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The Player Progress Report: $15.00

(Payable by check or money order, include your email address.)

by Coach Charlie Trapani, ctrapani02@yahoo.com
  • Teaches and reinforces.
  • Provides objective and specific feedback.
  • Motivates players to improve.
  • Builds self-esteem


After coaching youth basketball for some time I began to realize that the feedback I was giving my players during practice was not as complete or as consistent from player to player as I would have liked. This was due to limited team practice time during the week and little opportunity to provide individual instruction to players. I like to spend about two thirds of my practice time working on the fundamentals of individual basketball skills, which I believe are so important at the youth ages. I devote a great deal of time breaking down various basketball skills into their component parts.

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For example, I have classified the fundamentals of a jump shot into seven key movements such as; squaring to the basket, elbow tucked under the ball, shoot with one hand off the finger tips, follow through with elbow and wrist fully extended, jump when shooting, put adequate arc on the ball, and consistently follow your shot. These multiple movements of a basketball skill are what I have come to call fundamental skill components. During our three man group drills, where we work on a series of individual skills, I will walk around to each group and emphasize the various fundamental skill components such as putting back-spin on the ball, etc.. Of course, as many of us have found, teaching skills requires a great deal of repetition in explaining, demonstrating and actual practice time. There just never seems to be enough quality time however to get around to each player on every fundamental you are trying to teach.

To help with this education and reinforcement process, I have developed a formalized feedback mechanism called the "Player Progress Report", which provides a detailed performance evaluation to players about how they are coming along on key fundamental basketball skills. I adapted the idea from my own children's school report cards. The thought came to me when I noticed how closely the kids scrutinized their report cards, looking carefully at every grade and trying to interpret the teacher's every remark. What a powerful tool this could be, I thought, if it was adapted to the reading, writing, and arithmetic of basketball. Several benefits have become apparent after implementing the Player Progress Report. First of all, the players read every word on the page which ensures that they are reading, with understanding, the important fundamental skill components of key basketball skills. Secondly, it provides players with objective and specific feedback about what skills they need to emphasize during individual practice. Thirdly, it has a motivational effect because the players begin to set goals on their own to improve their scores for the next marking period. And finally, it immediately boosts self-esteem because it highlights the many specific skills in which the players have performed well.

The Essential Seven and Report Design

The Player Progress Report (sample report provided at the end of this article) is designed into four sections; individual basketball skills, team skills, work habits, and a narrative section where qualitative written feedback is provided. Individual basketball skills include what I call the essential seven ; dribbling, lay-ups, jump shot, passing, foul shot, defense, and rebounding. Each individual basketball skill is further broken down into its fundamental skill components. These are the correct movements that we need to teach, demonstrate, observe, and provide feedback on. Assigning a grade on a fundamental skill component draws the players' attention to the finite detail of the most important basic skills of the game. Team skills and work habits emphasize the importance of learning to be an effective participant within a team environment and the work ethic needed to become a good basketball player. The fundamental skill components I have chosen in the attached example are the ones I feel are most important from my own years of experience as a player and coach. You may want to add or modify some of them that you feel are important from your own experiences. The narrative section is the vehicle we use to put into words what can't be plugged into a rating box. Albeit this section is qualitative in nature, it is important to be as objective as possible and to provide specific examples that support your statements. This is the section of the Player Progress Report that is most difficult and time consuming to complete, therefore you should try to divide the task among your assistant coaches to help.

Breaking The Code

The objective of the skill rating code is to assign an quantitative score on observations made about specific fundamental skill components. I was initially tempted to weight the individual scores and calculate an average total score, however I resisted this because the purpose of the Player Progress Report was not to rate players as a whole, but to focus their attention on the specific fundamental skill components. I also resisted using grades such as A, B, C, etc. for individual basketball skills which I thought would draw attention away from the original objectives. The numerical code is based on a descending scale of from five to one;

(5) Demonstrates fundamental skill component all of the time. This is the highest level, where the player has fully mastered the fundamental skill component and it has become second nature. Some examples of fundamental skill components which are usually mastered early in the youth levels are taking off on the inside foot while performing a lay-up, dribbling with the fingers and not off the palm, and squaring to the basket on fouls shots or jump shots.

(4) Demonstrates fundamental skill component most of the time. At this level the player understands the fundamental skill component well and regularly incorporates it into his game play. There are only a few times when he or she will lapse to an incorrect movement, however it is obvious that the player has practiced the skill and is performing it at a high level of consistency. An example of a fundamental skill which youth players usually reach a (4) rating rather quickly but, where the leap to a (5) level proves very difficult, is the follow through component of the jump shot.

(3) Demonstrates fundamental skill component some of the time. At this level the player fully understands the fundamental skill component mentally and is just beginning to incorporate it into his physical game play. At this stage, you as a coach, have explained the skill many times, have demonstrated it, and have had the players drill on it. It is now just a matter of repetitive practice and continued reinforcement before you begin to see it used by the player regularly in scrimmages or games.

(2) Needs further instruction to develop. At this level the player has been exposed to some teaching or learning on his or her own about a specific fundamental skill component, however it is being performed poorly. It may also be that the player has been playing basketball for a while but has never properly learned the fundamental skill component well and has developed bad habits along the way. In this case, you as the coach, must intervene and provide further individual instruction to correct the problem before any improvement can be expected.

(1) Has not learned the fundamental skill component yet. There are many basketball skills to teach at the youth levels, like the essential seven, which take time to cover in the limited time available. It is often the case that a youth player will begin the season's game schedule without being exposed to all fundamental basketball skills. Unfortunately, if the player hasn't been taught a fundamental skill component, then chances are great that the player is not going to demonstrate the skill at all.

Summing it up

Implementing a Player Progress Report does require extra work which is probably above and beyond the call of the youth coaches' duty, however it will greatly enhance the learning experience of your players and distinguish you as a conscientious coach. I should also mention that in addition to the many benefits of the Player Progress Report mentioned here, it is also fun for the players to anticipate getting it, spending time looking it over with his or her parents, and trying to get a better grade during the next marking period. After all learning should be fun, but above all learning must happen.

Publishers note: Charlie Trapani is an experienced and successful youth coach in Guilford, Connecticut. If you are interested in purchasing his multiple sheet Player Progress Report (pre-set-up with enough sheets for a twelve player team and complete with operator instructions) on an Excell 7.0 file you can mail a check or money order and e-mail address to: Charlie Trapani at the address below for $15.00.

Send a check or money order (include your e-mail address!) to:

Player Progress Report
Charlie Trapani/PowerBasketball Dept AAD
256 Little Meadow Road
Guilford, CT 06437
Email Address for Coach Trapani: ctrapani02@yahoo.com

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