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Duh, So That's Why I Learned That!

by Ed Riley

See if this sounds familiar. You spend hours teaching your players a move. Then one day in practice, one of your players does it the right way, then another player does it, then another. Soon, almost every player player is doing this move flawlessly. You could fly to the moon without a spaceship, right?

Now it's game night. You are smiling as you walk in the gym. You are going to see the 8th Wonder of the World, you are going to watch your players execute this new move. Your mouth is dry and the butterflies are riding a rollercoaster in your stomach. Life is Good!

At the END of the game, you ask your team why no one tried their new move, sound familiar? When you ask them, they just give you the "Duh" look. You go home, look in the mirror, and search for the new wrinkle or grey hair that you are sure have appeared. Life is just life now! I have gone through this at least 746 times, but who's counting? I always wonder if it's me, or are my players just that stupid? Or is it both? Guess what folks? It was me, stupid ole me. Here's how I found out it was me, and then here's the solution.

By now you know I have a girl's basketball academy in St. Louis. My partner, Gary Pinkerton, is excellent at teaching the basic skills. Our 4th grade girls can do excellent crossovers, behind the back, between the legs, and spin move, dribbling drills. In fact, my 4th and 5th graders can do them better than my high school girls. But ....... here it comes ...... they never use these moves in a game. Nuttin nu dere, huh?

So I started something new with my high school girls. Here was my new drill.

  1. I had my guards start on the right elbow facing the basket.
  2. They had to do a spin move, and end up close to the left elbow.
  3. They had to end up on the left elbow, with both feet hitting the floor at the same time, and their feet have to make that "Plop" sound as they both hit the floor.
  4. They are also to end up with their shoulders squared to the basket.
  5. Right after they plop, they go straight up into a jump shot.
So why insist they make the "plop" sound? If they don't, then their momentum will carry them to the left with them taking a really off balanced shot. When they plop, their body has stopped moving, and now they have a better shot, with their shoulders squared to the basket.

So what's so great about this? Everyone wants to shoot, right? Well, now I have made them do a spin move before they are allowed to shoot. The results were phenominal! Kids who had a hard time doing a spin move, could now magically do them. They also learned at least one situation when they should do a spin move.

Now my drills for forwards are exactly the same, but I have them do it within 7 feet of the basket, instead of at the freethrow line.

If it worked for spinmoves, why not behind the backs, between the legs, and crossovers? Folks, my academy is now going to do all of these moves and end up in a shooting position. They will know when to use these moves to get open to shoot. AND THEY NOW MAYVE, THEY WILL USE THEM IN GAMES. THEN I WILL BELIEVE THERE IS A BASKETBALL GOD!

Next, I am going to take these same moves and apply the same principles to bringing the ball down the court. Here is my gameplan:

  1. I put a defender on the ball handler.
  2. The ball handler is told what move to use to change directions, and they must go the length of the court and get away from the defender.
  3. If they can't get away from the defender using the move, they will have to shoot 30 freethrows. I am trying to get away from laps. Shooting freethrows is more constructive.
I figure I need to not only teach the moves, but show these players when to use the moves. If this works, I will have discovered the 8th Wonder of the World, how to get kids to do what you teach them in game. Wish me luck, and I will let you know how it turns out.

P.S. If it works for the high school girls, it will work even better for the pre-high schoolers.

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

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