Basketball is a game of continual improvement. When your players compete in a league full of highly trained athletes, it’s the attention to details that set them apart and give them the competitive edge they need to come out ahead at the end of the game. Every player is ready to shoot, ready to rebound, ready to defend. Yet the footwork, the positioning inside, and the follow-through are some of the finely crafted details that transform developing teams into highly developed teams.
It's essential to help your players focus on specific details of their performance in order to prepare them for essential plays in games, perfect their technique, and develop their awareness on the court.
Preparing For Essential Plays
Often in basketball, the result of the game comes down to a few very important plays: a strip that led to a fast break, a critical three-pointer, or solid defense at the end of the game. Even if the game isn’t within a few points, your players should know they did everything possible to get ahead. Going through the details of player performance during training means that they will feel comfortable and capable of making big plays when they count the most. Staying with a solid shooter when there’s only seconds on the clock can be a nerve-racking experience, and you can bet the opposition will be looking for any available space. Still, if your players have focused specifically on their footwork and have ironed out this scenario in training, their opponents aren’t going to get the kind of easy look they’re hoping for.
Similarly, you can train your players on their follow-through, their free-throw style, and their inside positioning. It’s important to acknowledge that there will always be room for improvement, and that you cannot demand perfection of your players. Still, as a coach, you are in charge of thoroughly addressing the fundamentals of the game, even as your players become very proficient, because every detail could be an essential one come game time.
Players are often known for their talents: they bring a unique facet to the game and have specialized skills that aid the team. Players developed these skills through detailed training that examines and reexamines game scenarios. That brilliant passer developed the spin and accuracy of his or her passes throughout many practices. That star shooter has been working on getting faster releases and following through. And that key blocker has trained on timing so he or she knows exactly when to jump to apply the most pressure and create rejections.
All these brilliant techniques happened when your players subtly changed and tweaked their style of play over long periods of time, figuring out what needed to be improved upon, and then making changes to better each facet of their game. Often this process is quite extensive, so it’s your job to be there for them with suggestions and feedback. From the audience, your team’s fans will cheer, amazed at the skill set your team is demonstrating. As a coach, you know firsthand that their masterful technique is not spontaneous, it is the result of the detailed training and adjustments they have made.
Developing Awareness on the Court
Basketball runs on details: for instance, where your players can expect their teammates to be, how much space is available in the lane and how quickly they can drive it, or the amount of ark needed on a shot to avoid a block. Being conscientious of all these considerations is demanding, and the extensive awareness players need to take everything into account requires constant training. That’s why you help them master each element as they develop their timing and come to understand the motions of their teammates and competitors. That way, amidst the constant movement of the game, they will have an understanding of how each play is unfolding and their part in the larger picture.
Eventually, your players will learn to do it all at once: watch the opposition, notice open teammates, examine the lane. First, however, they will do it at a more micro level, bettering themselves step by step. They will train to drive and they will adjust to do so more effectively. They will train to pass and adjust to put the ball out of reach of their opponents. As you help them improve and stress how changes in their form can create improvements in their game, you will see all the individual details of training coming together to form championship players, and, in turn, a championship team.
As the audience watches your team from the stands, they see the cohesion and awareness your team exhibits. Yet you know that it is detailed training and the unwavering commitment to improvement that allow your players to exhibit the awareness, technique, and critical play making ability that establish them as a competitive force.
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