Monday, November 29, 2010

Random Thoughts/Observations!

-In a recent conversation with the director of one of the best club programs in the country, I asked about "skill set degeneration" of some players during the high school season. I questioned him about this because I have observed a lot of kids looking worse as the season progresses. One of the reasons for this may be that during the 15 hours of instruction time that high school coaches have with their players per week(2 hours of practice and 1 hour of athletic period), not many hours are dedicated to individual skill set development. Team concepts and basketball IQ are mostly covered in these practices. The club director went on to say that his club has voluntary skill set sessions for all of the 100 or so kids in his program during the high school season. I then asked how many of his high school kids attend. He replied "Not many, Only the elite ones like.......No more than a handful". Three of the players he mentioned are ranked in the Top 50 of their respective classes nationally and one of them is a consensus Top 5 kid with offers from EVERYBODY. I then asked why so many of the others chose not to take advantage of the skill set sessions. He replied " Lazy, they are lazy and the great ones are not". This comes from a man that directs a club that has had over 100 kids play at the D1 level including numerous McDonald All-Americans and a few pro players.

- In watching All-Access practices of the University of Connecticut with Geno Auriemma, I was delighted at how much of the practices was devoted to individual skill set development. Even in his offensive breakdown drills, Coach Auriemma and his staff are extremely focused on details and doing things the right way. This constant development and focus on details has his squad chasing the UCLA men's record of 88 consecutive wins in a row.

- I am not a big fan of "permanent pivot foot". I prefer to catch on two and have the option to jab step or pivot with either foot based on the defender positioning and close out angle. However, many great basketball minds advocate the permanent pivot foot. Kobe Bryant almost always uses a permanent pivot foot. Being right handed, his permanent pivot foot is the left foot. Watching basketball the past couple of weeks, I am shocked at how many kids use the wrong permanent pivot foot every time when shooting. Right handed players shooting with the right foot as the permanent pivot foot is not sound fundamentally.

- In a recent blog by Brian McCormick, he goes on to state that the almost every recent American Olympic wrestling champion was raised on a farm. The theory is that the farm environment lends itself to building strong wrestlers with functioning strength at an earlier age. Farm kids complete chores that build complete body strength as opposed to just weight lifting of the city kids. This reminds me of a friend and fellow trainer who has a theory of why so many kids suffer major injuries compared to the old days. He goes on to say that the modern athlete did not cross train as a kid like older players did. Older generations had kids riding bikes, climbing and jumping out of trees. Older players raced each other in the street, sometimes in socks or with bare feet. Older players learned to cut by playing dodge ball and tag. All these outdoor games built auxiliary muscles that aided in the prevention of major injuries. At least that's how his theory goes. Now current players spend their time as kids texting and playing video games.

- This "new" player is discussed by the great Bob Hurley on one of his many instructional DVDs(a must have for all coaches). Coach Hurley states that todays player is no longer just "a boy, a ball and a dream". He laments the fact that the only time that players pick up a ball today is in an organized setting. After hearing this, I immediately thought about Baylor Coach, Kim Mulkey. Coach Mulkey has a picture of her in her biography," Never Back Down"(a must read) in her back yard dribbling a basketball. Coach Mulkey's sister goes on to explain in the book that Mulkey was never one to party or paint the town and if you wanted to find her, you could always find her at home working on her game.