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Monthly Archives: December 2017

Run a Basketball Practice

The beginning of practice should start with stretching and warming up the muscles. Some coaches have this as a part of the practice right at the beginning, others make it clear to the players this is part of their job and they should warm up before practice and be ready to go right when the first whistle starts. I believe the ladder is more appropriate for older age groups. When it comes to youth practices I think it should be made part of the practice to ensure players are warming up correctly. This warm up could last about 15 minutes and include stretching and running. This will get the heart rate up and hopefully the players can begin to break a sweat. From here, a nice transition into ball handling usually goes well.

Ball handling drills can include one ball or two. Two-ball drill examples would be dribbling two balls at once while standing still and then dribbling two balls while walking/running up and down the court. For any ball handling drills it is important for you as a coach to emphasize looking up while the players dribble. It is important for them to get comfortable dribbling without looking at the ball. Other ball handling drills include dribbling a basketball in one hand while catching a tennis ball in another. Personally, I liked this one because I thought it was the most helpful in reaction time. Coaches will throw the tennis ball to the player and they would have to catch it and throw it back all while dribbling. Once this becomes easy, the player should be asked to do moves like crossovers, or behind the back in-between tennis ball throws. After about 30 minutes of ball handling you can move to teamwork drills.

An example of a teamwork drill would be the “3 Man Weave.” this is a drill where three players run down the court together weaving around each other. A video explaining this in more detail can be seen here. The benefits of running this drill is to enhance communication while practicing game like speed. This drill tends to be hand at first for younger teams. If your team is really struggling with it, do not waste the entire practice working on it. Give it a certain amount of time (e.g. 15 minutes) and after that time move on to your next drill. However, do not forget about it the drill. Come back to it the next day and the day after that. You would be surprised how quickly the players will pick up on it the next few times you do it.

From here you can move to more game like situations. A good example of this would be scrimmaging. This is a great way for kids to get a good feel for what it will be like during the games and the type of coaching you will be giving during the games. Trying to stay consistent with you messages to the players is important so they know what you want from them. While scrimmaging, do not hesitate to blow your whistle and stop the game. If there is a situation or a play could be used as a learning experience it should absolutely be explained so that everyone understands what went wrong. It is better to do this right after it happens as opposed to at the end of practice.

To finish off practice, I always enjoyed when our coaches implemented practice end of the game situations. This would entail them giving us a certain situation, such as being down by 2 points with the ball and 15 seconds left, and then we have to practice what we would do if it was a real game. This drill would be done 5 versus 5 and usually would switch offense and defensive after each try. Not only is it very fun, but it gets the players comfortable with “high pressure” shots.

Hit a Volleyball

There are a few factors to consider when training/learning how to hit a volleyball, also known as an attack or spike. One of those factors is the approach, the “run” towards the ball after it is released from the setter’s hands. First, make sure you are standing behind the ten-foot line with your right foot slightly in front of your left foot and arms down beside you. Next, take a step with your left foot and then another with your right foot. You will then want to plant or hop quickly with your left foot. You can think of it as well as left- right, left. You will want to practice this by starting out slowly and as you get the hang of it, speed it up to a quick “run”. Bend your knees and jump bringing your arms up in the air.

The next factor to consider when hitting a ball is your positioning. Having the correct positioning will make a huge impact on the way you make contact with the ball and hit the ball. The most important detail to having proper positioning is, always, always; keep the ball in front of you. By doing this, you will be able to place the ball where you’d like. This is once you have gained some experience.

Your arm swing also plays a big role in being able to properly hit the ball. One rule of thumb to keep in mind is to always put your entire body behind the hit/attack, not just your arm. Keep your arm straight in the air and open your hand. Make sure you strike the ball on top and in a downward motion.

Timing is the most difficult part of hitting. The best advice I can offer to you in order for you to master your timing is to practice, practice, and practice as timing is dependent on many variables coming together such as the height of your vertical jump and the speed of your approach.

Shooting The Basketball

Don’t Be The Typical Baller

The typical baller is going to focus all his attention on his three-point shot and neglect all the other shots.

Don’t be the typical baller. Understand the importance of form shooting close to the basket and develop a consistent release.

Practice form shooting about 4 feet away from the basket and focus on consistent form and a smooth release. Keep your eyes on the rim and the ball in line with the eye of your shooting hand. Release the basketball with the same speed and form on every shot attempt.

Also, focus on making a swish shot that doesn’t touch the rim, but instead, falls straight through the net.

Your Form Must Stay Consistent

The best shooters in the world are the best shooters in the world because they have developed a consistent form that never changes no matter how close or far they’re from the basket.

You should be able to drain 20-25 shots in a row 4 feet from the basket. You should even be able to make these shots with your eyes closed. If you can’t make 20 shots in a row when you’re 4 feet from the basket, do you really think you should be shooting threes?

Once you can hit 25 shots in a row from 4 feet, then shoot from 5 feet, 6 feet, etc…

As you get further down to the mid-range and three-point area, the only thing that should change is the power coming from your legs, your form needs to stay the same.

Fundamentals Will Make Everything A Lot Easier

If you want to get an edge on your competition, you need to do what they’re not doing. Most basketball player’s get cocky after a while and forget about the importance of mastering the fundamentals.

Go back and watch some films of Michael Jordan, and you will notice how everything he did looked effortless. He was able to make those excellent moves because he mastered the fundamentals.

Reach the Next Level in Running

Fist and foremost is the Foot Strike.

Unless you are up in the wildness or a desert island then you are likely to be a heel-striker. This means that each time your foot comes into contact with the ground you put on the brakes just slightly until your center of mass gets over and past the midfoot. At that point gravity starts helping you again with a vector of force that accelerates your forward momentum free of charge. If you are running fast, the slight deceleration that takes place when your heel hits the ground first is not going to be noticeable. However, in a long race, if you end up very fatigued, the braking action of a heel strike is, well, striking and very noticeable.

So here’s the drill. Go to a track or grass field if you can’t find a track/have access to one and run a lap or two without shoes or socks. I guarantee that you will instantaneously start to land on your midfoot or maybe even slightly forward of it.

This subtracts any braking action that a heel strike would have and immediately converts your running form to its most efficient foot plant pattern. Now put the shoes back on and try to continue to run with that same feel you had without the shoes.

Do this drill daily until you can replicate the midfoot strike and hold it throughout your training runs. Over time this will become your normal run form.

Next and as equally as important is Cadence.

One thing that you will notice after perfecting a midfoot strike is that you get on and off your feet more quickly with each foot plant. This naturally increases your cadence, which is something that will benefit every runner. Elite runners have about the same cadence as top cyclists, hitting the ground about 90 times per minute if strikes are counted on one side. Slower inefficient runners are down around 70-80 foot strikes per minute, which means that they are spending more time on the ground with each foot, and are usually guilty of braking by striking with the heel.

Increasing your cadence starts with getting to a midfoot strike. It is much easier to increase from 80 to 90 strides per minute with a midfoot strike than it is if you are landing heel-first. Generally, heel-strikers end up overstriding, especially when they attempt to go faster or when they try to increase their leg turnover.

Another way to increase your run cadence to that of an elite runner is to carry that same goal over to your cycling. If you are pushing 75 revolutions per minute (rpm) on the bike for hours on end, it will be very tough to get off and suddenly turn your tired legs over at 90 rpm on the run. However, watching your cadence on the bike and keeping it at 90-95 rpm for the bulk of your riding will help carry you to a similar cadence when it’s time to run.

The final tip on foot strike and cadence is to practice it on every run, even your slow recovery runs. Just because you’re running slowly on a recovery day does not mean that you should have a slower cadence or revert to a heel strike.

Next up is the voice of Terrain.

Hills or flat, Roads or trails? These are choices we make when we head out for every run workout. Each has its place and purpose in helping you become a faster runner. Trails have several advantages. The uneven terrain forces your feet and legs to manage some sideways motion and to create stability on slightly unstable ground. This strengthens lots of smaller support muscles that just don’t get worked by the predictability of pavement. Then, later in a race when you start to fatigue, these small muscles can come into play to help support the larger muscles as they tire, which allows you to maintain good form and stay efficient much longer than if you never do any trail running. A second benefit to trails is that the jarring on your body is less than on pavement, which enables a person to put in more training miles with less breakdown. The net result is more training volume and training consistency with less likelihood of injury.

But there is a reason to run on the roads as well. Unless you are going to be racing on a trail it is important to have your legs adapted to the impact of pavement. Early in my career I did almost all my run training on trails, especially my longer runs. However, when I got to Ironman I found that running the marathon on pavement caused a huge amount of muscle breakdown, and the critical switch point where the impact surpassed the brain’s override mechanism hit at around the half-marathon point. This meant it became impossible for me to actually run the second half of the run. Finally in 1989 I figured this out. I gradually transitioned to running more miles on the roads as I got closer to Ironman, so that my leg muscles and joints were adapted to the added impact. The results were profound. I still had some breakdown, but the big impasse where I had struggled in previous years didn’t hit me until I was within a couple of miles of the finish. At that point, the horse could smell the barn and I was able to keep my pace up.

The actual profile of your training terrain is also important. If you have hills in your race, you will want to run them in training. Same for flat courses. Bounding up hills won’t be the most effective way to get you ready to run fast on a dead flat course. A variety of training terrain is ideal for building overall run fitness and also for preventing repetitive motion injuries that running on one single terrain type can cause. As you get close to your key races, transition to doing around two-thirds of your runs on the terrain that you will encounter on race day. Then split the remaining third of your runs between the two other terrain options (hilly, rolling or flat) that are less a part of your race course profile.