Currently I am in California working with Kobe Bryant before training camp. His workout isn’t about getting tired and blacking out with a million different drills filled with props and fluff. His workout is geared towards shooting shots in the spots in which he will operate out of. It’s two and a half hours, twice a day every day.
In time in between workouts I got to thinking about player development as a whole. Let’s get something straight so there is no confusion, for 99.99% of the basketball playing public you will never get to that level. That’s fine there is no shame in that. The message that I am trying to get across is don’t prepare for your season trying to be Kobe Bryant or Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, or anyone else at that level.
Prepare by working on shots that you will take in games. If you are a wing player and your team runs a lot of motion this should be your checklist:
• Master the mid range 15-17 feet from the corners ,elbows, and straight away
• 1 dribble pull ups from the wings corners and top going both directions
• Two dribble pull ups from the wings corners and top going both directions
• Coming off screens for curls and fades
• Three point shooting from the corners wings and top
• Finishing in the lane with a pull up of floater
• Ball handling stationary with both hands
• Free Throw Shooting
If you are a big man and for the most part your coach has you around the paint, this should be your checklist:
• Hooks with both hands around the basket with no dribble from both blocks and the middle
• Jump shots going over both shoulders from both blocks and in front of the basket
• Running the floor hard in transition straight down the floor
• Back to the basket one dribble jump hooks using both hands on both blocks
• Face up jump shots from the mid post
• 15 foot jumpers from the corners elbows and straight away
• Free Throw shooting
Now obviously not everyone’s workout is the same.It can be structured anyway that you want it to be. but for the most part those skill sets should be covered one way or another in your work. I travel around and watch a lot of workouts from all over the country. There’s also a lot of workouts that are published online. I see a lot of average to below average players in this country at the high school level working on moves that they would never use in a game. I’d take it one step further and say that most players never master the simplest of skills and want to work on things that they see Kobe or Dwyane Wade do in games instead of basics.
So many players struggle when they are put in structured situations. AAU basketball isn’t to blame for this. No question as a whole middle school and high school aged players play games too much and don’t spend enough time working on their skills. Again that’s not your AAU coach’s fault. As a player need to take responsibility to find the time to get to the gym or park and work on your game.
Another problem I see is its not about how long you are in the gym,but what you do with that time. If you spend most of your time working on Kobe’s three pivot step through move or D Wade’s eurostep combined with 400 three point shots that won’t get you better. Basketball is about repetition and doing things over and over and over. Kobe is the example that every player should take after. He works on the same things over and over and over until he gets it right. The shots for the most part are simplistic in form. He doesn’t spend a lot of time on 10 dribble isolation to a 30 foot fade away. Most of the sshots like those that he makes in games are reads, but the beginning and end of those moves have been worked on thousands and thousands of times in the gym.
I don’t dominate my writings, conversations, and tweets about Kobe or the other players that I work with. The message that I try to bring to coaches and players globally that I interact with has nothing to do with them. At the end of the day most of the NBA players that I work with will be fine. The real work that needs to be done is at the grassroots level. As a whole we need to embrace AAU basketball and stop blaming it for destroying our game. Players and coaches need to take responsibility and stop blaming others for our downfalls.
I think it’s great that players and coaches try to emulate other great players and coaches at the highest levels. But we need to understand that there is a food chain evolved with all of this. You need to master the building blocks until you move on to complicated concepts. This isn’t a knock on other coaches or players at all, but just an observation that I’ve made spending 18 years working at various levels of the game. Too many of us are in a rush with things and want to emulate greatness without mastering the basics.
As a coach and an evaluator of talent I want to find basketball players. What I mean by that is players that you can throw on a court and don’t need to dominate the ball to help your team win. In the NBA 75 percent of the league is comprised of role players. They are in such demand because they have a skill that can get them in a game. For the most part they don’t have to take 25 shots a game to help their team win. They may be spot up shooters, great defenders, pick and pop big men, energy players, etc.. There can only be 1 superstar and maybe 2 other players that probably take 75% of a teams shots. The other players need to understand a role that their coach can depend on them to fill to help their team. You don’t see Kyle Korver spinning 6 times and euro stepping before a shot. You see him being shot ready understanding that he’ll see the ball maybe 7 times a game and it’s his job to spot up, runoff screens, and make passes when defenders double on him coming off screens to find open teammates.
In summary you need to be honest with yourself. It’s ok that you won’t be an all star player. Continue to develop skills and work harder than any other player. But, be in control of what you work on and try to figure out if the things that you are working on really going to help your team. Be honest about your size, length, and your talent level and understand your limitations. Limitations are ok in the sport.You know what’s not ok??
Wasting your time working on nonsense that won’t help you or your team get better.