1. Everyone gets Nervous – Bill Russell, the NBA’s greatest winner of all-time is said to have been so nervous that he would vomit before every game. Some of the game’s best players have admitted to being nervous before every game they have ever played. Being nervous before a game is normal, but once the ball goes up to play those nerves should go away. A great quote to remember is “everyone gets nervous, it comes down to who makes them fly in the same formation.” Don’t let your nerves affect your performance, embrace your nerves and laugh about them after the game!
2. Stop the Negative Self-Talk – Your internal words are very important and negative self-talk causes a decline in your performance. Stop the negative chatter in your mind before and during your basketball games. Instead of saying negative things in your mind try positive mantras that keep you focused on the game and remind you to stay strong and calm. Your words often become your actions!
3. Move on to the Next Play! – Too many youth players make a mistake (ex// turnover, missed layup, etc.) and dwell on it which leads to more mistakes. Don’t let one mistake affect your future play and body language. Understand what you should have done better but don’t let it ruin your confidence in making plays for the rest of the game. Whenever you make a mistake, acknowledge it quickly but get focused right back on the task at hand!
4. Visualize – One of the best things you can do before your games is visualize all the successful things you are going to do. Once you see it in your mind, you can make it happen in real life. When you get good at visualizing before a game it will seem like the things you are doing on the court you have done already. Check out this quote from B.J. Armstrong:
“I believe that if I can take twenty or thirty minutes before each game and visualize whats going to happen, I’ll be able to react to it without thinking, because I’ll already have seen it in my mind. When I’m lying down before the game, I can see myself making a shot or boxing out or getting a loose ball. And then when I see that come up during the game, I don’t think about it, I do it. There are no second thoughts, no hesitation. Sometimes, after the game, I’ll go, “Wow!” I saw that! I anticipated it before it happened.”
5. Work Hard – Perhaps the best way to build confidence and inner belief is to work harder than everyone else and be over-prepared for your basketball games. It’s hard to be nervous when you know you have put in the work to be successful. There is a circular relationship between hard work and confidence because the harder you work the more successful you will be in your basketball games which builds your confidence. When your confidence is building it makes you work harder and harder because you see the results. Be the hardest worker!
1. Shooters are made not born.
2. I am a good shooter because of my work ethic.
3. I have to always think the next shot is going in.
4. A shooter’s mantra: “make till you miss, miss till you make.”
5. To be a great shooter I have to practice shooting more than everyone else.
6. It is easier to make shots when I line up the seams on the ball.
7. I have to be thinking shot before I receive the pass.
8. If I’m in a slump that only means I’m going to hit a bunch of shots in a row soon.
9. As long as it’s a good shot, I can take any shot I want.
10. If I get fouled, I already assume these foul shots are going in.
11. It is OK to dip the ball for rhythm & power.
12. My confidence comes from my work ethic.
13. It is OK to turn my feet slightly when I shoot.
14. Visualizing making shots before games helps me shoot better.
15. Shooting is the most important skill in basketball.
16. It is OK to follow the ball (with my eyes) after the release.
17. If I miss short: it’s legs, if I miss long: I’m shooting flat.
18. I am expected to make clutch free throws for my team, I will.
19. It feels weird if I don’t shoot in a day.
20. Being a shooter is fun!
1. Read The Help Side – One of the most important parts of scoring around the basket is knowing when to attack the hoop. Attack the basket when you think there will be late help-side rotation on defense. Do this by looking “behind” the player guarding you & pick the opportune time to attack. Whatever you do, don’t drive into traffic.
2. Seek Contact – A favorite coaching saying is “offense wants contact, defense doesn’t.” What this means is the more an offensive player seeks out contact with the defender, the less likely he is to get blocked. Defensively, shot blockers are taught to stay away from the offensive players body and challenge the ball up top, seek contact to gain the advantage.
3. Use The Rim – A very effective way to finish around the basket is “using the rim to protect you.” What this means is doing a reverse layup so that the shot blocker can’t contest your shot. Players like Kyrie Irving & Stephen Curry have become masters at making the defender think they will lay it up on one side & quickly finishing on the other.
4. Go Off 2 Feet – Taking off 2 feet will allow you to absorb contact with the defender and still be able to finish. When taking off two feet, you want to do whats called a “closed” finish meaning you lean your inside shoulder into the shot blockers chest. Taking off 2 feet allows for better balance and is also easier to make shot fakes off or pass out of.
5. Protect The Ball – So many young players attack the basket and forget to keep the ball on the outside/side of their body. You want to be “ball strong” & be aware of where the ball is right before you are about to finish. Keep the ball “chinned” meaning held with two hands with elbows bent, making it very hard for someone to steal it.
6. Use Inside Hand Layups – One of the best times to do a one-foot finish is whats called the “inside hand lay-up”. The inside hand layup means taking off one foot and using your inside hand (right hand on left side, left hand on right side) to finish. This layup is particularly effective because it is hard for shot blockers to get to & catches your defender off guard because they are expecting a regular layup. Usually this is an underhand layup.
1. They focus on the praise & not love for the game – In today’s social media age it is easy to get caught up in all the attention and praise you get as a good basketball player. But the young player must always remember that it is the game & your work ethic that is by far most important. All the benefits that come from playing basketball (praise & accolades etc.) are secondary to the game itself.
2. They ignore the mid-range – The NBA has drifted away from the mid-range game, but it is very important for a young player growing up to be able to score in a variety of ways in the mid-range. Players that only shoot 3’s or finish at the basket are one-dimensional and have a tough time being successful at the higher levels of youth basketball & college.
3. They worry about expectations – You want to perform well for yourself, friends & family but you cannot let the expectations take away your love for the game. Remember that the game is supposed to be fun & enjoy the competitive spirit of basketball without worrying about the expectations. You will perform a lot better & have a lot more fun playing the game, just to play the game. Don’t worry about peaking early, you should worry about constantly improving.
4. They take shortcuts – The players that ultimately have the most success are the hardest workers. They have a inner voice that tells them they have to work harder than everyone else & have to do the extra things that makes players great. If they don’t work hard they feel guilty. Taking shortcuts like missing practices, not working out properly, cheating drills, not working hard enough etc. will eventually lead to disappointing results.
5. They rely on athleticism or height – Players that are athletic or tall when they are young don’t always continue to have that advantage as they get older. Players who rely on athleticism (and don’t master the fundamentals) & players who rely on their height (without developing their outside game) eventually have trouble as they move up the age groups in competitive basketball. Being a basketball player is more important than being athletic or tall.
1. Form Shooting – Form shooting is one of the best ways to improve not only the mechanics of your jump-shot but also increase your FG%. Start with just one hand right by the hoop & work your way up to using both hands right by the hoop. You will see an improvement in your touch if you do this regularly.
2. Ball Handling – Ball handling is one of those things where the more you do it, the more your control & feel for the ball improves. Do ball wraps, 2 ball drills and different full court dribbling moves that simulate someone guarding you.
3. Play Someone 1v1 – Steve Nash used to play 1v1 before and after every National Team practice. Find someone who also came early or better yet make plans with someone to come early and play different games of 1v1. Limit dribbles in some games or play in restricted areas to simulate game conditions.
4. Partner Shoot – Repetition. Repetition. Repetition. Its always easier to get lots of shots up with someone rebounding for you. Take turns shooting 10 shots each from mid-range, 3 and shot-fake one dribbles from different spots on the court.
5. Work On A New Move – Clipper Ast. Coach Kevin Eastman has a “Theory of Two.” It takes two minutes to show you, two weeks to be comfortable & two months to use it in a game. Work on a specific move that you would like to implement into your game. You could even use video on youtube to make sure your doing the move right.
6. Free Throws – Shoot FT’s but make them game-like. Take 5 “1 and 1’s,” if you make the first one you get the second one. Try to make 7 out of 10 or make yourself run 2 sprints full court there and back.
1. Rebound – A shooter’s best friend is someone who will rebound for them. Rebounding for your kid is one of the best gifts you can give them because it significantly increases the number of repetitions they can get up while practicing. In addition, its a great bonding experience as you get to spend time with your child in
an environment where they are improving as a basketball player.
2. Mechanics – Be careful not to over-coach but make sure you understand the mechanics of proper shooting. Help your child focus on following through the guide hand, elbow under the ball, holding the pose and understanding the importance of footwork and the difference between hopping & stepping into your
shot. Make sure that younger kids aren’t compromising their mechanics from shooting further out then they are ready for.
3. Passing – Work on becoming a good passer as it will make the shooting practice more game like. Passers make the shooters. Learn what it means to pass the ball with the seams & learn the difference between a chest pass and push pass. Become familiar with the ball and become comfortable with flicking the ball on your passes. Your child will be happy to be receiving good crisp passes that lead to better shots.
4. Count Makes Not Shots – One of the best ways to become a better shooter is to count makes not shots. Give your child a goal for your shooting sessions (200 makes) and help them understand the importance of shooting to make instead of just shooting to shoot. This type of focus requires more concentration and will make your shooting sessions more productive.
5. Shoot Game Shots at Game Speed – Help your child perform better in games by making them shoot game shots at game speed. Consider which types of shots your son shoots in games and design your practice working on these types of shots focusing on making everything game like.
6. Study Great Shooters – When watching hoops point out great shooters and why they are so successful. Point out their shooting mechanics, how they set up for their shots, what types of shots they are taking & give them examples of all the hard work it took them to become great shooters.
7. Learn What Good Shots Are – Too often parents encourage their children to shoot in games without knowing the importance of taking good shots within the flow of the offense. Help your child understand that while they should be looking to shoot, taking good shots is most important.
8. Shoot Yourself – Learning to shoot yourself and practicing shooting on your own will help bring you closer to your son & is great exercise. Your son will be impressed with your interest & will probably even challenge you to a shooting contest.
9. Be Positive – Remember to always be positive and focus on increasing your child’s confidence. It should be an enjoyable bonding experience that brings you closer to your child. Make sure you are constantly encouraging, telling them how much they are improving and how proud you are of their hard work.
1. “See your man, see the ball.” – This command is used on defense to make sure every player has their “head on a swivel” constantly seeing their man and seeing the ball. This is crucial to good individual and team defense.
2. “Jump to the ball.” – This command is used on defense to ensure that each player is moving towards the ball on each pass. A good defensive team has “everyone on a string” meaning they all move simultaneously towards the ball as it is moving around in the half-court.
3. “Wall-Up.” – This refers to the player guarding the man on a finish close to the basket. The action of “walling up” means you challenge the shooter with your arms bent at the elbows and hands straight up in the air. This action ensures a good challenge and makes sure the defender doesn’t foul.
4. “Passer.” – This command is used in 2 on 1 situations where the player dribbling the ball looks as if he is gonna make the pass. This helps cue the lone defender back to play the passing lane after making it look like they will step in front of the dribbler.
5. “One more.” – When the defense is caught rotating, making “one more” pass will often lead to an even better shot for the offensive player. This extra pass can not only lead to a better shot but also could lead to a better driving line to the basket.
6. “2nd gear.” – This is a command used when a guard gets the defensive rebound or receives a quick outlet pass that could lead to a fast break. “2nd Gear” means to utilize the extra speed that the ball-handler has to burst into the front-court. This usually leads to a layup opportunity or numbered advantage.
7. “Get to the body.” – This command is used to alert an offensive player to attack the defenders body in a finishing situation close to the hoop. In finishing at the basket, “offense wants contact, defense doesn’t” and if the offensive player jumps off two feet and attacks the body they will be less likely to get blocked.
8. “Show your hands.” – This is used when a defender is applying good ball pressure on the ball-handler. Yelling “show your hands” alerts the defender to get their hands off the offensive player and make sure the ref doesn’t call a foul.
9. “Reverse it.” – This command is used to signal the team that the ball is getting stagnant and staying on one side. When the ball is reversed from side-to-side the offensive team becomes more difficult to guard because the defense has to shift accordingly. Ball reversals are critical to good offense.
10. “Hop back.” – This command is used to alert the ball handler to make a hop back dribble move. The hop back dribble is crucial to handling tough defensive pressure and breaking the press.
11. “Relay.” – This command is used to signal the guard or forward to look up the sideline and “relay” the ball up the court. The pass moves faster then the dribble and players who can look up the sideline and “hit ahead” are very valuable to the team.
1. Nutrition – Eating healthy is very important for all young basketball players. Eating healthy will give you more energy & keep you in the right shape for the game. Drinking lots of water is also very important for young ballers as proper hydration will help improve your overall health. Proper sleep is also very important for your overall ability to workout, practice and train.
2. Stretch – Stretching during your off time can dramatically increase your flexibility and will help you improve as a basketball player and overall athlete. Spend time stretching your hip flexors, glutes & quadriceps as these are the most important areas for young players.
3. Watch Basketball – Watching basketball on TV, YouTube, League Pass etc. can help you learn from others and also help your overall basketball IQ. When you watch the games make sure you don’t just watch the ball, watch everything that is happening on the court. You can observe what kind of sets each team is running, how team defense is being played and of course which moves the players use to score. Be a true student of the game.
4. Read Books – As a young player coming up one of the best things you can do is read basketball books and biographies. These biographies can give you insight on superstars and what they did to become the players that they are today. These books can provide great motivation, training techniques and also give you a look at how players overcome adversity to reach their dreams. Some of the best biographies ever written are on Michael Jordan & Larry Bird.
5. Play NBA 2K – NBA 2K is the most realistic basketball game ever made. The programmers have done an amazing job at taking the concepts of real basketball and making them critical to having success in the video game. By playing NBA 2K you can work on knowing what a good shot is, understanding the importance of having a good release on your jumper, helping out on defense and even calling actual plays that NBA teams use.
6. Mentors – It’s important to have mentors that you can talk to & that will provide you with guidance on your basketball career. One of the best ways to improve when your not playing is talking to players who have been where you want to be. These mentors are usually very eager to pass on knowledge to young up and coming players so don’t be afraid to ask questions.
7. Visualize – Perhaps the most important thing you can do to improve when your not playing is visualization. Seeing yourself be successful in your mind will help you play out your visions in the real game. The most successful players will tell you that before they accomplished anything on the basketball court they had already seen it happen in their minds. See yourself being the best possible you & play out different situations in practice and games before they happen.
1. Work Ethic – Point Guards are always among the hardest working players on the team. They are the type of players to come to practice early & leave practice late. They are in extremely good condition and are relied upon to be at the front of conditioning drills. Their job is to be both mentally and physically prepared for every practice and every game.
2. Mental Toughness – Point guards have to be mentally tough in all areas of the game. Their job is to make sure the other players on the team are playing with confidence so it is a must that they remain calm & confident at all times.
3. Passing – Point Guards must be efficient at passing out of numerous situations: passing off the dribble with each hand, passing off the catch, post-feeding, dump-offs on penetration, lobs, hit-ahead passes etc. Point Guards need to be aware of who on the team is getting the ball & who might need more touches. The mood of the team is often dictated by the point guard so they need to be acutely aware of each teammates current mood.
4. Leadership – A Point Guard must be a positive leader who commands the respect of his teammates. Point Guards must be very vocal & constantly communicating with their teammates. Point Guards are an “extension of the Coach,” meaning they have similar responsibilities such as encouraging & demanding the most of the team.
5. Shooting – Point Guards need to be good shooters from all over the floor. They need to be good 3-pt shooters, foul shooters & also have a good floater that they can use when they need to shoot over bigger players in the paint.
6. Pick & Roll – The Point Guard must be a master of the pick & roll. He must know how to read both defenders involved in the pick & roll & how each situation requires a different act. Examples: if the defender goes under the screen you shoot, if there is a switch you exploit the mis-match, if there is a hard-hedge you can split the defense, if the defender cheats you can reject the pick and so on.
7. Basketball IQ – A Point Guards job is to get the team into its plays & also know what plays the other team is running against you. On offense, a point guard must know what each position does on every play & be able to yell out instructions to each player during the play. On defense, a point guard should be able to yell out the play the other team is going to run after they pick up the verbal or hand signals used. They should know the time & score at all times and also know how many team fouls both teams have.
8. Transition Play – A point guard has to excel at pushing the ball in transition either by the pass or the dribble. Point guards that are able to get to the paint and/or rim in transition put a lot of stress on the defense and open things up for the other players on the court. On defense, the point guard must understand floor balance and make sure spots are covered in transition to prevent easy fast breaks for the other team.
9. Ball Handling – Point guards are usually the best ball handlers on the team. They excel at handling the ball in pressure situations and are adept at using their off hand.
10. Unselfish – Perhaps the most important trait of all 10. Point guards job is to be selfless and put the team first in every situation. That could mean passing up an open shot to let someone else shoot or giving up an open layup to let the trailing player score. Point guards should be the “mother of the team,” meaning everyone else views them as unselfish and willing to do anything to make sure their teammates succeed.