Spend the Offseason #Grinding or Developing Skills

Yesterday, I commented on a video of college basketball players:

Not everyone was happy with the critique.

Challenge accepted.

via GIPHY

What would you tell this coach/program to better use their time and replace this with?

Without knowing the quality that they attempted to improve, it is difficult to suggest alternatives. Based on the feedback, they cared about effort. If that is the goal, mission accomplished, I suppose. The players appeared to give effort. The drill appeared to be hard. If that was the only goal, I have no real alternatives. It is fairly easy to make anything hard.

The tweet said “getting better every day”, which prompted my question. Getting better at giving effort? Okay. Getting better at basketball? Debatable.

To clear up the misconceptions, this is not agility, nor does it have anything to do with playing defense. Looking only at the movements, this is training a slow change of direction. First, they touch the ground, which changes one’s posture compared to that which a player uses in a game. Second, many reach outside their base of support; they reach toward their outside leg. If I move to my right, and need to change directions to go left, I do not want to reach outside my base of support to my right. This slows down my movement. Notice how they stop on nearly every change of direction.

This is not exactly how I do lateral movement training with bands, but it just popped up on Twitter and is close:

Again, depending on goals, this is an alternative, if the goal is to improve acceleration, change of direction speed, lateral movement, movement quality, etc.

I have commented on this previously with regards to a college strength & conditioning coach. Previously, the team ran to a line, turned, and ran back, much like a baseline to baseline sprint in a game. As with this video, there was no feedback, instruction, or corrections for technique, and the players changed directions slowly. Why do you want to use conditioning work to reinforce patterns that slow down players in a sport predicated by speed?

Before we condition players, we instruct a hockey stop for change directions. Therefore, when we condition, we (hopefully) practice the correct technique and develop this pattern. Why invest time training a movement pattern that ultimately has to be corrected in order to move well during a game?

Again, this comes back to my presentation to Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group in 2011. Strength and conditioning coaches (I am assuming this is an S&C workout, not a basketball workout) should be concerned with skill development too, not just putting up numbers. The S&C workout should complement the basketball skill workout, and vice versa. If players train a slow movement here because the goal is to be hard, it fails to complement the basketball-specific movements on the court.

Is this harmful?

Probably not, depending on volume and preparation. However, is that the standard that we set for workouts? It’s not harmful; therefore, it is good?

On the other hand, it may cause negative transfer. If players use these patterns on the court, and consequently move slower, there is negative transfer. The training made players worse. In that sense, one may view it as harmful.

Doesn’t have any value to explosiveness, core, etc.?

I do not see much value in explosiveness or core because their posture and positions are poor. Is that because of fatigue, not the drill? Is it because it is their first time doing this? I don’t know.

However, I know that college coaches constantly complain about the lack of time with their players during the offseason. Consequently, why use that time for an exercise that probably isn’t harmful? Why not maximize the value of the time?

Honestly, the biggest positive to me is that it works on lateral movement because I believe that there is a sagittal bias in training, and basketball is a multidirectional sport.

However, if one wants to improve lateral movement, why not lateral plyometrics? Here is a link to a paper on the benefits of frontal-plane plyometrics. Below are the exercises; consider those additional alternatives.

The Effects of Frontal- and Sagittal-Plane Plyometrics on Change-of-Direction Speed and Power in Adolescent Female Basketball Players

Plyometrics is a popular training modality for basketball players to improve power and change-of-direction speed. Most plyometric training has used sagittal-plane exercises, but improvements in change-of-direction speed have been greater in multi-direction programs. Read more

Slalom Dribbling and Lay-up Drill

A drill that I picked up from a French basketball clinic online. We use it as a finishing drill during our high-school skill workouts. Read more

Lights, cameras, and reactive agility

Agility lacks a precise definition (Holmberg, 2009; Jeffreys, 2011; Sheppard & Young, 2006). Agility has been defined as the ability to change directions efficiently or with a minimal loss of control or speed (Barnes, Schilling, Falvo, Weiss, Creasy, & Fry, 2007; Safaric & Bird, 2011; Young & Wiley, 2009); agility requires the ability to brake, change direction, and accelerate again (Plisk, 2000). Agility also has been defined as basic movements that result in sudden changes in body direction in combination with rapid movement of the limbs (Farrow, Young, & Bruce, 2005); described as a rapid, whole-body change of direction or speed in response to a stimulus (Sheppard & Young, 2011); and described as the coupling of deceleration with a reactive acceleration (Plisk, 2000). Read more

The Greatest Basketball Camp Drill Ever

Today was my second day leading clinics at a school in Kochi, India. Due to torrential downpours, we started inside (above) in a multi-purpose room with no baskets, and the columns. In the first clinic, with middle schoolers, I set up a drill similar to dribble tag or partner tag. Read more

Skill Development in Strength Training Workouts

Here is some video of the introduction to my talk on “Skill Development and the Strength & Conditioning Coach” from the Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group conference: Read more

Lateral Movement – Mirror Drill

Coaches always want better ways to teach defense. To me, the Mirror Defense Drill is the best drill because it trains lateral movement and reactivity. In the drill below, the strength coaches demonstrate lateral movement with a rear-foot push-off as opposed to the basketball-specific step-slide. For lateral quickness, this is the best movement pattern to teach. Many basketball coaches are stuck in the old dogma and are unwilling to accept a rear-foot push-off or a crossover step because they teach defense in slow motion and from a static position.

Read more

Rock, Papers, Scissors Tag – Basketball Agility

Here is Rock, Papers, Scissors Tag (thanks to Allison McNeil) from the Playmakers Basketball Development League Rookie and Transition Leagues curriculums:

Video via Casey Wheel

Mirror Defense & Agility Drill

Here is the Mirror Defense Drill from the Playmakers Basketball Development League curriculum.

Swedish Tag Agility & Ball-Handling Game

Here is the Swedish Tag game from the Playmakers Basketball Development League curriculum:

No dribble

With the Dribble

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