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Less Moves, Less Flash, More Teaching (Pt 1) – Luke Meier


There’s an unsettling trend among basketball trainers:

Moves, moves, moves, and flashy drills…

There’s a lack of detailed teaching on how to play the game and a lack of developing the skill foundation that each player needs as a base.  Players get taught dozens of “moves” and flashy drills. The latest and greatest NBA scoring moves; the newest 6-dribble combo move. It’s about the highlight play; the flashy new move or drill…

If you’re active on social media or YouTube, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Now, I’m not totally against all this… there is a time and place, but I’ll get to that later.

So why is this trend bad for players???

The answer, ultimately, is that feeding a player a steady diet of new moves and using drills that have little to no carryover to games does not develop individual skills or IQ.  Instead, it leads to some major problems:

Players need their foundation and IQ built first – The ability to handle the ball, change speed and direction, initiate contact and use angles, finish multiple ways at the rim…  you have to be able to do those things.  But even more importantly, you have understand the why and when, not just how.  Without the IQ, the why and when, all these “moves” are meaningless.

Here’s an example: A few months ago I started working with a middle school player who could really handle the ball, he’d string 3-4 dribble combo moves together and was super quick and tight with the ball while doing it. But, anytime I had him play situational 1 on 1 he couldn’t beat anyone off the dribble… Why? Because he had no idea how to drive and attack defenders properly. His ability to handle the ball was useless. His “moves” were useless until he developed the IQ to know how, when, and why to use them.

It’s confusing to players – Last summer an elite high school player traveled several thousand miles to workout with us in Milwaukee. When I asked the player why they were willing to come so far, her exact words were: “We’ve been to so many trainers, all they do is teach different moves. Now I’m just confused on what to do.” We spent three straight days simplifying the game for her – how to attack defenders, read the defense in different situations, and a couple appropriate moves for those situations. One session in particular, we spent 3 hours working on one dribble move, a counter to that move, and 3 finishes out of the move.  After the weekend of training she was able free up her mind and just play.  Her game took off and college coaches started calling.

Player’s become robots – As soon as a player start’s predetermining their move, they are in big trouble.  Reading and reacting to the defense goes out the window.  This goes back to knowing the why and when of any move. A great move is only a great move if it’s used in the correct situation. Planning moves a head of time is a recipe for turnovers and bad shots. The best players play off IQ, feel, and reaction – not predetermination.

It’s unrealistic – You take moves from the most elite, talented, and skilled players in the world… then give them to middle school, high school, or even college players who haven’t mastered a foundational level of skills. Is it realistic to think that they will be able to execute these moves properly in the context of a team game? You can practice all the double behind the back, between the legs, step back threes that you want… the reality is that 99% of players would never do that in a game. If you’ll never do it in a game, it’d probably be wise to work on something that you would do, then build from there.  The NBA is a little different, but next time you watch a HS or college game, count how many dribbles players make on scoring moves or any scores at all.  Rarely will you see more than 3 dribbles.

Good vs Great – If you spend time working on countless new moves each time your in the gym how good are you going to get at them?  It takes thousands of repetitions to achieve mastery, so your way better off picking a couple things to be great at rather than being good at twenty.  When asked about his workouts Kobe Bryant said something along the lines of “I’d rather get 100 reps on 2 or 3 things than get 3 reps on 100 different things”…. I couldn’t agree more.

As I stated in the beginning –  I’m not totally against teaching elite scoring moves or combo dribble moves – but there is a time, place, and specific philosophy as to when I do it.  Next week I’ll follow up with some insight into how approach adding scoring moves to a players game and how/when we use multiple combo dribble moves.

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