Tuesday, February 24, 2009

All that Glitters Aint Gold

"If a player can play for a Major D1 school , they should attend a Mid-Major. If a player can play for a mid-major D1, they should attend a lower level D1. If a player is a lower D1 talent, that player should attend a D2 or NAIA. By following this strategy , players can make sure they are at a level they can thrive at".

This quote comes from a coach from a BCS school. This coach was explaining the fact that some kids get enamored with the dreams of playing big time college basketball. The reality is that there is a big difference in earning a scholarship to play basketball and actually getting the opportunity to play.

I had another college coach tell me that a local recruit that signed with a BCS school was a product of "15 scholarships". This coach was explaining that the local player benefited from the fact that this BCS school has 15 scholarships to offer. The high number of scholarships allows for a lot of bench warmers. Now, earning a free education to play a sport that you love is a MAJOR accomplishment. But, it does not always translate into actually getting playing time.

Think about it. There are 73 BCS schools.(There are only 324 Division 1 schools that offer scolarships for Women) For the sake of argument, lets assume that each BCS school plays up to 10 players regularly. That is a total of 730 women who actually get regular playing time in BCS Conferences. Being among the top 730 girls in their senior class is very feasible for a lot of local talents. However, local players need to be among the top 730 players for the last four classes since, the 730 kids earning regular playing time range from freshmen to seniors. The University of Texas is currently playing 10 players at least 10 minutes a game. Among these 10 players are three freshmen, four seniors, one sophomore and one junior. This lack of game minutes is one of the major reasons that there are so many transfers at the Division 1 level. These kids are used to being THE STAR on their high school teams. They are used to playing 30 minutes and getting 20 shots a game. It is very difficult to go from being THE ONE to being a bench warmer.

Monica Gibbs could have played at a BCS school. With 15 scholarships, she definitely could have made the team and probably earned some playing time. Instead, Gibbs chose to attend the smaller UTSA and play from day one. She will leave UTSA as the career leader in a number off categories. She also can say that she has won a Conference Tournament Title(hopefully two) and has played in the Big Dance. She will reportedly get a try out with the Silver Stars after graduation and has a good shot at making some money over seas as a pro. Would she have had such a successful career while playing on a Big 12 team and fighting All-Americans for minutes? Probably not. Gibbs is a prime example of a player that did not go to a college that she could play at but went to a college that she could thrive at.

What is more impressive about Gibbs' choice of UTSA is the network of people she has come to know. Coach Rae Rippletoe-Blair is a two-time SLC Coach of the Year and is young enough to coach another 25-30 years if she chooses . Her Assistant Coach, Tai Dillard, is a former professional player with the Silver Stars. If that was not enough, the Assistant Head Coach, Coach Luby, has coached for over 30 years and works as a scout for the Indiana Fever of the WNBA. Gibbs has surrounded herself with successful people. None are more successful than the UTSA Athletic Director, Lynn Hickey . Hickey serves on the Men's NCAA Basketball Committee. That position earns her the respect as one of the most powerful people in NCAA Basketball. Selection Sunday is filled with coaches praying that Mrs. Hickey is keeping them in mind. Monica Gibbs realized that the Big 12 and other BCS Conferences can be a golden opportunity for some and fools gold for others.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Soccer Coach on Development

I received this email from a coach who happened to get the following email. The email originated from a Club Soccer coach in a different part of the country but highlights some of the problems all developmental coaches have.

Good Day to All,

Just wanted to provide some feedback about how indoor training is going. I think the girls are having fun, but there are still a lot of players who have not developed the basic foot skills needed to participate in some of the drills that are run. The need for mastering the basic techniques used in passing, dribbling, and receiving are critical in order to grasp the more progressive and advanced tactics and speed of the game. I am seeing very little improvement in the basic skills in many of the players. Some reasons may be:

- they do not work on it outside of the 1hr of training per week - the receptors used in learning are not fully engaged at practice. I say this because myself and the coaches are having to repeat and demonstrate the same thing over and over and many players will still revert back to using poor or improper technique in execution of a simple pass, dribble or movement. This results in spending more time on fixing these basic mistakes and not being able to spend time on more advanced stuff.

- work ethic for many players is substandard, they only move at speed when they are specifically told to or when the trainer or coaches are focused on them.

- competitiveness is severely lacking. Many players do not play hard when playing against their own teammates. They should play the hardest against each other so when it comes time for a game against someone else they are already conditioned to play aggressive with the desire to win the ball.

I really hate to run training doing only drills and running because I believe you learn how to play soccer by playing in games, but unless I see some changes then it is what we will have to do in order to get them focused on what they should be doing out there. This is a competitive travel club. Yes, we are there to have fun, but we should also be out there to learn how to play soccer at a more advanced level then recreation. Please talk to your players about these observations and why it is important to be coachable (having the ability to learn and execute), competitiveness (which makes not only them but also their teammates better), and to work hard in everything they do (fitness and discipline can beat talent). On top of all that we can still have fun!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Message Board Comments on Club/High Schhol Ball

These comments were taken from a message board in another state. Interesting comments:

I'm not a high school coach. However, I do know that many of the top AAU girls in one area back east train with the same trainer. That is where they go to get better. They play AAU for their exposure, but they go 3-4 times a week to a trainer to get better.

I'm not anti-club. I'm anti-bad coaching and it's as prevalent in club as it is in high school and vice versa.

And.... most coaches don't know how to develop a player anyway. They think they do based on their playing experience or what a coach did for them or because they did it with one girl and she got a scholarship, but that does not mean that they know how to develop a player.

Think about it: how many teams go through an ACL prevention program? If not, is the coach really concerned about the health and welfare of his players?

If a coach really wanted to develop his players skills, they would not be playing in AAU/club tournaments the weekend after the high school season ended.

The problem is that basketball is ruled by perceptions of what people think is right or good, not by actual studies into the best practices of coaches or the best methods to develop talent.
Just think about the skill acquisition process and how that fits into a situation where you are trying to play 80 games in 5 months. Or, with a team that draws players from three different states. Or, that practices at most one time per week. How are you really developing skills in these situations?


And to answer your question directly, the "best" programs recruit players. If they don't do it blatantly or aggressively, they do it passively. They build a perception. You "have" to play here to get a scholarship or to go to nationals. And, at young age groups, it often is about getting bigger numbers to raise more money. Now, if you provide a good program, that's not a negative. That's how every sports organization works - it's the triangle. You have a lot of players at the base and every level up the triangle you lose more and more players until there are only a comparative few playing at the college and pro levels.


: For example, you constantly say that clubs play kids too much since they come off a high season prior to club, but then state that clubs cant be developing if they practice only 1 time per week.

: If they practiced 3 times a week you would surely say they are over working the kids. B, you just seem to often put clubs in a no win situation.

: Was it your comment that teams only use lower teams to make money ? Seems too extreme to be said by someone logical, but I cant tell from the thread.

: As for ACL prevention programs, how many High Schools have such programs ? High Schools have their kids 6 to 8 times longer than clubs do yet you constantly rave about what clubs dont do in their limited hours with kids.


As for practice versus games, they are two different things. If you want my full perspective, go to the web site below and read the columns on the left hand side.

1. I do believe players should rest after the high school season and before the club season. It's called periodization, and I agree with a down period.

2. Once club season resumes, I think teams that argue that they are developing players with 0-1 practice per week do not understand development. And, this is just as true of high schools that play together out of season as well as private clubs. A competitive season is not the best time to develop skills. I know that when I get players after the high school season, their skills have diminished because the competitive season is more about game preparation and team practice, rather than individual development.

However, that individual development must occur at some point. So, if a player moves straight from high school to a competitive club season, when is that time?
And, fwiw, my answer to the problem sides with the club system, not the high school system. I'm not attacking clubs. I'm attacking bad coaches, high school or club or trainers for that matter. My entire agenda is to change the way we think about youth basketball development to create a more athlete-centered, long term development model. That's what I believe in. That's what my comments are geared toward. I don't have any bias toward high school or club. I have coached them both. I know there is good and bad in each. My problem is not with club or high school, but with bad club and bad high school, and with those who cannot differentiate between the two.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Lebron showing us the Way

Basketball Trainers/Coaches across San Antonio all have a story to tell. The story goes:

Little Suzie was a three point shooting queen when she was younger. As she grew older, her shot abandoned her. She used to make ALL of her jump shots and people marveled at her brilliance. She started training under this guy but her jump shot got worse, even though she was with him for one ENTIRE month. She then started working with this woman and her shot did not get any better. She worked with this new coach for TWO WHOLE months. Suzie was the best player in the CYO and YMCA and now she is a high school student and gets very little playing time. Obviously the coach is an idiot.

The above scenario is very common to coaches/trainers. Here is some reasons why.

1.The fact is that, Little Suzie was never a great three point shooter. Great three point shooters shoot over 40% in games.(Some would argue 45-50%) The thing that made Little Suzie seem like a great shooter was the fact that she would shoot the long shot with some success. Her shooting 25% from three point land,eventually made her and her parents believe that she was the female Larry Bird. She shot so many of them that she was bound to hit a few in a row at times and this gave some the impression that she was a great shooter. The numbers do not lie. The truth of the matter is that, it takes hundreds of thousands of shots to become a great three point shooter. Kids lack the appropriate size and strength to consistently make the long ball in games. Here is an interesting fact, only two of the Top 10 NBA three point shooting leaders, are under 6'5. The list includes three players 6'8 or better. This fact supports the reasoning that size and strength play a vital role in shooting successfully behind the arc. I am not saying that you need to be big to be a good three point shooter. What I am saying is that being big and strong helps.

2. Other than strength, the most important factor in being a great shooter is form. Good Form comes from PROPER REPETITION. Little Suzie experienced some success by doing it the wrong way. Again, I always use the example of a child spelling Cat with a K. Kat sounds like the truth but we all know that it is flawed. Little Suzie would chuck the ball from her hip or chest and hit a few shots and mom and dad would act like she was spelling Cat the correct way. They think this so-called success is helping, but in truth, it hurts Suzie's development. Since she feels that her shot was never broke, she refuses to fix it. The problem is that it was always broke and as the game progresses, the inconsistency and ineffectiveness of her shot gets exposed. Sadly, Little Suzie coaches/trainers are now the blame for her recent struggles.

Sports Illustrated recently had a great article on Lebron James. The article went on to describe how Lebron's development as a pro has been remarkable. James was the most heralded rookie ever and had immediate success. He has lead his Cavaliers from the position of annual cellar dwellers, to a legitimate contender for an NBA title. Even with all this early success, James fixed his shot over the summer.

The article writes:

Just as Tiger Woods remade his swing when he was already dominant, James spent last summer quietly reconstructing his jumper, working with assistant coach Chris Jent five days a week, an hour and a half per session. If you watched James shoot last year, you know why; even though teams were petrified of his penetration, he sometimes looked like he was chucking pumpkins at the backboard. According to NBA. com, he hit only 37.1% of his two-point jumpers from the top of the key and the wings, which are the money spots for an off-the-dribble midrange shooter. So James worked to develop what Jent calls a "calmer" shot. This meant better balance -- when firing on the move, James has to contend with the considerable momentum created by his weight -- and keeping his right elbow locked at his side so that, as James puts it, "the ball will go straight instead of veering off sometimes."
Like a pee-wee player, James began by putting up one-handed shots close to the basket. Next came one-dribble jumpers and free throws, then midrange shots. Remarkably, never once during the sessions did he fling a three-pointer. (Let's see you spend one hour at the gym and resist the temptation.) "He's so strong that he can shoot a jumper from half-court," explains Jent. "Form first, and the range will come."

If one of the best players in the world can retool his shot by concentrating on form and thousands upon thousands of shots emphasizing repetition, then why can't Little Suzie. Lebron did not blame the coach and/or trainer. Little Suzie's parents should take heed.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Muy Caliente!

A couple teams and few players are peaking at the right time:

Madison- The Mavericks are firmly ranked #2 in the city and are playing well. They thumped Smithson Valley last night by close to 40 points. Their All Everything backcourt of Monica Engleman and CeCe Harper are clicking while getting some major help by Alisha Crump and Asley Jordan. The Mavs have been hoping to get a chance to redeem themselves against the areas #1 team, Wagner. Camacho vs Hastings! Harper vs Brown! Rodriguez vs Engleman! Roberson vs Crump! Let's hope we get to see this at UTSA, in front of a couple thousand of fans and for the right to go to Austin.

Judson- The return of Aleshia Flowers has helped sparked the Rockets. Ciara McLee is making her case for being one a top 5 shooting guards in the city.

Katy Korioth- The New Braunfels Canyon guard gave Steele 31 points last night in a win. She helped her team snap a 28 game district winning streak by Steele. Korioth is on a mission right now and has hit the twenty point mark several times over the last few weeks while shooting a very impressive 50% from the floor for the entire season.

Meighan Simmons- The #10 ranked player in the Nation for 2010 has dropped 40 on a couple of opponents this past week including 41 in a loss to Canyon. Please be reminded of her torrid scoring past in the playoffs last year. She gets en fuego about this time of the season.

Julissa Garrett- Garrett has jumped into the Top 5 in the city in scoring by putting up some big numbers lately. She joins Jay teammate, Erica Donavon(#4) as the highest scoring tandem in the city. If Garrett can continue to get buckets and facilitate the offense, Jay is going to be a nightmare for opponents come playoffs.

Raven Reyes-The 6'2 project from Fox Tech has recorded 19 points in consecutive games. The freshman has not realized a tenth of her potential and will be a college player if she continues to focus. Any knowledgeable fan knows that bigs tend to develop at a slower pace and this young big has a long way to go. But, recording back to back 19 point games while her team was fighting for a play off spot must be recognized.

Penalized for Being Advanced

Few things are more nerve wrecking to an educated basketball fan than hearing basketball- ignorant fans screaming for supposed rules violations. These fans yell " Carry" or "Travel" at any thing that looks unfamiliar to them. I would like to shed light on the "carrying" violation that has so many fans/parents so perturbed. Here are the interpretations of the rule:

a. "Palming" or "carrying" the ball places the defensive player at a distinct disadvantage while according the dribbler a sizeable advantage inconsistent with the spirit and intent of the rules. The dribbler, who during a high or hesitation dribble, causes the ball to come to rest and then pushes or pulls the ball either to the side or in front of him commits an indefensible violation which must be called.
b. "Palming" is an illegal maneuver. When the ball comes to rest in the dribblers’ hand, by rule, the dribble has ended. Continuing to dribble after the ball has come to rest in the hand is a violation and must be called.


Palming - A violation in which a player moves his hand under the ball and scoops it while dribbling.


B. Palming.
Offensive players “palming” the ball continue to gain a tremendous advantage over defensive players. Emphasis is not only to be given to the dribbler’s hand position, but also the activity of the ball while the dribble is occurring. “Palming” not only occurs while the palm is facing “skyward,” but can also occur while the palm is facing the floor. The key to officiating this play consistently and correctly is to determine if the ball has “come to rest.” A definite advantage to the offensive player is gained on the hesitation “move” to beat a defender (toward the basket or just to go by them). In many of those instances, the ball is “coming to rest” in the dribbler’s hand. A violation must be called by the official, as there is no way to legally defend against this move.

As you can see, there is some interpretation to the rule. The rule is not so black and white like other rules like traveling violations. However, I think we can all see that the following is correct in regards to "palming"(carrying)

1. A player can dribble higher than his/her head if the ball never comes to a rest and his/her palm never faces skyward.(How many times have you heard parents go crazy from the stands while yelling "carry"when a player dribbles high) As we can see from above, that is not the case.

2. How many 13 year old girls can literally palm a basketball? I am referring to the practice of grabbing the ball with one hand and squeezing it until it is held firmly with the one hand and suspended in the air. Very few girls this age can palm a ball since their hands are not big and strong enough. Following that line of thinking, how can a regulation ball(28.5) come to a rest in a young girls hand? The only logical way for a ball to come to rest in MOST young girls hands is if their palm is facing skyward. It is almost impossible for the the ball to rest in a young girls hand if her hand is on top of the ball.

2-Time NBA MVP, Steve Nash Hesitation Dribble

The problem is that the Hesitation Dribble is somewhat of an advanced move and not normally seen at the recreational basketball level. When a player spends the time to advance their skill set and add moves like the Hesitation Dribble, it is unfortunate that opposing fans(unknowledgeable fans) try to have them penalized for it. Worse than that, is the referees that continue to be swayed by the unknowledgeable fans. They allow their interpretation of the rules to be altered by the screaming parents in the stands. They are either intimidated or do not have a grasp of the rules themselves.( But that is another topic)

If San Antonio's Girls basketball is going to continue to make gains, we all have to start being more proactive in educating our players and parents. We also have to stop penalizing the girls who put in the extra time to learn advanced skills.