It’s What You do Before You Catch the Ball

It’s What You do Before You Catch the Ball by Bob Starkey

This article was originally featured on HoopThoughts.Blogspot.com.

As a coach, there are so many things that you deem important — things you want your players to know and understand — things that are high on the priority list in terms of what you want to teach players.

Certainly there are numerous things that players need to learn and improve on.  Some they are willing participants in the education and development process.  Work with a player on improving his or her shot and chances are you will have a focused pupil.  The same can be said in dribbling and ball handling.  All players, regardless of position, want to be able to put the ball on the floor.  And while this at times least to the overuse of the dribble, players certainly will list and work if you want to help them improve this area of their game.

But it is important for them to understand that the large majority of the game, on the offensive end, they will be playing WITHOUT the ball.  Their ability to properly execute the fundamentals of footwork while learning to move without the basketball is far more important than many of them understand.

And nobody has phrased it better for them to understand it than Coach John Wooden:

“What you do before you get the ball, 
determines what you can do after you get it.”

That is a very profound statement yet not enough coaches spend the time to develop this area and of course very few players give thought to it.

Are you teaching the proper footwork for moving without the basketball?  The most foundational cut in basketball is the v-cut…do your players master it?  The v-cut allows them to get open on the perimeter or to set up the defender for a back cut.  The v-cut allows them be better screeners or to utilize screens better.  The v-cut allows a post player to move better in the post.  Are you working to improve your v-cuts daily?

The ability to read the defender makes a difference in if, when and where you catch the basketball.

We mentioned screening.  I’m not sure there is a better way to get open than by being an excellent screener.  The key is being “excellent.”  Are you teaching a correct screening stance couple with the proper screening angle?  Are they sprinting to screen?  And, the biggest key, are the screening with the screener is the 2nd cutter mentality?

Do you show video of your team or other teams and have your players focus on what’s going on away from the ball?

Because the best offensive players in the game truly understand Coach Wooden:

“What you do before you get the ball, 
determines what you can do after you get it.”

One thought on “It’s What You do Before You Catch the Ball

  1. On average, a player plays 90% of the game without the ball…coaches ‘see’ whether the player has a breadth of game understanding and participation by examining that 90%, not just the 10%. A player who gets a regular deflection, steal, block, takes a charge, plays shut down defense, or sets a great screen can change the game dramatically…without being a box score hero.

    Like

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