Thursday, September 30, 2010

UD Footwork

UD Footwork is the fundamental foundation we will build and drill daily withour student athletes. We will construct three specific defensive stances: on-ball stance, 1 pass away stance, and help-side stance. Once there is an understanding of each of the stances, we will teach our players how we want them to shuffle their feet when employing each stance. Upon understanding the proper way to shuffle, our players will be taught the fashion in which we want them to run step and to sprint to recover. The final piece of the puzzle is how we will closeout on the perimeter. After our players gain an understanding of the previously mentioned fundamentals, we will consolidate all of them into the daily drills we call "UD Footwork".

- Stress being low and wide, balanced and athletic, knees and feet outside shoulder width (use visual of a broomstick between the knees).
- Toes out at about 45 degree angles.
- Weight on the balls of the feet.
- Butt down, back straight, chest out, head up. No bending at the hips.
- Quads and torso form the letter "L".
- Hands at or above shoulder level. Deflection Hand is the hand in the direction the ball handler dribbles. "Hit the pass!"

- Same as On Ball Stance from the waist down.
- Deflection Hand becomes Deny Hand. Arm extended with palm to the ball an thumb down.
- Other hand becomes Arm Bar. Elbow is "L" shape. Forearm parallel to the floor.
- Chin is tucked into the Deny Hand shoulder to insure seeing both ball and man. "Bury the chin!"
- Drill the "Snap". Simulate a back cut. Throw hands like a punch; hard and quick.

- Explosive push with back leg, simultaneously reaching laterally with front leg. Replace feet - DO NOT drag them!
- Pump the arms to help generate momentum. Will also distract and take away vision from offensive player.
- Must keep width in the knees. Broomstick example or think school bus windshield wipers.
- Head, shoulders, and hips stay on the same horizontal plane. There should be no bobbing up and down.
- Initially, drill very slow and deliberate. Get used to being in a stance. Seniors or team leaders take the team through the paces and make the calls vocalizing, "Push. Push. Push. Snap!"

- 3 to 4 Goups. Each group has a leader.
- Begin on the baseline with butt toward half court.
- Starts with the leader, "Stance!" Group slaps the floor and pops into stance.
- Leader then calls out the commands, "Push. Push. Push."
- When the group gets to freethrow line extended, the leader calls, "Snap!" The entire group executes the Snap and continues in the opposite direction.
- Snaps are executed at freethrow line, half court, and opposite freethrow line.
- Drill ends through the baseline.

- Low and wide, balanced and athletic. Ballside foot is forward in a heel-toe relationship. This allows the defender to unlock hips and get to On Ball/1 Pass Away Stance and relative position quicker.
- Arms extended pointing to man and ball.
- Must put self in narrow triangle relationship to man and ball. 2 steps below the line of the ball to the man.

- Sprint 2/3 to 3/4 of the distance to the man with the ball. This will be determined by whether the offensive player is a penetrator or a shooter and by the relative speed/quickness of the offensive player.
- Last 1/3 or 1/4, chop for width. Short, choppy steps.
- Throw hands straight up, "Palms to the ceiling." This will allow the defense to lower butt and straighten back into the On Ball Stance.
- Top foot (closest to half court) should be above the offensive player's top foot. Take away middle penetration.
- Players' feet split the baseline in Helpside Stance facing the same sideline.
- Ballside foot is the foot out of bounds. Should be forward in heel-toe relationship with other foot.
- On coach's call of "Pass!", players turn hips and explode up the floor executing a closeout at the freethrow line. (We prefer to have a coach on the sideline pass a ball to a coach on the floor ahead of the first group. Emphasizes reacting on the pass of the ball)
- Coach on the floor will sweep a ball either right or left. The players must execute one quick shuffle in that direction.
- Reset to Helpside Stance. Group 1 at the freethrow line and Group 2 on the baseline.
- Closeouts are executed at the freethrow line, half court, opposite freethrow line, and opposite baseline.

- When guarding penetration and the defender gets beat, this is a quick recovery.
- An explosive 1 1/2 to 2 step movement to square off a ball handler.
- Turn hips and sprint.
- Emphasis on staying low in the Run Step. Head and shoulders shouldn't raise up.
- Getting back into On Ball Stance, players throw their outside hand and leg toward ball handler.

- Same as run step, but now the offense has a distinct distance advantage. Must sprint to get ahead of the ball.

- Players line up in the same fashion as the closeout drill
- Leader calls, "Stance!" Players slap the floor and pop into On Ball Stance.
- Leader calls, "Push." Players begin shuffling down the floor.
- When players get to the freethrow line, execute a Run Step
- Execute at freethrow line, half court, opposite freethrow line, and finish through the baseline.
- Same as above, except players shuffle to freethrow line, sprint to halfcourt, shuffle to opposite freethrow line, sprint to baseline, then square off in On Ball Stance on the baseline.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Shooting/Conditioning Drill

This is a partner shooting drill. You can use it with just two at a basket, or multiple sets of partners on the same basket. I like drills that have balls flying all over the place and other players moving within the drill. It simulates game-like action in that concentration must be high and players must "read" the conditions around them. 3 sets of partners at one basket is a good thing to me.

A. One player begins with the ball (Player 1), while his partner (Player 2) starts at midcourt.

B. Player 2 sprints to an operational area; an area on the court that he is going to get shots in a game.

C. Player 1 passes to Player 2 for a shot.

D. As soon as he passes, Player 1 sprints to touch either one of the sidelines or midcourt, then sprints to an operational area. **Players are not allowed to touch the same line twice in a row.

E. Player 2 gets his own rebound and becomes the passer.

F. Player 2 passes to Player 1 for a shot.

G. Player 1 rebounds his own shot.

H. Player 2 sprints to one of the sidelines (since he started at midcourt, he cannot go back twice in a row).

I. Go back to "B" and repeat.

To make it competitive, we see who can make the most shots in a minute. We remind the players that in order to make more shots, you've got to play percentages and get more shots off than the other groups. In order to get more shots off, you've got to sprint faster.

John Wooden - The Coach As A Leader

With the beginning of basketball season right around the corner, I thought this portion of Coach Wooden's entry in the Medalist Notebook I found last week was extremely fitting.

The Coach As A Leader

The coach must never forget that he is a leader and not merely a person with authority. The youngsters under his supervision must be able to receive proper guidance from him in all respects and not merely in regard to the proper playing of the game of basketball.

Next to their parents, youngsters spend more time with and are more likely to be influenced by their teachers than anyone else, and the coach is the teacher who will provide by far the most influence.

Mr. Wilferd A. Peterson lists a number of important ideas in regard to leadership in his essay, "The Art of Leadership." Some of them are as follows:
The leader is a servant.
The leader sees through the eyes of his followers.
The leader says, "Let's go!" and leads the way rather than, "Get going!"
The leader assumes his followers are working with him, not for him.
The leader is a man builder.
The leader has faith in people. He believes in them, and thus draws out the best in them.
The leader uses his heart as well as his head. After he has considered the facts with his head, he lets his heart take a look too. He is a friend.
The leader plans and sets things in motion. He is a man of action as well as a man of thought.
The leader has a sense of humor. He has a humble spirit and can laugh at himself.
The leader can be led. He is not interested in having his own way, but in finding the best way. He has an open mind.
The leader keeps his eyes on high goals. He strives to make the efforts of his followers and himself contribute to the enrichment of personality, the achievement of more abundant living for all, and the improvement of all.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Pete Newell - Component Parts Of An Offense

As some of you know, I recently moved to Dallas. Most of you can agree that after a move things get shuffled around an you end up finding treasures you forgot you have. I just so happened to come across one of these treasures in the form of the 1975 Medalist Flashback Notebook that was given to me by my dad, who in 1975 was coaching himself. (A total random thought, but some of you are "seasoned" enough to remember that Medalist was the company that created Sand Knit uniforms that would rub your skin raw and should have been more accurately called sandpaper knit)

The two contributors in the Medalist book really stood out to me: Pete Newell and John Wooden. Their thoughts and ideas are timeless; still very much relevant to today's game. In future posts, I will incorporate Coach Wooden's thoughts, but this week is all about Coach Newell. I know that this will make a couple of coaching colleagues very happy: Herb Welling and the new head boys basketball coach at East Lansing High School, Steve Finamore! (Coach Fin, I hope that you will be able to use some or all of this on the Newell blog you started: So without further ramblings, I hope you enjoy and find something useful!


Before you can actually run an offense, obviously you have to prepare for it. Although you are fully aware of these things, I would like to review them with you.

1. Conditioning - Founded upon sound training habits - prime requisite for team efficiency. Your physical reserve is the determinant in many close games. You should never be beaten because your team was not in better condition than your opponent. Often, superior conditioning can offset slightly better ability. Conditioning drills should be differentiated from fundamental individual and team drills. Each is distinct in its purpose. Fundamental drills are for the purposes of conditioning the individual's reflex, increasing his skills, and achieving a unity of team play. The objective of the conditioning program is to increase stamina and endurance through prolonged physical exercise that taxes the reserve of each player. It has been my experience that the least popular conditioning drills are the most effective.

2. Drills
a. Fundamental - Must know not only how, but why you are doing a drill. This must be carefully explained.
b. Repetitive - Habits are the results of repetitive acts. They will be somewhat boring to players, but they are essential to improvement.
c. Progressive - Break down offense to simple part method teaching.

3. Balance
a. Shooting Balance - Every player wants to score - that's the name of the game. Some possess more natural skill than other, but this should include the opportunity for every player to get free for a shot. Players won't develop their skills to the fullest extent without encouragement and opportunity. Besides individual shooting balance, it is necessary to be sure that the offense is not limited to certain areas of the court - opponents would overplay you.
b. Team Balance - All 5 men must be included in the offensive system. Every player must feel he is an integral part of the offense. Even the exceptional player needs the ball to score or needs court room to operate.
c. Floor Balance - Most systems initiate offensive movement from some form of floor balance. It is important that a pattern of play maintain some semblance of floor balance throughout. If a player knows where the other 4 men are to be and what their next move might be, then he is more prepared to anticipate the play option without chance of running into a teammate or his defensive man.
d. Rebound Balance - Can be done only through rebound responsibilities - hard to have responsibilities if the players have no idea when a shot is going to occur - or where they might be when a shot is taken. Rebounding depends upon individual initiative, but it also depends upon numbers. If a system of offense always ends up with a triangle of rebounding, percentages will take care of the rest.Sometimes individual initiative can be a detriment if the men become overloaded in one area. They often get in each other's way causing a fast break by opponents. Must learn how to judge both long and short rebounds. A team which has good rebounding balance will always be considered a strong board team regardless of its individual jumping ability.
e. Defensive Balance - Synonymous with rebounding balance - possible to have strong individual rebounding without having good defensive balance. - a team should revert to defense as soon as a shot is attempted. This does not mean we concede the ball to opponents - but we must be prepared to make the adjustment. Defensive balance will add advantages to a team's chance for success - may give rebounders more liberty to rebound aggressively and to play the ball even after opponents gain control of rebound. When lack of balance is difference between winning and losing a game - best to check system and see if responsibilities are clearly defined.

4. Elements of Offense
a. Simplicity - Execution vs. surprise - some coaches in their eagerness to win do not have the patience to work toward the refinement of their inherited theories and will switch to a system of play which has brought success to others. This way brings initial success, but there is no guarantee for lasting success.
b. Flexibility - Must have ability to adjust during that game. Here is where sound fundamentals will help. A set offense is considered flexible when it can meet demands of the defense without losing its effectiveness. That means a flexible offense can be "fluid" against a man-to-man defense as well as a switching defense without altering its basic pattern. It can operate against most zones. It must be able to work against pressure. The fewer things a player must learn to do, the better he will do them.
c. Continuity - Important in case a certain play situation does not present a reasonable shot attempt. In actuality, continuity is nothing more than a series of plays including two-man play (guard-forward), a three-man play (guard-forward and post), and another three-man play (post and two forwards). Movement must be done with a purpose and successive play situations should develop with each motion of the player and the ball. Continuity should incorporate rebounding balance, floor balance, and defensive organization in its execution. A continuous pattern will often eliminate chance for defense to anticipate more than the initial move.
d. Tempo - The team that controls the tempo of the game will most likely emerge as the victor. There are contrasting tempos. Some teams run all the time - they have practiced that way and their habits have been created under such conditions. Others are content to move cautiously - hoping to eliminate most mistakes. Others strive for a balance somewhere between those. It is necessary not to attempt to control the speed of the game, but also to be prepared to play at more than one speed. Many teams cannot adapt when forced out of their tempo and become ineffective and disorganized.
e. Correlation to Defense - Offensive system must be correlated to the type of defense used - one compliments the other. Generally, a zone and fast break go hand in hand - men are in same positions all the time and prepared to run the same pattern after a rebound. Each man's responsibilities are limited and defined. The switching defense compliments a fast breaking offense for the same reasons. A team which may want to depend more upon its set offense to score and which wants to be set up before it begins it's operation may spend more time and manpower securing defensive rebounds. A strong man-to-man with switching options may match defensive men against offensive men for this purpose. They may hold-in all 5 defensive men - thus eliminating a fast break.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Man to Man Defensive Goals

This last week, I was involved in a great discussion with Coach John Harmatuk at Cypress Springs High School in the Houston area. He posed the question of whether to deny on the perimeter or allow ball reversal. My philosophy is that if the ball has chosen a side, it should stay on that side as reversals and middle penetration break down the defense.

Others joined the conversation with their philosophies; some were similar and others vastly different. I definitely understand that there is more than one way to skin a cat. The consensus was that whatever you chose, it is less about WHAT you chose as it is that the players BUY IN to what you have chosen.

It got me thinking about what I want to accomplish on defense. I gathered up my notes from past seasons, notes from clinics I've attended, and contacted many of my coaching colleagues. I've compiled a checklist of common threads. These are things that can be adapted to whatever style you employ. Below that, is a little teaching tool I picked up from my time with Kevin Eastman that we used at practice every day.


1. Take opponent out of their comfort zone.

2. Allow only one shot per possession. Must have maximum concentration and emphasis on block out.

3. Make that one shot as difficult as possible. Contest all shots. Force opponents out of comfortable shooting areas; make them take shots they don't like to take. No easy shots: high percentage first shots, fast breaks, and second shots.

4. Keep the defense out of areas they would like to occupy. Force them to play option basketball. Occupy their spots before they can get there.

5. Always play 5-on-3 or better. Help defensive positions are extremely important. Discourage penetration before they can think about penetrating. Always think "early help".

6. If they score, it is off the dribble on a contested shot. No open look jumpers. No easy baskets.

Force to the Tape1

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Image: Perception Is Reality

IMAGE - A mental picture or impression of something. A mental conception held in common by members of a group and symbolic of a basic attitude and orientation. A popular conception of a person.

PERCEPTION – A result of being regarded as such and becoming aware of through the senses; especially visual observation. A mental image.

REALITY – The quality or state of being: fixed, permanent, or immovable things; not artificial, fraudulent, or illusory; being precisely what the name implies; occurring or existing in actuality; having objective independent existence.

Have you ever run across a staff or faculty member on your campus that has misjudged the character of one of your players based on the way he dressed? Or because he wore earrings? Or too much jewelry? Or his pants hanging off his butt? Or your player was cursing in public or class? Or he has an unusual hair style? Has any of this happened to you on a road trip?

I think we have all encountered something like this at one time or another. Those of you coaching at high schools with a dress code, some of these issues have been solved (or at least I would think so). There is, especially at the collegiate level, a large disconnect between athletics and the rest of the campus. The images our players portray are a large reason for this.

I recently tweeted about the “fishbowl” our players live in. Because they have the privilege of playing basketball, they are going to be under even more scrutiny from the public. Our players are leading VERY public lives even at the high school levels.

With the passing of Coach Wooden this summer, we’ve heard volumes about how he not only taught the game of basketball, but he also taught valuable lessons about the game of life. To this end, one of the greatest things we can teach our players is this: Perception is reality.

Our players are constantly being observed by those around them. What others become aware of through those observations becomes their reality. You could have the greatest young man in the world playing for you, but if he is wearing earrings with his pants hanging off his butt and cursing in the cafeteria his classmates and teachers are going to perceive him as a thug. That is now the general public’s real view of this young man.

Is this right? Is it fair to judge a book by its cover? Absolutely not, but that is the world in which we live in. It is extremely important to impress upon our players this message. Once they leave school and begin creating a life for themselves, they are going to have a firm understanding of this concept. If they want to win over a prospective employer, they are not going to be able to waltz into a job interview with their pants hanging off their butt. It just doesn’t work that way and they will end up either jobless or working jobs they don't desire.

This can become part your team’s culture. Like Doc River’s says, “You must fight for your culture EVERY day.” If you stand for positive image portrayal, and in my opinion you should be, you need to teach, model and enforce it every day.

The following is a great excerpt speaking to the fact that perception is reality and the life in a fishbowl from the 2000-2001 Oklahoma Sooner’s basketball handbook:

The Sooner Image
Although we are not trying to stereotype our players, we believe there are certain fundamental concepts to which each individual must subscribe.

As a basketball player you will be in the public eye more than athletes in other sports. You will be emulated by youth and your actions both on and off the court will be evaluated either positively or negatively by the general public. Recognizing and accepting this fact, we must make certain rules and regulations that reflect more the “generation gap” than acceptance from your peer group! As a representative of our team, you will be expected to exemplify conduct both on and off the court that does not lend itself to outside criticism during the season and to a lesser extent in the off-season.
Remember you are a student first and an athlete second. A minimum performance in the classroom will reflect on you personally and on your teammates generally. It takes only one so-called star doing poor class work to label a whole team as academically inferior.

We expect our players to have pride in themselves, their teammates, and their school. We will strive at all times to be good citizens and gentlemen.

We would hope to develop a squad morale and esprit de corps with self-respect and respect for one another that enables us to work together for our common goals and objectives.