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Simple Is Most Wonderful!!!!!!!!!!!

by Ed Riley

I apologize for not adding any chapters for a long time. Sometimes you need to step away from something, so that when you return to it, it's fresh and fun again. Sometimes there are enough personal things that come up that can change your outlook on things, or they may actually reaffirm what you believed in the beginning. My absence from writing has been a combination of all of the above.

A number of personal things have come up that have kept me from taking the time to put pen to paper. Because I work 60 hours a week, run a Honda dealership and am indirectly responsible for the livelihood of 92 employees, work another 20 hours a week with my basketball academy, and have always been extremely HIGH STRUNG, I have ignored a lot of personal issues. So, I have spent the last 6 months lowering my blood pressure by 45 points, losing 32 pounds, and restructuring my life to make it a lot more simple.

So what in Hades name does all of this have to with basketball? Am I just venting, whining, bragging, or what? The answer is NO to all of that. I have been forced to simplify my life and have found that I am having fun again. Then the light bulb, (idea), came on and I started to look at my basketball world and decided I needed to do a major overhaul. This is where you the reader can hopefully learn from my mistakes.

In my girls' basketball academy, I teach all the high school girls defense and then work with the forwards and centers on offense. Offensively I have been working on drop steps, hook steps, how to drive to the basket and get fouled, jump shots, fade aways, hook shots, correct shooting form, a spin move drive to the basket, and lots more.

Compare what I am doing with what you are doing, and it doesn't matter if you are teaching 3rd graders or high school players. Most of you have one or two hours a week to teach right handed lay-ups, left handed lay-ups, correct shooting form, defensive footwork and spacing, all of your offensive plays, your defenses, and much more. Doesn't it sometimes just COMPLETELY OVERWHELM YOU? You are supposed to accomplish this with a 1 or 2 hour practice a week? Yeah, right!

Most coaches try to cram everything they can into that 1 hour practice, and that makes sense, or does it? See if this sounds familiar. We spend 10 minutes on this, 5 minutes on that, 7 minutes on this and so on. So what do they learn? A little bit of this or that? Are they good at what you have taught them?

Here comes the knockout punch! Have you ever asked your players, "WHY AREN'T YOU USING WHAT WE HAVE GONE OVER IN PRACTICE?" If you answer that you have never asked yourself or your players this question, SLAP YOURSELF REALLY, REALLY HARD for fibbing. Every coach that has ever lived has asked this question.

So what does the fact that I just had all of my teeth pulled and have had to live on simple soft foods for 2 weeks have to do with any of this? I have had to go back to the crawl, walk, run stage as far as eating. This is the same thing as I am now doing with my basketball. We are trying to teach too much in too short a time frame. Then we expect our players to know what we have "taught" them. Not only that, but we expect them to know when is the best time for them to use this knowledge. All in ONE HOUR A WEEK! Again, I donna thin so, amigo.

So I have simplified my priorities with my forwards and centers. I am no longer trying to teach them 16 things and when to use them. I have reduced it down to 4 things. I am teaching them defense, correct shooting form, a drop step to the basket, and a hook shot. Even with just 4, this may be too much. I am considering cutting it down to 2 things, defense and shooting form.

Why am I doing this? Because I honestly want them to learn something. How do we learn? BY REPETITION! With only 2 months to teach my high school girls, I don't know that we will have time to truly learn more than 2 things. If I get them to practice their defense and shooting form over, and over, and over again, maybe I can improve their game in just two months. I absolutely know I cannot teach them more than this, and have them be able to do it correctly and know when to do it.

Let me ask you this, how many hours of practice does it take to learn the correct shooting form, and then start hitting your shoots? How about we answer this by saying "A Bunch!" Now add how many hours does it take to understand and execute great defensive footwork and spacing? A Bunch! So, I am simplifying my program.

So how does this affect you? I would find the two most important areas you need to work on, and spend your time teaching those. Then when you are satisfied that your players aced those two, pick the next 2 most important areas, and so on.

Wanna the know the outcome of doing things this way? Your blood pressure will go down, you'll be happier, your team will be happier and more successful, all because you have simplified your program. You have tailored it to your players needs. You have put it into a format where they honestly have a chance to truly learn and be able to use something.

And simple is not only good, ***** SIMPLE IS MOST WONDERFUL*****

If you have any questions, please post them on the discussion board on my website at www.coachingyouthbasketball.net Hopefully you will get prompt help from more than just me.

Copyright 2001-2002, by Ed Riley, Steve Jordan, Darrell Garrison and Steve MacKinney. All rights reserved.

Our thanks to Human Kinetics for sending us some excellent coaching books. You can't beat the discounted price, less than $20 including shipping.

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Excellent video with thoughts and drills on organizing your practices. Learn from one of the greatest coaches of the game, Coach "K".
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"My son's high school coach gave him a copy of the book and he read it in two days. Now he is leading the effort to get himself a scholarship. The book is inspiring and effective for high school athletes."
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