Here’s How Your Players Improve…

This is from Arkansas Women’s Coach Mike Neighbors.

Skill Development is not a few magical drills or some mystical Yoda-like training session. It’s a constant, consistent relationship between coach and player where the player is taken out of their comfort zone to a place they never knew they could go. It’s a relationship built around trust. It’s a relationship that requires as much of the coach as it does of the player.

Today I hope to give you some thoughts on how to make the map, plan the path, and then execute.

STEP BY STEP PROCESS OF DEVELOPING A SKILL DEVELOPMENT PLAN

1) Identify and state the end objective for each individual
2) Determine manageable and measurable criteria for determining success
3) Set sequence of steps necessary to reach the objective
4) Determine tactics and situations that will motivate each individual to reach the objective
5) Get to practice

Perimeter Players

The simple version:
1. Play
2. Possession
3. Position
4. Psychology
5. Presentation

This is what everything we do with perimeter play can be traced back to. One of the five things above encompasses everything we expect and everything we do. This is the simplest formula and what we want implanted in every perimeter player.

The are listed in the exact order that we want them to remember them. If they re-member only 1 thing… it’s PLAY. If they remember two things… it’s PLAY and POSSESSION… and so on.

Then we work on them in reverse order as we begin to develop their skills.

Obviously there is a lot more that goes into developing players than having them remember these five things, but as we have mentioned this is the simplest form and enough for them to perform with in practice and games.

#4… we have replaces Psychology (perimeter) with Physicality (for posts)… we still want toughness from our perimeters, we want them to be on the smarter side of things too!!

We have identified 4 things we ask of our perimeter players on offense:

1) Have a transition a game
2) Have an arc game
3) Have a paint game
4) Think the game

We have identified 4 things we ask of our perimeter players on defense:

1) Talk in transition
2) Guard their yard
3) Rebound
4) Think the game

Again, these are the things we want running through their mind. They are simple but we feel they are inclusive of sooooo many other things that we can worrying about preparing them for as coaches.

Post players basically play with or without angles…

The same is true for guards but in that they either play with or without space. So, we try to give them skills to operate under both conditions come game time.

Some random thoughts on Perimeters that pertain to all areas of play:

Paint Game- Dribble it in there or pass it in there
Short violent fakes– stop teaching the big exaggerated fakes the more your players develop
Catch without dribbling- Pivot for poise
Draw 2 and Play 2- if they can draw 2 defenders on offense and can guard 2 players on defense
Be great at something– everyone needs a specialty then good at everything else
Separation moves are different in back court, mid court, and half court– need them all
Think and Talk– two things most of today’s youth struggle to do
Game shots, from Game spots, at Game Speed– all drills have one of these, some have all 3
Like with post players and their one move/counter move plan, we want perimeters to have a move and a counter:
-at the arc
-off a screen
-off a ball screen
-at the rim
-from the FT line (or a move to get there rather)
Like with post peer passing drills, we do the same with guards. In that if they don’t make a proper cut or a proper fake before the attack, they don’t get to shoot…

PERIMETER PLAYER DRILLS: We try to incorporate every emphasis to as many drills as possible…

Post Players

The simple version:

1. Play
2. Possession
3. Position
4. Physicality
5. Presentation

This is what everything we do with post play can be traced back to. One of the five things above encompasses everything we expect and everything we do. This is the simplest formula and what we want implanted in every player occupying a post spot.
The are listed in the exact order that we want them to remember them. If they re-member only 1 thing… it’s PLAY. If they remember two things… it’s PLAY and POSSESSION… and so on.

Then we work on them in reverse order as we begin to develop their skills.

Obviously there is a lot more that goes into developing good post players than having them remember these five things, but as we have mentioned this is the simplest form and enough for them to perform with in practice and games.

PLAY- remember why you are in the game
POSSESSION– you want the ball (rebound, post-up, loose balls, tipped balls)
POSITION– be in the right spots at the right time/ get open and stay open
PHYSICALITY– be punishing and cause dread in those playing against you
PRESENTATION– look the part

A little more detailed description but still not the whole picture. We continue introducing in phases as the players are capable of grasping them. Each player advances at a different rate. Some based on prior experience. Some based on years in our program. Some based on time spent with coaches on development.

PLAY:

This is the easiest of the 5 to remember and sell to the players. When all else breaks down… when you are out of position, when you are scrambling to maintain a grip on the ball, when nothing is going right… MAKE A PLAY!! BE A PLAYER!!
Use the things you were blessed with to the very best of your ability.

What is the most important physical tool for posts?
We have identified 6 things we ask of our post players on offense:

1) Establish Tempo– it’s not guards who make you a running team, it’s the posts
2) Score Easy-we want posts with a small repertoire of undefendable moves
3) Draw Fouls– easy points and puts opponents at disadvantage late in games
4) Rebound– no one has ever been too good at rebounding
5) Be Punishing-we want people sending us graduation cards
6) Screen- part of our attack

We have identified 5 things we ask of our post players on defense:

1) Protect the Post– fight for space and wall up
2) Effect Shots– make players score over us not around us
3) Rebound-every single time
4) Defend screens– technique must be flawless
5) Talk– your voice is important to our Team

In the area of PLAY with Post Players it basically boils down to the fact that you need to give them skills to:

(A) Play with angles
(B) Play without angles

This accounts for everything we ask of our posts on offense/defense and for every way that a team could possibly defend us (which we have no control over btw).

On offense, a post needs a move on the block, a move at the midline, a move at the elbow, a move in the short corner, and a move in trail. We want them to start with one good move in each of those spots. It may be a power drop set for one or a mid-line spin back for another. Regardless, it has to work for them and they have to be able to execute it.

After the have one in each of those spots, let them work on a counter move.

That gives them two. IF and I really mean IF, they need and can develop a third then they are very, very special.
It may take showing them every move in the book to determine the one they can execute in crunch time, but I think it is a mistake to work every move, every day, with every player.

Working with each player to determine their arsenal of moves is an important part of your job as a skill developer. Their input helps you in holding them accountable for how they utilize them come performance time. We have a rule that if you attempt a shot in a game that we don’t work on in practice, that it is a BAD shot for our team. And our players know we define that as being selfish.

When we teach post PLAY we start with no defense, then position defense, then live vs. peer, then live vs. someone bigger/better, then introduce disadvantages.

This is a slow, steady maturation process but helps us have mastery and limits game slippage.

POSSESSION

The easiest way for a post player to gain possession for our team is through rebounding. Due to a perceived advantage of size, most people expect the tallest, strongest person to get the most rebounds. In my 30 years of experience, that is rarely the case… it’s usually the person who goes after the most plain and simple.

Tashia Phillips was a four year starter for us at Xavier University and I can count on one hand the number of times she didn’t crash the boards. As a result she is #6 on the all-time NCAA rebounding chart. Sure she got some because of her size, but she got most of them as a result of a relentless pursuit to possess the ball for her team.

Other ways to possess the ball from the post:

– Catch the passes thrown in their direction
– Use strength to win 50/50 balls
– Don’t allow smaller players to strip ball

One of our favorite sayings… Possession over Position…
A post player who can get the ball valuable to any team playing any style.

POSITION:

This is pretty much exactly what it sounds like.
Being in the right spot at the right time.
This involves the ability to get open and stay open.
This is where they learn to:
Seal up, seal down, seal out
Pin, duck in, spin/spin
Hold for a lob, bury someone deep
Have chin on shoulder on defense
How to pop back on post entry
How to hedge, plug, trap, jam ball screens
How to use a kick-stand around the basket
How to post on a body rather than an area
How to read defender in transition
How to attempt shots on our terms
How to post when the ball can find you
How to use the three pivots (front, inside, drop step)

PHYSICALITY

We want our post players to be punishing. We want them to leave a mark. We want them to be talked about by other teams.

How do they accomplish that:

Run the floor in both directions- 100% based on effort and concentration. We will control their minutes based on whether they run the court. Poor post players HATE to do this… GREAT post players love to do this
Crash the boards every time– be that person the other team is spends time on in walk thru talking about effort
HIT cutters (legally) every chance you get… and if you can get near half without being in the bonus or in foul trouble maybe even once to send a message.

SCREEN offense and defense is a time to make legal contact. Do it every time.

Effect every shot around the basket without fouling– nothing is more frustrating to finesse post players than to be bodied by a physical post player

PRESENTATION

The fifth in order we want them to think about the 5 things, but the first one we work on. In short, PRESENTATION is how we want our post players to “look”.

We stop film at random points and “look” for presentation.

Things we work on:

RUN the court- easy to see on film whether they haven chosen to do this
POST when the ball can find you- if the ball is in position to find us, are we posting for it

When POSTED:
– Do we have maneuverable balance
– Are we “H”ed up
– Can we see the back of our hands
– Are our knees under our shoulders
– Are we using our leverage points
Numbers, triceps, hips
– Do we appear to want the ball

*** In every drill we do with post players, if we don’t have good presentation, we teach our passers not to feed them the ball. It’s amazing how quickly players will do it right if they never get to shoot at the end of long, hard drill. It’s also amazing how hard they will be on each other when it comes to this. To me, when you can get their teammates to do your coaching, that is a sign you have a good culture.

On Defense:
– Do we have chin on shoulder
– Do we hit cutters
– Do we talk on defense
– Do we sprint the floor

Although we listed 5 things we look for in order, when we drill, each of them are critiqued and corrected. We all have said many times in coaching that “you get what you tolerate” so we don’t tolerate any deviation from our expectations in any drill.

PHINISHES

No move moves: Rack Series, Superman Series, Kickstands, Tower of Power, Crash, FT Rebounding, Seal Up/Seal Down/ Seal Out
Mid line moves: Chair Series, Position Post Up, Pivot Posting
Elbow moves: Garnett Shooting, High Low/Duck In, DUBS Shooting
Trail series: PITS attack, Dive series, On-Ball Series

PAWS
Catch, Z rebound, Bad Pass Drill, Crab Dribble, Passing out of Post

PHYSICALITY

Trips, Wall-Up, Closeouts, Pop Backs, Close and Contest
P’s of Post Play

You probably noticed we try to use as many “P” words when talking “Post Play” as possible… Play,

Possession, Position, Physicality, Presentation… Here are a few more:
Press and Peak-replaces Chin/Check
Paws= Hands Ped=Feet
Pause for Poise
Phight
Patience
Pasta for Posts
Let me know if you can think of more

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