Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Keys to player development


Here are seven keys to effective player development:
Build your game brick by brick. Every rep of every set of every practice is important. How you do anything is how you do everything. You build a house one brick at time. You build your game one drill at a time.
Leave your comfort zone. Once a player has the movement, skill or footwork down, they need to push harder than game speed. The harder you practice, the easier things become during games.
Be innovative. Casual spot shooting and stationary ball handling are more boring than yesterday's newspaper. Plus one can argue how transferable those drills really are. Drills need to be innovative, yet purposeful. They need to be designed to improve game performance...not look cool for a YouTube video. Be innovative to improve effectiveness, not to look cool.
Know the "why". Every drill must have perceived relevance. That means the player clearly understands how this particular skill or drill will improve their game performance. Will dribbling three basketballs reduce turnovers when the lights come on and the cheerleaders start dancing on Friday nights? Doubtful. Therefore it has minimal perceived relevance.
Use visualization. Great players like Kevin Durant and Chris Paul don't just do a drill; they compete in that drill with the same focus and effort as if they were in the waning seconds of Game 7 of the NBA Finals. They imagine they are being guarded by an elite defender; not just "going around a cone."
Avoid fatigue and boredom. These are two of the biggest killers of player development. You can combat this by being in excellent basketball shape and using innovative, purposeful drills (No. 2 above). When your body gets tired, your mind quickly follows. No one can get better at a skill when his or her mind and body are exhausted.
Do everything with precision. Details matter! Perfect form and footwork are imperative. If you want to build a beautiful brick house (No. 1), you have to lay every single brick with care and precision. Once you start sloppily laying bricks...the house suffers (both in appearance and structural integrity).
Also make sure you understand and remember that skill improvement is a process of 2's:
  • It takes 2 minutes to learn a new move or new skill.
  • It takes 2 weeks to work on it daily until you develop confidence in it.
  • It takes 2 months of constant work to be competent enough to use it in a game.

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