Limiting players or developing players

In a discussion in another forum, some coaches have disagreed with my opinions and believe that a coach’s job is to limit players. In response to a question about one-foot or two-feet lay-ups, I responded:

It depends on the situation. Where is the defense? What is the offensive player’s advantage? What is the defender’s advantage? In general, go off one foot when extension or quickness is needed and two feet when size and/or power is to the offensive player’s advantage. One-foot facilitates speed and length while two-feet facilitates balance and strength. However, to teach one to the exclusion of the other is limiting a player’s effectiveness.

Another coach responded:

I agree with your post, and would add one extra reason for the jump stop, 2-footed layup… when control is needed… ie when there is a defender waiting in good position to take the charge.

To which I replied:

Agreed, though balance and control are similar reasons in my mind, though should be clearly articulated. However, as players get older, I think they can avoid charges off one leg, much like Mano Ginobili, if they build good eccentric strength and body control and remain under control on the drive.

Which drew another response:

But as Coach Meyer says, you can’t protect every move, thus, limit players.

And another:

Good point, but there are a lot of “ifs” in that sentence.

And another:

Rather true, but the one thing besides the “if’s” is that we are all not Manu Ginobili…especially high school kids. Michael Jordan made some nice moves jumping off of one leg, but I wouldn’t teach those moves to kids. The kids will try moves they see anyhow and some will develop the necessary coordination and strength, and some won’t. As in a previous post, some things have to be limited as far as what and how we teach them.

To which I said:

But, isn’t that coaching: to build the player to eliminate the “ifs”?

So, should we limit players? Initially, of course, there are limits on a developing player, as one cannot learn everything or perform every move overnight.

However, as players reach high school, and have presumably been playing basketball for several years, should these limitations continue? As a trainer, I attempt to give players all the necessary tools to be successful. We progress based on the individual’s strength and mastery of skills; i.e. we master a crossover dribble before we go to a double crossover dribble; we master a 10-foot shot before we move to fifteen feet. There is a progression.

And, I suppose, in essence, the progression limits players. However, limit, to me, means a ceiling or a forbidden area. There is no ceiling for me. If a player has the demonstrated strength and skill to do a move, I will teach the move, regardless of age. I currently work with a 12-year-old who does a more advanced workout than a couple high school players I also work with because the 12-year-old has mastered more skills and has proven he can handle his body weight eccentrically, partially because he has much more weight training experience than the high school players.

So, in a sense, I suppose, I currently have limits on the high school players, at least in relation to the 12-year-old. However, as soon as they demonstrate similar skill mastery and strength, we progress.

I just have a problem with the word “limit.” My whole goal as a trainer is to remove limits by building skills and the confidence to use skills. I never want a player to feel as though I am holding him back or not challenging him or her. I want to create an environment where the player is constantly learning and mastering new skills, moves, approaches and techniques. When the learning and exposure to new stimuli stops, so does real improvement, as learning is replaced by training previously mastered skills and there is only so much improvement that can occur through training when learning is not involved.

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