Wednesday, June 13, 2018

3 on 3 As a Development Tool

Posted by: Unknown on Wednesday, June 13, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

Having watched many younger age-group basketball games over the years I have always felt that the players at younger ages would be much better off if they played half-court games of 3 on 3 instead of playing 5 on 5 full-court.
Some of these young players are just moving spectators. Instead of having 10 players on the court at a time you could have four games going on at each of the four side baskets, which means you would have 24 players actually on the court playing instead of 10. This is great utilization of a gym for basketball.
You could match these teams up by ability in two directions. Each team could have one above average player, one average and one below average. This would allow you to have them play against and matched up against someone of their own size and ability level.
Or you could match the teams up by abilities and have parents coaching and reffing these games.
The best skill builder for basketball is 3 on 3 because there is no wasted time in going from one basket to the other. Teams just have to clear the ball to the 3-point line when they get a rebound, the other team scores or get the ball on a turnover.
Also, players do not get as tired playing 3 on 3 and they play more basketball.
You get all the offensive skills you need in a game of 3 on 3: shooting, passing, dribbling, rebounding. You have five offensive things you can do when you pass the basketball to a teammate: pass and stay, pass and cut (the old give and go), pass and screen away for another teammate, pass and screen to the player with the ball, and pass and go get the ball back from the player you passed to.
It is easier to teach these basic offensive moves in a 3-on-3 setting and then you have the advantage of having to learn how to defend these offensive moves.
I remember teaching the basketball unit in physical education classes in junior high school in the 1960s. We never played full-court, when it came to playing the game. We always used the side baskets and played 3 on 3.
You can adapt some rules if you like such as each of the three players have to touch the ball once before your team shoots the basketball. This involves each offensive player on every offensive possession.
I used 3-on-3 games as a high school coach to teach the fundamentals of the game.
One of the biggest problems that I see when kids start playing basketball before they are really ready is that we really don’t know how many of these youngsters we lose because they have a bad experience playing before they are ready physically and mentally.
Basketball is a very failure-oriented game, especially for younger players. Being a moving spectator moving up and down the court without ever touching the ball as the other players dominate is also not very much fun.
I can understand why lesser-skilled kids could very well get turned off from basketball and look for other activities.
Before we had organized leagues for kids, we usually started playing basketball when we were ready to play, not when our parents thought we should be playing.
I started playing at age 7 in second grade when I got interested as I watched the fifth- and sixth-graders playing the game in the schoolyard. The game fascinated me.
I remember going home and asking my dad to put up a hoop off the garage in our gravel backyard. I would practice shooting and dribbling by the hour. Then we would play l on 1, 2 on 2 and 3 on 3 all day in the backyard.
My dad saw how involved I was so he had driveway hot topped to give us a better playing surface.
I had no formal training or coaching until I reached the fifth grade. Until then, I learned by trial and error and by watching older players. Also, I would go to all the Bangor High School home games.
Some kids are ready at age 7 and some are not ready until they are 10 or 11. Again, late bloomers are not handicapped by starting playing basketball at an older age.
However, it was starting when I was interested and ready that allowed me to develop my interest and skills of the game. But as a former physical education teacher and coach I wonder how many good players we have lost over the years because they started too young and quit because they had a bad experience.
For young kids to flourish in basketball today, they need to want to play, the experience needs to be positive and they should begin with 3 on 3, not 5 on 5. Doing so will allow each youngster the chance to be involved with offensive and defensive play and improve their skills

Original Author: Bob Cimbollek

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Friday, April 20, 2018

A Lay Up Tip That Every Youth & NBA Player Needs

Posted by: Unknown on Friday, April 20, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

A Lay Up Tip That Every Youth & NBA Player Needs

- By Joe Haefner 

When you implement this lay up tip, you will have more opportunities to finish near the basket. That means more points for you. And when the defense starts to swarm you, you can rack up assists by passing to open teammates.

HOWEVER, it's likely you're NOT executing this finishing move properly yet. And you're missing out on plenty of chances to score more points. If I'm guessing, 90% or more of youth and high school players make this mistake.

That's why you need to watch the video below. It can change your game.

If you study NBA players, most of the great finishers do this quite well.

Check out this video clip from Jim Huber's Next Level Finishing Moves. 

As Jim Huber states in the video, when shooting a lay up, you tend to sweep the ball to the inside. This exposes the ball to the defender.

Every smart defender locks in on that inside hip and swipes at the ball. This happens at every level of basketball.

So when the defender is on your inside hip, you want to "rip the ball to the ear".

This prevents the defender from stealing the ball. This also gets you more shot attempts which equals more points.

When practicing the move, you eventually want to progress out to the 3-point line. Your goal is to get to the basket in one dribble. That way, you get to the rim quicker.


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Thursday, February 8, 2018

Flow, Learning and Youth Sports

Posted by: Unknown on Thursday, February 8, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

Flow, Learning, and Youth Sports

During the summer when I was in middle school, I walked to a halfcourt gym near my house and played basketball for as long as there were other children to play against. On some days, when the competition was good, I would play for three to four hours without realizing it, my only sense of time coming from my grumbling stomach as lunch time approached and passed. During these games, I played against a wide spectrum of different players; playing against older and bigger players forced me to learn new shots, similar to those that the San Antonio Spurs Tony Parker uses around the basket. Playing against smaller players forced me to work on my quickness to protect the ball. When I was the best player there, I would challenge younger children and play with a disadvantage, playing one against two or shooting only shots outside the key.

Nobody forced me to play. I did not have an appointment with a trainer, nor did I have a scheduled practice with my team. I made up the rules, often with other children, whether they were official or unofficial. These days in the gym were not considered practice because I did not engage in typical practice activities. I played. Occasionally, I had to stand around and watch a game, but that was only if I lost, and there were others waiting to play. Standing around did not dampen my enjoyment; it stoked my desire not to lose again when I returned to the court.

Whereas my play may not have been considered a practice activity, I learned more during those games than I did in my actual practices. At practice, we generally repeated things that we had learned already, whether uncontested layups or 5v0 offense. Our practices lacked the variety and challenges that I found in the summer pickup games. Based on the thesis of Steven Kotler’s The Rise of Superman, the same things that made the pickup games unlike practice were the very things that created the best conditions for learning.

Kotler argued that the best environment for learning is a flow experience. “A flow experience is one that requires complete involvement in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost” (Kotler, 2013; p. 20). The pickup games created this timeless, self-initiated, challenging environment, whereas most practices failed in these respects. Practices focused on repeating the same things over and over, but each game, each opponent, each day during the summer presented new challenges and new opportunities for learning. Through this play, my skills developed, and I improved although that was not the explicit reason for playing. I played because that is what I wanted to do. It was fun.

My experience in the pickup games resembled that of those participating in action and adventure sports, the subject of Superman. Kotler wrote, “[Skateboarder Danny] Way doesn’t skate to break records or win championships. He skates. Period” (p. 6). Way, and others, skate for the sake of skateboarding; they are immersed completely in the activity. My pickup games had the same effect; there were no trophies or championships. Just playing.

When I was on vacation in Barcelona, I walked past two skateparks filled with teenagers. There was no adult. Nobody told the children what to do or how to behave. The children were practicing, but not in the way that children practice skills in a sports practice. Their practice was self-initiated. They watched other children, and tried to copy or surpass them. “In action and adventure sports, creativity is always the point,” (Kotler, 2013; p. 143). When creativity is the point, it is easy to lose oneself in the activity and practice for hours. The children at the skatepark were like me on the basketball court, free to experiment, challenge oneself by imitating the best moves of others, and decide the length, duration, and intensity of the activity without any external influences except the possibility of good-natured peer pressure to push oneself or to play one more game.

What is the point of a youth sports practice or organized sports in general? Why do children (or their parents) sign up to play? If creativity is the point of action and adventure sports, what is the point of organized leagues? Whatever that point is, are we achieving it?

In Guitar Zero, Gary Marcus argued that music is “a technology, refined and developed over the last fifty thousand years, in no small part to maximize flow,” (2012; p. 112). We could argue that sports were refined and developed for the same reason. Originally, sports derived from activities important for survival, but the sports of today are far removed from the survival of our species or the propagation of our genes. At their core, we play sports to stretch our limits, to experience flow. Mihályi Csíkszentmihályi, the godfather of flow, wrote, “The best moments in our lives are not passive, receptive, relaxing times…The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile” (1990; p. 3). Sport, like music, creates an optimal environment for one to stretch him or herself to the limits voluntarily.

If sports have been refined and developed to maximize flow experiences, it can be argued that the purpose of participating in sports and the best environment for learning sports skills are the same. Therefore to increase physical activity, develop better motor skills, or compete at higher competitive levels, we need to create more flow experiences for participants.

By their very nature, sports are designed to stretch performers to their limits. Our use of weight classes, age divisions, and other modifications of sports are strategies to create conditions for flow experiences. These modifications are designed to create more equitable competition, as the ideal disparity between current skill level and the challenge of the activity is 4% (Marcus, 2012). One reason that individual sports (running, cycling, golf, tennis) tend to sustain participation longer than team sports is the same reason for the increased participation in action and adventure sports: People participate for the sake of participation, not for trophies, and they can contrast their performances to their previous performances to measure improvement rather than measuring themselves against others. Regardless of their individual abilities or skills, they can stretch themselves without worrying about the other participants or an opponent.

Kotler added,“What’s painfully ironic here is that flow is a radical and alternative path to mastery only because we have decided that play – an activity fundamental to survival, tied to the greatest neurochemical rewards the brain can produce, and flat out necessary for achieving peak performance, creative brilliance, and overall life satisfaction – is a waste of time for adults, (p. 162).

Unfortunately, play is disappearing from the childhood experience as well. Coaches in nearly every sport question the skill level of children and teens in their sport, and the answer tends to be an increased need for more structured practice. However, how did they learn? How will these children learn best? I learned many of my most important sports lessons in unstructured play, where I could spend an entire day playing pick-up basketball games and leave the gym only because it closed, with no concept of the time. It is no surprise that I developed a much greater skill level in basketball, a sport that I played in pick-up games almost daily, than in soccer, a sport that we never played outside of practice.

If flow is the answer to skill development, as Kostler postulated, we need to re-think the youth sports experience and give back the games to the children, much as the skatepark has given children freedom to explore and find their flow experiences.

By Brian McCormick

 Originally published in Los Angeles Sports & Fitness, September 2014.

Retrieved from:

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

How to Get All 5 Players SPRINTING in Transition Defense -- On Almost Every Possession

Posted by: Unkown on Tuesday, January 9, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

How to Get All 5 Players SPRINTING in Transition Defense -- On Almost Every Possession

- By Jeff Haefner 

Whether you're a half or full court defensive team -- it's essential for those FIRST THREE TRANSITION STEPS to be a sprint!

If you can get players sprinting and your defense SET on every possession, you have a chance to be a good defensive team. If your team is slow to react or jogs to spots, you're probably in for a long season.

The first three steps in transition defense are critical -- they must be a sprint.

Now getting ALL your players to sprint on every possession is extremely difficult.

If you allow them, players will walk, jog, or even stand when they are supposed to be sprinting. As a coach, this can be maddening. We've all been there!

Simple and Effective Solution

To help solve this problem, here's a very simple and effective method to get your players sprinting in transition defense on almost every possession:

Step 1 - Show Them What It Means to Sprint

This is an important step. Most players don't have a clue what it means to sprint back on defense. They think a "fast jog" is good enough. The urgency just isn't there. So you NEED to show them what you really want...

Step 2 - Incorporate Rules Into Scrimmages

Next, you can simply incorporate rules into your scrimmages.

There are dozens of transition defense drills you can run to get your players sprinting. There's nothing wrong with those drills.

However, when it comes to sprinting, I skip those drills to save time. Instead I utilize, "rules" and teach in the context of scrimmages.

Some coaches will scream "sprint" almost every time down the court. This isn't a good long-term solution in my opinion. It might be fine at first. But I'm not a fan of "joy stick coaching" during games -- you know one of those coaches that is hollering what to do every 5 seconds. I think players need to learn good habits and how to make decisions on their own.

To get your players to remember, simply add a rule during your scrimmages. The rule is...

"When the ball transitions to the other team, your first three steps must be a sprint. If not, your team loses 1 point."

This is of course a judgment call by the head or assistant coach. You need to use a little discretion to determine when to deduct points and when not to.

If you see a player standing there for three seconds, that is clearly a point deduction. If there's a split second where they are thinking, and then they remember to sprint, I don't deduct points. I'm mostly looking for "effort" and "awareness".

You also need to be sure to let players know when they lose points. This immediate feedback is important.

This rule is effective at all age levels -- I utilize this rule with both youth (5th graders) and high school teams.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to solving problems like this, my preference is to utilize competitive games with “modified rules” to get the results that we want. That is generally my favorite way to solve problems.

In any case, try this process and see how it works for you. In my experience, players will consistently start sprinting back on defense. A very simple and efficient way to get the results you're looking for.


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Friday, December 1, 2017

This Simple Tactic Dramatically Improves Relationships with Players and Helps You Motivate Them

Posted by: Unknown on Friday, December 1, 2017 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

This Simple Tactic Dramatically Improves Relationships with Players and Helps You Motivate Them


I'm assuming many of you are similar to me. You like coaching basketball and you love having a positive impact on kids.

Well, we know that the first step to having a positive impact on kids is connecting to the kids.

And if you can connect with kids, it's easier to motivate them to do things that will benefit them on the basketball court and in life.

In fact, this has worked so well for me that that former players have...

  • Asked me to be their reference for medical internships, coaching jobs, and other things. 
  • Texted me a few years after I coached them about issues with their dad losing a job, a girlfriend breaking up with them, and even divorce with their parents.

And here is a super simple way to accomplish it.

Compliment them.

In fact, studies have shown that people who receive a compliment form favorable views of the person giving the compliment. And what's even crazier, this still happens even if they view the compliment as disingenuous.

So there are a few different ways to do this, but don't be disingenuous.

If I have to form an immediate connection and I don't know all of the kids, I use the first two methods. You might use this in a camp setting or coaching a youth basketball team.

1 - Compliment them on anything even if it's not basketball related.

You can simply compliment players on things like their shoes, hair, shirt, bag, socks, basketball, or whatever. Most people like to be complimented on this stuff.

Of course, you don't want to take this too far where somebody only gets their self esteem from their appearance. But you can use it at first to better connect.

It's better to place the majority of your praise on process-oriented things like attitude, effort, and listening.

2 - Compliment things they do well first before correcting.

When I'm watching kids work on skills at first, there are a million critiques running through my head. However, you need to fill the compliment jar first. That way, they actually hear your critique and are actually open to it.

For example, you might see a kid dribbling the ball with his eyes down and wiggling his body like a worm. However, he's doing a great job at pounding the ball into the floor.

When doing this, I prefer to use something called the compliment sandwich. I learned this technique from the legendary Morgan Wootten. 

- You simply say the person's name and praise them for something they're doing well. 

- Then you state the correction (critique). 

- Then you finish with something they're doing well again.

So you could say, "Way to pound the ball, Jalen. Keep your eyes up. Good job and keep pounding that ball."

3 - Start complimenting early

If you're in a position where you know you're going to coach a group of kids in the future, start building that connection way beforehand.

I remember I had a coach by the name of Casey Ditch. He was a master of this. Every time I saw him, he was smiling and saying something nice to me.

"Whoa. Every time I see you, you grow a couple of inches."

"Man, have you been working on your jumper? Your shot is looking good."

"Hey, I heard you really worked hard at track practice. Great job."

"What is this I hear about you getting a B+ on your math test. Nice work!"

"Hey, where'd you get those kicks? I like those."

By the time, he was my freshman basketball coach, I was open to everything he said. I was locked in.

However, I have to be truthful. The first time he yelled at me during a game, I was a bit surprised. But since he had built the connection, my first thought was... "Whoa. I need to fix that."

If you're a teacher or coach, you can do this in the hallways at school. You can show up at practices before you coach them. You can do this at camps.

If you're a parent, you might do it casually when you see other kids around.

If you start filling that compliment jar right now, it pays dividends in the future.

Original Author: Joe Haefner

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Friday, November 3, 2017

Practice With Limited Time, 1 Practice Per Week

Posted by: Unknown on Friday, November 3, 2017 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

Practice With Limited Time, 1 Practice Per Week

We just wrapped up our bonus tele-seminar for customers that ordered the Motion Offense eBook last night…

During the tele-seminar a few youth coaches asked some very good and interesting questions.  One question in particular was…

“I coach 5th grade girls.  We only practice once a week for one hour.  What would you recommend that we focus on during that short amount of time”?

Summarized in my own words, here’s Don’s answer…

In that short amount of time, I would focus on SKILLS, allow the kids some time to play, and give them homework.

To give you an example, here’s a way to work on Skills (fundamentals) and Motion Offense at the same time…

  1. First, pick a couple cuts or screens that you think would be good for your team.  For example, you could choose down-screens and away-screens.
  2. Next, run shooting drills that incorporate those movements.  You could have two offensive players (no defense).  One player on the wing, another player on the block.  A coach or third player could have the ball on top of the key.  The player on the wing sets a down screen, the other player rubs off the screen, catches the ball, pivots, and shoots.  Now repeat over and over.  Your players are working on screens (part of your motion offense), pivoting footwork and shooting (skills).
  3. You can do the same thing with away screens, basket cuts, and any type of cut or screen.  The key is to choose a couple elements from your motion offense and turn those elements into skill building drills.  Your imagination is the only limit to the types of drills you can come up with.  It doesn’t hurt to mix things up and make theyouth basketball drills fun too. 

By practicing this way, you’ll save a ton of time and get a lot more done.

Also, you’re providing drills that your players can practice on their own.  Don’t be afraid to give them some homework.  Some players will put in the work outside of practice to get better.

Let them play

After practicing skills, I would let them play at the end.  It’s up to you how much time you spend scrimmaging.  But as an example, you could work on skills for 45 minutes, then scrimmage for 15 minutes at the end.   In practice, I think kids need to play at least a little bit.

During the scrimmage, start by showing the kids general spacing.  You’ll probably want to put tape on the floor so they know the basic motion offense spots.  Then just tell them to play.  If they don’t know what to do, just say “Do you remember the down screen drill we did at the beginning of practice?  Do that.  Sometimes it will work, sometimes it won’t  That’s ok.  If it doesn’t work, do it again.” 

Now you have worked on skills, you have the beginning of a motion offense, and your kids are “learning how to play”. 

How productive do you think that hour would be if you spent nearly the entire time teaching them a set play or a patterned offense?  It takes a long time for kids to learn and remember patterns and plays.  Kids will get VERY little benefit from that!

That’s the great thing about a motion offense.  You can work on skills and motion offense at the same time.

You could even practice some man to man defense during the scrimmage.  Just have one coach responsible for making minor corrections during the scrimmage.  This coach only watches the defense and tries to improve their positioning.

This is how you get the MOST out a short amount of time.  Kids need to play, learn skills, and have fun.

Original Author: Jeff Haefner

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Watch What You Teach

Posted by: Unknown on Thursday, October 12, 2017 at 12:00:00 am Comments (1)

Watch What You Teach

When we step on the floor to teach our players, what is it that we feel is important, what is it that we really teach? Are there lessons inside of the ball handling, shooting, etc? 

Over the years, I have had great success in facilitating player's improvement. I have worked with NBA All-Stars, high school, college and youth players. If I had not been successful, the player would not have come back and I would not have new players asking me for my time. 

I don't believe I know any more basketball than anyone else. I don't think that I am better than anyone. I just know what works for me and I know it has been very effective. My teaching style is different than most. I have different priorities and different methods. Some agree with it, some don't. I am not saying it is any better than anyone but I am saying it is just different. 

While others teach jump shooting, ball handling, passing, etc., I try to teach something different. No matter what level of player, regardless of age or sex, I teach one thing. I think it is the most important skill any player can learn. I try to teach players not to fear failure. 

I believe the fear of failure is the single largest impediment to learning and improvement. I think that the way we teach what we teach might help instill fear of failure. 

I grew up with the same work ethic that we all did, "Practice makes perfect." Then, I was introduced to the saying that, "Only perfect practice makes perfect." For a long time, I bought into that, full force. I was so intent on "perfect practice" that I made players afraid to act. 

My insistence that players make every shot, commit no turnovers, allow no scores on defense actually forced my players further and further away from what the objective was. I decided that maybe I should look at my methods. 

Here are some things I have come to realize. Shooters that miss 55% of their shots are considered good shooters. In baseball, if you fail 70% of the time, you have a chance to be a Hall of Famer. The greatest golfer ever, Tiger Woods, loses 79% of his tournaments (if you are a Jack Nicklaus person, his win percentage is 9% - and that is the 2nd highest win percentage ever). On the whole, sport is an exercise in failure. It's how you deal with that failure that determines how good a player you are. You can either fear failure or you can accept it as part of the game and move on. 

When I catch a player getting frustrated or angry because he has missed some shots, I will ask him, "If I could give you some advice in the form of 3 words and tell you if you follow this advice you will never miss another shot, would you like to hear it?" Invariably, the answer comes back, "Yes." So, I give them the 3 words, "Don't shoot any." 

If you don't shoot any, you won't miss any. As long as you shoot, you will miss. That is part of shooting. Accept it and move on. As long as you play, you will make mistakes. Accept that premise and move on. Make the next play.

Original Author: Don Kelbick

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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Tom Izzo Opinion

Posted by: Unknown on Tuesday, August 1, 2017 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

Tom Izzo: “We’re creating a system where kids don’t learn to handle adversity”

Tom Izzo says more college athletes these days aren’t willing to stick through the hard times, but he’s not putting it on them. He’s blaming the people around them.

Izzo joined The Drive with Jack Ebling for a long interview and was asked about the biggest change in the coaching profession. He said it’s the influences kids have, and today’s media age has pushed it into overdrive. As a result, kids aren’t getting good advice.

“The profession has changed. Twenty years ago, it changed with talk radio, but talk radio didn’t even put a dent when you compare it to what social media and the internet has done,” Izzo said. “That’s changed everybody. We’re up to over 700 (basketball) players transferring already, and I heard we’re going to go over 800.

“We’re creating a system that we’re never teaching a kid how to fight through (tough times). There’s a lot of kids who should transfer for the right reasons. But 3/4 of the kids are transferring because they didn’t get enough shots, didn’t get enough ball, and didn’t do this or that. We’re helping create a society of, when the going gets tough, you bolt and leave.”

More than 700 college hoops players transferred last year. It was around 200 a decade ago. Izzo saw two players transfer out of his own program in the last month, but he's been supportive of them.

Again, he’s putting this swell on the people influencing kids, and it's not just transfers. Izzo often says today's players are taught to believe that, if they don't leave early for the NBA, they're failing. So there's more pressure to leave.

College programs fall into the category of influencers, too. Izzo pointed to the fact that coaching changes in all sports are more frequent than ever. When a program is moving on from a coach quickly, why wouldn’t a kid do the same with a program?

“I’m fortunate I’ve got as good of a president and AD as there is in the world, because there are some bad AD’s out there,” Izzo said. “You wonder why players do what they do, when AD’s are firing people who aren’t successful in one year. I wonder if Tom Izzo would still be here today going into year three back (when I missed the tournament in my first two years).

“I know Mike Krzyzewski wouldn’t have been. I know Dean Smith wouldn’t have been, according to all the people I talk to. We wonder why kids are feeling that way? It’s our society that’s creating that. It’s not the kids.”

Original Author: Chris Vannini

Retrieved from:

Thursday, July 13, 2017

How to Develop Mental Toughness on the Court

Posted by: Alan Stein on Thursday, July 13, 2017 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

How to Develop Mental Toughness on the Court


 A couple of years ago I was fortunate enough to meet Graham Betchart, a brilliant performance coach who specializes in mental skills training for athletes.

After numerous phone conversations and email exchanges we finally connected in person at a Big East college basketball game.

I have always been fascinated by the role the mind plays in achieving success on the basketball court, and have spent a ton of time studying (and improving) that aspect of my own coaching arsenal.

Depending on who you ask, most agree that basketball is around 75 percent mental (Bob Knight was even quoted as saying the "mental is to the physical as 4 is to 1"). Yet most players readily admit they don't spend time working on mental training. So at best, they spend 100 percent of their time and effort focused on the remaining 25 percent.

If you want an edge, you have to train your mind and body.

Mental Toughness

People define "mental toughness" in a variety of ways, and there is usually some truth to most of those definitions.

Part of mental toughness is learning how to be comfortable being uncomfortable.

Another part of mental toughness is the ability to focus on what you can control and stay in the moment (also known as "Playing Present").

One of the biggest roadblocks to maximum performance for both players and coaches is falling in the trap of focusing on (and worrying about) things that are out of their control.

You are 100 percent in control of:

  • Focus
  • Attitude
  • Body Language
  • Effort
  • Thoughts
  • Communication

You have zero control of the refs, the fans, or your opponent. And contrary to most people's understanding, you don't have full control over making a shot or winning a game! You can do a series of things that strongly increase your chances of making a shot or winning the game, but you don't have complete control of it. If you did, every shot would go in and you would win every game!

The key to effectively playing present is to focus on the 'next play.' Not the one that just happened--it's over. Not the one that may happen later, but the play right in front of you. You must learn how to focus on the task at hand and execute that to the best of your ability. Then do that for the next play. And the next play. And the play after that. One play at a time.

When you get back on defense, that stop is the most important stop of the entire game. Why? Because it is the ONLY one you can directly affect. It's kind of like the old coaching mantra "the next game on our schedule is the most important game of the year." There is a ton of wisdom behind that quote.

Same holds true for shooting. The next shot is the only one that matters because it is the only shot you can affect. That is what makes Michael Jordan so phenomenal. Although it rarely happens, if MJ misses his first 10 shots... he doesn't let it affect his 11th shot. The 'next shot is going in' mentality is why he was such a potent offensive player. He always thinks, "My next shot is good."

Focus on the Process

A key component of playing present is being able to focus on the process, not the result. For instance, don't worry about whether or not you make the shot. Instead, focus on the steps needed to greatly increase your chances of making the shot:

  • Being on balance
  • Having good footwork
  • Staying square to the rim
  • Keeping your eyes on the rim
  • Executing your shot technique
  • Holding your follow through

Focus on these things because they are things you have complete control over. You control whether or not you are on balance, have good footwork, are square to the rim, etc. If you focus on these things, more times than not, you'll make the shot. But if you only worry with the outcome (making the shot) instead of the process (the steps above), you will not be a very good shooter.

You need to be so into the moment ('Play Present')... that on an offensive possession you are thinking something to the effect of, 'cut hard to an open space, catch the ball, square up, survey my options, and make the right play.' Now of course all of this needs to happen quickly, in real time. You can't be out on the court in La-La-Land day dreaming! In fact, it is the opposite. When you 'Play Present', you are so dialed in you have razor-sharp focus.

Creating this awareness is what separates an NBA superstar from other talented players. He always gets back to the process and doesn't worry with the outcome. Don't be a sucker for the results! Focus on perfecting the process and the results will follow.

John Wooden was famous for NEVER talking about winning. All he talked about was the characteristics needed to be successful. In his case, the winning (obviously) took care of itself.

Just remember, the next step is always the most important step... focus on each and every possession. Play present. Coach Betchart also calls this concept W.I.N. -- 'What's Important Now?' The only thing that should be important now is the play that is right in front of you; the next play.

Have you ever taken a toy away from a 1-year old? They cry. Then you give it right back to them. They stop. They don't dwell on the fact that you took it, they are dialed into the fact they have it back.

Now as a parent, and as a coach, it is my job to keep them 'Playing Present.' Keep them focused on what they can control. Keep them focused on the process.

Author: Alan Stein
Retrieved from:

Monday, May 29, 2017

What Defense Should You Teach Youth Players (Zone, Man, Press)?

Posted by: Joe Haefner on Monday, May 29, 2017 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

First, we commend all youth coaches for taking up such an important role in developing children! In the grand scheme of things, what defense or offense you pick doesn't matter in regards to how we develop the children's character on the teams that we coach.

Second, I think we can all agree that we want to develop better basketball players for the future and we want what is best for them.

Now, one of the most-debated topics is what defense should we teach youth players? Zone, Match Up, Pressing, Man, Amoeba?

The answer is without a doubt man-to-man defense! I can promise you that in the long-run, you will develop better basketball players by playing man to man defense.


Man To Man Defense Will Help You Win More Games In The Long Run and Develop Better Players

At times, you may not win as many games at first, but I guarantee you start winning more games by the 7th and 8th grade as long as the man to man defense principles are properly taught.

And the chances of those players making their high school teams will be dramatically higher.

The feeling of seeing players succeeding at higher levels, because of the foundation you set as a coach is so much more rewarding than winning a few more games at the youth level that you and the players will forget about after a few years.

If you use zone defenses and presses, while you read this article, please remember that we're not judging you or trying to be condescending by any means, because we've used zone defenses and presses at the youth level as well. But we feel like that was a mistake when it came to developing the players that we coached. And we all want what's best for the kids.

We hope that you read the entire article and share your thoughts below even if you disagree with our points. We want this to be a community where we debate things in a positive, constructive way and come to a better understanding of these issues.

Now before we delve into all of the reasons that you should play man to man defense at the youth and middle school level, let's examine why youth coaches typically go to zones, presses, and other defenses, the systemic issues, and why zone defenses and zone presses work.


Why Youth Coaches Go To Zone Defenses

First off, I don't have a problem with zone defenses. I believe that zone defenses combined with good defensive fundamentals can help teams win games. However, in most cases, they should not be used at the youth and middle school level.

Under the current system in the U.S., most coaches get the unnecessary burden of having to teach skills, zone offense, man offense, press breakers, and defense with limited practice time. Some coaches only get one hour per week. Even at the high school level, it takes me at least 10 to 20 practices to get a good base to handle these situations. Some youth coaches barely get 20 practices within two seasons.

If we are concerned with the long-term development of youth basketball players, they should not even be playing 5v5 with the same rules as high school and NBA teams. As we've been saying all along, young kids should start out playing 3v3 half court, then 4v4, then 5v5. I first heard this from my high school coach 15 years ago. This is something that I've seen youth expert Bob Bigelow and many other great coaches preach for years. Not to mention, we introduce the game to kids before they are taught how to move efficiently.

As Bob Bigelow likes to say, "Adapt the game to fit the kids. Not the other way around."

If you would like to read more in depth on the systemic issues, please read these articles:

Could 3 on 3 Basketball Be the Best for Youth Players?

What's Wrong With Youth Basketball Leagues (And How To Fix Them)

Should We Teach Basketball Skills to Kids Under the Age of 10?

Not to mention, most youth coaches are volunteers who have full-time jobs and kids! So they barely have any time to educate themselves on how to teach basketball to youth players. Nobody educates them on the age-appropriate skills and how kids learn.

So what happens is that a coach hears from a colleague, faces a zone defense, or sees another team playing zone. Then, they see how much trouble it is giving the opposing team. Next, the coach implements the zone defense and realizes it only takes a few minutes a day to practice. And they weren't even sure how to teach man to man defense in the first place. Next, games are closer and you might be winning a few games you shouldn't. So the coach decides he's sticking with the zone defense.

With the instant gratification of winning now and the need to please parents, coaches end up coaching for the outcome, rather than the process. And this does hurt youth players' development in the long run.


Why Zone Defenses Work At The Youth Level

Zone defenses also work at the youth level because:

  • Players have not practiced enough yet to develop the proper ball handling skills to beat zone defenses and break presses.
  • Players are not strong enough to throw passes far enough and crisp enough to beat a zone. Defenses can send 3 or 4 defenders at the ball and still be effective.
  • Players have not developed the necessary strength and coordination to shoot accurately from long-distance.
  • Players have not developed the cognitive skills necessary to recognize situations quickly and react in the appropriate time needed.
  • Opposing coaches don't have enough practice time to cover all of the situations.
  • Unlike man to man defense, you don't even have to apply good defensive principles to be effective at the youth level.


Why Teaching Zone Defense Can Handicap Your Youth Players' Future and Why Man to Man Defense Is The Best Defense For Youth Players


1 - Develop Athleticism

Something I rarely hear coaches talk about in the man to man versus zone defense debate for youth players is athleticism.

Now who is going to develop into a better athlete?

Somebody who has to move all over the floor using many different movement patterns or a defender in a zone whom only has to guard in a 7x7 feet box. Also, in a zone defense, defenders are typically stuck in the post area or perimeter area. So they don't learn post and perimeter defense.

Now, you might argue that you don't use a lazy zone or that you have a trapping zone and that your players run all over the place.

Well, as a person that studies athletic development both as a hobby and as a basketball coach, I can tell you that even aggressive zone defenses do NOT develop athleticism the way man to man defense does.

Let's take your centers and/or forwards that you have towards the back of the zone as an example. (And by the way, these "big" players probably need to work on foot coordination and athleticism more than anyone). Just look at their feet as they play in the back of the zone. They rarely have to move quickly, get down in low stance, or transition from shuffle to cross over defensive movements. This changing from run, to shuffle, to cross over, is incredible for athletic development. This is one of the best things you can do. Their legs get stronger, faster, more coordinated, and more athletic.

And let's pretend that you even rotate your big guys to the front of the zone trapping to develop their athleticism, you still won't develop the same athleticism as playing man to man defense. With straight up man to man defense, you have to play 1v1 on-ball defense. There is nobody to trap or bail you out, except for help defense. So you have to move faster, work harder and smarter, and react quicker to keep the ball in front of you or out of the middle of the court.

Not to mention, the zone at the youth level usually forms bad habits. You'll find that players in trapping and pressing defenses will form bad habits, because they can get away with things defensively such as lunging out of position, constantly going for steals, and reaching all of the time. It's very hard to break these habits and in some cases, it doesn't happen. So in my opinion, this can wreck a player's basketball career if not approached properly.

Also, how many times have you seen a player who is extremely skilled get passed on for being not athletic enough? Now how many times do you see college coaches attempt to develop athletes who are not very skilled?

If you've been around the game, you know that many coaches are more willing to take a chance on an athlete who isn't very skilled compared to a skilled basketball player who isn't athletic. I'm not downplaying the importance of basketball skills. Developing basketball skills is super-important, but you also need to spend a considerable amount of time on developing athleticism.

If you don't believe me, go watch some NAIA and Division 3 games. These kids are skilled! They just aren't as big and as athletic as the D-2 and D-1 guys. Some of this is genetics. Some of this is a faulty athletic development system in the U.S.

Bottom line, this argument alone would deter me away from zone defenses, because of my background and belief that athleticism is so important not only in the game of basketball, but in all sports.

This is one of my favorite drills for developing basketball skills and athleticism:

Al Marshall is one of the best zone defense coaches in the world (if you don't believe me, just check out the reviews on his zone defense DVD). He uses the drill above every 2 to 3 practices because of its tremendous value to improving on-ball defense and athleticism.

Since we're talking about Coach Marshall, I figure we'd also mention that even Al does not allow his youth and middle school teams (7 to 14 year olds) to play zone defense.


2 - Players Develop A Better Basketball IQ Playing Man to Man Defense

One of the reasons I'm a big believer in motion offense is because I think it develops smarter basketball players and I'm a fan of man to man defense for the same reason.

Who is going to develop a better feel for the game?

Player A shuffles back and forth between two spots and only learns to defend on one part of the floor.

Player B who is transitioning to different spots on the floor and learning to defend screens, cutters, post players, ball handlers, shooters, etc.

Obviously, it's Player B. The more situations the player faces and the more repetitions the player gets in those situations with proper coaching and feedback will result in a better and smarter basketball player.

Now if Player B heads to a program that plays zone defense, they will be a very effective defender.


3 - Players Form Bad Defensive Habits By Using Zone Defenses and Presses

As mentioned above, a big problem with zone defenses and presses is that many youth coaches allow their players to develop bad defensive habits. Because youth players have not developed their coordination, strength, basketball skills, and general athleticism, defensive habits such as swarming the ball and lunging out of position for the steal every time will benefit them on the scoreboard.

In a zone defense, they also tend to just watch the ball and they can still be successful in regards to wins and losses at the youth level. In order to be successful with a man to man defense, they have to be aware of both the man and the ball. They HAVE to learn good defensive principles in order to be successful!

As these youth players get older, all of the sudden these bad defensive habits get exposed because kids are bigger, stronger, more coordinated, and more skilled.

Now, the kids with bad defensive habits are cut from teams, get less playing time, and in the extreme case, could even lose out on scholarship opportunities. Now, if you're at a school that doesn't cut, you just end up with a poor team and this hurts the player's chance of getting recruited. College coaches usually want good players from winning programs.

And you might be wondering, why doesn't coach just teach them the right way to play when they get to high school?

  • It can takes years to break the bad defensive habits. After players have spent most of their youth basketball career using poor defensive fundamentals, it's very difficult to break the bad habits.
  • They'd rather keep the players with good habits and spend their time on other things to make them better players and make the team better. After trying to do this a few times, most coaches just end up cutting these players right away because they have learned that the process is so frustrating and not worth their time. The coaches do this to keep the team's best interests in mind.

You also have to know man to man defense principles to have success at the higher levels even if you use zone defense as your primary defense. You can ask Syracuse's Jim Boeheim who is known for running a very successful 2-3 zone defense and he will tell you the same thing. As mentioned above, Al Marshall does the same thing.


Arguments For Zone Defenses At The Youth Level


Zone Defense Isn't The Problem - Lack of Defensive Fundamentals Are The Problem

I've also heard the argument that zone defenses aren't the problem, it's the lack of fundamentals being taught with the zone defense that is the problem. I agree with this. But it is a rarity at this age level for coaches to teach the proper defensive fundamentals with zone defense. And I still don't believe zone defenses are age-appropriate for youth teams for the same reasons mentioned above. On average, players are too weak and uncoordinated to execute the offensive principles that beat zone defenses.

Look at the baseball system. Players are eventually going to be taking leads off of first base and pitching from 60 feet, 6 inches, but we don't start the youth players out that way. We shorten the mound and we don't let players take leads off of first base until they reach a certain age. Baseball modifies the game for youth, not the other way around like the current basketball system.


Players Can't Advance the Ball Against Aggressive Man to Man Defense

I agree that if you play a super-athletic team that plays aggressive man to man defense, you can have more problems with this team than if they had played a zone defense. I think there are two solutions here.

  1. If the coach is winning by a lot, they should call off the dogs. Don't let them defend outside the 3-point line or play a zone defense if they think that would help. That is what I have done in a few games where we ran into this problem.
  2. Find equal competition. It's senseless for both teams to play a game where you win or lose by 40+ points. I realize that I'm spoiled because I coach in Kansas City, so it's easier to find similar competition due to the large population, but do your best to find teams that will be productive to play against. When I organized my first youth league in small-town Iowa at age 22, I called local teams with similar skill levels and organized a 6-team league.


These Kids Will Never Play Basketball Beyond Middle School or High School

Basketball is one of the latest developing sports. Unless you can see the future, I don't believe anybody can truly figure out who is going to develop into a good basketball player or not. Here are just a few reasons why:

  • Late growth spurts

See Michael Jordan - grew 6 inches between sophomore and junior season in high school.
See Scottie Pippen - grew 6 inches in college.
See Bill Russell - was 5'10 in the 10th grade.
See Shaquille O'Neal - cut from 9th grade basketball team for being too clumsy.

These are just a few examples. As I'm sure with a little research, you would find many more in basketball and other sports.

  • Passion and hard work. Sometimes, passion and hard work for something will take players a lot further than somebody who is a little bit more naturally talented. Believe it or not, in this start earlier and do-more-at-younger-age era, it's not what you do prior to puberty that counts, it's what you do post-puberty that's going to make the biggest difference in your basketball development. Steve Nash didn't start playing until age 12. Dirk Nowitzki started around the same age.


Build a Winning Tradition

At some schools, coaches have the challenge of building a program. Maybe the team has lost at all levels from varsity to youth for a long time. Due to this, excitement about the program is low to put it kindly and participation is low. In order to create a buzz and get kids involved, you need to use some tactics such as zone defenses and zone presses that might help you win more games.

This one is hard for me to argue with. However, you want to be careful. You would still need to make sure proper defensive principles and basketball skills are being worked on in every practice. Otherwise, the situation could be a catch-22. You might start winning more games at the youth level and get more involvement, but due to the bad habits being formed, you still don't win many more games at the varsity level.

Also, maybe you want to develop a "winning" attitude. This also needs to be handled with care, because what is the underlying message that is or is NOT being communicated. It could be harder to convey that working hard, doing the right thing, and avoiding quick-fixes will be better for you in the long-run.


The Zone Defense Gives Our Kids A Chance To Compete

I know some coaches that teach man to man defense, but will use a zone defense against a team that is far superior with talent. This one doesn't really bother me as much as long as the team doesn't get in the habit of playing zone defense every game.

I prefer to try a sagging / pack-line type defense to counter the more athletic teams. If I still have lots of trouble, I MIGHT use a zone defense.


They Have To Learn How To Play Against Pressure and Zones When They're Older So They Should Be Playing Against It Now

Yes. I think we can all agree that they will play according to those rules when they get older, but is that really the right approach?

Kids also may need to learn how to drive a car, learn calculus, and learn how to raise a family and communicate with their spouse, but we're not going to throw them the keys and have them get in LA rush hour at age 10, we're not going to teach them calculus before they understand basic math, geometry, and algebra, and we're definitely not going to tell our 12 year old kid to go start a family.

It's all about progressions and doing what's right for their long-term development. Presses and zones are advanced basketball strategies and need to be saved for the older age groups.

Now, I don't have issues with competitive or elite 7th and 8th grade teams doing these things. To me, that's more of a to-ma-to / to-mah-to issue. Younger kids from the 3rd to 6th grade levels, they need to learn how to play the game, physically develop, and psychologically develop before zone defenses and presses are used.


Possible Solution To Work on Zone Offense With Advanced Youth Players

I wouldn't advise this until the kids are 12 or 13, but if coaches got together before a game during the second half of the season and said let's work on playing against a 2-3 zone defense during the 2nd quarter, I believe the benefits would be outstanding. That way, you could introduce zone offensive principles when the kids are ready and work on them in a game environment.

Even though it takes effort, discipline, and time, man to man defense is by far the best route to go in developing players.

Among many other things, it improves athleticism, basketball IQ, basketball skills, and the athlete's chances to succeed at the next level.


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Friday, March 10, 2017

Why the Skyhook Isn't Part of Today's Game

Posted by: Unkown on Friday, March 10, 2017 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

Article written by Chris Mannix, of The Vertical. Originally posted on Yahoo! Sports on March 6th 


Where has the skyhook gone? Don’t ask Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The master of the move is as befuddled as anybody as to why the weapon he used to score a large chunk of his NBA-best 38,387 points has disappeared.

“I think it has to do with the way they are teaching the game,” Abdul-Jabbar told The Vertical. “They are not teaching kids how to post up. Everyone wants to shoot 3-pointers. It should be part of every [big man’s] game. It’s not.”

Where has the skyhook gone? Don’t ask NBA coaches. They don’t understand its disappearance, either. Interviews with a half-dozen coaches revealed many of the same answers. The game has changed. It’s a tough shot to learn. It’s not cool. “Teams just don’t walk it up and drop it in the post anymore,” said Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry. Added Thunder assistant coach Mark Bryant: “You aren’t going to get any commercials shooting the skyhook. Only [Kareem] got commercials shooting the skyhook.”

Where has the skyhook gone? Players shrug, too. Grizzlies center Marc Gasol prides himself on a diverse offensive repertoire. He shoots standing hooks and running hooks. An old-school, Kareem-style skyhook? “Not in a real game,” Gasol said, laughing. “I don’t know where the ball might go.” Anthony Davis has the long, 6-foot-11 frame ideal for the shot. “I’ve never tried it,” Davis said. “Never thought about it, either.”

Strange, isn’t it? The NBA is the ultimate copycat league. Coaches steal plays from other coaches. Players hijack moves from other players. The rise of San Antonio gave way to more teams preaching unselfish offense; the imprint of Mike D’Antoni’s Suns teams is everywhere.

Yet the most unstoppable move in NBA history is just … gone. Granted, it’s difficult to learn. Abdul-Jabbar didn’t have a teacher. He learned hooks by practicing the Mikan drill — a rhythm and timing drill for big men, named after Hall of Fame center George Mikan — and watching another Hall of Famer, Cliff Hagan, flip up a few. In elementary school, Abdul-Jabbar regularly went up against taller kids; the skyhook was the only shot he knew he could regularly get off.

So he practiced — a lot. He took it to UCLA and set scoring records with it. He took it to the pros and watched frustrated opponents struggle to defend it. One on one, Abdul-Jabbar said, no one ever blocked it. Wilt Chamberlain thought he could time it. He couldn’t. Manute Bol had five inches on him. He never touched it. He broke Chamberlain’s scoring record in 1984 with it and won the series-clinching Game 6 of the ’85 Finals with it.

So why don’t players work on it? Some do. They just get discouraged, quickly. “The balance is the tricky part,” Gasol said. “You have to understand perfectly where you are. Once you commit to that shot, especially from the set position, you have to be very precise.” Added Thunder forward Enes Kanter, “If you don’t stay low and you don’t stay balanced, a defender can push you and you take a crazy shot. It’s hard.”

The hook remains a valued weapon. After practices, Bryant, the Thunder’s big-man coach, regularly works with players on hooks. “I think the hook is the best shot in the world,” Bryant said, “especially when you have your shoulders squared up in the middle of a guy’s chest. There is no way in the world you can block it. So you can get real comfortable with it. I love the hook.”

And the skyhook?

“The kids don’t like doing it,” Bryant said, laughing. “It kind of boils down to that.”

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

How to Improve Team Bonding and Teach an Important Lesson

Posted by: Jeff Haefner on Tuesday, June 28, 2016 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

We suggest that all coaches (especially youth coaches) incorporate "life lessons" into their basketball practices.

Ironically, the "life lesson" we'd like to share with you today also helps improve team bonding! So it's a win - win for everyone involved.

Before getting into the specifics, I'd first like to explain what we mean by "life lessons" and why you should use them in your practices...

We believe it's important to consciously teach "life lessons" because not only will this help you win more games -- but more importantly this sets a good example for your players and helps them develop into happy and successful people.

Whether you realize it or not, basketball coaches have a HUGE influence on their players. You have an opportunity to have a very positive impact on something much bigger and more important than basketball.

By teaching these "life lessons" you also improve your basketball team and win more games. But that's not the intent. The intent is just to do the "right thing" as a basketball coach. Winning is simply a pleasant by-product of doing the "right thing".

In this article, we'll be discussing one specific "life lesson" that is very important and also improves team bonding!

But before we get into that, let's further explain what exactly we mean by "life lessons".

What is a life lesson?

You can actually call it whatever you want - laws of life, truths of life, keys to success, or whatever you prefer.

But when we say "life lessons", we are referring to ideals to live by. These are the things that are truly important in life. These are the things that make people truly successful and happy.

For example, some of the following ideals and concepts are traits you'll find in truly happy and highly successful people:

·         Honesty - always tell the truth

·         Be proactive (life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it)

·         Work hard

·         Dedication

·         Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

·         Getting your priorities straight (family, school, etc)

·         Don't complain; focus your energy on the positive things.


Of course, there are more but this gives you the idea.

Now let's get into a specific lesson you can teach that helps improve your team bonding.

The core of the lesson is to simply teach your players the joy of giving and serving others. This is a very simple thing.

One of the truths in life is that great happiness and success comes from giving and serving others. You'll rarely find a genuinely happy person that doesn't give out to others and provides a positive to impact in other people's lives.

You can easily help your players discover this joy by arranging a team project. You simply organize an event where your team provides a service to others.

There are thousands of ways that your team can provide a great service to the community and humanity.

You could raise money for sick kids. You could volunteer to serve food to homeless people. You could have your team visit a children's hospital. You could even have your players teach a group of less privileged kids the joy of basketball. Provide a camp for young kids that can't afford to pay.

Let me tell you a story about my daughter that illustrated how this concept can have a profound effect....

One day after work, I asked my three year old daughter if she wanted to do something nice for mom. She said yes! So without my wife knowing, we went to the flower shop and picked out some flowers. We then went home and with a big smile on her face, my daughter carried in the flowers and gave them to her mother. It was big a surprise. They both had HUGE smiles on their faces. It was such a small thing but I think my daughter is getting hooked on the idea of doing something nice to make others happy. It was a big hit!

This is the same concept for your team. You just need to figure out a way to put your players in a genuine situation to make someone else happy. It's contagious.

The key to make this work is to put your players in a situation where they can help someone and then see the look on the other persons face. If you get a genuine smile going both directions, it was successful. But in order for it to be genuine, your players need to believe and buy into the cause.

For some players, this small experience can stimulate them to continue helping others on their own. For other players, this won't sink in until they are adults and mature enough to understand the joy of giving.

Either way, almost all players will remember the event because it's such a unique and positive thing.

They feel good about it and since everyone on your team was involved they develop an unspoken bond.

The type of team bonding this can potentially produce is priceless!

Give it a shot and don't procrastinate. All coaches should teach the joy of giving.

It might sound cheesy, but it works. You have the opportunity to do something positive. So do it!


Redeemed from 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

2016 Fred Frolick Award Winner!

Posted by: Unknown on Tuesday, March 15, 2016 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

The RCBA would like to take a moment to congratulate Mike Brady on being the Fred Frolick Spirit of the Game Award Receipient. Mike has been a tremendous coach and mentor in the RCBA for nearly 20 years. He has been a huge influence for basketball in Regina, below is the write up that was presented when Mike received his award between the 5A Sr Girls and Sr Boys city finals. 


We would like to take a short time to present the Fred Frolick Spirit of the Game Award to this year’s recipient. This award has been presented annually, since 2007, by the Regina Association of Basketball Officials (RABO) to an official, coach OR administrator that has been involved in basketball and has made significant contributions to the sport in some capacity. The award was named the Fred Frolick Spirit of the Game Award in honor of Fred’s commitment, dedication and spirit to basketball for over 50 years.

This year’s recipient is Mike Brady.

Mike has been involved in basketball in many capacities. Mike started playing wheelchair basketball in 1984. He also started coaching junior wheelchair basketball 1987. Most important to the development of, the understanding of and the involvement in wheelchair basketball was his initiative, starting in 1988, to take wheelchairs into schools for students to experience and discuss the implications and opportunities involved as an individual in a wheelchair. This initiative was spirited by the Rick Hansen world tour that was a focus of the country at this time. Through discussion, demonstration, and experience, Mike was able to further the understanding, for students, of the physically challenged and the abilities and opportunities afforded them. He has been involved in schools since, and has expanded the experience and learning to the Regina Community Basketball Association (RCBA) where students of teams take one scheduled game to play that game in the wheelchairs. It is a life lesson for the athletes and coaches involved in the experience.

Mike also started coaching in RCBA in 1998, where he has coached many grade divisions. He has also dabbled in the RHSAA as a coach and mentor coach for aspiring and new coaches involved in the league. Mike has coached five players who have went on to represent Canada in wheelchair basketball. Mike has also spent some time officiating the sport, which is a model for many.

Mike’s contributions to basketball can best be summed up from a note received about his time coaching a grade 5 student and mentoring new coaches in the RCBA. The note stated that:

I just wanted to take a minute to thank you for not only coaching... But mostly for taking on the additional task of mentoring the two young and new coaches... Without bringing in young people and showing them the importance of growing and giving back to the sports and activities they love, they are destine to remain stagnant or die out... I commend you for your approach, commitment and donation of knowledge and time to sport, youth and contribution to helping instil positive values in all the above.  Sometimes it takes years for the efforts of a volunteer to be realized by those they have coached or mentored, but everyone is bettered by your efforts... If not today, someday.  I appreciate you coaching my son, and for exposing the boys to the wheel chair basketball... he came home that very day and wrote an email to the league about what a great experience it was for him and how much he and his teammates enjoyed it.  Observing you coach reinforced my own philosophy in coaching as well... That it's not about winning today that matters, it's about building on yesterday.... Youth sports is so much more than a score... So when you sit back and look at the hours you spent this season and look forward toward the next and decide if you want to have one more go...    Please know that this season was a success and a growth experience for every player because of you... Some just haven't grown enough to realize it yet. Thank you!


Congratulations to an outstanding coach, mentor, ambassador for the sport of basketball, and this year’s Fred Frolick Basketball Award recipient, Mike Brady.


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Are You Using 3 on 3 as a Teaching Tool?

Posted by: RCBA on Tuesday, February 16, 2016 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

Are You Using 3 on 3 As A Teaching Tool?

At a recent Elite Basketball Training skill development workout, the younger basketball players that I was working with (4th, 5th, and 6th graders) were tearing it up in the drills.  There were some talented young players who could flat out shoot the basketball, and some speedy little guards that could handle and pass the ball well.  These skills were all on display in the drills that we were working on however, when put into a live situation, there were glaring weaknesses that included knowledge of how to play the game and how to use their skills in a live game.

Concepts Reinforced By Three on Three

Concepts like court awareness, spacing, passing, moving without the ball and most definitely on and off the ball defense were lacking.  This scarcity of basketball IQ is a problem that is prevalent among many young basketball players but not always noticeable in a five on five game where, generally speaking, one or two players dominate the game by out dribbling their opponent up the court and scoring on a layup.  Because of this only those select few players ever have the ball in their hands long enough to pick up on these weaknesses.  Furthermore, most players on the court do not get the repetitions need to improve their skills in a game-like setting.  This ultimately makes for bad basketball and a poor learning experience for the majority of the players involved in five-on-five leagues.  It is for this reason that three on three basketball is a much better approach to developing the skills of youth basketball players.

Small Sided Game Development In Other Sports

As a basketball player who grew up also playing soccer (and having coached soccer at varying levels for ten years), small sided games were the norm and served as the basis for the development of young players.  The game of soccer at its highest level is played with 11 players on the field but in many cases is reduced to five a side and seven a side at the lower levels.  We also almost always used drills with 3-4 players in them at practice versus scrimmaging with all our players.  Why? These smaller sided situations give the players involved more opportunities to touch the ball while opening up space on the field to try new things and build confidence when doing so.  A similar comparison to soccer can be made with the sport of beach volleyball which is played with two players on the court versus indoor volleyball which is played with six.   Having only two players on the court, once again increases a player’s touches on the ball.  It also forces the player to learn all the skills of volleyball including passing, setting, hitting, etc.  Ultimately, these small-sided situations work really well for soccer and volleyball building highly skilled and versatile players in both situations.  If it works well in other sports,then why not use the same philosophy for basketball skill development as well as team offensive and defensive concepts?

3 On 3 And The Benefit of Space

With beginners, and even more advanced players, it is a good idea to teach the fundamental and advanced concepts of basketball in a three-on-three setting.  Three-on-three basketball (something we all grew up playing at the park a couple of decades ago) has some major advantages from a basketball teaching standpoint.  First, having a total of six players on the floor simplifies the game.  It opens the floor up and creates more space for beginners to learn a concept like moving without the ball.  To do so, start without defense (only 3 guys on the floor) and teach the basics of cutting such as pass and replace yourself and/or pass, cut, and replace.  Then move forward and teach them how to pass and screen away and pass and screen the ball.  Execute these movements as a progression over the course of practice or practices throughout the week(s) of your skill development clinics.  While running the players through these three-on-three drills, enforce spacing and catching in the triple threat position.  Too many players today catch the ball and immediately dribble it in place or into a corner or right back towards the players that just passed them the ball.  Have them come to triple threat position before they make the next pass or dribble and make sure that they keep their spacing on the floor while they pass and cut.  Once you feel that the players have accomplished this, add the defense back on the court.  With renewed confidence in their abilities, these players will be more inclined to try passing and cutting, or passing and screening because of the open space on the court  will create options that are more visible then they would be in a five-on-five setting.

Increased Repetition Benefit Of 3 On 3

The second reason teaching the game in a three-on-three setting is important is that the players will get more touches.  We have all seen it happen in five-on-five, where the best ball-handler sprints out ahead and scores before anyone even crosses half court.  Or where the same guy dribbles through everyone for the layup because he cannot find the open man due to players all just standing around.  This does not happen as often in three-on-three because players find it easier to get open since there is more space on the court.  As a result of getting open more frequently, they get to have the ball in their hand more often.  Having the ball in your hand more often allows the players involved to work on the skills of dribbling, driving, finishing, shooting, passing, etc. more than they would in a five-on-five game where they barely touch the ball.  This will also give the players a more realistic on court experience and not one where they are standing around watching one guy dribble. More often than not, this increase in touches and freedom to move will create better, more skilled, and confident basketball players.

Man To Man Accountability Focus

Beyond the offensive side of the ball, three-on-three is a great way to teach man-to-man team defensive concepts which should be the foundation of any defense that is taught at the youth levels.  In a three on three there is really no way to play zone.  Not being able to play zone forces players to learn how to defend their own man when that player not only has the ball in their hands but also when they do not.  Guarding a player with the ball or without the ball when they are one or two passes away are team defensive concepts that are often not learned at the youth levels where zone defenses are prominent.  Three-on-three basketball helps solve this defensive problem in a similar fashion to the way it does the offensive issues.  Once again, the limited number of players on the floor simplifies the drill for beginners by limiting the number of concepts being worked on at once,  creating more space (which actually makes it more challenging to guard), and giving players more repetitions to make mistakes and learn from .  However, three-on-three is also great to use for more advanced defensive concepts like defending cutters, screeners, and closing out when offensive players are on the move.

There is so much value in using three-on-three basketball as a teaching tool that a case can be made for young players only playing three-on-three until a certain age.  Once they have advanced far enough in the game of basketball to where they understand the basic concepts mentioned in this article they can then progress into five-on-five play. However, continuing to use three-on-three basketball in drills and practice settings will ensure that the  fundamentals of the team game are being learned and reinforceds along with the development of individual skills in a game like setting.  As a result, you will see a more complete basketball players who can not only dribble, pass, and shoot, but who can correctly cut, screen, and play 

Written by Rich Stoner.  

Retreived from: 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Basketball Terms

Posted by: Unknown on Thursday, January 7, 2016 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

Alley-Oop- By far the most amusing basketball term to say out loud, the alley-oop refers to a high pass near the rim of the basket that another player dunks or tips in. The word ultimately comes from a French exclamation “allez-hop!”, used to encourage or draw attention to an athletic feat such as a leap or lift upwards.

Bench - The substitute basketball players. 

Block Out or Box Out - Getting your body between the basketball player and the basket to get a rebound. 

Blocked Shot - When a defensive basketball player makes contact with the basketball while another player is shooting the ball. 

Bounce Pass - In this pass, the basketball bounces about two-thirds of the way from the passer to the receiver. 

Buzzer Beater- When a player takes a shot before the end of quarter buzzer but it goes into the basket afterthe buzzer has gone off, you would refer to that shot as a buzzer beater.

Brick - A poor shot that bounces hard off the rim or backboard. 

Carry the Ball - similar to traveling. When a basketball player moves with the ball without properly dribbling it. 

Charging - an offensive foul which occurs when an offensive basketball player runs into a defender who has established position. 

Chest Pass - the basketball is passed directly from the passer's chest to the receiver's chest. This has the advantage that it takes the least time to complete, as the passer tries to pass as directly straight as possible. 

Cherry Picking- Although it is tempting to somehow ascribe this strategy to the tallest player on the court,cherry-picking actually describes the strategy of a player who does little defensively and instead waits around the opponent’s basket for scoring opportunities. A controversial tactic, cherry-picking is often a violation in amateur leagues and results in a penalty.

Court - the area bounded by 2 sidelines and 2 end lines containing a basket at each end, in which a basketball game is played. 

Defense - the act of preventing the offense from scoring; the basketball team without the ball. 

Double Team - when two basketball teammates join efforts in guarding a single opponent. 

Dribbling - the act of bouncing the basketball continuously. 

Dunk - when a player close to the basket jumps and strongly throws the ball down into it. 

End Line - the boundary line behind each basket; also called the baseline. 

Fast Break - a basketball play that begins with a defensive rebound by a player who immediately sends an outlet pass toward midcourt to his waiting teammates; these teammates can sprint to their basket and quickly shoot before enough opponents catch up to stop them. 

Field Goal - when the basketball enters the basket from above during play; worth 2 points, or 3 points if the shooter was standing behind the 3-point line. 

Forwards - the two basketball players on the team that are responsible for rebounding and scoring close up to the basket. They are usually taller than the guards. 

Foul Lane - the painted area bordered by the end line and the foul line, outside which players must stand during a free-throw; also the area an offensive basketball player cannot spend more than 3-seconds at a time in. 

Foul Line - the line 15' from the backboard and parallel to the end line from which basketball players shoot free-throws. 

Full Court Press- full-court press is when a team plays defense for the entire length of the court (rather than just on the half-court). This defense is sometimes deployed by teams for the entirety of a game, but is more often seen when a team is trailing late in the game and trying to force turnovers.

Guards - the two basketball players who usually handle setting up plays and passing to teammates closer to the basket. 

Jump Ball - Two opposing basketball players jump for a basketball an official tosses above and between them. 

Layup - a close up shot taken after dribbling to the basket. 

Offense - the team with possession of the basketball. 

Personal Foul - contact between basketball players that may result in injury or provide one team with an unfair advantage; players may not push, hold, trip, hack, elbow, restrain or charge into an opponent. 

Pick & Roll- The pick and roll is one of the most common offensive plays. The play typically starts with the member of the offense who is in possession of the ball being guarded by a member of the defense. Another member of the offense then comes up behind the defensive player and sets a screen, or “pick,” behind the player. The ball-handler then “rolls” around his teammate, leaving the defender to choose between defending the player who picked him or continuing to defend the ball-handler.

Post Up- Posting up describes when a player on the offense sets up close to the basket below the foul line, usually facing away from the basket with his back is to the defender. This positioning allows him to use his body to protect the ball, as well as open up different sorts of scoring opportunities.

Rebound - when a basketball player grabs a ball that is coming off the rim or backboard after a shot attempt; see offensive rebound and defensive rebound. 

Screen - when the offensive basketball player stands between a teammate and a defender to give his teammate the chance to take an open shot. 

Shot Clock - a clock that limits the time a team with the basketball has to shoot it to a given amount of time. 

Traveling - when the ball handler takes too many steps without dribbling; also called walking. 

Turnover - when the offense loses possession through its own fault by passing the basketball out of bounds or committing a floor violation. 


Zone Defense - a defense where each defender is responsible for an area of the court and must guard any player who enters that area.

Bench - The substitute basketball players. 

Block Out or Box Out - Getting your body between the basketball player and the basket to get a rebound. 

Blocked Shot - When a defensive basketball player makes contact with the basketball while another player is shooting the ball. 

Bounce Pass - In this pass, the basketball bounces about two-thirds of the way from the passer to the receiver. 

Brick - A poor shot that bounces hard off the rim or backboard. 

Carry the Ball - similar to traveling. When a basketball player moves with the ball without properly dribbling it. 

Charging - an offensive foul which occurs when an offensive basketball player runs into a defender who has established position. 

Chest Pass - the basketball is passed directly from the passer's chest to the receiver's chest. This has the advantage that it takes the least time to complete, as the passer tries to pass as directly straight as possible. 

Court - the area bounded by 2 sidelines and 2 end lines containing a basket at each end, in which a basketball game is played. 

Defense - the act of preventing the offense from scoring; the basketball team without the ball. 

Double Team - when two basketball teammates join efforts in guarding a single opponent. 

Dribbling - the act of bouncing the basketball continuously. 

Dunk - when a player close to the basket jumps and strongly throws the ball down into it. 

End Line - the boundary line behind each basket; also called the baseline. 

Fast Break - a basketball play that begins with a defensive rebound by a player who immediately sends an outlet pass toward midcourt to his waiting teammates; these teammates can sprint to their basket and quickly shoot before enough opponents catch up to stop them. 

Field Goal - when the basketball enters the basket from above during play; worth 2 points, or 3 points if the shooter was standing behind the 3-point line. 

Forwards - the two basketball players on the team that are responsible for rebounding and scoring close up to the basket. They are usually taller than the guards. 

Foul Lane - the painted area bordered by the end line and the foul line, outside which players must stand during a free-throw; also the area an offensive basketball player cannot spend more than 3-seconds at a time in. 

Foul Line - the line 15' from the backboard and parallel to the end line from which basketball players shoot free-throws. 

Guards - the two basketball players who usually handle setting up plays and passing to teammates closer to the basket. 

Jump Ball - Two opposing basketball players jump for a basketball an official tosses above and between them. 

Layup - a close up shot taken after dribbling to the basket. 

Offense - the team with possession of the basketball. 

Personal Foul - contact between basketball players that may result in injury or provide one team with an unfair advantage; players may not push, hold, trip, hack, elbow, restrain or charge into an opponent. 

Rebound - when a basketball player grabs a ball that is coming off the rim or backboard after a shot attempt; see offensive rebound and defensive rebound. 

Screen - when the offensive basketball player stands between a teammate and a defender to give his teammate the chance to take an open shot. 

Shot Clock - a clock that limits the time a team with the basketball has to shoot it to a given amount of time. 

Traveling - when the ball handler takes too many steps without dribbling; also called walking. 

Turnover - when the offense loses possession through its own fault by passing the basketball out of bounds or committing a floor violation. 

Zone Defense - a defense where each defender is responsible for an area of the court and must guard any player who enters that area.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

5 Thoughts That Will Change Your Youth Sports Experience For The Better

Posted by: John O'Sullivan on Thursday, July 23, 2015 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

As I reflect upon many of the conversations I have had over the years as a coach and club director, most of them in one way or another ask the simple question “How do I balance sports and life?” In other words, how do I juggle these five balls. This is especially true when it comes to balancing the needs of your young athletes with the needs of your family, your work, and your other relationships.

It is easy to get caught up in the hoopla, the massive commitments, and the mythology that surrounds youth sports. When we do, we lose sight of the things that really matter. We lose sight of the fact that our athletes can be irrevocably damaged by our actions and words as parents and coaches, however well-intentioned those actions and words may be.

To damage or destroy your relationship with a child over the result of a game, or the choice of sport or team, may be the worst mistake one can ever make. Yet it happens all the time.

So, as we step into a new year, here are a few thoughts that will keep you grounded, keep your priorities straight, and help to keep all those balls you are juggling in the air:

1.Raising a child, whether they are an athlete or not, is akin to designing and building your child’s long-term infrastructure, as if you were building a house. If you are only building for the short term, you are not worried about things like the foundation, wall strength, or ceiling beams—only first impressions and curb appeal. But if you are building it to last for seventy years, you want a sturdy foundation, strong walls, and a well-built roof. We need to think of parenthood in the same way.

2.        If we are building a solid emotional and moral foundation for our children, we must think long-term. We must think beyond single games or three-month seasons. Focusing on winning and short term success prior to high school is curb appeal; proper athletic and personal development creates both an athlete and a person built to last. When we think about the long haul, we realize that the purpose of youth sports is not only to develop better athletes but better people. Sports help children build the foundation for becoming a quality adult both on and off the field. Children form their self-image through what they hear said to them and about them. We need to make sure the messages they receive enhance one of the values above, or other values that are important. We need to make sure they are in an environment where these things are not only taught but exemplified by the coaches, the teachers, and the adults charged with educating them.

3. According to the University of Notre Dame’s Center for Ethical Education, research shows that kids play sports for the following reasons:

·         To have fun (always #1)

·         To do something I am good at

·         To improve my skills

·         To get exercise and stay in shape

·         To be part of a team

·         The excitement of competition

They do not play to win. They like to win, they enjoy competing, but they do not play to win. They play to have fun, to be with their friends, to feel good about themselves, and because it is exciting. Yet how often do we pick and choose our kids’ sports team because it is the winning team, the winning coach, the defending champion, and assume that because of all the wins everything else just happens? We look at wins and losses and fail to search for happy faces and proper developmental environments.

4. The sad statistics indicate that while only 3-5 percent of high school athletes even play in college, an even smaller number receive athletic financial aid. About one in one thousand high school athletes receives a college scholarship (most of them only partial), and about one in thirteen thousand ever becomes a professional. Unfortunately, even in the face of those numbers, between 30-50 percent of youth sports parents believe their child is good enough to get a scholarship. This reality distortion is one of the effects of a youth sports culture that promises the latest bat, the newest shoe, or the most elite camp will have college coaches knocking down your door with a big check in hand.

5.        At some point you need to decide what side you are on. Are you about doing what is best for your kids, or promoting the status quo? If we are going to move the bar and change the culture of youth sports, we must not be naïve about the challenges we are facing, both on and off the field. The status quo is well funded, entrenched, and has convinced many parents to accept the new reality of youth sports. Their products may be fantastic and give great value to players and families. The products are not the problem, nor are the people behind them. It is the culture in general, and we all bear some responsibility for that unless we do something to change it.

I certainly do not sit here and say I know better than you what is best for your son or daughter. I do not claim to know how to coach your team better than you do.

I do know that three out of four kids are quitting sports by middle school. I do know that most of them say they quit because adult values, such as the emphasis on winning, lack of playing time, and excessive criticism and yelling, have taken the fun out of sports.

I also know that most adults have only the best of intentions when it comes to raising young athletes. We want them to succeed, we want them to perform their best, and we want them to have fun.

Unfortunately, what happens in most youth sports organizations on a daily basis does not lead to this. It leads to dropout and disenchantment. It leads to the ‘family’ ball being dropped, and children’s self esteem and relationships being damaged and destroyed. This is what must change.

In the year ahead, keep these five foundational thoughts in mind. Think long term and build a solid infrastructure. Use sports to develop better players and better people. Ask your kids why they play, and make sure sports has that in abundance. Forget about a financial return on your investment, and make sure the return is a high quality individual with core values that will last a lifetime.

And last, but not least, choose a side. If you believe that youth sports exists to serve the kids, then take a stand, and pass good information on. Demand a sports environment based upon the best science, psychology, and research. Find coaches who understand kids, and are not serving their own egos first. Educate yourself, and pass that information onto other parents. Ask your clubs and schools to provide parent education so that you may help your athlete, instead of being shut out of the process.

No one person can change the culture of youth sports in our country. But many individuals committed to serving their own children, and changing the game in their own community, certainly can.

As the great environmentalist Carl Safina writes “But one does not wait for a revolution. One becomes it.”


Let’s make 2015 the year of the youth sports revolution!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

RCBA League Legends Alumni Game 2015

Posted by: Unknown on Tuesday, May 26, 2015 at 10:00:00 am Comments (0)

2015 League Legends Alumni 3 on 3 Game Player Bio's

Team Purple

Jamal Williams

High School: Campbell Collegiate
College: University of Regina, all-time leader in rebounds (tie), 7th all-time in scoring
Jamal has played his last few seasons with the Worcester Wolves, being named the BBL finals MVP in 2013-2014, as the Wolves won the BBL title! 

 Christina McCusker

High School: Campbell Collegiate
College: University of Regina (current)
Christina is coming off of her rookie campaign playing for the Cougars. Before joining the Cougars, she was a Campbell Tartan and led the team to a provincial 5A championship in her senior year. Christina has also participated on multiple provincial teams! 

Caitlin Zacharias

High School: Michael A. Riffel High School
College: University of Regina (current)
Caitlin has competed on multiple provincial teams representing Saskatchewan. During her time at Riffel Caitlin was also a 3 time RHSAA all-star. Caitlin also stays involved with the RCBA as an official! 

Jeff Lukomski

High School: Archbishop M.C. O'Neil
College: University of Regina
Jeff was a record setter as a Cougar. Jeff’s accomplishments at the U of R include making the CIS all-Rookie Team and also being the Canada west Rookie of the Year (2007), he also finished his career as the Canada West leader in 3 pointers made, and attempted, also finished second all-time with the Cougars in points per game, and assists. 

 Mike Malecha

High School: Campbell Collegiate
College: University of Regina
Mike played his high school basketball at Campbell Collegiate, after graduating Mike played basketball for Augsburg College in Minneapolis. After a season in the states Mike made the decision to join the Cougars. Mike had a great rookie season with the Cougs!



Team Red

Kai Williams

High School: Campbell Collegiate
College: South Dakota State, 2nd all-time in rebounding, 7th all-time in scoring
Kai has been playing professional basketball for the past few years in the United Kingdom, Cyprus, Sweden and France. While playing with the Worcester Wolves, he won the BBL title in 2013-2014!

Jon Halvorson

High School: Luther College
College: University of Saskatchewan
Completing his high school career at Luther College, Jon moved on in his family’s footsteps to join the Huskie program at the U of S.  As part of Jon’s high school campaign, he joined the U16 provincial team in 2012.  

Lindsay Ledingham

High School: Sheldon Williams Collegiate
College: University of Regina
As a Cougar Lindsay was always a leader for the team, helping the Cougars reach the CIS final in 2013. Lindsay was also a member of the Canadian National team in 2011. She has also represented Saskatchewan on 3 provincial teams!  

Megan Cherkas

High School: Sheldon Williams Collegiate
College: University of Regina
Megan was a big time play maker for the U of R Cougars, leading the team in assists in 2007-2008. In 07/08 and 08/09 Megan led the Cougars in assists during both playoff runs. 

 Kolton Bellamy

High School: Balfour Collegiate
College: University of Regina (upcoming)
Kolton has been a high school standout at Balfour, gaining recognition and being selected to participate on two provincial teams throughout his high school career. He is also a two time RHSAA all-star. Kolton has committed to the University of Regina Cougars and will begin to play with them in the 2015-2016 season. 



Friday, March 13, 2015

Could 3 on 3 Basketball Be the Best for Youth Players?

Posted by: Joe Haefner on Friday, March 13, 2015 at 1:00:00 pm Comments (0)

Back in college, I came back to my hometown for a Christmas break. I ran into one of my old high school coaches by the name of Casey Ditch and we were talking about youth basketball stuff. Then he said, “Man, I wish all they did with youth players was play 3-on-3. That’s all I did when I was younger.” This really caught my attention, because Casey had developed into quite a player back in his day. He led the state in scoring, beating out former Chicago Bull Bobby Hansen (for those of you who remember him). He did unbelievable stuff with the ball and still could. If it wasn’t for two bad ankles, who knows what Casey would’ve done. We had a particular coach in the area who bragged about holding him to 15 points.

If Casey became such a good player by mostly playing 3 on 3 HALF-COURT as a youth, don’t you think your players could benefit from this as well?

When I thought a little more about the conversation I had with Casey, I realized that I played a lot of 3 on 3 when I was younger, too. I started playing in 3 on 3 tournaments when I was in 4th grade. I didn’t start playing organized 5 on 5 until 6th grade, and I handled myself quite well against players who had been playing since they were 8 years old.

If you think about it, 3 on 3 HALF-COURT basketball makes a lot of sense. It will improve a youth player’s long-term development for a number of reasons.

1. Players touch the ball more often. In the 5 on 5 game, players can go almost the whole game without touching the ball. In 3 on 3, you could touch the ball EVERY possession. When the player gets more experience handling the ball during game situations, the player is going to improve much more than the players who hardly touch the ball in 5 on 5. It doesn’t matter if you are the point guard or the star post player, you’re still going to get more touches in 3 on 3.

2. More room to operate. A lot of younger players, especially under the age of 12 don’t have the skill, strength, or experience to utilize their basketball skills with 10 players on the court. 3 on 3 gives them more room to operate and practice their skills.

3. Players learn the game! When there are only six (3 on 3) players on the court, players are more inclined to run the pick-and-roll, screen away, and screen the ball without a coach even telling them to do so, because there are fewer options out there. After awhile, they will start to figure things out for themselves which is FANTASTIC and exactly what you want the players to do. With ten (5 on 5) players on the court, a lot of those options aren’t there, because they lack the skill, strength, and experience. Now, with fewer players on the court, it gives them a split second longer to recognize a situation.

4. No pressing & zones. Now, instead of spending time on breaking full court pressure, breaking half-court pressure, playing against a 1-3-1, playing against 3-2, playing against a 2-3, playing against a triangle-and-two, playing against a box-and-one, you can focus on the FUNDAMENTALS. Youth coaches waste so much of their precious time working on things that they shouldn’t worry about at an early age.

99% of the presses that are ran by youth coaches wouldn’t work in high school or college, anyways. Most of the presses I’ve seen, just run 2 to 3 players at the ball and hope he throws the ball high enough, so somebody else can pick it off. It’s just a tactic that takes advantage of a flaw in our basketball development system, because players lack the skill, strength, and experience to react correctly to these situations. Spending that extra time on basketball skills and concepts, will benefit them much more for the future. Not to mention, if taught incorrectly (which most of the time they are), the zones and presses can ingrain some terrible habits in your players that don’t work at the higher levels.

Personally, I feel that youth players should not play in 5 on 5 leagues before age 10 or 11. Part of me feels that may even be too young.

What are your thoughts?


Article Sourcee:

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Youth Sports: For Everyone, or Elites?

Posted by: Beau Dure on Thursday, February 5, 2015 at 12:00:00 am Comments (1)

Youth Sports: For Everyone or Elites?

We are a nation obsessed with sports. We are also a nation of obese children and adults.

That's a contradiction that perplexes Tom Farrey, an ESPN reporter and author who has spent the last four years working with The Aspen Institute's youth sports initiative Project Play. That work, which has included contributions from "more than 250 thought leaders," has culminated in a report released Monday: Sport for All, Play for Life.

Before the report was released, Farrey did a presentation at an atypical venue for think tank reports -- the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) convention. Though Farrey was one of the few people walking around the massive Pennsylvania Convention Center without a track suit emblazoned with a soccer organization's logo, he was in the perfect place. Soccer is the shining example of U.S. sports trends today -- it's getting more serious, with youth clubs scrambling for places in national competitions, while fewer kids are playing.

Youth sports participation has plummeted since 2008, according to Sports & Fitness Industry Association numbers cited by Project Play. Team sports regular participation is down from 44.5 percent to 40 percent. Soccer participation is down from 5.6 million to 5 million. U.S. Youth Soccer statistics tell a similar story -- down from nearly 3.15 million to 2.8 million, though the numbers rebounded to 3.05 million in 2014.

Project Play aims to put more emphasis on recreational players, currently buried beneath the needs of elite players. Two of the report's eight "plays" are specifically geared toward recreation play -- encouraging "free play" without incessant coaching and bumping up in-town leagues, as opposed to the costly "travel" competitions that have been reaching farther and farther down the age groups.

Meanwhile, in soccer, the push to get better is intense, and it comes from the top down. In men's soccer, the USA has no major titles and doesn't usually come close. In women's soccer, the once-dominant Americans are threatened by well-organized programs from all over Europe. "Development" is Topic A in any youth soccer gathering.

These goals aren't mutually exclusive. Train more coaches (another Project Play goal), and suddenly the "recreational" players are on the same field as the "elite" players. Specializing in one sport is an idea whose time has gone.

And it makes little sense to run young players off your sport's field and expect your country to get better at it.

So Project Play might challenge our common assumptions about how to chase athletic glory. Who can doubt that's a good thing?

Article Sourcee: 

Project Play:

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Perils of Single-Sport Participation

Posted by: John O'Sullivan on Wednesday, January 28, 2015 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

For the last few days, my email and social media accounts have been lit up by a simple image first shared with me on Twitter by @ohiovarsity. It is amazing because the image portrays something that is widely known among experts, widely discussed in coaching circles, and has certainly been written about by me and others many times. Yet this excellent blog article on a high school sports site got over half a million shares in the first 3 days it was out because this image touched a nerve

Why? Well, here is the image:

Ohio St recruits

The question I was asked over and over this week was “What do you think of this?”

My answer, over and over was, “Amen, agreed, hopefully now people will start paying attention.”

If it takes an infographic of Urban Meyer’s football recruits at Ohio State to shift the paradigm in youth sports, then so be it. The image above, which clearly demonstrates that the overwhelming majority of his recruits are multi-sport kids, is not new information, but it has caused quite a stir. Here is what it says in a nutshell:

To be an elite level player at a college or professional sport, you need a degree of exceptional athleticism. And the best medically, scientifically and psychologically recommended way to develop such all around athleticism is ample free play and multiple sport participation as a child.

Why? Well let’s see what the experts say:

Coaches and Elite Athletes:

Pete Carroll, former USC and now Seattle Seahawks Football coach, says here “The first questions I’ll ask about a kid are, ‘What other sports does he play? What does he do? What are his positions? Is he a big hitter in baseball? Is he a pitcher? Does he play hoops?’ All of those things are important to me. I hate that kids don’t play three sports in high school. I think that they should play year-round and get every bit of it that they can through that experience. I really, really don’t favor kids having to specialize in one sport. Even [at USC], I want to be the biggest proponent for two-sport athletes on the college level. I want guys that are so special athletically, and so competitive, that they can compete in more than one sport.”

Dom Starsia, University of Virginia men’s lacrosse: “My trick question to young campers is always, ‘How do you learn the concepts of team offense in lacrosse or team defense in lacrosse in the off-season, when you’re not playing with your team?’ The answer is by playing basketball, by playing hockey and by playing soccer and those other team games, because many of those principles are exactly the same. Probably 95 percent [of our players] are multi-sport athletes. It’s always a bit strange to me if somebody is not playing other sports in high school.”

Or in this interview with Tim Corbin, coach of NCAA Champion Vanderbilt Baseball, on why he chooses multi-sport athletes over single sport kids.

Or Ashton Eaton, world record holder and gold medalist in the decathlon, who never participated in 6 of the 10 required decathlon events until he got to the University of Oregon.

Or Steve Nash, who got his first basketball at age 13 and credits his soccer background for making him a great basketball player, a similar story to the 100 professional athletes interviewed in Ethan Skolnick and Dr. Andrea Korn’s Raising Your Game .

The list goes on and on.


What about the medical experts?

As I have outlined in my ebook “Is it Wise to Specialize?” and echoed in world renowned orthopedic surgeon James Andrew’s book Any Given Monday, there are strong medical reasons for not specializing at a young age:

  1. Children who specialize in a single sport account for 50% of overuse injuries in young athletes according to pediatric orthopedic specialists.
  2. A study by Ohio State University found that children who specialized early in a single sport led to higher rates of adult physical inactivity. Those who commit to one sport at a young age are often the first to quit, and suffer a lifetime of consequences.
  3. In a study of 1200 youth athletes, Dr Neeru Jayanthi of Loyola University found that early specialization in a single sport is one of the strongest predictors of injury. Athletes in the study who specialized were 70% to 93% more likely to be injured than children who played multiple sports!
  4. Children who specialize early are at a far greater risk for burnout due to stress, decreased motivation and lack of enjoyment
  5. Early sport specialization in female adolescents is associated with increased risk of anterior knee pain disorders including PFP, Osgood Schlatter and Sinding Larsen-Johansson compared to multi-sport athletes, and may lead to higher rates of future ACL tears.

And the sport scientists?

In January 2015, I had the honor of sitting in a lecture with Manchester United Performance Coach Tony Strudwick, winner of 13 titles as the fitness coach for Manchester United’s first team. His advice was that a multi-sport background set up athletes for long-term success by lowering the rates of injuries and making them more adaptable to the demands of elite level play. “More often than not,” he stated in a recent interview with, “the best athletes in the world are able to distinguish themselves from the pack thanks to a range of motor skills beyond what is typically expected in a given sport.” He recommended tumbling and gymnastic movements, as well as martial arts, basketball, and lacrosse as great crossover sports for soccer.

Here are some other advantages I have previously written about:

  1. Better Overall Skills and Ability:Research shows that early participation in multiple sports leads to better overall motor and athletic development, longer playing careers, increased ability to transfer sports skills other sports and increased motivation, ownership of the sports experience, and confidence.
  1. Smarter, More Creative Players: Multi-sport participation at the youngest ages yields better decision making and pattern recognition, as well as increased creativity. These are all qualities that coaches of high-level teams look for.
  1. Most College Athletes Come From a Multi-Sport Background: A 2013 American Medical Society for Sports Medicine survey found that 88% of college athletes surveyed participated in more than one sport as a child
  1. 10,000 Hours is not a Rule: In his survey of the scientific literature regarding sport specific practice in The Sports Gene, author David Epstein finds that most elite competitors require far less than 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. Specifically, studies have shown that basketball (4000), field hockey (4000) and wrestling (6000) all require far less than 10,000 hours.
  1. There are Many Paths to Mastery: A 2003 study on professional ice hockey players found that while most pros had spent 10,000 hours or more involved in sports prior to age 20, only 3000 of those hours were involved in hockey specific deliberate practice (and only 450 of those hours were prior to age 12).

Are all sports the same?

No, they are not. They each require specific athletic, technical, and tactical skill sets. Some sports, in order to be elite, require early specialization, such as gymnastics and figure skating.

Other sports are so dependent upon physical prowess (American football, basketball, volleyball, rugby and others) that the technical skills and tactical know how can be developed later. There are many stories of athletes taking up these sports in their teens, even 20’s, and playing at a very high level because of the ability to transfer skills learned in one sport to another.

And then there are sports like hockey and soccer, which without a doubt require an early introduction to the sport. There are technical movements and skills that are most sensitive to improvement prior to a child’s growth spurt, and it is unlikely that a post-pubescent child is able to catch up if that is their first introduction to the sport.

HOWEVER, there is no evidence that pre-teen athletes in these sports should only play a single sport. As both the hockey evidence and the interview with Tony Strudwick mentioned above demonstrate, playing multiple sports early on sets these athletes up for longer-term success. They can better meet the demands of elite level play. They are less likely to get injured or burnout, and more likely to persist through the struggles needed to become a high-level performer.

If you want your child to play at a high-level, then the best thing you can do is help them find a sport that best suits their abilities, and help create an environment that gives them the best chance of success. 

That environment is a multi-sport one. The evidence is in. It is pretty conclusive.

It is time for our youth sports organizations to not only allow but encourage multi-sport participation. Yes, it is tough on the bottom line. But ask yourself this:

Is your bottom line worth more than the well-being of the children you have been entrusted with educating?

So what do you think? Should kids play multiple sports? Only one? If you think specialization is the right path prior to the teenage growth spurt (excluding gymnastics and figure skating), then by all means bring some evidence and links to the discussion. And if not, then how about some thoughts on how we can stand up and change the status quo that forces kids to choose far too young.

Thanks to Urban Meyer and the poignant image of his recruiting class breakdown, we now have the opportunity to have this discussion.

We have the opportunity to serve our children better.

We have the responsibility to help them become better athletes by encouraging them to become all-around athletes.

And we can do this by letting them play multiple sports.


Article Sourcee:

Friday, September 5, 2014

3 Tips to DOUBLE Defensive quickness

Posted by: BreakThrough Basketball on Friday, September 5, 2014 at 2:40:00 pm Comments (0)

ou can literally double the quickness of your team just by incorporating a few simple techniques.

This quickness allows you to take away easy shots and scramble to close out, even when you get beat to the hole. Quickness simply makes a defense difficult to score against.

Tip #1 - Teach your players to move on the pass, NOT the catch.

This tactic alone can double to quickness of your team and make it seem like you have a super quick swarming defense.

You must train your players to start moving to their correct defensive position when the ball is leaving the fingertips of the passer.

This makes a huge difference because most players will start moving to the correct defensive position when the ball is caught. In fact, most players think that is what they are supposed to do. And they have developed this bad habit at an early age.

By simply by moving on the pass, you get an extra second to get to your position. In fact, many times your players can actually get to their position at the same time the ball arrives!

So all you need to do is require your players to move on the pass during each defensive drill. This is most effective during 4-on-4 and 5-on-5 shell drills. They should literally be moving when the ball leaves the passers fingertips. But don't leave before this happens; because you don't want to fall for pass fakes.

You should also make it a point to explain the reason why they should move on the pass. Simply by demonstrating the huge difference in a close out drill will do the trick. Set your players up in the close out drill. Have them throw a skip pass and move on the catch. Then have them throw a skip pass and move on the pass. The offensive player that catches the ball won't be able to get their shot off. It will be ridiculous how big of a difference this makes.

Tip #2 - Drill your players into the habit of always keeping their knees bent in an athletic stance, even when they are two passes away on help side defense!

Now imagine you have five defense players that all move on the pass. And ALL of them have their knees bent and they are ready to move...

You have just converted from a slow easy to score against defense, to a fast extremely tough defense in just two steps!

It's easy to illustrate this point...

Just line up your fastest player on the team and the slowest player on the team and let them race 15 feet. Have the slowest player bend his knees in an athletic stance. Then have the fast player stand straight up. Yell, "Go!"

The SLOW player will win every time!

Tip #3 - Let your players know who they will be guarding ahead of time.

An easy way to improve mental quickness and anticipation is to study your opponent. Some of your smart players will sit on the bench or maybe even watch game tape to become familiar with the moves of the player they will be guarding.

But you need to let your players know who they will be guarding ahead of time so they can study their moves.

For more defense tips, check out our new basketball defensive system.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

7 Ways to Make a Lasting & Positive Impact On Your Players

Posted by: Craig Cleveland on Tuesday, August 26, 2014 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)


Wooden, Krzyzewski, Knight, and Boeheim are some of the most storied names in the game of basketball, setting the bar pretty high when it comes to winning games and championships.

As a coach, we all want to have many winning and successful seasons like these famous coaches -- but does winning games become the only measure of impact and influence you have as a coach on your players, your school, or your community?

This is a question that I had to ask myself as I began my coaching career some seventeen years ago and truthfully, have had to ask a few more times along the way. Let's just keep it real shall we? We all want to win! We love the feeling of victory and want it more than the sting of defeat. Personally, I hate to lose whether it's playing basketball, coaching basketball or just playing Uno with my nephews.

Winning is what really matters, right?

Well, the answer to that particular question will vary depending upon who you ask. But, over the years I've come to firmly believe two things..

  • First, it's important to teach my players how to display character in winning and losing because they are both a part of the game.
  •  Second, making a positive, long lasting impact on the players that come through my program is more important than double digit wins in a season or a playoff run to the state tournament. In my opinion, the legacy I leave behind as a coach should be measured more by the way my former players positively impact their own families and the world around them.


Coaching That Impacts the Next Generation

Are you currently a coach or want to become a coach who makes a lasting, positive impact on your players?

If so, here are 7 things I′ve learned along the way that have helped me tremendously and I would love to share them with you.

  1. Practice what you preach – One of the greatest ways to lose the respect of your players and others around you is to be a hypocrite. Players need to see and know that you live by the standards you are trying to teach them.

  2. Admit mistakes and seek restitution – No one is perfect and we all make mistakes. As a coach you have to be willing to admit when you′ve messed up, seek forgiveness and then change the behavior that got you in that situation in the first place. This kind of humility goes a long way with your players and leaves a lasting impression.

  3. Be available – Players have to know that they can count on you to be there when they need you. Try to make yourself available to your players as much as possible. Consider meeting before or after practice or even on the weekend if they need to talk with you about things going on in their lives. This shows that they have importance in your life beyond the realm of basketball.

  4. Listen intently – When you spend time talking to your players, make sure you listen intently and pay close attention to details. Look your players in the eye when they are talking to you so that they know you are truly paying attention to what they are saying. Listening intently also helps you read between the lines for those hidden messages or even hidden agendas that might be there.

  5. Be fair and consistent – Simply put, when it comes to discipline, team rules and how you run your team etc., don′t play favorites. Don′t let your stars get away with things that you wouldn′t let the 6th man off the bench get away with. Hold all your players accountable for their actions both on and off the court. This also goes back to practicing what you preach.

  6. Keep in touch with your former players – This should not be hard to do with all the technology and social media options we have available at our fingertips. One sure way to make a lasting impact on your players is to keep in touch with them as they turn the page into adulthood. Email, snail-mail, text messaging, Facebook or phone call, it doesn′t matter just pick one. Check in with them every now and then to see how they are doing at school or how the wife and kids are doing. Always invite them to come back and invest in the current players you have in your program. This is very important and you should make the time to do this. I promise, they will love and want to hear from you.

  7. Have a sense of humor – When you work with kids you have to have a sense of humor. In fact, I don't see how you can work with or coach kids without having one. Your players will love being around you when they know that you are someone they can laugh and kid around with while not crossing the line of disrespect. Youth players and kids in general are full of life, energy and humor so why shouldn′t you be?

As a coach, how do you want to be defined? What kind of impact do you want to have on your players? What kind of legacy do you want to leave? Will wins and losses be the determining factor or will you do what it takes to look beyond the games or championships won in order to make a positive, lasting impact on the next generation?

Article Sourcee:

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Cultivating Confidence

Posted by: Nicholas boon on Wednesday, August 20, 2014 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

Self-confidence is a tricky topic in youth sports. It is so inherently dependent on the individual and the context. As a coach, it can seem overwhelming, even unrealistic, to build and nurture the self-confidence of each of your athletes.

Some kids seem to be naturally confident, see themselves as leaders among their peers, and have no problem accepting responsibility or taking on challenges. Others may not be so confident in themselves, shying away from confrontation and avoiding situations where risk failure. Players all respond differently to criticism and praise, to positive and negative feedback, and to failures and successes. This post will outline four of the cited sources of self-efficacy, all of which are easily applied to a youth sport context, followed by some tips and strategies to cultivate confidence among your team and program.

4 Sources of Confidence

There has been considerable research done on the sources, qualities, and effects of self-efficacy (or self-confidence), with recreational sport as a popular medium through which theories are tested and refined. Albert Bandura, perhaps the most prominent researcher in self-efficacy theory, describes four primary sources of self-efficacy:

#1 Past Performance 

The single best way for an individual to improve their confidence in a particular situation or with a particular skill is to perform that task successfully. This is quite intuitive; if you have hit a game winning free-throw before, you will be more confident that you can repeat that success.

#2 Vicarious Experience 

Vicarious experience, or social modelling, is the opportunities to witness someone else (ideally of comparable skill or experience) complete a particular task. Seeing someone whom you consider similar to yourself succeed in a rigorous series of sprints will improve your belief that you can too.

#3 Verbal Persuasion 

Positive feedback can come from a number of sources, including parents, coaches, or other athletes. The most effective form of verbal persuasion, however, is “self-talk” or an individual’s inner monologue. Telling yourself you can defend the opposing team’s start point guard puts you in a mindset of toughness and resolve, an effective tool to increase performance.

#4 Physiological & Psychological State 

Finally, the physical and emotional state of the individual can have a profound, though individualized, effect both on self-confidence and performance. Some athletes feel more game-ready when they are “fired up”; others may be more confident when they are relaxed. Some athletes spend their time before a game composing themselves mentally; others focus on the physical warm-up and skill preparation.

These sources of confidence are well documented, though they can affect everyone differently across various stressful situations. Knowing when, and how, to adopt and engage in these sources is more of an art and less of a science.

5 Tips to Promote Confidence

1. Create Opportunities for Success 

Structure drills and activities so that all athletes can experience success. Progress the difficulty of skill drills up, instead of regressing them down. Use games and activities where everyone can participate and feel competitive; elite or elimination games both limit development opportunities and may negative impact some players’ confidence. Finally, play up individual players’ strengths in games (though continue to develop well rounded players in practices).

2. Express Confidence in Players 

Let your players know you believe in them! As a leader and authority on basketball, your athletes will hold your opinion of their abilities to a high standard. If an athlete doubts themselves, you are in a powerful position to change their mind. Continue with constructive criticism but provide positive feedback as well, applauding effort and focusing on improvements rather than results.

3. Provide Equal Playing Time 

Nothing is a confidence killer quite like riding the bench. Not only does this limit development of the individual but you are actively limiting their opportunity to experience success. If past experiences are the single greatest source of confidence in young athletes, how can they be expected to believe they will improve if they are deprived of experience at all?

4. Encourage Mistakes 

Youth athlete development is fundamentally grounded on trial and error; the best way to learn is by making mistakes. Create a culture where players are not afraid to make mistakes and see them as opportunities to improve rather than as reflections of their abilities.

5. Use Mental Imagery 

Mental imagery is a positive sport tool, and has been shown to be especially effective in promoting self-efficacy among beginner athletes. At the end of a practice, go through a visualization exercise with your team. Help them to imagine a situation such as hitting a free-throw or finishing on a fast break, focusing on what they see, hear and feel. Most importantly, ensure that players visualize a successful performance in that situation.

Source: (Steve Nash Youth Basketball Blog)

Monday, August 18, 2014

What Are Your 7 Core Coaching Values?

Posted by: Joe Haefner on Monday, August 18, 2014 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)



I believe that one of the best (maybe “the” best) way to make a positive impact on your basketball team and teach your players life lessons is to develop your own list of core values.

This is a list that you carry with you. Perhaps you post it in the locker room. But what ever you do with it, you should clearly emphasize these core values with your team.


It MUST be documented and well thought out.




I believe this is one of the best things you can do as a coach. Your message will get clearer. You’ll have a more profound impact on your players. They will respect you. They will play harder. And you will feel better about the impact you’re having on the team.


When John Wooden, the great coach at UCLA finished eighth grade, his father gave him a card entitled, 7 Suggestions to Follow.


They were:



    1. Be true to yourself.


    1. Help others.


    1. Make each day your masterpiece.


    1. Drink deeply from good books, especially the Good Book.


    1. Make friendship a fine art.


    1. Build a shelter for a rainy day.


    1. Pray for guidance and count and give thanks for your blessings each day.



Wooden kept a copy of the card in his pocket the rest of his life and used these philosophies in coaching.


So simple. Daily reinforcement of the basics can and will take you all the way to the top.


Let’s face it. You can’t teach your players all the hundreds of life lessons there are to teach. But if you FOCUS on a small set of core values every day in your practices and actions, you can have a tremendous positive effect on your players.


Consistency is vital. Focus is vital. Repetition is vital.


I believe all coaches should have their own list of documented and clearly emphasized core values.


I have my own list. All of the things in my list have a special meaning and make sense to me. I believe in them. They took me a long time to develop. You might want to spend a long time developing yours. You might want to put yours together quickly. Either way, just by having something you’ll be helping your players.


Here are mine:



    1. Teamwork / Help Others

      In a sport like basketball, teamwork is vital. It’s critical for us to work together and help each other. But this is more than just basketball. This applies to all aspects of your life (help someone else, and you help yourself). You should look to help others in your life, with nothing expected in return. Developing strong relationships, respecting others, and showing sincere care to everyone around you will take you a long way in life. This is something we will embrace as a team. We will constantly focus on the importance of teamwork and helping others…

      “You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.” – John Wooden.


    1. Positive Attitude

      We will strive to have a positive attitude in practice, games, and all aspects of our lives. Your attitude is what defines you. Your attitude affects you and the people around you. Your attitude affects your performance in games and practices. As a player, you should spend most of your time thinking about the positive things you are doing, versus dwelling on the negative ones (mistakes). You should also have a “proactive” attitude. This means that life is what YOU make of it. You choose happiness. You choose sadness. You choose decisiveness. You choose success. You choose failure. You choose courage. You choose fear. Just remember that every moment, every situation, provides a new choice. And in doing so, it gives you a perfect opportunity to do things differently to produce more positive results. Having a proactive attitude is about taking responsibility for your life. Proactive people don’t blame genetics, other people, circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their behavior. They know they choose their behavior. Reactive people, on the other hand, are often affected by their physical environment. They find external sources to blame for their behavior. We will strive to have a positive and proactive attitude in everything we do.


    1. Be Honest With Others and True to Yourself

      For us to succeed, we must have honesty and we must trust each other. This is one of the most important things you can do. Honesty applies to your life in countless ways and it can have different meanings. You must search for those meanings. For starters, an honest person is someone that can be trusted and relied upon. An honest person completes their agreements and promises — this could be as trivial as finishing a task on your “to do list”. Completing these agreements and tasks, removes clutter from your mind. An honest person is also someone that lives with integrity and character. Be reliable and someone that others can count on. Be responsible. Live with integrity and character. Be a good sport. Be true to yourself.


    1. Work Hard and Always Give Your Best Effort

      In basketball and life there are certain things you can NOT control. You can’t make every basket, you always can’t control who shoots, you can’t control if the ref blows the whistle. But there is one thing you can control 100% of the time — your effort. You have 100% control of your effort. You have a choice to go 50% on a basket cut, or go 100% on a basket cut. Because of that I expect you to ALWAYS give your best effort. There is no excuse you can give because you have control over it. You might miss a few baskets. You might turn the ball over. I can live with those mistakes as a coach. But what I can’t live with is anything less than 100% effort. There is no substitute for hard work. The hard work will eventually pay off.


    1. Perseverance

      As a team we will strive to show incredible perseverance and resiliency. We will play through mistakes. There will be bumps in the road, we will play through them. I believe it’s critical to always persevere — never give up and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Anything is possible through hard work and perseverance.

      “Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did.” – Newt Gingrich

      “The true measure of a man is not how he behaves in moments of comfort and convenience but how he stands at times of controversy and challenges.” – MLK

      “The only real failure in life is one not learned from.” – Anthony J. D’Angelo

      “In order to succeed, you must first be willing to fail.”- Anonymous

      “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” – Albert Einstein


    1. Enjoy the Moment (have fun)

      We are going to work hard, but enjoy this process. Enjoy the improvement. Have fun with it. Looking back on my basketball playing days, those were some of the best times of my life. No I didn’t always play, start, or do well. Yes, it was hard work at times. But I loved it and learned from it. Focus on the things you are good at. Enjoy the process and focus your energy on the positive things (give thanks).



They might not mean much to you or make sense for that matter. But they have meaning and make sense to me. They help me remember what is important. I have plenty of quotes to back them up and lots of stories to make them impactful.


Borrow my core values if you’d like. Borrow someone else’s.


But take the time and determine what your core coaching values are.

Article Source:

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

To Specialize or Not to Specialize, That is the Question

Posted by: Tiffany Strachan on Wednesday, April 23, 2014 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)


 The perceived need to ‘specialize’, i.e. the perceived need to engage in intense year round training in a single sport with the exclusion of other sports, is growing in the YQR. Instead of specialization, these sport scientists and experts promote multi-sport training as crucial to overall athletic development. Though there is no denying that basketball is the world’s greatest sport (or at least to us here at the RCBA) we believe that the interests of young athletes are best served by branching out into multi-sport participation.            

Benefits of Multi-Sport Participation:Sports Specialization

1.       Better overall skills: Different sports require the use of different muscles and skills. 

      The development of a variety of skills can be transferred from one sport to another. For example, learning to make sharp cuts while running a football pattern can be transferred to L-cuts and V-cuts in basketball. The ability to quickly and easily pick up on new skills is also found in multisport athletes.

2.       Mental Development: Participation in multiple sports develops leadership and teamwork values and responsibilities.

3.       Smarter, more creative players: Players are able to identify patterns, strategies, and play with more creativity (all things coaches of higher level athletics look for). For example, a point guard with experience as a quarterback is more likely to make smarter passing decisions. A quarterback with experience as a point guard is better at seeing the entire field rather than locking in on one target.

4.       Improved health/wellness: Different skills require different muscles reducing the risk of overuse injuries and stresses that lead to burn outs.

5.        Enjoyment: Engaging in many sports allows children to find sports the enjoy participating in. The opportunity to meet new people and create new friendships is opened up as the social circle of the child is widened with each new coach and teammate.

Advocates of sports specialization often lean on the argument that specialization=success. In a nutshell, the argument goes something like this “If you don’t want your child to fall behind, start streamlining their training now”. This idea that specialization at a young age leads to success bears some truth. However the “success” that it leads to is more often than not a little league championship, not a first round draft into the NBA. Specialization at a young age, 8 for example, is great for athletes looking for short-term, early age-group success.  However, the short-term success of current performance is not without its costs. Take a look at the story of little Billy to get a better understanding.

Little Billy had a natural athleticism for an 8 year old boy. However, “natural athleticism doesn’t win championships”, his father, who also occupied the role of Head Coach, said. So, Little Billy began to practice, practice, practice. He was making the necessary sacrifice of his sport now in order to reach the elite level required for post-secondary, maybe even professional, sport. He was enrolled in multiple leagues which often overlapped. If there was a league for his sport, he was in it. Eventually Little Billy no longer had time for other sports. He didn’t even have time to go to the park with his friends for a casual game of 2 on 2. His practice and sacrifice were paying off though, as he led his team and entire age division in all areas. His team steam rolled their way through the playoffs and into the final, where they won—led by Little Billy in scoring of course.

While little Billy may have enjoyed  winning a league championship now, he will be 70-93% more likely to be injured than his non-sport-specializing friends and endure such high stress he is likely to quit sports all together, never having the chance of reaching his goal of post-secondary sports. On the other hand, a UCLA survey of Division I male and female athletes found that 88% of athletes surveyed participated in two to three sports as children. While specialization may yield the quick, short term, benefits of a league championship at 8 years old, Multi-sport training provides athletes with the opportunity to develop skills that yield long-term benefits.

Now, many of you may be thinking, but surely there is an appropriate time to specialize in an activity, and if so, what is it? Top youth sports researchers Jean Cote and Jessie Fraser-Thomas, who have more authority on the matter than I, suggest the following time line for sport specialization:

·         Prior to age 12: 80% of time should be spent in deliberate play and sports other than the chosen sport

·         Ages 13-15: 50/50 split between chosen sport and other sports

·         Ages 16+: At least 20% of training should be in non-specialized sport and deliberate play

No matter where you fall on the spectrum of specialization vs. multi-sport training the number one reason kids play sports is to have fun. Our duty as a league, as coaches, and as parents is to honour that.  As a community we need to strive to create a positive environment for youth in sports. The RCBA values of fair play, fun, and development are designed and implemented with the hope of creating an environment where kids can learn, grown, and develop for the future while having fun and building lasting friendships in the present. Our seasons are deliberately keep seasonal rather than year long out of recognition that sometimes less is more.

We here at the RCBA love basketball. We want your kids to love basketball. If they don’t love basketball (which I hear IS possible, despite my disbelief) that’s okay too; at least they gave it a shot, had some fun, made a new friend and learnt a skill or two.

Article Resources and Further Readings:


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Team Selection 101

Posted by: Unknown on Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 10:00:00 am Comments (3)

Team Selections 101

In a sports league like the RCBA, which has over 1400 players, it’s essential to have established systems in place to create teams.

Making sure that the kids have an excellent experience in the RCBA is our number one goal. Starting out in the lower grades, we emphasize a fun atmosphere and do our best to put school buddies and friends together on teams to make them feel more comfortable. In the upper grades, we feel that playing on a team that has a balance of skill level, height and experience that is evenly matched across the age division contributes significantly to a great season.

We want to ensure that everyone understands how we put these teams together. Here’s the low-down:

Grade 1 & 2
Players are placed onto teams ensuring an approximate equal number of boys and girls, while also ensuring kids from the same schools are kept together. Whenever possible, player requests to be placed on the same team as a friend are considered.

Grade 3 & 4
In the grade 3 and 4 program, teams have a practice night as well as a game each week, so player availability becomes important. We must first match players with coaches that have practices on the nights that they are available. Next, we try to include kids from the same school on teams, as well as consider requests for friends to be placed on the same team.

Grade 5 – 12
Similar to the lower grades, city zones and availability are important factors when putting these teams together. However, the addition of player evaluations to the program provides specific information on individual players that makes this team selection process more thorough. Evaluations are used to assess an individual’s abilities within a set of core basketball competencies, i.e. shooting, dribbling, game play, height, etc. Once the evaluations are complete, players are ranked by their evaluation score and then teams are drafted using all of the above information. These evaluations and team selections are completed by individuals with no potential biases. It’s also important to note that due to the possibility that a particular city zone may have a higher percentage of strong or weak players, we do at times combine two zones to ensure team equality.

To be certain, in the past, we have heard rumblings about “team stacking” and “coach favoritism/picking their own teams”. We want to assure you that, as described above, we have put together a very solid system by which we gather information, use unbiased expertise, and make decisions based on what will be best for the player, their team, and ultimately their experience.

RCBA makes every effort to put forward a basketball season full of fun experiences, player growth and competitive games. We hope 2013/14 is just that for everyone involved.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Welcome from RCBA Board

Posted by: Scott Sather on Friday, September 6, 2013 at 3:30:00 pm Comments (0)

Welcome to the RCBA 2013-14 season and to our new website! I hope you find the site easy to navigate and useful in getting you the information you're looking for. One of our goals as a Board and organization for this year is to provide you with more relevant information so I would encourage you to come back often to see what's new. As we have only updated the site as of the beginning of August it is still a bit of a "work in progress" so please bear with us.

As part of our goal to provide more access to current information we've also joinede a few social media sites including Facebook and Twitter with a YouTube and Google+ page not far behind.

Looking forward to another great season of basketball.

See you on the court,

Scott Sather, President, RCBA Board

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