Why do fake fundamentals persist?

A coach sent a video of a prominent coach starting a camp with his favorite fake fundamentals, and this coach expressed his frustration with the lack of evolution in coaches who are described as among the world’s best. The below is based on my reply.

I have found that coaches take bizarre pride in doing things when they know that players hate them. I am convinced that many feel that it is unfair that players/children today do not face the same struggles as during their childhood, and they intentionally inflict this struggle onto the players who they coach. I suppose it is the coach’s version of “when I was your age, I walked to school uphill both ways”.

I cannot relate because my father’s mission in life was to make sure I did not suffer through the unpleasant things of his childhood and adolescence. He worked to make my life (and my sister’s and mother’s) better and easier. Therefore, I do not understand these coaches who want young players to go through the same crap they did as a rite of passage of some sort.

This is not to suggest that everything about basketball must be easy and fun all the time. We practice defense, have a conditioning test, lift weights and more. Players improve. It is the desire, which I see in many, to make basketball purposefully not fun that I struggle to reconcile.

This attitude starts with the analogies that we use: “We’re going to war”, “boot camp”, “We’re grinding,” etc. Basketball is not war; war is war. Playing a game is not a grind; washing dishes for $6/hour is a grind! Soldiers go through boot camp to prepare for war; one reason is to see if the soldiers will break under extreme mental and physical pressures and exhaustion in order to exclude these soldiers before they get into a war zone and cost lives. I understand that coaches will argue that they want to see which players will break under pressure, but why do we want to exclude players at the developmental levels? Missing a crucial free throw in an u15 AAU game is not life or death. For those who missed it the first time, basketball is not war; it is not life or death.

My initial philosophy boiled down to: Eliminate everything that I hated or thought was irrelevant as a player and do more of the things that players enjoy. I took small steps, as I did not want to stray too far from the good coaches. After I read about former St. John’s University (MN) football coach John Gagliardi, I jumped feet first and eliminated all fake fundamentals.

This should not be revolutionary. Why intentionally do things that you disliked as a player? Some things that players dislike may have value, and part of the coach’s job is to push players beyond their comfort zone. Many drills and exercises could be changed to be more fun and engaging. Why do many coaches feel that is a negative? Fun is not a bad word. It is okay for players to enjoy the experience; that does not make you soft or a bad coach.

Zen and the Set Play in Basketball

A Zen Story:

There were two temples, rivals. Both the masters….were so much against each other that they told their followers never to look at the other temple. Read more

How to Tell a Winner from a Loser

Note: I have had this file on my computer for over a decade. Not sure where it originated, but things for each team and player to think about.

  1. When a winner makes a mistake, he says “my fault”; when a loser makes a mistake, he throws the blame on someone else. Read more

European club basketball schedule: Unicaja Malaga

I found the following in FIBA Assist, Issue 37. It is a sample weekly schedule from the Unicaja Malaga Junior Team, one of the best clubs in Spain and throughout Europe.

MONDAY
The team coach must have reviewed the video of the team’s previous game by Monday, as well as one or two videos of the next team that his team will play.
Morning:

  • The players with scholarships work with the individual development coach. The training lasts an hour or less.
  • Training is reserved for point guards, shooting guards, and small forwards.
  • Training is exclusively designed for individual player development.

Afternoon:

  • The team does specific work following the yearly plan of the club.
  • The team will work on individual game concepts and team game concepts in one-on-one, two-on-two, and three-on-three situations.
  • The training lasts two hours.
  • The distribution of the work on half court, half court+fast break, full court, and game rhythm is designed by the strength and conditioning coach:
  • – 20 minutes of warm up.
  • – 40 minutes on half court.
  • – 10 minutes on half court+fast break.
  • – 10 minutes on game rhythm.
  • – 30 minutes of shooting.
  • The coach reviews the previous game with the team and discusses and assesses the performance of individual players.
  • The strength and conditioning session is organized by the strength and conditioning coach either in the gym (weight training) or on the court (quickness, footwork, jumps, body balance, flexibility, injury prevention).

TUESDAY
Morning:

  • The scholarship players have individual work designed by the individual development coach.
  • The training lasts one hour or less.
  • Training is reserved for big men: power forwards and centers. Training is designed for individual development.

Afternoon:

  • The team performs specific work following the yearly plan of the team coach.
  • The team works on both individual and team concepts according to the mistakes made in the last game (based on notes taken by the coach after having viewed the game video).
  • Training lasts two hours.
  • The distribution of the work on half court, half court + fast break, full court and game rhythm is designed by the strength and conditioning coach.
  • Strength and conditioning work will last one hour at most.

WEDNESDAY
Rest day.

THURSDAY
Morning:

  • Scholarship players have individual work directed by the individual development coach.
  • The training lasts an hour or less.
  • Training is reserved for point guards, shooting guards, and small forwards.
  • Training is focused on individual development of the player.

Afternoon:

  • The team performs specific work following the yearly plan of the team coach.
  • Team works on team concepts (both offense and defense) according to the specific preparation for the next game.
  • Training lasts two hours.
  • The distribution of the work on half court, half court + fast break, full court and game rhythm will be designed by the strength and conditioning coach.
  • The strength and conditioning work will last one hour or less.

FRIDAY
Morning:

  • Scholarship players have individual workouts directed by the individual development coach.
  • The training lasts one hour or less.
  • Training is reserved only for big men: power forwards and centers.
  • Training is exclusively directed at individual development.

Afternoon:

  • The team performs specific work following the yearly plan of the team coach.
  • The team will work on team concepts without defense in five-on-zero, five-on-five (60 minutes), and shooting (60 minutes).
  • Training lasts two hours.
  • Strength and conditioning work lasts one hour or less.

SATURDAY AND SUNDAY
Game: Let’s play!

CONCLUSION
Before of the game, the team does 60 minutes of shooting (volume).
The most important questions for each player after the game are:

  • What have I improved on today?
  • Am I a better player this week than I was last week?

If the player feels that he has made improvements over the previous week, that means that the workouts during the week have been properly designed. If the answer is “no,” more attention has to be paid in upcoming practice sessions to specific areas of individual player weakness.

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