Hey Everybody! This weeks post is about playing basketball on balance.......
I don’t know if it is just me, but it seems that more and more players are playing the game off balance every year. At all levels from mini through to university I am seeing players who do not know what it is, and more importantly what it feels like to be on balance. When I was coming up as a player I feel that the jump-stop was taught early and often, from many different sources. My feeling (and it may not be necessarily true) is that the teaching of the jump-stop has taken a back seat to the euro-step.
The most obvious ways that this lack of balance we are discussing is shown on the court are by (1) how many travels get called in today’s game, (2) how poor players are at finishing in the paint and (3) the huge number of turnovers that occur from passing off balance. In both the men’s and women’s game the players are playing on one-leg more than the more powerful and controlled two-foot game. The jump stop has been neglected in many ways, but the most obvious to me is how it has been neglected as a finishing move in the paint. I remember hearing last year that when Coach Buzz Williams was at Marquette he charted “paint-touches,” how many times in the run of a game his team was able to get into the paint with the basketball. To me that is a great measure of how your team is playing and would be a gateway stat to many other important factors such as: points in the paint (PIP), assists, fouls-drawn, FG%, just to name a few. These indicators show that your team is playing aggressive and not back on their heels, all things which are a net-positive at the end of the game. The jump-stop shows a level of control and can really increase one’s confidence by the player giving themselves the chance to make better decisions.
When I was in grade 11, I was very fortunate to attend a very formative basketball camp called Point Guard College, which was hosted in Halifax, NS. PGC was originated by Dick Devenzio and taken mainstream as a North American wide camp by Dena Evans. Luckily for all of us present, Dena was with us all week and it was a game-changer of a camp. It was probably split 60/40 between court-time and classroom time and I took 45 pages of notes! So much information and such a well-thought out approach to teaching. The camp has really made a name for itself now and is widely known as one of the best if not THE BEST camp for player development in North America (I can say without a doubt it IS THE BEST camp for developing a player’s basketball IQ).
At Point Guard College they deal in many acronyms. The one we are going to talk about today is huPPPPy. They say not to HURRY but rather huPPPPy. The P’s stand for: purposeful, powerful, peek, and cleverly, phake. These are all things to do after you have attacked the paint with a fierce, dynamic jump-stop.
You must be powerful, the best way to do this is with a dynamic jump-stop where you will not be knocked off balance, and you are tough and ferocious.
You need to be purposeful, meaning be decisive! Don’t attack the paint and be worried about making mistakes, you are proactively looking for opportunities to exploit the defense.
You have to peek, you have to see the rim. Just like you’ve heard all your life about dribbling with your “head-down,” (a better way to think is to not dribble with you eye’s down), you need to be in control and aware of your surroundings, where is the help defense collapsing from? Has your teammate just moved into open space? Do I have a shot for myself now that I am here in the paint?
The 4th P stands for “phake,” conveniently spelled, the player who gets to the paint and is powerful and ferocious needs to use fakes to create openings for themselves and their teammates, a well-placed pass-fake is a skill VERY FEW players have and it can create so many great opportunities for high percentage shots. The other thing players are weak at is being able to shot-fake and then make a play. Maybe they shot-fake into a bounce pass for a layup for a teammate, maybe you shot-fake and pivot away to hit your teammate filling in behind. A whole new world is opened up to players who are in control, and powerfully on balance.
Watch this video from PGC Basketball comparing 1-foot and 2-foot stops...
This acronym huPPPPy is very useful to use and revisit when you are talking to players about their games. It is a great tool for players to self-reflect and consider what aspects they are doing, and what they are lacking. If they are getting knocked off the ball a lot by their defenders they need to be more aggressive in their jump-stop and create a better physical base.
It isn't enough in today’s age to yell at a player after a turnover or simply say “be smarter,” “be on balance,” “get stronger,” etc, etc. You need to show players what you are trying to say, you need to explain to them what it feels like, looks like, and what the results of it are. Show them by modelling, show them video examples of high levels of play where it is executed (PGC had hours and hours of clips from NCAA men’s and women’s basketball). Show the players how off balance they are on your own game film and show them the options that they would have had if on balance. Being reactive, after a play happens does nothing to solve the problem, give them reminders so they are aware, and ask them what they saw and were trying to do. Weird premise I know, coaches asking questions to their players. You need to level with them to find out what their thought process is, not in a way that makes them play scared to make mistakes.
In closing give your players concrete explanations, meanings and visuals of what you want from them. Use useful acronyms like huPPPPy, or anything else you can come up with, I.C.E for example, for Intensity, Concentration, and Enthusiasm. Ask them information-seeking questions, to understand their decision making and thought process. All of these factors will help support ferocious, decisive players who are great teammates.
Thanks for checking this out! Please spread this around to any one you think may enjoy the read or could contribute to the discussion through commenting below. Happy Holidays!
Coach Matt - Father, Coach, Life Long Learner, Basketball Addict