By Tom Sadler
Coach Sadler shares his thoughts on the "Ranking" culture in one of our all-time most-engaging posts...
There is no doubt that the game of basketball in this country (England) is growing for the better, it seems like we finally have the right people in place to help with the development, profile, and growth of the game. And who are working incredibly hard to be a part of the solution and not the problem.
The last few summers we have seen a rise in a number of high profile camps that have been launched, all of which have the best interest of the players and the profile of the game at heart. And I totally get it and fully support them all.
I work specifically with the age group that are eligible for these camps and who are at the most crucial stage of their basketball development. From my own experience, having played in the high school system in the states, and having attended various camps and being ranked (in state) to the All-America Nominations were all very well and great for my personal profile, and confidence, but evaluations that I received from my coaches I felt played a more significant role in helping me get to where I needed to be.
The majority of the time rankings are established with players on winning team’s based solely on statistics or some type of personal favour for someone. They cannot possibly cover every player and compare them equally and without bias. So what does this ranking do for that ranked player?? And more importantly how does this ranking help a player get better?? I think what it can do in some cases is give players who are ranked a false sense of how good they really are. And then in the case of player who isn’t ranked at all, can make them think that they aren’t good at all.
From my point of view honest and unbiased player evaluations are crucial for players to get better, and whether or not a player is ranked they should always be looking for ways to get better! The best evaluations will show a player what they must do in order to get to the next level.
A little food for thought…
By Arron MacDonald
Coach MacDonald walks you through different ways to implement your team's offence...
When it comes to coaches, we're generally quite an opinionated bunch... almost every coach I speak to has a "go-to" offence against different defences (it's one of the reasons we didn't want to be another site offering basketball plays for coaches!).
But when I speak to less-experienced coaches, while they're equally apt to fall in love with a motion or action that they've seen, they're sometimes not too sure how to go about getting their team to run it, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to work through some of the steps I've previously used with my teams to help them to embed a new offence.
For me, everything on the offensive end starts here...
If you cannot break the set down into certain actions giving multiple options for a shooting drill, it's probably not a very effective play!
Think about ways to break the play down into the actions you want, and get every player reps in every part of these actions - as this will help everyone to embed the offence more quickly.
I absolutely realise that on-air work is less than ideal in terms of building decision-making, but I'm still yet to see a better way to simply introduce structure.
We generally move from the breakdown into the "flow" of the offence in a short (5-10 minute max) "on-air" section of our practice.
Before we're ready to run with the offence, we need to build some decision-making into it. As coaches, we have to accept a certain element of chaos in whatever we're running, purely because we cannot account for the actions of the defence.
I like to work with 3 defenders playing "semi-live". In this context, I mean they're encouraged to get into passing lanes, close out to the ball, contest shots and box out - but not to chase steals, block shots, etc... this is because I want my players to see the potential obstacles they'll face in the game with the confidence that they can still beat it - remember, at this stage, we're still learning the offence and "feeling it out".
To help us to embed the offence, we normally move into "up-downs" - going up the court either "on air" (but conditioned to run a fixed number of passes / ball reversals / a certain action) or in a semi-live overload situation (as above), before coming back down court against a full team of players.
We find that mixing it up like this (and giving two offences for every full defensive possession) really helps us to understand where the defence is likely to cheat, if there are any pinch points in the offence and where the gaps are.
I'm a big fan of conditioned scrimmages in most training sessions, so having one where we're implementing an offence likely won't surprise any of the players I've worked with before!
While I see a lot of coaches go to the "minimum number of passes/ball reversals" (and I believe this has merits), I feel there always has to be a "real game" feel to scrimmaging, while still rewarding the team for improving their execution, so we always set the tone that every competitive drill has a defensive focus on it... we want to develop a team who compete for stops.
Other ways I've done this before is to add a point for every ball reversal or pass before a basket - which naturally adds an element of competition (after all, a layup after multiple passes suddenly becomes more valuable than a three). Another way of adding the "game real" element is to return the ball to the attacking team on a fast-break score, or if they manage to get an uncontested layup within the number of passes we desire - as this really ramps up the defensive intensity.
During scrimmages, I regularly give teams a 30-60 second timeout to discuss what's going on. It's important to me that these interactions are player led (although I often have an Assistant Coach monitor them and steer the conversation, where necessary - particularly early in the season).
One way I've changed this up recently (after listening to a podcast with Coach Alan Keane) is to have the players ask whether they've committed to the game plan (ie: appropriately running the offence and defence) - if the players cannot honestly answer "yes", they forfeit the timeout... because we don't want to spend time and energy focusing on fixing poor behaviours.
Finally, we move into running the offence in a live environment, (generally) free of conditions - and hopefully, we've got it down!
If you would like a ONE2ONE Coach to work with your team, get in touch with us here, or alternatively, you can find our full range of coaching materials available to purchase in our store.
By Tom Sadler
Coach Sadler shares his thoughts on one of the most important factors in developing into an elite shooter...
Form shooting could possibly be one of the most important exercises that you can do as a basketball player, yet is constantly underappreciated due to its simplicity. Whether form shooting is used as part of your game prep, warm up before practice, or as part of you individual workout it is an excellent tool to use to improve shooting.
It may seem like a boring mundane task that coaches have you do at the start of practice, but it plays a much bigger part in the overall success you will have as a basketball player if done right.
When form shooting you must remember:
Form shooting shouldn’t really take up much time either. Look to shoot around 50 shots from 5 to 10 feet, facing up at the basket. Not only will this help your form improve it will also help you develop an amazing confidence from seeing the ball go in the basket over and over again.
By ONE2ONE Team
A quick team finishing drill to help set the tone at practice...
The "Two Minutes of Hell" drill is designed to get your team a lot of finishing practice under time pressure, whilst also working on conditioning and
We start with two queues on the sideline without basketballs and two players under one basket with one basketball each.
We pass the ball to the nearest queue, and they pass it onto the next queue (with the passer joining the queue). Meanwhile, the player who started with the ball has been sprinting hard towards the opposite basket - they receive a pass and finish with the layup.
The passer crashes the glass, getting the rebound before it hits the floor, while the shooter sets off towards the opposite hoop.
The rebounder has to pass the ball ahead before they cross the foul line, throwing a "quarterback pass" (planting the outside foot and throwing with the outside hand) for the lead player to take their second layup. They have to follow their pass to get the rebound - outletting it to the first queue and becoming the shooter.
We run the drill for two minutes each side, keeping track of the score (and misses!) to set a standard compete against in future sessions.
It's essential that this drill is run at MAXIMUM pace throughout and that the players on the sideline without a basketball are encouraging throughout - that way we ensure that the standard is set at the highest level early in the season, and we have to compete against that standard every time the drill is run.
You can find our curriculum of team session plans, and our Drill Bible in our webstore; you can also get in touch with one of our coaches to book a ONE2ONE Basketball workout!
By Arron MacDonald
Coach MacDonald focuses in on one of his all-time favourite players...
My first two "In Focus" pieces zoomed-in on undoubted first ballot hall-of-famers in KG and Tim Duncan - in my opinion two of the finest power forwards to ever grace the game.
So it might surprise some people that the next player that sprung to mind for me was someone who averaged double-digit points per game just once in his career. In fact, for some of the younger readers out there, they may not even know who the man known as "Casa" is...
Eddie House was (perhaps generously) listed at 6'1", stocky built, rocking a headband, tattoos and baggy shorts, and was a streaky scorer - fluctating between being "Mr Irrational Confidence" and a walking bucket (as could be seen as he is one of only twenty-one players to-date to have scored 60 or more points in an NCAA Division 1 game).
He had a habit of shooting first, second and third - and asking questions only when absolutely necessary. Whilst I won't pretend I ever played at anything close to that level, there were times I'm sure that my team-mates may have thought my game carried somewhat of a resemblence to Mr House's...
Full disclaimer - I do own an Eddie House autographed picture. I did post angry things on social media when Danny Ainge traded Eddie away for Nate Robinson, and I did get a very strange look in the NBA store when I asked their staff to look out back for an authentic Celtics Eddie House jersey (they were, to my amazement - not theirs - "out of stock").
And that's why it's easy for me to zoom in on him - because of my familiarity with him, and because (despite his flaws as a player) I think Eddie House is a superb role player and role model for all basketball players...
Do What You Do Well, Often:
The NBA in 2019 is far removed from the league at the turn of the century - when seven footers who couldn't post up weren't considered "unicorns" as much as "soft" or even "a bust".
Talent evaluators were similarly size-ist (or at the very least "traditional") in looking at smaller guards... while Allen Iverson and Stephon Marbury (amongst others) had turned the point guard position into a shoot-first role, the ability to handle a ball and create for others remained a pre-requisite for the position. When looking at shooting guards, shooting ability was considered a must, but the assumption remained that Michael Jordan was the prototype, and that everybody needed a 6'6", 200lb hyper-athletic wing.
House was neither a creator, nor 6'6".
House's handles were (at best) adequate - but he was absolutely not a "traditional" point guard (despite being frequently listed as one), even if he did average 3.3 assists per game in college, his 1.1 apg career average in the league seems to support my assertions, as does him being voted the worst ball-handling guard in the league in a player poll during his prime!
Eddie House simply did not allow what he could not do take away from what he could do at a high level. House was a scorer and a superb long-range shooter - so he hung his hat on those skills, a career 39% three-point shooter and 85% free-throw shooter, he was constantly called-upon in clutch moments by his team to be on the floor - even if he didn't always get the last shot, that he was one of the players so frequently trusted by his coaches and team-mates speaks volumes... Believe in yourself!
Know Your Role:
Despite being a second round pick without a guaranteed rookie contract, Eddie House played in the league for eleven seasons, earning PT in 717 games - he started just 31 of them (good for about 4% of his career). However, he averaged over seventeen minutes per game - the equivalent of over one-third of the available playing time for an NBA player.
It wasn't always like this... Eddie House was once the key player for the Arizona State Sundevils. He started 114 of his 124 games (92% start rate) and played almost 34 minutes per game through his career (84% of available playing time).
Coach Belichick of the New England Patriots is famous for telling his players to "Do Your Job". Some players have the job where they take twenty shots a night, and make $20 million a season. Others get DNP-CD's and earn league minimum. While it's clear that we'd all prefer one job to the other, the allocation of the "superstar" role tends to be based primarily on merit and ability - rather than personal preference.
House quickly understood that in order to stay in the league you had to earn your time, know your role and maximise your impact in it, so he made a career being one of the hardest workers in training, supporting his team-mates loudly, talking trash and waiting for his number to get called...
Be Prepared, Stay Ready:
Having been signed as a key bench contributor for the Celtics in the summer of 2008, some were surprised when House lost his spot in the rotation to Sam Cassell going into the playoffs, as the side searched for a more experienced, traditional point guard to back up Rajon Rondo.
Despite not earning regular minutes for several weeks, down twenty-four points in the first half of game four of the NBA Finals against the LA Lakers, the Celtics turned to House - along with other key bench players - and were rewarded as House's hustle (and two three's) keyed a 21-3 run that turned into the biggest comeback win in finals history, and gave the C's a 3-1 lead en route to their seventeenth title.
The lesson? It's better to be prepared in case you're needed, than to be needed and not prepared.
That Casa stayed ready is a massive reason as to why he has a championship ring, and was beloved by fans and team-mates in Boston.
If you’d like to book a ONE2ONE BASKETBALL coach for a workout to work on your perimeter footwork and shooting (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 Tom Sadler
Coach Sadler shares his thoughts on how footwork underpins player development...
Having good footwork is critical to maximise your game and development as a basketball player. Your footwork will allow you to create both passing and scoring angles even after you have picked up your dribble.
Footwork is especially important for younger players and needs to be constantly worked on either off the catch or on the pick-up of the dribble.
The two following types of foot work techniques are time-tested and essential to enhancing player development:
Most top coaches understand that the best players in the history of basketball have all utilized proper footwork to gain an edge over opponents. You should be no different!
By ONE2ONE Team
A great drill to work on defensive reaction, communication and making multiple efforts...
Chaos is an inevitable part of basketball.
Even the most well-drilled and poised team will regularly veer away from the X's and O's, as the game is so reliant on players surveying what is happening, and reacting to it.
This drill aims to amplify the chaos of a game, by adding a basketball and taking away one player from each side.
We have a coach on the baseline and at mid-court with a ball each, and two minutes on the clock.
The attacking team continues to play offence for the entire two minute period.
In the event that they score, the ball goes out of bounds or the defence gains possession, the ball is returned to the coach without the ball as quickly as possible.
The coach with the ball can put the ball in to any attacker once the ball has been returned to the other coach. We earn points on scores (and add one point for any foul conceded).
This helps your defence to understand the need to communicate constantly and make multiple efforts on defensive possessions.
We're not the first coaches to say "train hard, play easy", but believe that this drill will help embed that belief into your team, whilst also readying your players for the inevitable chaos that comes in-game.
If you'd like to purchase more drills from us, visit our webstore, where our Drill Bible and Session Plans are available. Alternatively, you can book a ONE2ONE Basketball Coach for a workout here.
By Tom Sadler
Originally penned shortly after the Rockets moved for Chris Paul and Thunder acquired Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, Coach Sadler shares his thoughts on "superteams"...
'From the Celtics, to the Heat, the Cavaliers, and the Warriors. Super Teams have dominated the NBA in recent history. Those four teams alone have combined to win seven of the last ten championships.
Super Teams in today’s game are good for business. Ratings and interest in the NBA during the 2017 finals were highest it has been since the Jordan era, with the consistent power struggle of LeBron and co challenged by Golden State who seem to be at the heart of it.
So why are we seeing the leagues best players joining forces?? Well I think there are few factors that I want to talk about. The first and the most obvious is quite simply down to friendships.
Over the last several years we have seen through social media the relationships of these players. Particularly in the off season when they team up for National Team Duty or where they get together to work out and play pick up. And so its understandable and natural that during these times that respect and bonds are forged as friendships that then allows for communication and the idea of teaming up.
We saw it with Boston’s Big 3 with KG, Pierce and Allen, then we Saw it in Miami with Wade, LeBron and Bosh more recently in Golden State, now in Cleveland with LeBron and the players he is able to attract. To Oklahoma’s recent acquisitions of Melo and Paul George teaming up with the league's regular season MVP.
But hasn’t there always been Super Teams? Some could argue, and rightly so that there has. For example some might say there was the Lakers with Wilt, West, and Baylor. Or the Bucks with Kareem and Robertson, or even Dr J and Moses Malone with the Sixer’s.
Ok, but what if we look back to the Jordan era (arguably the greatest for basketball) there were no Super Teams like we see in today’s NBA. The reason being that the majority of players and teams hated each other. In fact during the 90’s there was some real bad blood between a lot of teams and players (the Bulls/Knicks rivalry immediately comes to mind).
Nearly every team in the NBA at this time had at least one or two Marquee players and a group of very good loyal supporting role players who all wanted to win, and that meant no type of association with anybody from any team. You only had to witness the amount of fights and brawls breaking out throughout the league that gave fans and the media a real sense of how passionate, competitive these players were.
To put it simply, this was a generation where being part of a team, and loyalty meant something.. (Note:that’s not to say todays players don’t show the above characteristics).
So why we will continue to see the growth of Super Teams?? There is no doubt that every generation has had some tremendous athletes and some great basketball players that have been able to transcend the game. I think its fair to say that the natural evolution of the players in terms of their physicality and athleticism continues to evolve with each generation. And I don’t think anyone can argue that modern day players are just better and I’m not just talking about the Lebron’s, Westbrook’s, Durant’s etc., I’m talking about every player in the NBA across the board filling each roster spot. This is because of the improvements of science and better training methods available which ultimately mean’s that players in today’s game are the most highly skilled that they’ve ever been. They’re bigger, stronger and faster than ever. And with the game exploding globally means more people are playing in a time where advancements in sports science and training methods are taking place.
Simply put we will continue to see Super Teams just based on the vast amount of talent that is constantly being developed globally.