OGBR: The Basketball Blues…too many games, not enough skills


Tom Jenkins’ Ohio Girls Basketball Report

When players lack fundamental ability they do not need to play in
tournaments every weekend. They need to be taught what right is and how
to correct wrong. Wrong plus wrong equals wrong. Right now there are too many games and not enough skills.

“As we are entering the final phase of preparation for this year’s Classic in the Country VI, my good friend and business associate, Jimmy Clayton, has agreed to publish the next 2 articles on my behalf for Eric and Matt at Ohio High / JJ Huddle. Jimmy is a former NBA shooting instructor  and is currently a Nike Clinician. We hope to see everyone at this year’s Classic in the Country. We hope you will visit the CITC website at www.classicinthecountry.org and enter the “Beat the Weatherman” Contest. Enjoy Jimmy’s thoughts…”
Tom Jenkins, Executive Director
Ohio Girls Basketball Report

When players lack fundamental ability they do not need to play in tournaments every weekend. They need to be taught what right is and how to correct wrong. Wrong plus wrong equals wrong.

In an average game each player possesses the ball for less than 2 minutes. Over the weekend in the spring / summer they play 3 to 5 games, so each player gets 6 to 10 minutes with the ball per week. So how much better is one going to improve on a 6 to 10 minute weekend. Will they learn to shoot better? Dribble better? Use their off hand batter? These games count for nothing, as it is the same teams playing every weekend against the same teams. It’s amazing how parents and coaches see this as the way to make their sons and daughters better. You drive all over the country, play in crappy gyms with bad officiating. It’s insane!

Summer is when players are made. It’s not the time fro cramming as many games as possible into the schedule. Players need to be working on shooting, footwork, ball handling, passing, movement without the ball, help defense, on the ball defense, etc. They need time to work on their athleticism with plyometrics, resistance training and running. These constant games impede improvement, and they do not promote development.

Year after year, coaches are looking for ways to improve their players’  skill level in the off-season. They begin in the fall with “open gym” in hopes of having their players play to get better. Now the season rolls around, and most coaches emphasize team play and totally neglect individual skill development. Think about this, the first couple of weeks they do drills and build their team offense and defenses. As the season progresses the drills diminish and practice consists of scrimmaging, press breaks, out of bounds plays, etc.

My question to everyone at the end of the year is was it the plays, press breaks, bad offenses and defenses that beat you or was it the bad shooting, poor passing, lack of rebounding, turnovers, etc. Now those are the things that should be emphasized in practice. They say basketball is a game of movement, athleticism, technical skill and teamwork requiring intangibles such as competitiveness, leadership, communication. So when and where are all of these being incorporated into practice?

The season is over, coaches meet and tell their players what their strengths and weaknesses are, but provide little opportunity to turn their weaknesses in to their strengths. AAU / Club ball starts and their players are back to team play and not working on individual skill development throughout the spring. So now players are bouncing from gym to gym thinking they are getting better only to realize they are repeating the same process.

Summer kicks in and what happens? Team camps, o-pen gym, shoot-outs, summer league and more AAU / Club tournaments. Can everyone see the pattern? It takes years to develop skills and play a sport at an elite level. Unfortunately in the U.S. nobody has the patience to allow this development to occur so we attempt to speed up the process by playing more games, playing on more teams, and attending more team camps. Nothing new is developing in your son’s or daughter’s game. Competition brings out what you already know to do not what you don’t.

In the U.S. players reach a level of complacency way too often. We need to take a look at the Europeans and the way they are turning out players. They are doing what we used to do. Instead in the U.S. everyone wants to be great today! Nobody has the patience anymore to see gradual long term progress. To improve a player must risk failure and step out of their comfort zone.

Unfortunately since all basketball in the U.S. is played for exposure, players lack the opportunities to train and improve. The irony of an American basketball player is that no where is the future (scholarship) so firmly in focus for every player, yet no where is such little thought given to the path of the goal.

What we need is simply better game plan. The last time I checked in every state in the U.S., wrong plus wrong equals wrong. Anything worth doing is worth doing right, and if you don’t have time to do it right, then when will you have time to do it over?

Jim Clayton is a basketball performance specialist, founder of Sports City U Basketball Academy and is under a personal services contract with Nike, Inc. He has traveled the world helping players with their game.
Feel free to contact Jim at jcscuhoops@aol.com and visit his website at www.scuhoops.com.

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