Where are you in the process?

When you train, what are you training for?  What is your goal? What are you trying to improve?

First comes an understanding of where you are in the process.

  1. Fun/passion/what is motivating you?
  2. Technique/Fundamentals
  3. Situational Understanding
  4. Reaction
  5. Integration

First, before anything, there needs to be an understanding of WHY you are doing it.  Before anything, it should be enjoyable!  It will be enjoyable for different reasons at different ages.

Everyone has an opinion as to what is the best type of motivator, with many coaches, sports psychologists, and players stating internal motivators (e.g. love for the game, love of the process/challenge, desire to play at a certain level etc.) play a larger, more beneficial long-term role than external motivators (e.g. money, status etc.).  However, everybody is different.  Bottom line is you need to know what your motivation is to get the full benefits of your training (or if a parent/coach, you need to understand what the different motivators are, and understand those deep motivational drivers).

Afterwards, you have your fundamental skills that you need to develop and refine continually to master your craft.  Take a jumpshot for example.

Your basic technique has to be right.  Then, you need to master the technique in different distances and situations (catch and shoot, off the dribble, off of a screen etc.).  Then you need to learn how to make the proper read and proper reaction.

There are many ways to improve your reaction, and I will briefly talk about a few ways to do so.

  1. Reaction replication.
    1. Take the jumpshot for example.  If with a partner, have the person toss the ball out to you and play defense.  If they are slow or do not closeout, then you need to be able to take and make the shot.  If they close out long, then you need to know where to attack, what your fakes are, and if they stop the first move, what your counter moves are.  All of this needs to be mastered.  Same things would be for all the reads in a screen and roll.  Sometimes you need to slow things down to better able you to do them fast.  Work in a just less than 50% error rate.  At 80% efficiency, you want to change a variable to increase the stress (e.g. go harder, give a time constraint).  You want to be able to go full speed with no thoughts, only reaction!
      1. Best case scenario: the defender needs to know the reaction they are looking to create and why to give appropriate feedback.
  2. Film Study.
    1. Lots of interesting ways to do this.  The first, is to just watch yourself play on film.  Each offensive and defensive movement needs to be critiqued to determine whether or not the decision made was appropriate for the situation.  Another way to do this would be to watch game film of yourself and others at regular and then high speed, and at certain ‘decision points’ pause and state what decision should be made.  However, this requires a lot of game knowledge and an understanding of ‘why’ for each situation.
  3. Visualization.
    1. Run plays of yourself or others through your mind in different situations, working on making decisions on where you need to improve.  You can also do this on the court on your own so you can ‘feel’ the game.
  4. Integration
    1. Play competitively, do not think, just react.  Only thing you need to focus on is putting yourself into the situations you have been working on.  Can work from smaller 1v1 games in small space to 3v3 then 5v5 situations.

This is reaction as a skill, how to work on it, how to improve it.  It is a key piece many coaches miss out on.

Good luck!



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