothing line, series of posters, etc. In all honesty, I was shocked to even find a bank-shot highlight reel… as it was so very un-highlight worthy.
I would bet my house that Tim Duncan, upon walking in the gym, gets close to the basket and begins his shooting routine close to the basket – he’s not casting up three’s, trying to get an Instagram video with #JellyFam or trying some other random trick shot, he's mastering the angles… and that’s something that any player can adopt instantly.
Know when, when not and how to communicate…
I rarely saw Duncan raise his voice. He was always focused and played with intensity, but was the complete antonym of his contemporaries at the four, Kevin Garnett and Rasheed Wallace.
On defence, whenever Duncan was on the floor, there was a constant friendly (but competitive) chatter – like a group of friends around a poker table, with Duncan at the hub of it all, throwing an arm around the shoulder of the team-mate who needed it most in any moment.
His calm demeanour spread along to his team-mates, who never seemed to be panicked on either end of the floor either.
Bruce Bowen – a longtime team-mate of Duncan - said of him “He’s funny, interesting, opinionated. But he wasn’t going to put on a show if he didn’t know you. If there is anything that anyone of stature could learn about his success, though, it’s how to keep your world private. After the cameras and nonstop access, he understood how important it was to have something for yourself at the end.”
Bowen added, “You talk about a guy that made it about team as compared to self, that’s what T.D. did. It was always about team for him. Even in a day and age of promoting the individual, he didn’t allow anything about himself to take away from the good of the group.”
He was a quiet leader, who stuck to his strength as a quiet leader throughout. He also understood that he needed downtime away from the spotlight, not more spotlight. Even now, there’s no sign of a verified twitter or Instagram account from TD.
One of the messages here is to be yourself - but the best version of yourself - to the benefit of your team. In the other message, consider what you need to post on social media… if anything. For aspiring athletes, the “wrong” post could cost you more than a few likes or follows, it could cost you a scholarship, or even a career – Duncan’s route (of ignoring social media entirely) is an option more and more people are taking solace in.
Excellence is a habit…
One of the knocks on Duncan is that he didn’t have a standout season – there were no two-month regular season runs of 40 points, 25 rebounds… just a constant 20-25ppg, 10-12 rebounds and a couple of assists and blocked shots.
His page on basketball-reference has a slight “Groundhog Day” feel to it. Pick almost any of his seasons through age 32 (after which Pop cut his minutes to prolong his career) and you’ll pretty much see that stat line.
Throwing that out there as a “knock” against Duncan is almost beyond arbitrary at this point, it’s almost like looking at the Sistine Chapel ceiling to see whether Michaelangelo “missed a bit”.
Duncan averaged the dream stat line for most bigs, while shooting >50% from the field and a hair under 70% from the foul line. He was consistently excellent from night-to-night.
He holds the career record for playoff double-doubles, and you just knew that when the Spurs needed him most, he’d come through for them. Not since Bill Russel had the league seen a big man able to survey his team, notice it’s holes and simply plug them as if they hadn’t existed.
In the “Book of Basketball” Bill Simmons compares Duncan to Harrison Ford – noting that after a fifteen year run everyone suddenly realised that from 1977 to 1992 Ford had appeared in three Star Wars movies, three Indiana Jones moves, Blade Runner, Patriot Games (and more)… only realising his stardom when he carried The Fugitive to on-screen success. As with Duncan, Simmons posited “there wasn’t anything inherently compelling about him. Ford only worried about delivering the goods, and we eventually appreciated him for it.”
When Duncan retired, he was coronated not only as the greatest power forward of all-time, but also as one of the greatest leaders and team-mates. The author Jon Gordon often reminds his followers to simply “show up and do the work”, knowing that the rewards will come – and indeed, in Duncan’s case they did.
When the NBA is celebrating another far-away landmark season, some kid will look up Duncan’s stats and come to the conclusion that Karl Malone was better – and they’ll be wrong.
The stats don’t show you how Duncan won titles further apart than anyone in NBA history (except Kareem), how he anchored a defence, was the team’s emotional leader, their smartest player, crunch-time scorer and most competitive player – his impact could not simply be measured in individual statistics (however magnificently consistent they may have been), but can be measured in the rings he won (one more than Shaq, and a whole handful more than Malone), the way his team-mates felt about him and the impact he left in San Antonio – not to forget the best winning percentage over a 19 year spell in NBA history at .710.
What the stats do show you though, is that Duncan showed up every day ready to go to work, and be the best version of himself that he could be – and that’s a lesson we can all learn from The Big Fundamental.
If you’d like to book a ONE2ONE BASKETBALL coach for a workout to work on your post finishing (or anything else), then please get in touch! We also offer group teamwork and leadership minicamps, and have session plans available to purchase and download, if you’re not based in our area.
By Arron MacDonald
Coach MacDonald takes a glance back at one of his all-time favourite teams, making the case for their greatness and diving into one of the biggest injustices ever committed in sports...
I’ve been obsessed with the NBA since I was 10 years old, and have always been a fan of the history of the game.
It’s clear how much the league has changed over just the past ten years – as players at every position now handle the ball and shoot the three and coaches worldwide understood the true value of different shots and great spacing.
Watching games from ten (or more years) ago almost look like a different sport, as teams tried to force the ball into the post for a contested fadeaway, played iso-ball, or generally clogged the lane and got into their own way.
There's still a ton to learn from watching older teams. While all fans have a habit of focusing on the teams which won the Championship, that is inherently flawed... as probably the biggest factors in separating a championship-winning team from an also-ran remain "health" and "luck".
Instead, I'd suggest focusing on teams who led to the evolution of the game we love, and I'm going to focus on one of those today (as well as diving into a widespread conspiracy theory about just how they fell short from a title)...
In the 00’s, the “Seven Seconds or Less” Phoenix Suns were considered revolutionary for their pace and space – but they’d be at below league average pace (and three’s per game now).
Earlier this decade, Coach Pop’s Spurs played a “European” style of basketball, focusing on drive-and-kick motion, great ball movement and a preference for shooters at each position.
As the Spurs took a backwards step, Golden State’s “Lineup of Death” struck fear into opponents every crunch time, but with the majority of teams in the league now playing at a similar pace and in a similar style, the ‘fear’ has dissipated (even if the Warriors have the name recognition and rings to show they’re still the team to beat).
While the Suns, Spurs and Warriors have been credited for changing the style of the NBA, another team set the tone, stylistically, at the turn of the century…
When the NBA moved to Channel 4 in the late 90’s (and then onto Sky), games were on most nights.
This was in the days before “League Pass” and on-demand viewing.
It was pre-Youtube.
The best we could hope for was that the VCR allowed us to schedule a recording and didn’t accidentally record the kung-fu movie on Channel 5 instead.
So what could I do to feed my NBA habit?
Like a lot of fans, I’d try to go to bed early, and set my alarm earlier to catch the games live. While I’m (still) a Celtics fan, the Eastern conference at that time didn’t make the best viewing, so instead I regularly woke up at 2:00am to catch a team I didn’t even support… forget about the Lakers, the Sacramento Kings were the real “showtime” from the moment that Jason Williams and Chris Webber came on-board.
Over the course of a few seasons, the Kings evolved into a contender and going into 2002 it was widely accepted that they were the serious contenders for the title.
This was supposed to be the turning point for the Kings as a franchise, for Webber as a superstar and for the league as a whole.
This was how the Los Angeles Lakers were supposed to be dethroned, by the small team from inside their own state who had been fighting for respectability and a playoff berth for longer than they’d had real title aspirations.
The 2002 Kings were a legitimately ten-deep juggernaut. A superteam created in the most traditional of ways, by a clever front office and owners with deep pockets (as opposed to friends wanting to play together and scheming to do so).
The roster was simply superb. Mike Bibby and perennial sixth man of the year candidate Bobby Jackson ran the point, backed up by Mateen Cleaves, still relatively fresh from his MOP performance in the Final Four. Doug Christie and Jimmy Jackson at the off-guard with a young Damon Jones providing depth and off-balance shooting.
Small forward spot was stocked with All-Star (and super wingman) Peja Stojakovic, backed up by future All-Stars Hedo Turkogku and Gerald Wallace. Franchise cornerstones Webber and Vlade Divac were the starting bigs and were backed up by Scot Pollard, Keon Clark and Lawrence Funderburke.
Jump this team on into the late 00’s or early 10’s, this team wins 65+ games, and that’s just on paper.
Delightfully, they were allowed to get onto a basketball court, where the pieces fit beyond perfectly, and were led by the masterful Rick Adelman, ably assisted by Princeton guru Pete Carrill. They played the game superbly, and brought the advent of a European style of basketball to the NBA before it was the “in” thing to do.
The Kings thrived on slick, unselfish ball movement - particularly from the posts where Webber and Divac competed to be the “best passing big ever” (not named Walton, Sabonis, Djokovic or Russell) - and on the perimeter, they had a drive and kick game that was simply before it’s time.
Even if we decried the trade of Jason “White Chocolate” Williams for Bibby, Sacramento replaced style with substance in that move, and played simply beautiful basketball in an era only otherwise known for Shaq throwing his weight around and Tim Duncan’s ability to make a ten-foot bank shot when the Spurs were simply considered boring.
In other words, the Kings were the ray of light that kept fans entertained AND played winning basketball.
…And then it all fell apart on May 31st 2002, in game six, when the Kings squared up to the Lakers, along with Dick Bavetta, Bob Delaney and Ted Bernhardt, who will hereby be known as the Three Stooges.
Please understand, as a Coach, I never condone "blaming the referees" for a result - particularly when we're talking about junior basketball, and referees working games primarily for their love of the sport and a little pocket money... but in the NBA? You only have to look into the recent ESPN piece rehashing the Donaghy scandal to understand that referees have absolutely affected the outcome of fixtures.
The figures are astounding. LA shot 27 free throws in the fourth quarter alone, benefitted from multiple egregious no-calls (in particular when, with the Kings somehow up one point with 12 seconds to go, Kobe maliciously elbowed Bibby in the nose trying to get free – an act which would warrant a flagrant foul and/or a suspension, but was met with the zebras swallowing their whistles). This was the night when NBA became WWE, and according to disgraced former referee Tim Donaghy, Mr Stern was every bit of Vince
McMahon as you could imagine:
“The ideal finals for me? The Lakers versus the Lakers, there’s just something about the Lakers.” – David Stern
Read and re-read the above. There was only ever one outcome of this series.
Michael Wilbon’s piece in the Washington Post surmised it beautifully, “six calls that were stunningly incorrect, all against Sacramento and all in the fourth quarter when the Lakers made five baskets and 21 foul shots to hold onto their championship”.
The Kings would never get another chance to go for the throne.
The following season, with everyone back, Sac’to made another run of it, but Webber’s knee gave out in the playoffs in a losing effort to Dallas, and just like that the window had closed.
Vlade went back to the Lakers. Jackson and Christie got traded, and Webber came back as a shadow of himself.
The Kings – and their fans - have never really gotten over the 2002 Western Conference Finals. It was the time when the lights shone brightest on the darker allegations made in our sport, and despite the legacies left of players like Webber, Divac, Stojakovic et al, it has fanned the flames of rumours like “Chris Webber couldn’t win the big one” that “Divac couldn’t win without Magic” or any of the other nonsense that we as basketball fans have allowed to perpetuate about these Kings over the years.
The truth is that the Kings probably won six of those seven games, the officials just happened to decide that three of them needed to go the other way to prevent the assumed ratings nightmare of a Kings-Nets finals.
The most shameful of these calamities was game six, and it meant that one of the finest teams in basketball history never got their rings, never got to raise a banner, and never got to give their city that boost it so desperately needed for the darker times that inevitably followed the team’s decline.
It also means that it’s down to the true fans, YouTube addicts and league pass junkies to spread the word of these Kings without a throne, so that the next generation of fans can at least see who the best team was that year, rather than letting them suffer the fate of being another forgotten also-ran.
Then at least, maybe, the Kings fans won’t have to try and forget about it, or get over it, but instead can rightfully celebrate one of the best basketball teams ever assembled.
Do yourself a favour and watch the highlight reel below. Whether they got hardware or not, the Kings deserve to be remembered.
By ONE2ONE Team
Our drill of the week puts a twist on the traditional team free-throw shooting drill...
When it comes to shooting, we believe "aim small, miss small".
This drill brings that maxim into focus in the scoring of the traditional "team" free-throw shooting drill - wherein players are stood around the lane, taking two shots and moving.
In this drill, we cycle through a fixed number of shots per player, scored similarly to golf...
A swished make is -1. A regular make is 0. A miss off the rim is +1 and an airball is +2.
At the end of the defined number of shots, the winning team is the one with the lowest score... losing team runs a sprint.
If you'd like to book a workout with a ONE2ONE Basketball Coach, get in touch with us. Alternatively, you can purchase session plans or our Drill Bible from our webstore.
By Dan Ashby
With it being Easter this coming weekend, what better time to talk about getting some bunnies?
Vertical jump and explosiveness are both very important areas within the game of basketball.
They can give you a big advantage over your opponents, for example in the rebounding battle, blocking or altering shots and finishing over defenders.
There are a number of exercises that can be used to aid performance in this area by strengthening the leg muscles and improving the stretch reflex. Below are a few ideas for you to try and implement into your next workout...
This is a great exercise to strengthen the quads, glutes and hamstrings while also challenging your core stability.
Standing up straight with you feet positioned at roughly shoulder width and toes turned slightly out, break at the hips sending your bum backwards.
At the same time bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Your knees should be tracking out over your second toe keeping your feet flat on the floor and weight pushing through the heels and outsides of the feet.
Make sure to keep your chest up and back straight looking ahead throughout the movement. Then reverse the movement and explode up, squeezing the glutes and standing up straight being careful not to hyper-extend the knees.
Hex Bar Deadlift
Another great exercise targeting the same muscle groups is the Hex bar deadlift, a hybrid between the squat and deadlift.
Standing inside the hex bar with your feet hip width apart and toes facing forward, grab hold of the handles, setting your shoulders back and down and chest up, back straight. Squeeze the bar off the floor, and imagine pushing the ground away with your feet. Stand up explosively, squeezing your glutes, shoulders back, standing up nice and straight. Reverse the movement to lower the bar back to the floor, ensuring your back remains straight.
Bulgarian split squats
This exercise really targets the glutes and quads and is tough on your balance too, so good for the core and stabiliser muscles equally.
To perform this exercise, place one foot on a bench with your laces down, hop forward with the other leg so you are in a nice wide stance.
Then bend the front knee until your front thigh is parallel to the floor, not allowing the knee to roll in and keeping it tracking in line with your second toe, foot flat on the floor. If your knee goes forward of your toes then take a slightly wider stance. Reverse the movement to return to the starting position and then switch legs after the set.
When performing the reps try to keep your torso as upright as possible, avoiding leaning forward or side to side, keeping your core engaged.
A great exercise to target the posterior chain, (Back, glutes, hamstrings) and work on your explosive power!
Grab a Kettlebell with both hands by the handle, taking a shoulder width stance.
Set your shoulders back, chest up, back straight with a slight bend in your knees.
Hinge forward at your hips keeping your back straight and chest up, sending your bum back keeping just the slight bend in the knees.
Explosively reverse the movement swinging the kettlebell up to eye level keeping the arms straight with the power coming from your posterior chain as you push your hips through, squeezing your glutes and standing up straight. Then let the weight swing back down sending your bum back and keeping the chest up and back straight repeating the movement.
These last exercises develop the speed and power that the muscles can exert.
Two effective examples of this type of training are vertical jumps and depth jumps.
Vertical jumps can be performed on court under the basket and consist of the player jumping to reach as high as they can on the rim or backboard repeatedly, landing and exploding up straight away for the next attempt.
Depth jumps are performed with a player standing on a box and stepping off, when they hit the ground they immediately jump up onto another box that’s a different height from the one which they stepped off from.
By Arron MacDonald
Coach MacDonald shares a few thoughts - and a story - on leadership and team culture...
I’ve coached at a lot of different levels and managed people both as a coach and professionally, but one thing I’ve always tried to emphasise is building and maintaining the culture of the team (or club) that I’ve been a part of - whether I was a “leader” or a “follower”.
Maintaining the culture is often one of the toughest things to do as a coach, as talent can be blinding to us.
With that in-mind, I wanted to share a story from the 2017/18 season, exerpts of which were originally published at www.burybasketball.com...
During pre-season, we spent an evening with every Senior Player and Coach in the same room, with one thing in-focus: our culture as a club, and how each of us plays a part in it.
This is something that I’ve done a few times before as a Coach, and I’ve always been really happy with the outcome… this session was no different.
The message to the group was clear: if we keep doing what we’ve been doing, in the way we’ve been doing it, the best we can do is attain the same levels as previously – or (more likely) step backwards.
We got pizzas in, the guys broke off into small groups, and we had them talk about what good (and bad) team-mates look like in several scenarios, before working through some goal-setting exercises and having the players define what it was they wanted to get from being a part of our club.
The results were really clear across the group, and set our three foundational values:
1) They wanted to work hard
2) They wanted to have fun
3) They wanted to get better
…and it’s the third of those (“Get Better”) that is often the most misunderstood.
Whenever people see anything outlining our culture, they think of “Get Better” as an individual, or even a team-wide thing. We’re looking at the entire club getting better, year-on-year, and that’s what we work towards.
To this end, we really drilled down as to the elements that make up each of them.
In respect of “Getting Better” and building and sustaining a culture of excellence with humility,nobody comes closer to perfection (in my opinion) than the All Blacks. If you’ve not watched the recent documentary following them for a season on Amazon Prime, I highly recommend it.
Anyone who has read “Legacy” by James Kerr is familiar with the term “sweep the sheds”. For those who haven’t read it this is the term applied for the action taken after every training session, when the very best rugby team in the world essentially become their own janitors – cleaning up their changing rooms to leave them spotless for the All Blacks who come in tomorrow.
By undertaking this task every time the group is together, it brings to life a view across the group of ensuring that when your time in the jersey is done, you’re handing off a “better jersey” to the next man. Each and every player has helped in some small way to improve the environment for the next day, and eventually, for the player that follows them.
This always made me think of a quote which I’ve leant on a number of times:
“How you do anything is how you do everything.”
The consistent high standards that the All Blacks apply to every little thing tallies up. It helps a great team become the best in the world.
“Sweep the sheds” also popped back into my head a few weeks ago, when the Japanese Football Team were eliminated from the world cup, and took the time to clean their changing room, and leave a thank you note (in Russian) for their hosts.
Being old enough to remember “Pizzagate” following Arsenal’s loss to Manchester United, it seemed out of place for a freshly defeated (and eliminated) team, who were clearly emotional at the final whistle, to have taken these steps.
As much as it conjured up thoughts of “Sweep the Sheds”, for me, it also made me think of my favourite of Coach K’s philosophies: Next play.
Like Coach K, we believe in focusing as much energy as possible into influencing the next thing – because we cannot influence what has already gone. Does this mean we always show great body language? Never question a decision? Never show negative emotion? No, we are – after all – human. It just means we try to get on with things in a positive manner, as often as possible, in the belief that this will give us the best chance of a positive result every game, and also the best chance of developing mentally tough players.
The last tenet we zoomed in on has been a buzzword of mine since I first heard Doc Rivers mention it over a decade ago… “Ubuntu”.
Loosely speaking, it means a person is a person through other people. We’ve taken it to mean “We, not me.”
Ubuntu is a challenging culture to maintain – because it requires a delicate balancing from player to player… challenging them just enough, and staying as positive as they need you to be. It relies on everyone wanting everyone else to be as good as they can possibly be, and sometimes, players aren’t motivated in that way.
We had a case this past season where a player simply wasn’t towing the line, and was making life miserable for his team-mates – but was one of our most talented players.
We gave him a chance, and numerous players spoke with him to explain that his way “wasn’t how we do things here”.
In the end, we couldn’t allow that one person’s negativity to affect our culture. It was hard to let a talented player go – it likely cost us some wins down the stretch – but the support from the players and volunteers at the club was unanimously in favour of the decision… he wanted us to be more like him, and our players didn’t feel comfortable in allowing that to happen.
In a way, Ubuntu brings us back to the All Blacks as well – as they have a belief that “Good people make good All Blacks.” We want our players, from the ten year-olds to the 50+ year-olds to be good people – our goal this season was the same as last, and draws upon that:
“We want everyone to be the best players and team-mates that they can be.”
…and we’re lucky to have players throughout the age groups who truly believe in that, and hold themselves and each other accountable to that standard.
I wish I could say that “focusing on culture” was enough to win everything last season… the truth is, it wasn’t. However, looking at our two senior sides, our first team improved from .500 with a negative basket difference, to a playoff team with the best basket differential in the league; while our Reserve side went from bottom of the table to .500.
Did culture do that on its’ own? No. Our culture didn't make key free-throws or defensive stops. It didn't help a ball at one end bobble in, or another bobble out.
But did everyone knowing that we’re all pulling in the same direction help? Absolutely, 100%.
There are people who’ll read this and question why we would put such an emphasis on this “stuff” for a local league club… for those people, I’ve got two answers:
1) We hope that our younger players will embed these principles, and that it’ll help them to be better members of the community, and more employable prospects in their future careers (whatever that may be).
2) We believe that there’s no shame in taking what you love seriously – regardless of the level you’re performing at, if you’re doing it as well as you can do it, then it’s an effort worthy of praise.
As a coach, I’m grateful for our culture, and that it’s player-led, as it allows the guys to have a greater element of self-governance without the need for me to step in all the time.
I’m even more grateful for the “magpie” culture we’re a part of – where (like others) we steal with pride from the best in their field, keep what is useful, adapt what is uniquely our own, and discard what is not required… without so many superb coaches and teams focusing on their culture, I’d have never started down this path, and I can’t imagine coaching, or being a part of a team, without these foundational elements.
Since running this "team building evening", I've been working with the team at ONE2ONE Basketball, and have adapted this into a "Culture Camp" - featuring an on-court and off-court session with a team, during which we work on improving skills and behaviours across your team, by using drills from the ONE2ONE Basketball Drill Bible and a number of activities which are easy to replicate and build from.
I've already run a version of this camp with Winchester Royals, and had the following feedback from their coach, Abi Whiteman:
"The first game back after the "Culture Camp" was AMAZING! The team came in with such a positive mentality and were noticeably louder and more supportive of one another - and this has carried on throughout the second half of the season, as we went from a .500 team to pushing for the playoffs. It wasn't just the players who enjoyed it, either - the coaches who attended also said how much they enjoyed the day and learnt from it, and the parents from both our teams and others have been commenting on their improvement as a team and their positive, supportive attitude as well!"
If you would be interested in ONE2ONE Basketball coming to run a “Culture Camp”at your club, focusing on building teamwork and leadership in your team, please get in touch.
By ONE2ONE Team
A different kind of drill to help prepare your team for the unexpected...
"We don't have the time to prepare for EVERYTHING."
It's a common lament heard from coaches worldwide. Indeed, it seems that no matter how much time you get with your team, you wish you had a little more.
One of the areas which is most commonly overlooked by coaches who are especially pressed for time is "special situations". After all, when you've only got a couple of hours a week with a team to fit in getting your shots up, making defensive adjustments, implementing a scouting report and adding a new layer to your offence, how on earth would you make time to establish what to do when you're up/down four points, with 1:20 to play and no fouls to give?
As such, one of our favourite things to do with teams is to use the scrimmages to put them into specific situations (like the one mentioned above), or taking free-throw practice (with the aim of missing the free-throw and grabbing the offensive board) specifically for those moments later in the season.
While it's easy enough to simply tell a team "you're up X, no fouls to give, one timeout" - and it's a tool which has its' merits - our favourite way to prepare our teams for the chaos that comes late in tight games is to start from an unknown score...
Once the teams are set, we have each team call two flips of the coin.
The first coin flip is for fouls to give. The second is for timeouts.
If the team wins their coin flip, they get one, if they lose it, they give one to the opponent.
Red calls "Heads, Heads", the coin comes up "Tails, Heads". The other team has a foul to give, but Red have a timeout.
Blue calls "Tails, Tails" and it comes up "Tails, Tails", then Blue adds another foul to give (giving them two), and has a timeout as well.
We give the teams 30 seconds to discuss their approach - to simulate a long huddle/short timeout, and from there, we have a clock set at two minutes, and the teams begin to play - while the fouls and timeouts are available to the teams, the clock does not start until there have been nine points (or more) scored between the teams.
This gives a suitable "random" sample between the teams in terms of variances of scoreline (anything from a one-point game to a nine-point game), fouls to give (anything between 0-2) and timeouts (anything from 0-2).
Once the two minute game is concluded, we bring the team together, and have the players lead the conversation about the tactics they undertook, whether they felt they were successful and what (if anything) they would change.
If there are certain philosophical points that we have to reinforce (such as fouling late in the clock up three in order to prevent overtime), then the coaches tend to lead on this until such time as the players have the "rules" down.
We think adding this wrinkle to your practices will help your team to be more poised come crunch time, but if you'd like us to come run this (or anything else) with your team, please don't hesitate to get in touch, and don't forget, if you'd to have all of our drills to-hand this season, our Drill Bible is available from our webstore.
By ONE2ONE Team
We caught up with the newest member of the ONE2ONE BASKETBALL team, Coach Arron MacDonald, to learn a little bit more about him.
Why did you get into coaching?
I kind of got into coaching as I got into basketball… my Dad was one of my first coaches, and he really pushed to ensure that the kids he was coaching understood the importance of the “why” that sat behind the “what”, and that's a message that has stuck with me. On the way home from the sessions, he would be in my ear about the relevance of a certain aspect of the session, how it built towards performing in a game, and other key coaching points. So looking back, he was developing me as much as a coach as he was as a player from day one.
From there, I was a player-coach as a junior and senior player, and as injuries took their toll, I became a coach exclusively and really fell in love with the game all over again.
Understanding the “why” as well as the “what” from an early age really helped to drive me towards coaching, and although I can sometimes fall headfirst into the X’s and O’s of it, the thing that’s really kept me motivated to keep doing it is the opportunity to build relationships, to help players to become better team-mates, communicators and leaders, and to work together towards a common goal.
Talk us through your basketball career to-date…
I started playing at 10 years-old, and by 14 I was splitting time between a burgeoning junior programme at my hometown club (Bury St. Edmunds Bulldogs) and their Senior team.
I was fortunate enough to represent Suffolk in a tour of Belgium at 16, and captain the County the following season, but whilst on tour I badly dislocated my shoulder. Although a lot of physio meant that I was able to play U18 and U20 National League for Colchester - and received a couple of offers to play Division 3 Basketball in the States as well as a few BUCS schools - given the state of my shoulder, as well as some other personal circumstances, I elected to stay home and start a career.
I played local league and Division 4 Men’s NBL, but had two surgeries on my shoulder along with a handful of other quite serious injuries which meant I was spending more time getting ready to play and recovering from games than actually playing.
So I stopped playing at aged 30 to focus on coaching, moving from Bury to coach at Ipswich, where we went to the playoffs a few times, and also led the Suffolk U15 & U17 Boys to success in a number of East Region tournaments.
I stepped away from Ipswich to spend more time with my family, and worked to elevate the programme again at Bury, while mentoring a number of coaches around the country, but I’ve always stayed in touch with Coach Sadler, and I jumped at the chance to join ONE2ONE BASKETBALL when he asked me.
What moment from your coaching career to-date are you proudest of?
While I’m very proud of my record at Ipswich and with Suffolk, and I’m a really competitive person – my proudest moment in basketball has nothing to do with winning a game…
I’m most proud of a handful of players who were – frankly – really struggling when I met them.
I'm not going to name them, or go into individual circumstances - because that wouldn't be right. In each case though, they were either angry or in a confused place, and through building a relationship with them, working on their communication, leadership and focus, helping them to understand how to deal with adversity and helping them hold themselves accountable to the standards we believed they were capable of, they’ve all gone on to do wonderful things.
I never really thought about it until I bumped into one of them in a pub a couple of years ago – he introduced me to his girlfriend saying “this is my Coach – I’d be in prison if I hadn’t have met him.”
Whether that’s true or hyperbole on his part, I don’t know. But to know that years later, your players believe that your lessons helped them to make such a significant impact on their lives outside of basketball is what makes this all so very rewarding.
What film, podcast or book would you recommend to players or coaches?
The film that always inspires me the most is the 30 for 30, “Survive and Advance” which focuses on the late Jim Valvano and the NC State team who won the National Championship the year before I was born – my father always talked about them growing up, and Coach Valvano is someone I really look up to… it’s a documentary that makes you smile, cry and think – and I know that it would have made Coach Valvano very proud.
I recommend that anyone involved in the game listens to the Hardwood Hustle podcast, with Adam Bradley and TJ Rosene (the older episodes also feature Alan Stein). There have been so many topics that they’ve covered that just make sense to me and I’ve implemented in my teams – it’s superb for coaches – but they have player-specific episodes too, and the players I’ve worked with who’ve listened to them have loved them.
For a book? I love Jon Gordon and Malcolm Gladwell – just people who get you thinking about the everyday challenges you may face in a different light. I’d say I’ve probably bought twenty copies of “The Energy Bus” and given away nineteen of them, so that’s the book I recommend most. Outside of that, I'd say "Legacy" by James Kerr is superb.
What do you do when you’re not around basketball?
I really don’t get a lot of downtime between work and basketball, on the commutes I listen to a lot of podcasts, I read when I get the chance – although not as much as I would like - no matter what though, I try to learn something new every day, as I believe it's hypocritical of anybody in coaching to ever "stand still" from day-to-day, while expecting the people they lead to grow.
I really enjoy cooking, and spending time with my wife and two daughters, and once they’re in bed I’m normally watching Netflix or sport. I'm also fortunate to have a very close, and supportive, family and group of friends, so I spend a lot of downtime with the people that matter most to me.
By Arron MacDonald
Coach MacDonald shares some of his recommended reads for basketball players and coaches alike...
“It’s my child’s birthday soon, I wanted to get them something basketball-related.”
“What should I get them for Christmas?"
Most coaches I know get asked this kind of question frequently... player's partners, parents, friends and families speak to me in person, email me and drop me messages on social media, asking what they should buy the basketball addict in their life.
I appreciate that I'm trusted enough by people to give them an insight as to what I'd look at for them (and I highly recommend our store, by the way!), but there's one thing I always suggest people go for - which is a book.
It's often met with a quizzical look when I say this... I guess either people don't think I'm a reader, or that many basketball players are?
Regardless, I thought this was a great opportunity to share the books that I recommend most frequently...
Jon Gordon - The Energy Bus
I'm truly jealous of Jon Gordon's ability to convey an idea concisely, step-by-step and simply enough to be communicated to just about anybody. I simply cannot edit my messages in the same manner - it's a skill I haven't got yet.
The Energy Bus is the first of his books that I read, and I've implemented actions from it with several of the teams I've worked with, as well as sending copies to players who really struggled staying focused and positive.
I've recently been mentoring a former player of mine who's just begun their journey into coaching, and while there was a number of books that were recommended to them, I was amazed that this wasn't on the list! Every coach I've mentored or worked with has had a copy of this, and just like me, they've passed messages from The Energy Bus along to their teams.
Malcolm Gladwell - David & Goliath
Gladwell has written a number of my favourite books... I've got my good friend (and former coaching colleague at Ipswich) Joe Bentley to thank for sharing his work with me initially.
In David & Goliath, he zooms in on the misconception of underdogs, and the manner in which they've approached their challenge, whether that's been (current Sacramento Kings owner) Vivek Ranadive getting his daughter's under 12's basketball team into the National Championships, or the biblical tale of David & Goliath (which is explored in detail in the introduction), Gladwell shows how our perceptions of the situation significantly affect our expectations of the outcome of any competition.
James Kerr - Legacy
I've written about the lessons I've learnt from the All-Blacks a number of times.
While the recent Amazon series was a useful insight to how a team widely considered to be the greatest in world sport operates, I took far more from "Legacy" from a standpoint of team culture and player expectations.
It speaks volumes that this book appears on every Coach's recommended reading list.
Bill Simmons - The Book of Basketball
As a huge fan of Boston sports, I am naturally a huge mark for Simmons' work.
This book is not small, and is not a quick read, but really comes across more as a series of related long-form articles, split into a few chapters.
I'm a particular fan of his discussion around the greatest teams ever, his "Pyramid" Hall of Fame idea, discussing players like fine wines, and just that somebody has taken a deep-dive into what used to be the (occasionally heated) hoops discussions my friends and I would have over a few drinks on a night out.
Alex Ferguson - Leading
Sir Alex Ferguson is, in my opinion, the greatest sporting leader I have ever seen.
Between his focus and determination to achieve the "impossible dream" of toppling Liverpool, that he evolved over time and (unlike many of his contemporaries) was never "past his best" or out of touch is a lesson to all leaders.
The fan in me would have rather read a book of him recanting private stories from the locker room and training ground, though I respect him even more for keeping those things to himself.
Sam Walker - The Captain Class
I’m working through this at the moment... this gives a surprising insight into the similarities (and differences) between great teams across Sports and what truly drives winning.
David Halberstam - The Breaks of the Game
"Breaks" is a heart-wrenching look at Portland's Championship team, and what happened to the team after the ring was won...
If Sir Alex Ferguson's story of dynasty-building would let anyone think for a moment that this was easy, "Breaks" reminds us all that luck might be the single biggest factor in building successful teams.
Gary Mack - Mind Gym
As a younger player, I struggled MASSIVELY in keeping my emotions in-check from play-to-play. I got involved in trash talking, picking up unsportsmanlike and technical fouls (and the suspensions that follow those things) far too often.
A team-mate of mine, Stuart Malone, gave me a copy of Mind Gym... and I think I've passed on a dozen or more to my team-mates and players, there's even a copy I left for the basketball academy at Copleston harking back to my time at Ipswich.
"Mind Gym" is a series of teachable moments which can be used away from the court, in the build-up to a game, or the aftermath of it, to help athletes become mentally stronger.
Jon Gordon & Mike Smith - You Win in the Locker Room First
With how many of Jon Gordon's books I've read, I'm amazed that he's only popped-up twice...
In "Locker Room" he pairs with former NFL coach Mike Smith to specifically look at team-building... this is a must read for coaches and leaders everywhere.
Coach K - Beyond Basketball
Coaching, and leadership, is often seen as the "Art of Storytelling".
In Beyond Basketball, Coach K shares a collection of short stories and lessons in team-building and leadership, which ring true at any level and in any situation.
The stories have sufficient depth and detail to engage, but are short enough to remember and pass back to your players and team-mates.