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Category Archives: Sport

Get a Better Basketball Shot

BEEF is an acronym that stands for balance, eyes, elbow, follow-through. This is a strategy used everywhere to teach good shoot form and is an extremely effective strategy.

B – Balance

Balance is extremely important when shooting the basketball. A player’s feet should be shoulder width apart when they prepare to shoot. This gives the perfect amount of balance on each side of the body. With the knees bent, one foot should be a little in front of the other. The foot that should be in front is the one that is one the same side as the player’s shooting hand. (If you shoot right handed, your right foot should be a little in front) Not only is this good for your aiming but it gives you a good aspect of where your feet should be pointing, at the basket! From here you should be balance and bent down ready to move on to the next step.

E – Eyes

Bent in position holding the ball, you know need to use to eyes to look at the basket. Yes, this seems like it should go without explanation, however there is a little more to it than that. The eyes are your greatest tool for aiming the ball and you would think most people know they should look at the basket when the shoot, but it needs to be more specific than that. Players who are great shooters do not just aim at that orange ring up on the backboard, they pick an even smaller part on the rim to look at. This results in a more precise aim and results in more accurate shots. I have always been taught to shoot at the inside of the rim right in the middle, I know some people who are taught to aim at the front of the rim. I do not really agree with that because if you aim at the front of the rim you will hit the front of the rim and it won’t go it. With that being said I recommend aiming at the inside back of it.

E- Elbow

At this point you are balanced and looking at the right part of the rim. Now it is time to start shooting. The most common mistake for players who have bad shots is they do not keep their shooting elbow in. The reason for this is because keeping your elbow in takes a little bit more of an effort (at least at the beginning, until you get used to it). However, people who do take the time to be conscious about it will see that they are able to get more power in their shot because they have more muscle pushing the ball. While you jump off of both feet, tucking your elbow in you want to push the ball in the air toward the rim, don’t forget to keep your eyes on the rim!!

F – Follow Through

Almost done with your shot but there is still one last part… the follow through. This was the part I had the most trouble with when I played. It is important that your hand points to the rim when you are releasing the ball. Not only do you want it to point at the rim, but you want your arm to be extended and your hand to stay high up in the air. At the end of your shot your aim should be basically straight up and down. My problem was that after my shot my arm would be pointed toward the rim, instead of straight up. This importance of having your hand straight up is because it affects the arch on your shot. You want to have a high arch on your shot because it creates a better chance of your shot going in the basket if it is coming from higher up. Holding your follow through a few seconds after each shot is important because it is a good way to assess how you are shooting and to ensure you are following though the right way.

Time Jump When Trying to Block in Volleyball

Distance off the net

While the biggest timing factor is the hitter’s jump, you need to adjust your block jump based on how far off the net the hitter will be attacking the ball. The further back, the more you must wait to account for the longer time it will take for the ball to reach you. A back row attack, for example, requires a bit of a delay in your jump compared to a ball set tight to the net.

Speed of the hitter’s arm swing

The final little adjustment to timing comes by accounting for how hard the hitter attacks the ball. This is just like adjusting for the hitter’s distance off the net. An attacker with a fast arm swing will get the ball to you quicker than a player with a slow one. As a result, you have to delay a bit for the latter and jump a bit earlier for the former. If you can catch the hitter setting up an off-speed shot, that could also factor into your block timing (or your decision to go up at all).

Commit vs. Read

The jump, distance, and arm swing timing factors are going to be the same whether you are commit blocking (going up with a hitter without waiting to see if they are getting set) or reading blocking (waiting for the set). If you are commit blocking you still have to time your block based on the hitter’s jump, how near the net they are, and the speed of their swing.

Get The Mental Edge On Competition

One way to separate yourself from your competitors is to do the things they refuse to do.

Make sacrifices such as going to sleep early and waking-up early so you can get a jump on the rest of the competition. Those are two things that most people don’t want to do. Who wants to go to sleep early?

Most people don’t even discipline themselves to go to sleep at a specific time every day. Just by doing something as simple as that you can develop your mental toughness and discipline.

If you go to sleep early, you will wake-up early. Waking up early will give you more time to work on your game and study the game of basketball.

Avoid junk food and stay away from anything that doesn’t contribute to your progression as a basketball player (drugs, alcohol, excessive partying, negative people).

Some athletes think because they’re always active, that eating junk food won’t affect them. In some cases that may be true, but if you want to get a slight edge over your competition I recommend you cut junk food out of your diet.

Make an effort to eat vegetables, fruits, meat, eggs, milk etc…

Eating healthy will give you more energy and make you feel better. Cut out junk food and replace it with fruits for the next 7 days, and I bet you will notice a big difference in the way you feel physically and mentally.

Increase your knowledge and understanding of basketball by reading relevant books and watching documentaries.

Read biographies of successful athletes and watch their documentaries on YouTube. You can learn a lot from the experiences of basketball players who have achieved the goals you may have set for yourself.

Model Successful Athletes

If you live life with the same principles and disciplines of the top basketball players in the world, you will be able to guarantee your own success as a basketball player.

So, find out what the great basketball players are doing and then go ahead and do it.

It’s not just about training yourself physically; what separates the good from the great is mindset and discipline.

Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan were known for having ridiculous work ethic and relentless drive.

So, if I were you I would adopt the discipline of working hard and staying motivated. If Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan practiced every day, then you should be doing it too.

Adopting the mindset of the greats will certainly elevate your game above the competition.

Don’t Live In Fear

Dealing with your fears on the basketball court and in your daily life will boost your self-confidence, and self-control.

When you deal with your biggest fears in life, you will use that experience to help you overcome future obstacles and seize opportunities when presented.

Don’t let emotions and feelings hold you back from reaching your full potential.

Fear will hold you back unless you learn to fight it and use it against your competition instead of being used by it.

Marathon Running For Beginners

Just as a plant-based diet often begins with small steps, such as avoiding meat one meal a day (or one day a week) or eliminating a single kind of meat from your diet, until you’ve actually begun running, it’s totally natural for you to believe you’re not capable of getting in shape to run a marathon.

Only after you have run around the block or survived 5 minutes on the dreaded running machine do you start to recognize your true potential. After settling into a training routine, you get a few 5- and 10ks under your belt, and start to realize that a half-marathon is within your grasp.

I don’t mean to understate the preparation and commitment you need to run a marathon. But while you shouldn’t expect to get there overnight, it’s not as difficult as you might think. There are unlimited resources available to develop your marathon training plan, and first time runners should generally allow from 4-6 months, depending on your condition.

It’s OK if it takes you several months, or years to develop the confidence to sign up for a marathon, as long as you keep moving in a positive direction. Whether preparing for a marathon or starting a plant-based diet, you’ve got to expect occasional setbacks and self-doubt along the way. The key is to not allowing yourself to be deterred from reaching your goal.

Although I ran Tokyo Marathon, my first, in March 2009, after 1 1/2 years, I began to doubt whether I could do another marathon, and whether I would be able to make it to Honolulu, owing to time, finances, as well as minor injuries including knee pain and a sore achilles tendon. There were last minute surprises, too, like discovering I had forgotten to pack my 5-fingered grip socks just before laying down to sleep on the eve of the marathon!

Once you make your mind up to run a marathon, you need to decide your specific training goals. Avoiding injury, more than a running a fast time, was my first priority throughout training the past year. In addition to running (cardio), I have been doing core exercises and yoga for strength, balance and flexibility. Although I was sucking wind at the end, I had finished the Honolulu Marathon, in a time that even surprised me.

After finishing a marathon, you’ll feel like you can accomplish anything. If you have prepared well, I guarantee you will enjoy it, and want to do it again. Scheduling another running event in the future will give a purpose to continue your training, too. Like a healthy vegan diet, running benefits your physical fitness and your mental outlook.

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.

Block More Shots In Basketball

Increase Your Vertical Jump

When I was in High School I used to rely mostly on my athleticism to get blocks. At first I didn’t think much of it, but I realized that blocking shots will earn the respect of your teammates and your competition. The opposing team will think twice about throwing up a weak lay-up when you’re lurking around just waiting to send the ball to the other side of the court.

A high vertical jump allows you to get more blocks without having to focus too much on timing and patience. For the average guy, getting a block requires great timing and focus, but when you have hops, you can get blocks despite a lack of focus or timing.

When you can jump out of the gym, getting blocks becomes inevitable. As long as you take defense seriously, you will find yourself getting blocks left and right.

Timing/Patience

There are two ways to block a shot; in a 1-on-1 situation and in a help defense situation.

In order to get blocks in any of the two situations you need to have good timing. Good timing requires you to play disciplined defense and it requires you to be patient.

Don’t jump until the offensive player’s feet leaves the floor, or the ball leaves his hands. Don’t be a jumping machine, you can get blocks without jumping if you play good defense. I can’t tell you how many times I blocked somebody without even jumping.

Basketball rewards disciplined players who take defense serious, so if you want to get more blocks, you need to be patient and focused on defense.

Experience

Blocking shots requires you to anticipate what the offense is going to do. So basically, you need to be able to read and react to what the offense throws your way.

This means you need to get in the right place at the right time and rely on your past experiences and your opponent’s previous behaviors to dictate where you need to be in order to make a good defensive play.

Improving Spikes in Volleyball

Focus on a fast arm swing

Many players fail to get the most out of their hits because they think “hit hard” rather than “swing fast”. Power in a spike comes from the speed of the hand at contact. A good arm swing starts with an open torso (which should come from proper approach mechanics) as power begins with twisting through the core with the elbow drawn back. That then carries through the shoulder as the elbow comes forward. It finishes with the arm extending at speed to ball contact. Players get into trouble when they swing from the shoulder, not just in terms of inefficient spikes, but also in increased likelihood of injury.

Contact at full extension

Execution of a proper fast arm swing as mentioned above will see the player strike the ball at the highest possible contact point. This is critical in many ways. Obviously, it creates the best possible attack angle. Players, however, will often drop their arm. Not only is this less efficient, it also leads to a lot of hitting errors. This is particularly noticeable when hitters are trying to hit down the line and when they have no block.

If you can get your hitting mechanics working properly, that alone will make you a much better hitter. From there you can then work on being able to mix things up. Good hitters have the ability to change speeds and to hit to all areas of the court, especially in terms of being able to show a cross-court hit and do a line shot or vice versa. Those skills all require a strong mechanical foundation, however, so start with that and you’ll find yourself progressing nicely.