Friday, December 31, 2010

Using the Dribble Weave Against Half Court Man to Man Pressure and Trapping

Recently, I watched a game where one of the teams is known for their stifling half court pressure and trapping out of their man to man. The other team utilized an interesting technique against their pressure and trapping.

They ran the dribble weave from a five out set. They basically ran the dribble weave continuously until they say an opening to turn the corner. They also looked to slip the hand off and throw the ball over the top to the slipping player. Another thing they did was to back cut when one of the defenders left to try and trap the dribble. Once they decided to penetrate it was a matter of the bottom two defenders collapsing and they would either kick out for a three or the corner would cut in to the rim as their defender left to help. Their front three were very wide, around the volleyball line. It just did a good job of making it hard to trap the ball and create turnovers for the other team. I think, however, that you have to have pretty good ballhanlders to make it work.

Along this same line, I was watching a college practice the other day and they did something similar with one of their sets. They would dribble weave in a 3 out 2 in look. Eventually their opposite post would flash to the ball, they would enter it to the high post and look to move or cut from there. They used the dribble weave to lull the defense to sleep and then attack with the pass and the back cut.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Why Chris Carter Was Great

I am listening to Cris Carter, former Vikings wide receiver, sitting in as a guest host on Mike and Mike in the Morning on ESPN. They were discussing the idea of a quarterback and talking to a wide receiver about running a route wrong during a game. The cohost was asking Carter if that is the right thing to do - would he want a quarterback doing that to him? Carter's answer was classic and spot on. He said something to the effect of "Why wouldn't I want someone to help me if I wasn't doing my job right? I want to do the right thing." That's exactly why Cris Carter was a truly great wide receiver. All that he wanted was to be great, and it didn't matter how he got there.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

No Time + No Space = Better Skills

I've started reading "The Talent Code" by Dan Coyle. It's a great book that every single coach should read. It deals with brain research and revolves around the idea that skill is something that you are not born with, it's something that you develop over time, I anticipate that I'll be writing about this book again.

Something that really caught my eye was something written about Brazilian soccer players and their development. In Brazil many young Brazilians in urban settings don't have large grassy areas to play. So they've developed a game called "Futsal". It's played 5 on 5, with a smaller, heavier ball, and on a smaller court. According to research in the book, a big part of Brazil's soccer dominance is this game. It forces players to play in tight spaces, it forces them to play faster, and the gives the players more touches than a normal soccer game would.

How can we do this with basketball? Some obvious ideas are using heavy balls, playing 3 on 3, etc. But what about playing 3 on 3 using 1/2 to 2/3 of the court and having the three point line be out of bounds? That way the players are packed in like sardines. They can't even go outside the three point line. They are forced to play in tight spots, the game will be quick, and in a 3 on 3 setting they get more touches. It's types of games like this that will help players develop skills more quickly.

Give this some thought: In the hay day of the New York City guards - guys like Stephon Marbury, Lloyd Daniels, Rafer Alston, Mark Jackson, Kenny Anderson, and Fly Williams - most of the players played ball on the playgrounds. Most of the playground courts were not regulation size, they were smaller which forced the players to play in traffic and tight spaces. The games were of a run and gun nature, they were fast and required quick decision making. They were also unstructured games that allowed the players to make mistakes and learn on their own- which is important in skill development. The book also talks about "deep practice" where players are correcting themselves.

What are you doing as a coach to create these situations for development? If you have anything please post and share it.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

"It's Not About You" - Maybe the Most Important Idea Players Need to Understand

This statement is one we've been using a lot with our team this year - it's one we repeat many times a practice. Coach Liesener and I have read Tony Dungy's book on mentor leadership and it's something that's been a great resource for us this year. One of the biggest things I have found in that book is the idea that it's not about me. It's about helping everyone else. This team isn't about me or my feelings, desires, or career plan. This team is about me serving everyone else, doing my best to make everyone else a better player, coach, and person. I think that is a mentality that has been lost, or at least over looked, in our "what have you done for me lately" and "I love me some me" society. It's a lot easier to focus on the stats, the playing time, the wins and the losses.

However the idea of "it's not about me" hasn't been completely lost. Look at many of the sports teams that have sustained success over the last number of years and you can see this idea at work. Look at the LA Lakers over the last couple of years. Kobe didn't start winning titles on his own until it stopped being all about him and started being all about the team. They have gotten guys like Lamar Odom and Ron Artest to take complimentary roles because they have bought into the fact that everyone else is more important, that the team is more important than they are. Look at the Patriots, everyone's darling when it comes to this sort of thing. Why do you think they are great year after year, no matter who they lose. I mean they lost Tom Brady for an entire year and still were able to keep things rolling with unknown Matt Cassel at the helm. Why? Because they mentor each other, they help each other to get ready. Matt Cassel was ready because all of his teammates were making him better every day. It's the positive mentor vibe of the organization that keeps everyone going. They are also willing to part with a player when they are not fitting the tone that the organization wants - no matter how talented that player is. On teams like the Patriots and Lakers you never hear about a player unhappy with their role, because, for the most part, the players understand that it's not about them. It's about everyone else.

I think the bottom line is, as a coach, you have to get your players to understand that it's not about you, it's about everyone else. Once you can get the servant/mentor leadership mentality built into your program, you have come a long way. You will find that players really do start worrying only about making the team/program better. They worry the most about each other and the team. Stats matter less, and even the wins and losses are a little less important. Yes, you still worry about them, but you focus more on the process of achieving the sole goal - making everyone around you better.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Three Unselfish Basketball Plays

Three important unselfish plays from ESPN's Fran Fraschilla:

1. Passing the ball ahead on the break.

2. Reversing the ball.

3. Screening to get a teammate open.

I would share these with your team. Simple things that make average teams good, good teams great, and great teams special.