31. October 2010 03:06
An important part of being a successful coach is the ability to adapt and make changes on the fly.
Last Thursday I went to DeMatha for a pre-season strength workout. As always, I had written the workout up the night before. I was prepared and I had a plan.
As soon as I parked my car, I crumpled up the workout and tossed it in the trash can.
It was 81 degrees and sunny and I knew we wouldn’t see many more days like this. So I decided to hold our strength workout outside!
I wanted to take advantage of the gorgeous weather and break the monotony of being in the weight room. Our guys deserved a change of scenery, and after all, we would be confined to that weight room for the next 5 months. So it was the perfect time to take advantage of a viable alternative.
After a thorough warm-up… this is what our 30 JV and Varsity players went through:
Push-ups with mini-bands
Med ball explosive chest press
Performed 10 reps of each, back-to-back (3 sets)
Underhand modified pull-up with partner
Manual resistance lateral raises
Performed 15 reps of pull-ups and 6 reps of lateral raises, back-to-back (3 sets)
Medicine ball pivot and rip through
Sandbag front squat with mini bands
Performed 5 high rips with right pivot foot, 5 high rips with left pivot foot, 5 low rips with right pivot foot, and 5 low rips with left pivot foot and 15 reps of front squats, back-to-back (3 sets)
Combo lunge matrix – front to back lunges, lateral to step behind lunges, and diagonal to crossover lunges
Performed 10 reps of each lunge, each leg (1 set of each)
That took about 45 minutes. I always end each workout with a team challenge. On conditioning days, I have the entire team perform the challenge. On strength days, I have one or two players perform the challenge on behalf of the entire team.
If they pass – the entire team wins. If they don’t – the entire team loses. In basketball, a team certainly wins or loses together… yet many times… the final outcome hinges on the performance of one player (if the score is tied and there is a foul… only one player shoots the free throw with 1.2 seconds left in the game).
This particular challenge involved two players. One player started at the bottom of a 40 yard hill (about 10% incline) with a stack of 6, 35-lb sandbags. The other player started at the top of the hill. Player #1 had to pick up a sandbag, sprint up the hill and drop it off, then sprint down the hill and repeat 5 more times. Once all 6 sandbags were at the top of the hill, player #2 had to pick up a sandbag, sprint down the hill and drop it off, then sprint up the hill and repeat 5 more times. Once all 6 sandbags were at the bottom of the hill (where they started), the drill was over. I gave them 4:00 minutes to accomplish the task. If they beat 4:00 minutes… the workout was over. If they didn’t, the entire team would head into the gym for a series of (less than enjoyable) sprints.
The guys finished in 3:57. It was close, but they made it! The part I was most impressed with was how supportive the other 28 players were. They cheered for their teammates and were actively involved. And then, without prompting, they all came together at the end to celebrate the victory. It was awesome.
I am so thankful to work with such an amazing group of kids. I am honored to be a part of the DeMatha Basketball family. This year promises to be a fun journey.
Click here to watch the workout: http://TinyUrl.com/DeMathaOutdoorWorkout
Work hard. Have fun. Enjoy the journey.
PS: I posted a picture today at www.Facebook.com/StrongerTeam and am giving away a big time prize for whoever comes up with the funniest caption! Please join in the fun!
28. October 2010 03:11
In addition to horrible officiating, there is something else that all coaches can’t stand… turnovers. Turning the ball over in basketball is a cardinal sin. After all, winning the turnover battle is usually the key to victory.
But is there such a thing as a good turnover? I wouldn’t go that far… but all turnovers are not equal. There is difference between trying to pivot through a trap to pass to an open teammate and getting called for traveling and making a casual perimeter pass that gets stolen. There is a difference between attacking the rim and being called for an offensive foul and tossing an ill advised behind the back pass out of bounds during a simple 2-on-1 fast break.
What’s the difference? One was an assertive play and the other wasn’t. You have to learn to live with assertive turnovers.
If you want to be a successful basketball player; you need to be assertive. You need to take calculated risks on the court. You will never maximize your potential by always playing it safe. You need to leave your comfort zone; in workouts, in practice, and in games. However, when you assert yourself, you must be fully prepared to reap the rewards or suffer the consequences. That’s accountability.
What do Steve Nash, LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Deron Williams, Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade, Kevin Durant, and Carmelo Anthony all have in common?
1) They are all NBA All-Stars.
2) They are the NBA’s most talented offensive players.
3) They were all ranked in the top 15 in turnovers committed last season!
Part of their offensive genius is taking risks and being aggressive with the ball. Turnovers happen as a result. You have to take the bad with the good. Even John Stockton, the NBA’s all-time leader in assists, is 2nd all-time in turnovers committed. It goes with the territory! Anyone who watched Stockton play can agree that his turnovers were assertive in nature.
This is not an invitation to be careless or reckless with the ball. I am not condoning turnovers. You must value the ball… every possession is important. But you have to take chances and be assertive to be successful. You have to take risks. “With great risk come great rewards.”
Assertive players are aggressive and decisive. They don’t hesitate. They survey the situation and go with the best option. They have confidence in whatever decision they make. And if they make a mistake (or turnover), they learn from it and don’t repeat it. Fighting to establish post position on the block and getting called for 3 seconds is OK. Getting called for it a second or third time is not!
When an assertive player makes a mistake offensively, they bust their butt to “make it up on defense.” Assertive players don’t wallow in mistakes. If they turn the ball over… they immediately move to the next play. They don’t compound their mistake by standing around and pouting.
And you can be an invaluable offensive player even if you don’t have a sick handle or a killer jump shot. An assertive offensive player sets solid screens, runs the floor on every position, makes hard basket cuts, and crashes the offensive glass every time a shot is taken (assertive players think, “shot is taken, shot is missed.”). Ask any defender… assertive offensive players are the worst to guard!
Assertive players don’t play with fear. They aren’t scared to make a play because they fear turning it over. Assertive players take risks, play hard, and in the end… are successful.
So coaches, before you berate your player for committing a turnover… take a second to judge what kind of turnover it was. If it was an assertive turnover; be supportive and positive.
If it wasn’t; do what you do!
To be a great player, you need to have strong hands. Grip strength plays a key role in being strong (assertive) with the ball. Here is a video of some unconventional, yet highly effective grip strength exercises: http://TinyUrl.com/BasketballGripTraining
Lastly, I highly recommend you read Play Their Hearts Out by George Dohrmann. It is a fascinating emotional roller coaster with unbelievable insight into youth basketball. The book does a tremendous job of highlighting the myriad of problems we face. I have read over 100 books in the past 2+ years and Play Their Hearts Out just moved into my top 3. It is that good. Whether you are a player, coach, or parent, you have to read this book!
As the high school season approaches, please let me know if I can be of service to you or your program. Feel free to email me any time at Alan@StrongerTeam.com.
Train hard. Train smart.
PS: If you haven’t already done so, make sure you sign up for our monthly email newsletter. We will be sending out a new batch of Coaching Nuggets in early November… you don’t want to miss these!
Click on “Subscribe to Updates” at www.StrongerTeam.com
20. October 2010 22:38
As I have mentioned numerous times, the game of basketball has afforded me the opportunity to meet some amazing people, travel to some amazing places, and have some amazing experiences. All of which I am thankful for.
One of those remarkable people is shooting coach Dave Hopla. Coach Hopla has worked in the NBA for several years (Toronto Raptors and Washington Wizards). My right hand man Blair O’Donovan has worked with him the past 5 years in China at the Nike All-Asia Camp and they have become great friends.
In addition to working directly for NBA teams, Coach Hopla has been hired privately by the game’s best players. We asked him to share two of his most memorable stories:
A Young Kobe Bryant
Coach Hopla had the opportunity to work with Kobe Bryant back in 1996, before he was drafted by the Lakers, and then continued to work with him for the first 4 years of Kobe’s NBA career.
Here is a quick story about the first time they met:
Kobe called late one evening to set up a workout for the following day. The only time Coach Hopla had available was 5:30am because he was heading out of town around lunch time. Kobe said, “Sounds good, let’s do it.”
Coach Hopla arrived at the gym at 5:15am and saw that Kobe was already there… preparing for the workout to start at 5:30am. Kobe had arrived at 4:45am. He was in a full sweat before the workout officially started.
The first drill they did was a Half-Court Shuttle Drill:
- You need 1 ball and 1 person to rebound and pass
- Set up a cone at mid-court and 2 cones at the free throw line extended (3 feet from sideline)
- Start at mid-court and sprint for a jump shot at the free throw line
- Sprint back to the mid-court cone, then sprint to either outside cone for another jump shot
- Sprint back to mid-court, then sprint to the other cone for a jump shot
- Lastly, sprint to mid-court, and sprint in to finish with a dunk or layup
- If you miss any shots, you continue until you make the shot from that spot.
- Record your best time. A good time is less than 21 seconds on an NBA court.
In his first time doing the drill, Kobe moved at lighting pace and nailed his first three jump shots… but then missed the final dunk (pounded it off the back rim).
Without hesitation (or without complaining or pouting), Kobe sprinted after the ball (which bounced all the way past half court), picked it up, sprinted back… and took off from just inside the foul line and dunked it home. He then looked up and said, “What was my time?” Without prompting from Coach Hopla, he jogged to mid-court and began the drill again.
That was the first drill Coach Hopla ever took Kobe through. He immediately knew that Kobe was a special player and would go down in history as one of the greats. Over the next few years of working with Kobe, Coach Hopla made this observation:
“Kobe has a sense of urgency with everything he does. Every rep, every shot, every drill is important to him. He takes advantage of every opportunity to get better. Kobe is never satisfied with his game and is always looking to improve. That hunger is what makes him great.”
Brandon Jennings is the Future
Coach Hopla was hired to work with the Milwaukee Buck’s Brandon Jennings this past August. He was scheduled to fly into Milwaukee one afternoon to work Brandon out that evening and then again the following morning. Coach Hopla’s flight was severely delayed. He called Brandon to apologize and let him know he wouldn’t be getting in until 11pm and wanted to see what time he wanted to work out the next morning. Brandon said, “Morning? I still want to work out tonight. Let’s meet at the gym at midnight.”
Coach Hopla worked Brandon out from midnight to 2:30am… and they went hard! They went again at 7:00am the next morning!
Coach Hopla was extremely impressed with Brandon’s work ethic and determination to get better. He said Brandon has a chip on his shoulder and wants to prove to the world he is one of the best point guards in the NBA. But he isn’t looking for a hand-out; he wants to earn that distinction.
It wouldn’t be fair to highlight those two stories without highlighting Coach Hopla’s story as well. He is considered by many to be the top shooter in the world. He regularly keeps track of all his shots during practice and when he is speaking at camps and clinics.
His stats are mind-boggling:
- In 2005, he made 98.20% of his shots (35,332 out of 35,979 shots).
- In the summer of 2007, he spoke at 31 camps and shot an unbelievable 99.19% (11,093 out of 11,183 shots), including 260 for 281 from the 3-point line (92.52%).
- During 3 camps, he was perfect from the field during his lecture:
- June 25, 2007 at the University of Maryland he was 263 for 263.
- July 28, 2007 at the CT Starters camp he was 339 for 339.
- August 2, 2007 at UCLA he was 272 for 272
His shooting knowledge, expertise, and love for the game are unmatched. For more on Coach Dave Hopla and his outstanding program, please visit www.DaveHopla.com.
I have had the honor of speaking with Kobe and Brandon about their strength & conditioning programs. Both are fully committed to year-round training and know how important it is stay strong, mobile, and in great basketball shape. Both mentioned several times how important it is to have a strong core.
Here is a video of some unconventional, yet highly effective core exercises: http://TinyUrl.com/BasketballCoreTraining
Train hard. Train smart.
PS: This past summer we launched the Can He Dunk? Project (www.CanHeDunk.com). We are gearing up for Part 2… this time with ex-players ages 25-40 (aka “weekend warriors”). We will hold an open casting call in early December to select the participants and then begin the 10-week training program in early January.
Some may think these guys are “over the hill”… but all we want to know is Can He Dunk?
Stay tuned for details and dates!
14. October 2010 03:42
With the start of the high school season approaching fast, it is time for you to ask yourself a significant question…
What separates you?
What is it about your game that separates you from every other player?
Are you as massive as Dwight Howard?
Are you as explosive as LeBron James?
Are you as skilled as Kevin Durant?
I assume, if you are being honest with yourself, you answered “no” to these questions. Therefore, you need to find other ways to separate yourself.
Do you need to separate yourself from the players trying out so you can earn a spot on the team?
Do you need to separate yourself from the players that make the team so you can earn playing time?
Do you need to separate yourself from the top players in your state so you can earn a college scholarship?
Do you need to separate yourself from the best players in the country so you can earn All-American status?
Think of the game Musical Chairs. The entire premise is that there are more chairs than there are people… hence the immediate anxiety attack you feel when the music stops and you scramble to grab a chair!
Basketball, and life for that matter, is similar. You need to find what separates you from the pack… so you can “get a chair.” There are 4 ways to separate yourself to make sure you “get a chair” this season:
You have no control over the natural gifts you were born with… but you can always get better. Not everyone can be as athletic as Derrick Rose. However, with hard work and a progressive program, you can get stronger, quicker, and be in great basketball shape.
Similar to athleticism, not everyone possesses the coordination and innate abilities required to handle the ball like Chris Paul or shoot like Stephen Curry. However, with countless hours of deliberate practice, you can improve your fundamental basketball skills.
I am referring to your basketball I.Q. (not your potential to split the atom or win $25,000 on Jeopardy). Do you know how to play? Do you understand concepts like time and score, know what a good shot is, and know your teammates’ strengths and weaknesses? You can improve your basketball I.Q. by studying film and learning from folks who truly know the game (like your coach!).
While there are natural limits to how athletic you can be, how skilled you become, and how well you understand the game… there are no limits to the intangibles. Everyone has the ability to do these things, but very few have the heart, fortitude, and perseverance to do them on a daily basis.
These intangibles are the best way to separate from the pack and help your team be more successful:
· Enthusiasm (raise the level of those around you, be positive, accept coaching)
· Unselfishness (put your teammates first, make the extra pass, set screens)
· Effort (give 100% every practice, defend, box out, take charges, dive for loose balls)
Here is how powerful these intangibles are:
If you are below average in athleticism, skill, and I.Q… but do these 3 things every day… you still have a strong chance to make the team.
If you are average in athleticism, skill, and I.Q… but do these 3 things every day… you have a strong chance to earn quality playing time.
If you are above average in athleticism, skill, and I.Q… and do these 3 things every day… you have a strong chance of playing in college.
Most importantly, doing these intangibles will give your team a better chance to win and will create habits that will carry over to every aspect of your life.
If you want to separate from the pack… whether to make the team, earn playing time, or be an All-American… then continue to develop your athleticism, skill, and I.Q… and damn well make sure you do the intangibles… every day! There is no excuse not to.
Here are some killer on court strength and power drills to help you prepare for the season: www.TinyUrl.com/GonzagaPreSeasonOnCourt.
If you like my daily quotes at www.Twitter.com/AlanStein, make sure you “like” us at www.Facebook.com/StrongerTeam too (I post additional quotes there)!
Have fun. Earn success.
PS: I am now offering FREE shipping on all of my DVDs! You better get’em now, not sure how long this will last! Available at http://Shop.StrongerTeam.com.
6. October 2010 00:35
Jerry West is a living legend.
Yeah, he is in the NBA Hall of Fame.
Sure, he was voted one of the 50 greatest players of all time.
For crying out loud… Jerry West is the NBA logo!
When he speaks, you need to listen.
Jerry West is friends with the father of a basketball player at Gonzaga High School in Washington, DC. A couple of weeks ago he stopped in to address the team after a pre-season workout. He spoke from the heart and gave sound advice:
· If you want to be a great player, you have to learn how to compete. Competing is as important as any technical skill… shooting, ball handling, or passing. Great players compete every workout, every practice and every game.
· Basketball can help you develop friendships you will have for the rest of your life. Don’t take it for granted.
· Younger players should find an older, more experienced player on the team to look up to and to emulate (for Jerry West, it was Elgin Baylor). Watch how they conduct themselves during practice and how they prepare for games…study their work habits. You can learn a lot by watching those ahead of you. And if you are an older player, it is your job to be a role model for the younger members of your team. Take that responsibility seriously.
· Use basketball, don’t let it use you. Basketball can take you to some special places and can provide you with an education.
· While everyone loves to win, you learn more about yourself and your teammates when you lose. Life is easy when you are winning. A person’s true colors come through during times of adversity.
· Take advantage of every opportunity you have to get better. Every practice is important.
· Read The Four Agreements (Don Miguel Ruiz’s Code for Life). If you live by these four agreements, you will be successful in whatever you choose to do:
1) Be impeccable with your word. Speak with integrity. Say what you mean and mean what you say.
2) Don’t take things personally. What other people say and do is a reflection of them… not you. Don’t get sucked into negativity.
3) Don’t make assumptions. Have the courage to ask questions. Learn to effectively communicate so you can avoid misunderstandings.
4) Always do your best. Everything you do is important. Your best will change from moment to moment, but as long as you give it your all, you won’t have any regrets.
Wow. That is priceless insight.
I am sure some of you are wondering how I got this inside scoop… especially since this took place at Gonzaga… and I am the strength & conditioning coach at DeMatha.
My close friend and right hand man of 10 years, Blair O’Donovan, is in his 5th season as the strength & conditioning coach for the Gonzaga basketball program. Blair is an integral member of Stronger Team and is, without question, one of the top strength & conditioning professionals in the business. Blair has a tremendous understanding of performance enhancement. Gonzaga is very fortunate to have him. And so is Stronger Team.
It’s a shame Blair and I won’t be speaking once the season starts on November 8th (if you aren’t familiar… DeMatha and Gonzaga have an epic rivalry).
Hopefully our friendship can withstand not speaking for 5 months.
No I’m not.
In all seriousness, Blair does an outstanding job. Here is one of his pre-season strength workouts:
Next week I’ll feature several of his cutting edge court conditioning drills.
Keep working hard, the season is almost here!
As always, if I can ever be of service to you or your program… please email me at Alan@StrongerTeam.com.
Likewise, Blair can be reached at Blair@StrongerTeam.com.
Just don’t email him the day after DeMatha plays Gonzaga… he won’t be in the mood.
Work hard. Deserve success.
PS: I will be in Little Chute, WI (October 16th) and Richmond, VA (October 17th) conducting my Cutting Edge Reaction & Quickness for Basketball Clinic. Please email me if you want more info!