Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Just Read and React!

“The thing that blew me away, at Indiana we never ran a play. It was read and react and you really had to think your way through the game. The first time I ran a pick and roll was in the NBA.”

Isiah Thomas, quote taken from Bob Knight The Unauthorized Biography

This quote from a NBA Hall of Famer is astonishing. The reason for my surprise is that Isiah Thomas played for one of the most dominating personalities in basketball history while attending Indiana University. This quote shocked me because I grew up watching Bob Knight patrolling the sideline and reprimanding his troops like the Army man that he is. Coach Knight was the epitome of the old school controlling coach for many of us. He was too strict and yelled too much. We thought he preferred boring basketball players whom he could control and his teams were boring to watch. What I did not understand as a kid, was that Bob Knight helped initiate the Motion Offense into the basketball landscape. This offense was revolutionary because it went away from the old style set plays. Players running the Motion Offense were expected to think the game, thus they had to know how to play. Although Motion/Continuous Offenses have their weaknesses, they are still the best ways to teach kids how to play the game.

We all have heard the criticisms. “These kids do not know how to play the game” and “ All they are playing is street ball” and “They dribble too much”. The list goes on and on. These proclamations usually come from old school players and coaches that supposedly knew/know how to play the game. The problem with this is that like all things, basketball changes. What does not change is that basketball is a game of reactions and the better you react, the better you will produce.

React- “To act in response to or under the influence of a stimulus or prompting”

Think back to your greatest basketball play as a fan and you will surely recall the supreme reaction of the amazing feat:

We all remember Magic with the baby hook over the outstretched arms of Bird, Parrish and McHale at the old Boston Garden. The play was set for Kareem but Magic reacted to the overplay of Kareem by attacking the middle and floating the sweet baby hook through the net. This was not the designed play but basketball at its best.

How about the Jordan layup over Sam Perkins and the Lakers in the 91‘ Finals.. His Airness attacking the paint for a right hand dunk only to see the long armed Sam Perkins(also Jordan’s college teammate) attempting to block it. Jordan then switched hands in the air and finger rolled with the left on the way down. Again, reaction at best. Jordan described the shot as “instinct”.

Or the greatest shot in Spur’s History, The Memorial Day Miracle by Sean Elliot. Even though the shot came off of an out of bounds set play, Elliot adjusted to a bad pass by tiptoeing the sideline to remain inbounds. He then squared ten toes to the rim and let go a BOMB in the face of the outstretched arms of Rasheed Wallace. Elliot’s reaction helped propel the Spurs to its first of four Championships.

All of these wonderful basketball moments were a testament to the improvisational ability of basketball players. The ability to think and react on the fly is what makes basketball such a beautiful game. Now here is the problem; Coaches must develop individuality in a team setting. What and how is the best way to accomplish this? Here is my opinion:

Practice Skill Sets More than Sets- The problem with practicing too many sets(plays) is that all kids up to the College level need skill work. For that matter, Pros still need skill work. The difference with Pro and youth ball players is that by the time a player reaches the Pro ranks, they are more or less accustomed to their roll. Jacque Vaughn was a pass first point guard at Pasadena Muir High school. He was a pass first point guard at Kansas and he is a pass first point guard for the Spurs. I am sure that he shoots the ball thousands of times a week and yet his jump shot is still not strong enough to make him a legitimate shooting threat at the NBA level. The question is, would have constant and consistently good shooting reps as a teen enhanced his shooting as a future pro? Of course it would have. That is why constantly practicing sets instead of working on individual skill sets can handicap players. What good is it to teach a kid to run a play but they still can't dribble with their weak hand? How does it help a kid to run an offense that begins with a wing entry pass but the wings have not been drilled enough in the art of getting open on the wing? I recall viewing Villanova Coach Jay Wright in an instructional video lamenting " These parents want me to teach these kids how to get to the NBA but I am spending all my time teaching them to dribble with their left hand". Another problem with practicing so many sets is that it makes players think too much about the play and not think to play the game.

Teach to think the game- Like Isiah said in the earlier quote, the Indiana players were expected to think the game. This is a problem for most coaches. By teaching players to think the game and empowering them to react with their thoughts, turnovers and mistakes are bound to happen. Bob Knight drilled a passing, cutting, screening offense into his players that demanded that they learn to read and react. According to many, he went mad in the process. Imagine a control freak allowing kids to control the outcome of the game. That is an exercise in self torture. Sets give coaches control to dictate who and when shots occur to a certain extent. Continuous offenses puts players in spots and areas and allow them to decide the appropriate response to an action. That in itself is very difficult to do. Some coaches are not equipped with the tools to think the game themselves. They are products of sets and things that their old coaches taught them. What is thinking the game? Here is a scenario:

Player 1 has the ball at the top of the key. Player 2 is being heavily denied on the wing but Player 1 wants to get her the ball. Player 1 dribbles toward player 2. Here are some ways to teach thinking and reacting to the game:

1. Player 2 cuts Back Door since they are being overplayed
2. Player 2 receives a dribble handoff and can turn the corner against intense pressure
3. Player 2 fades away from the dribbler to clear space and allow for the dribble kick
4. Player 2 sets an on ball screen
5. Player 2 circles behind or against the grain

There are more options than these and each option in turn offers more options, but these are simple reads that all proficient players should know.

Jungle Ball is not the way- Playing Rucker style street ball is not the way of teaching the game either. Players who dribble a thousand times with And 1 Mixtape moves is not going to thrive in a structured basketball setting either. Take Rafer Alston, aka Skip to my Lou. I love Skip. He is exciting and I enjoy watching him manipulate the ball and clown defenders on the blacktop. However, Skip is not the NBA player playing for a chance for the Eastern Conference Title. Rafer Alston is. Rafer is running the Magic like an NBA point guard should. He is still a master of improvising but he is controlling his turnovers and moving the ball. He is making sure his Big is getting touches and his street ball pedigree allows him to break defenders down off of the dribble and hit open shooters like Hedo Turkolu and Rashard Lewis. I have viewed so many coaches with athletic kids but teach no basketball IQ or Skill Set. Their players show up to college unprepared for that level since mostly everybody is athletic at that level.

Play more 2 vs. 2 and 3 vs. 3- I read a wonderful quote by a college coach recently. It said
When your players are playing 2 vs. 2 you are teaching. When your players are playing 5 vs. 5, you are coaching” . We need more teachers. Basketball skills like basket cuts, on ball screens, back door reads, angles of setting screens, spacing, dribbling and passing against pressure, rebounding angles, defending pick and rolls, forcing offensive players to their weak hand and cutting the floor in half, weak side positioning, communication, shooting against pressure and defensive stances are just some of the skills that can be honed during 2 vs. 2 and 3 vs. 3. Not to mention one of the most important attributes a baller can have, HEART. Small games will expose the faint of heart as they can not hide. I always found it fascinating that NBA combines feature small skill set sessions that pit draft picks against each other. Even at the highest level, NBA scouts , coaches and GM’s want to see how players think and react in basketball.

Lets look at some recent happenings in Elite Basketball:

1. The Orlando Magic are on the brink of going to the NBA finals. One of the reasons why is, that the Cleveland Cavaliers are not adapting to the Magic’s European style of play. The traditional two bigs defensive alignment of the Cavs are allowing for mismatches in the favor of the Magic. The Magic are playing with one low post presence and their small and so called power forwards are hitting open threes. Their line up at any given time includes, Michael Pietrus( 6’6), Hedo Turkolu(6’10), Rashard Lewis(6’10). All three of players shoot the three with consistency and can create off of the dribble. THEY ARE ALLOWED TO READ AND REACT TO MISMATCHES AND TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THEM!

2. The Memphis Tigers went to the 2009 NCAA Sweet 16 and the 2008 NCAA Championship game with an innovative offense that rewards reading and reacting. The Dribble Drive Motion was created by a former Jr. College Coach, Vance Walberg, and it is being implemented with success at the highest level of basketball. Coach John Calipari should be commended. He took Umass to the Final Four in the 90’s with a style that was built around his All American Big, Marcus Camby. He scrapped that system in favor of a system that fit his current players. Players such as the lighting quick reigning NBA Rookie of the Year, Derrick Rose. That is a sign of a great coach. Coach Cal is known for having a healthy ego but he put that ego aside and let his players play.

3. The LA Lakers and the Chicago Bulls of the 90’s were successful using an offense based on reading and reacting. The famed Triangle offense is nothing but basketball based on passing, cutting, spacing, and angles. This offense allowed for Michael to be Michael and Kobe to be Kobe. The spacing and continuity to the offense let Jordan exploit gaps when applicable and kick to shooters such as Steve Kerr and John Paxson when the defense collapsed. Yes the offense can have set quick hitters but the meat off the system is empowering players to think and play the game. The architect of the Triangle offense, Tex Winter, mentions that his creation was originally ran for and by HIGH SCHOOL PLAYERS.

4. On a local note, The UTSA Lady Roadrunners were very successful the last couple of years because of reading and reacting. Coach Rae Blair installed the DDM offense and easy sets that allowed Southland Conference Player of the Year, Monica Gibbs to make plays based off of her reads. One particular Set(more like an alignment) worked beautifully. One big would set and on- ball screen at the top of the key for Gibbs. The Big would then roll to the front of the rim. Gibbs would then read and react by turning the corner and penetrating as far as she could. She would get to the basket for a layup, or have the options to kick to the shooters who were spotting up in both corners. The weak side big would fill the high post area that was vacated by the rolling big and the ball could be reversed to her for the shot or the high low. That one simple set allowed for at least 5 scoring options based on spacing, simple screening and rolling and filling the high post. This play was the embodiment of a Bob Knight saying “Basketball is not rocket Science”

The problem is that we have coaches who are on both sides of the extreme. Those who make it Rocket Science and stunt individual growth and creativity or those who teach nothing and produce ignorant and unskilled street ball players. Illiterate teachers raise illiterate students. We should all continue to learn to Read so we can teach proper Reaction!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A sneak peak at Team Ichiban Event

The following is a quick recap of local team success at the Team Ichiban event near Dallas. The following teams all sent at least one team to the event: TeamXpress, Lady Rohawks, Schertz Jaguars, South Texas Hoyas and Lady Hoops. Three SA teams reached the Championship game with one bringing home the trophy:

-Lady Hoops won their 5/6th grade Division by smashing all opponents. Their exciting back court of Amber Ramirez, Aaliyah Holmes and Autumn Light are fun to watch. The Lady Hoops travel well and their kids could be found in gyms supporting other local teams in the event. It was good to see Coach Holmes and his kids cheering for fellow SA teams. These kids are young and understand that despite Club affiliation, the better SA teams perform, the better we all get.

-TeamXpress Black lost in the championship game to Nike Cy fair Shock. TeamXpress Black eventually succumbed to the overwhelming size(Chiney Ogumike, Britanny Harding andAnne Hartung)that Cy Fair presents. The first half was a close game with neither team establishing dominance. Transition baskets and rebounding allowed Cy fair to stretch the win to double digits. TeamXpress Black had some bright spots. LenNique Brown faced sophomore sensation, Alexia Standish and held more than her own. Standish has been featured on Hoopgurlz a couple of times recently for her impressive showings during skill camps and events. Brown was her usual savvy self and had little trouble with the intense pressure of Standish and the very athletic press of Cy Fair. Brown conducted the offense and penetrated when the opportunity presented itself. She probably could have shot a little more but I always feel that a player of her caliber could shoot a little more. SA Express player of the year, Meighan Simmonsstarted off on a torrid pace. Simmons came out by hitting three bombs from deep and she had her characteristic swagger going. All signs pointed to a scoring outburst that San Antonians have come to expect from Simmons but that did not happen. For whatever reasons, Simmons did not continue to get good looks throughout the game and Cy Fair pulled away. Arielle Roberson and Erica Donovan played hard and tried to contain the All American front line of Cy Fair. Cheyenne Berry had a very solid tournament.

-TeamXpress Gold lost in the championship 52-48. This was Gold’s first event playing in the TeamXpress uniform against its own age group. Gold lost the first game 43-42 to US Elite in sudden death double overtime. Gold beat three consecutive opponents by double figures to face US Elite again, this time for the championship. Wendy Knight, Hannah Thompson and Victoria Briones gave a valiant effort in the close lost.

Some other happenings in the event:

-Chiney Ogumike is amazing! The Nike Cy Fair Shock post is a live peak at the future of the game. She is agile at 6’3 with a wing span that never ends. She is a sight to see at the front end of the press and just as impressive when snatching rebounds and dribbling up the court, Ala Candice Parker. She is so vocal that I witnessed her calling plays for her point guard from the bench in a previous game. What is most impressive about her is her off court demeanor. She speaks articulately and is quite the conversationalist. She encourages the younger players with kind words and advise to stay in the gym and work on their game. She presents herself as a young lady. It is refreshing to see her and her former McDonald’s All American sister , Nneka, in bright colored summer dresses, ear rings and make up. This lady-like look was a stark contrast to the sagging shorts, tattoo’s , and Allen Iverson scowls worn by other players.

-US Elite 2012 and Westside Select 2013 takes on the big dogs. These 8th and 9th grade teams not only played up, they played up and beat some good teams. It was so encouraging to see that these young girls, their coaches and players looked forward to playing against older teams. I sat with one father of the Westside select 2013 team as he was very disappointed in a loss to TeamXpress Black. Black has one of the best players in the nation, one of the most underrated players in the nation and a Hall of Fame Coach and this man was still upset that his 8th grade daughter’s team lost to them by ten points. He sat at the championship game of Nike Cy Fair and TeamXpress Black and was disgusted that his daughters' team was not facing the CY Fair for the title. His young daughter was just as disappointed as she watched the game. Not surprisingly, she already has received dozens of letters from college coaches including two hand written letter.

-Niaga Mitchell-Cole can play! The Roosevelt freshman was balling for the Lady Rohawks. She can guard three positions with lock down defense and a super fast first step. She is long and very athletic. Watch out for this fabulous freshman.

-This event was not the most organized. The competition was great and the sites were good but last minute scheduled events left many teams with forfeited games and changing game times.

Lady Hoopin!

San Antonio girls basketball has come a long way over the last few years. This year alone, more than 10 girls from San Antonio and surrounding areas will earn basketball scholarships to universities. The 2010 class will surely match that number, if not more. A reason for this progression is the rise of club basketball.

The last few years of basketball classes have benefited from the exposure that travel ball provides. Exposure to college coaches is only half of the benefit. The other type of exposure that may be just as important is the exposure to basketball players outside the city of San Antonio and Central Texas. SA basketball players need to continue to be exposed to how basketball is played and more importantly, how basketball is viewed in other parts of the country. The SA Lady Hoops share that different state of mind and that is why they are on the right track.

The Lady Hoops are the best 6th grade team in the City. In fact, they may be the best 6th grade team in Central and South Texas. The truth of the matter is that they just left a very competitive event ran by Dallas area Team Ichiban and beat every team they faced by at least double digits. They have experienced the same type of success in Houston too. The main reason for the Lady Hoops success is the mentality that their coach is instilling in them.

I first met Coach Antonio Holmes as he was walking out of a South Side gym. He immediately smiled at me as I lead my team into the hot cramped gym. He was leaving as I was walking in and the gym scoreboard still displayed the thrashing his squad just took. An hour or so later, my results were similar. Among 10 or so coaches in the event, we were the only two coaches that went winless that weekend and lost more than one game by double digits. We were also the only two coaches playing our girl teams in a boys tournament.

The Lady Hoops are a pretty skilled team that has been together for at least a couple of years. Their familiarity with each other has ensured a continuity that is not seen often from a group of 10 and 11 year olds. What they lack in size, they make up for it with aggressive ball hawking defense and a breakneck pace of offense. They shoot the three and attack the basket better than a lot of older teams. They have a backcourt that can probably play with most backcourts in the Nation at their age but it is something else that makes them special; it is their STATE OF MIND that separates them from most of the San Antonio teams, players and coaches.

The Lady Hoops Play! They play boys, they play up, they play in the city and they play out of the city. They play at halftime of games that they are viewing and they play against each other while waiting to play their games. You can find their elementary and middle school players at the games of the best High School players in the city. They are still in love with the game and it shows. They play more games than I would recommend but the point is they play anybody and anywhere.

They Run on the court, NOT AWAY FROM IT! I have heard so many local teams and players claiming success but are scared to play the best competition. I have heard of local teams that have won so called National Championships in events that feature 8 teams. I have heard of so called National Championships won by teams in brackets other than the top bracket of National events. I also know of teams that refuse to face other teams that will beat them convincingly. We even have local teams that play down! I know of coaches playing players down in age in order to win local tournaments. The Lady Hoops understand the spirit of Elite Club Basketball. Coach Holmes has young players that want to play at the highest levels of the game and he is making sure that they fear no one by matching them against the best girls or strong athletic boys. Winning or losing is not the end all, but getting better by playing against better teams and players is.

The Lady Hoops are not the only local team that take on all comers. A few teams in particular, play up on a constant basis and their players will be better for it. The Lady Hoops are trying to be considered an Elite team. Some teams are not intended or capable of being Elite. Those coaches that have these type of teams are doing great things for our youth by providing them with the opportunity to play ball outside of school. They recognize that they have recreational ball players and they schedule practices and opponents to account for this. However, one of the problems with SA Elite basketball is that so many coaches are not preparing their kids to be Elite ball players. The only way that San Antonio will start producing college basketball players in numbers that rival Dallas and Houston, is when parents and coaches start preparing our players with a different state of mind. The Lady Hoops are on the right track and hopefully Coach Holmes will remember that all his current success can be attributed to they mindset that he instilled in his players in hot South Side gyms by getting whipped by boys teams. To get better, Play those that are better.

Monday, May 18, 2009

San Antonio with Fury!

San Antonio teams went to Georgetown this past weekend and made themselves at home. The Georgetown Fury event was dominated by squads from the Alamo City. A recap follows:

Elite Division Champs- SA Comets Elite

The Comets rebounded from an earlier defeat to capture the crown. Their front line of 6'2(Kathryn Galindo), 6'3( Victoria Willems) and 6'4( Sune Agbuke) is too much for most teams to handle. The Comets also added Madison Senior Alisha Crump recently. If the Comet guards can continue to provide solid play, this team should make some noise in July at the National Exposure events.

Elite Division Runner-up- SA Heat

The talented Heat played a game or two without their star big, Jessica Kuster but still made it to the championship game. Guards Marquisha Sparks, Arlene Cisneros, Chelsea Solis,and Karisa Cantu provide an explosive back court. Cisneros and Cantu can fill it up from deep and Sparks is too strong for most opposing guards. Her mid-range game is a great compliment for the low post play of Kuster and the long range bombs of Cisneros and Cantu.

15u Division Champ- SA Heat

The Heat wrapped this one up. I did not get a chance to see this group but they apparently were the cream of the crop in the division. 8th Point Guard, Leslie Vorphal is reportedly something to watch.

14u Division Runner up- Jaguars (4-1)

The Jags came up short in the Championship game but played impressively throughout the event. Especially considering that they played a year up. The Jags consist of a few 8th graders but get the majority of their point production from two 7th graders and one very skilled 6th grader. Their full court style of play is a headache for the competition.

13u Division Champ- SA Finest( 5-0)

The Finest 8th grade group finally got a chance to play their own age group and the result was a championship. This group has played up in three events in Houston against HS Freshmen and Sophomores with a record of 7-7. This event allowed them to test themselves against fellow 8th graders and they won the division going away. 4 out of the 5 wins were by double digits with the only close game coming in the semis against a good Liberty Hills Dream Team. The Championship was a 20 point blow out as they displayed a collective skill set not seen often by 8th graders.

This team set the tone for the event for the Finest Organization. The collective record for the three Finest teams was 14-1. (The 6th grade team went 4-1)

12u Division Champ-SA Finest (5-0)

The Finest 7th grade team never won a game by less than doubles figures. This impressive team beat the previously undefeated Austin Lady Magic by 12 to capture the championship. Great guard play and 4 skilled bigs (5'10, 5'10, 6'0, 6'0) had one opposing coach crying about playing against "9th graders". This team is currently 15-0 this season. They ran through a field in Houston last week that included: Nike Cy-Fair Shock, Houston Elite North, Houston Insiders. The margin of victory in those games were an average of 25 points.

10u Division Runner-Up- South Texas Hoyas (5-1)

This feisty young team lost in the Championship game. They played the entire event with their leading scorer having a broken finger and a heavily bandaged hand. This teams play defense the same way their parents cheer; LOUD AND EXCITED!

San Antonio is making sure that the rest of Texas starts paying attention to the girls basketball scene here. While it is good that San Antonio travels to other cities and represents well, I look forward to a couple of local events that will let local teams duke it out for city supremacy. Some exciting match up in the TeamXpress "Challenge" of the Lady Rohawks "Ladies First Event" could be:

TeamXpress vs Lady Rohawks

South Texas Hoyas vs SA Heat

TeamXpress White vs SA Heat 15u

SA Finest 2013 vs Jaguars 2013

Lady Mustangs vs Jaguars

Lady Rohawks vs SA Comets Elite

SA Finest 2014 vs Comets(Leonard)2014

A couple of teams do not have these two events on their calender but I am sure that their Directors could arrange for this to happen. It would be good for the girls and the fans of girls basketball in San Antonio!!!

Moving on, Congrats to all of the teams that played well this past weekend. Way to rep SA!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Smithson Valley Coaching correction!

I apparently had my Phlugerville coaches confused. Former UT point guard and Phlugerville Connally coach, Angie Hermesmeyer is reportedly the new SV coach. Hermesmeyer, formally Angie Ogletree, is slated to take over the underachieving program.

Hermesmeyer has recently guided two players to her Alma Mater in Ashley Lindsey and Ashleigh Fontenette. Let's hope that she can turn around a program that will feature 3 rising juniors that have played varsity their entire high school careers, including All-District performer and former District Newcomer of the Year, Danielle Blagg.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Area Happenings

Some happenings in the San Antonio basketball scene:

  • ESPN has named UTSA as one of the 64 teams to watch next season.While #60 is a far cry from being in the Top 25, it still means that UTSA is being expected to be one of the better teams in the Nation next year. Consider that NCAA Division 1 basketball has well over 300 teams.

  • Rumor has it that Smithson Valley's new Girls Basketball coach is Nancy Walling. Walling is fresh off of a State Final Four appearance as the coach for Phlugerville High School.

  • Reagan Rattler and Lady Rohawk, Alicia Houston, recently signed a Letter of Intent to attend Midwestern State University on a full basketball scholarship. Houston gave an earlier commitment to Texas A & M International but apparently had a change of heart. Congrats

  • Speaking of the Lady Rohawks, they reportedly went 9 for 9. All 9 of the Lady Rohawks 2009 graduates will play next year in college. Their signees include:

Three Division 1 players( Kansas, South Alabama, West Point)

Three Division 2 players(Midwestern St., St Mary's, Eastern New Mexico)

One Division 3 player(Schreiner)

Two Jr. College players(North Eastern Oklahoma A&M, Lon Morris)

Great Job Coach Harper and congratulations to the young ladies!!!

  • Local Events to support over the next month include:

TeamXpress Challenge- May 30-31

Lady Rohawks "Ladies First"- June 19-21

UTSA Team Camp- June 13-14

Alamo City All Stars Summer League- June 6-July 19

Harold Davis West Texas Shoot-Out Basketball Tournament- June26-28 (free to S.A. teams contact

Another great one by Brian McCormick

The following is another great article taken from by Brian McCormick's Train For Hoops Blog . I could not agree more.

Why Basketball Skill Trainers Fail
May 1st, 2009 by Brian McCormick

In today’s game, almost everyone uses a basketball skill trainer of some kind. Players work with an individual coach on general skills or have a shooting coach to work on their shot or they attend a weekend clinic with a trainer to do a variety of drills.

When players improve, we credit the work with the trainer just as we give credit to a tutor when a student improves his schoolwork. However, how much credit does a trainer deserve?

Most trainers fail. When a player uses a trainer or a parent pays for her son to use a trainer, they expect the trainer to produce results. After all, that is what they are paying for, right? Plus, most trainers market themselves by telling parents and players how they will improve the player’s game, so improvement is to be expected. However, this misses the point.

Let’s say that you work out with a trainer once a week because the trainer is pricey for an individual workout ($50 or more). You do some ball handling drills to warm-up and then you do some shooting drills. If you work hard, you should be able to shoot 300-400 shots in an hour workout with some ball handling.

After shooting 300 shots, you feel like you have improved. However, if you do not work out again until your next workout with your trainer, are you getting better? 300 shots in an hour is a good workout. But, 300 shots in a week is not very many. It certainly is not enough to improve your performance greatly.

But, because of busy schedules and cost, many players train with a trainer once per week and do not practice on their own between sessions. They have team practices and tournaments, but they do not engage in the same kind of deliberate practice with a focused goal, concentration and feedback.

Other players use group clinics so they can practice more times per week, as the cost per workout is less. However, when you are in a group of 15-20 players with one trainer, how many repetitions do you get? How much individual feedback? In a group workout, you might get 100 shots if it is really well-done. So, even though you work out three times per week, rather than once, you get the same number of shots. And, with the number of players, you get less feedback and you might have a lower concentration level (depends on your focus and personality, as some concentrate better with a group where they can learn from others’ mistakes while their eyes wander when working out by themselves).

Trainers fail because players believe in their ability too much. Players and parents buy into their trainer’s skills and believe that they will improve because of the trainer’s magic touch. I can market myself by dropping the names of some Division I players and taking credit for their development because of the instruction and workouts. But, I spent just as much time with other players who did not reach the Division I level. Did I do a better job with some? Were some just born with more innate talent?

Maybe. But, those who develop and become the better players worked harder. They did not see a one-hour workout once a week as their off-season practice. They used the hour to learn and then spent the rest of the week mastering the drills or skills. They worked out on their own. I’m sure they thought I did a decent job, but they did not rely on me. They took responsibility for their own development and improvement. They went to the gym. They worked out on their own.

Trainers fail because players and parents believe in the power of the trainer. A trainer is a guide, a tool to use to enhance one’s development. A trainer is not the cure or the answer. If the trainer provides no guidance for the other six days a week, his value is limited even further. A good trainer has a plan and advises players on the in-between time. A good trainer knows his limitations and knows that a player cannot develop in one individual workout or a couple group workouts per week. In the end, it isn’t about the trainer or which trainer that you use. In the end, your effort, dedication, concentration and practice matter.

What do you do in the days between workouts with your trainer? How do you spend your time? Who is guiding or advising you? How hard are you working? Are you taking care of your body? These answers dictate your success moreso than the trainer, equipment or gym that you use.