Individual player development is a great opportunity for your players to develop new skills outside of practice. Today, Coachbase has teamed up with Coach Ryan Holliday, founder of Next Level Basketball, to provide you with the essential principles of designing an individual player development program. An AAU Coach himself, Coach Holliday has designed an effective training system for his middle school teams. The 4 key principles to keep in mind as you design solo workouts for your players are Vision, Preparation, Progression and Patience:
It’s important to envision both the bigger picture and the finer details of your player’s basketball careers. Coach Holliday takes inspiration from legendary college coach Bobby Knight and says, “the best coaches have eyes that see the details of the game”. A coach must be able to draw upon his experience and knowledge of the game to see things on the court that a player will not have. Coach Holliday also says that “You must be able to see with your eyes and turn those thoughts into words that affect a player’s skill development.” A good coach must carefully watch a player’s footwork, shooting form, anticipation skills etc and then be able to suggest improvements.
In addition, a coach must also analyze a player’s goals and potential to come up with a vision of the “final product”. He must give the player technical corrections to help mold them to be that player. One story Coach Holliday tells is when he noted one of his 8th Grade players with a low shot release, he set about trying to make that shot release higher. Although this player was only in 8th grade, Coach Holliday saw that he had the potential to be a great college player, and thus made this minor technical adjustment so that he could eventually develop a college level jump shot. If you’re interested, the original story can be found here.
Often, enthusiasm alone is not enough to develop a young player. Coach Holliday notes how he, as a USA basketball accredited coach, sees countless parents trying to teach their kids shooting form, only to give them bad habits that ultimately become harder to correct. Moreover, a young player left to their own devices often just wants to learn the flashy parts of the game. At Next Level Basketball, Coach Holliday preaches three offensive fundamental skills for middle school players. Dribbling and finishing at the rim, taught from a young age, is one of them. Middle school is also the time when players are strong enough to learn perfect shot form, and then make it automatic by shooting repetitions. This is then used to develop a midrange game, which Coach Holliday calls a lost art (see the video below for his explanation). Finally, Coach Holliday also believes in teaching all players, regardless of size, post moves, as this develops them into all rounded offensive players and works on fundamental skills such as footwork and finishing. Practicing these fundamentals allows players to develop an all rounded offensive game, with the ability to score from inside, the midrange, and from beyond the perimeter.
To be prepared to teach these skills, a coach must have:
1. hundreds of drills available, ready to correct any technique error
2. the knowledge to execute these drills perfectly.
Coach Holliday told us that he believes that players must first repeat a move five hundred times in a solo workout before it is ready to be used in practice. Even then, from his experience it takes another five hundred repetitions with defense before that move can even be used in a game situation. If a player wants to improve, it’s his responsibility to practice by himself BUT it’s the coach’s responsibility to provide them with a detailed training plan.
The right progression must be chosen carefully to allow for success. Coach Holliday breaks each skill down into dozens of different drills, each of which, repeated many times, builds the final move. For example, he’s designed the Killer Crossover Series, a progression of 15 dribbling drills that make up a half hour workout. Each drill is more difficult than the last and works up towards building an additional aspect of the “Killer Crossover”. Players start off with static dribbling exercises, to develop their hand coordination skills, and then movement and footwork is added. Finally, players are ready to integrate their crossover with other skills, such as finishing and shooting. Following this plan will give his players the skills they need to score on defenders in games.
Developing new skills takes time and dedication. Coach Holliday holds his players accountable to wanting to be better basketball players. For example, he expects his middle school players to work on a dribbling series for at least 20 minutes, 3 times a week. Each Next Level Basketball Player must first sign a waiver signally their commitment to the program and becoming a better basketball player.
However, aside from old school dedication, Coach Holliday also believes in the importance of letting players fail. One of the most enlightening ideas from his interview with Coachbase was when he talked about how hard it is to push players to try the move in game. Often, players will play a game using only their comfortable skills. Instead, he tells his players “I want you to go to the low block and use X move I taught you and score with it at least 3 times this game”, etc. It’s after trying the move and persevering until finding success with it that players become more comfortable to regularly use it in games. Rather than benching players for failure, Coach Holliday knows that games at the middle school level are not about winning but about developing skills.
Vision, preparation, progression, and patience- these are the 4 principles for developing a successful individual player development program. Do you coach an AAU or middle school team? Leave a comment and let us know what challenges you face or tips for this age group.
Latest posts by Ryan Holliday (see all)
- Double your vertical without weights – 12 Week Team Jump Program - March 24, 2016
- Complete Guide to Building Individualized Training Plans for 12-15 yr old Players with Next Level Basketball - January 19, 2016
- 4 Ways to Improve Your GAME DAY Performance - December 22, 2015