2011 Basketball Tips
WINNING EDGE Basketball Tips are posted throughout the year and include practical ways for you to improve your knowledge and understanding of the game. Our goal at MINA is to help you reach your full potential; therefore, if you have any questions about the game of basketball, please contact Coach Miller at 919-847-2017 or at
Now get to work on your game!
How to Beat your Defender (Part 1)
Clinician: Seth Huber
I have been asked by players many times ‘How do I beat my man?’ I have heard many players comment that they need work on 'beating their defender.' Although quickness, explosiveness, strength, and overall athleticism is extremely helpful in this area, here are some tips which will give you great advantage in beating your defender.
1. KNOW YOUR ADVANTAGE
You must learn to approach the game offensively with a mindset that understands your advantage as an offensive player, with and without the ball. You are in complete control as the offensive player. If you have the ball you decide when you start. You can start right away with a catch and face and explosive first step attacking the defense, or you can use a series of fakes before you start to setup your defender. As the offensive player you also decide where you go. You can choose to go right or left attacking the defender’s shoulder with an explosive first step. If needed, you can counter back the other direction with a change of direction dribble move. You, as the offensive player, also have the advantage in deciding how you finish. You can finish at the rim with a dunk or layup, finish with a mid-range pull up jumper, penetrate and kick, penetrate and counter and finish with a jumper, layup, or productive pass, or you can finish by simply catching and shooting from the pocket. The only thing that is necessary in knowing and applying these advantages to make them effective is the ability to read the defense and react accordingly. (You may refer back to 'Running the Race' February 2010 Basketball Tip for a more in depth analysis of KNOWING YOUR ADVANTAGE).
2. CATCH AND FACE IN A STRONG READY POSITION
This is simple enough, but I see so many players catch the ball standing straight up and never face their defender or the basket. This is soft, passive, and weak in mindset and stance, which dramatically decreases the opportunity and ability to beat your defender. Our terminology is “ready position”, but many would refer to it as “triple threat position”. Regardless, to be able to beat your defender you must discipline and train yourself to play the game in a ready position every time you receive the ball. If you don’t you are neither ready nor a threat to beat the defense. I like how Jay Bilas says it, “Tough players catch, face the defense, and make the right read and play, and they do it with poise. Tough players do not just catch and dribble; they catch and face.” We believe a strong ready position includes your feet shoulder width apart and square to the basket. Knees should be bent with the butt down and body low to increase power and explosiveness. The back should be strong and flat at a 45 degree angle to keep vision up with the weight shifted forward to the balls of the feet. The ball should immediately go to the shooting pocket with the mindset of being a shooter. Obviously if the defense plays tight the ball must be protected but never by stepping backwards and away from the defense because this will cause an unbalanced position. An aggressive defender that gets up in you must not be given the advantage by the offensive player stepping back. From a strong ready position described above protect the ball away from the defense and step into the middle of the defender with a jab step to create space and maintain the offensive advantage. Be careful that you jab the defender off in such a way that does not pick up an offensive foul.
3. EXPLOSIVE FIRST STEP
We firmly believe that this is the primary building block of the development of an effective offensive player. This is especially necessary if you want to be able to beat your defender. An explosive first step is not only technique and skill, but also a mindset. The mindset has the attitude of “aggressiveness and always moving forward with power and explosiveness. I am a seeker not an avoider”. So, if I am to move forward with power and explosiveness in my first step, then I need to understand that Power = force × distance ÷time. The skill is a first step having maximum distance and maximum speed that gets you past your defenders’ shoulder. According to the formula, the less time it takes you to apply a maximum force over a maximum distance the more power you generate. Taking the time to develop the muscle memory of an explosive first step is essential in gaining an advantage in beating your defender more consistently. Distance covered and speed of execution are the main concerns regarding technique if you are to be explosive. Both components must be present or explosiveness and power is lacking. There are many drills that we use with our students to develop this skill and build muscle memory. Learning to play with an explosive first step will be a key element in opening up offensive opportunities.
4. BE A NORTH TO SOUTH PLAYER
When you catch and face and then attack the defense with an explosive first step you must do so in a north to south direction not an east to west direction. This means your move must be as straight to the basket as possible, not out to the side. The key is to get your shoulder past your defender’s shoulder and this requires that you learn to be a north to south player. If you play east to west, whether you are attacking with an explosive first step off a catch and face or with a counter move, you are 1) taking a longer route to the basket and 2) giving the defense an opportunity to recover by playing angles. Either way you are not being as efficient and effective in your movement. Too many players use their dribble in an east to west (side to side) fashion and are never productive in penetrating the defense. Start using the principle of north to south movement when attacking the defense with the dribble and you will begin to see improvements in your ability to get by your defender.
Offensive Footwork (Part 2)
Clinician: Mark Miller
Coaches who have observed our students at the Academy often comment that you can pick out NRBA students because they play a certain way. They are emotionally and physically under control, they are primary pivot foot players, they show hands preparing to receive passes, they play out of a ready position, they have explosive first steps, they are solid ball-handlers, and they land on balance using jump stops effectively. We call it being fundamentally sound! This month I wish to share our philosophy at the NRBA concerning one of those observations, the use of jump stops, specifically the use of jump stops leading to a pull-up jump shot.
JUMP STOPS VS. 1-2 STEP
First of all, let me be clear on this point, I believe that great players must have the ability to shoot pull-up jump shots off of two foot jump stops and off a 1-2 step approach. It simply makes you a more complete offensive threat. The reason young players at the Academy always land jump stops leading to pull-up jump shots is because of our philosophy: Learning to play on balance is critical to reaching your full potential in this game. Therefore, our young players are drilled in perfecting this fundamental with game speed jump stop reps, reps, reps. Once our students show mastery as balanced players, which may take months and months of consistent training, we begin to integrate the 1-2 step approach off the dribble as an alternative and share the strengths with our students for including both types of footwork.
I firmly believe that teaching jump stops must come before teaching the 1-2 step because landing on balance is one of the hardest skills to teach. It is amazing how many older students, who are considered decent players, come to the Academy for the first time and when we take them through our initial warm-up, cannot land a jump stop on balance. Such an important fundamental, but yet it has never been stressed at any level they have participated in. So where do we begin those students; by having them execute jumps stops, jump stops, jump stops. Developing a strong fundamental foundation is a process and that process cannot be cheated. Unfortunately for many players, they have spent their careers cheating the process without ever realizing it.
We teach our students that landing jump stops is most critical for a shooter the closer he/she is to the basket, especially in the paint area. In this area, balance, strength and power are critical to success. Landing on a jump stop allows a player to utilize those three qualities most effectively. The paint is not a place for soft players, it is a place for hard nosed, confident players who are students of the game and who understand that balance, strength and power are necessary to be a complete player. We also stress with our students that landing jump stops off of an explosive first step or dribble move allows the offensive player the opportunity to create more separation from the defender, and separation usually leads to positive results.
Once a player demonstrates mastery off jump stops, we begin to integrate 1-2 step footwork into their offensive arsenal. We introduce this fundamental for several important reasons. First of all, by integrating both into a player’s game, an offensive player becomes more versatile which keeps the defender even more off balance. It goes back to the analogy of a race, and how important it is for the offensive player to understand the great advantage he/she possesses. (For information on the race as it relates to developing an offensive mindset, refer to the February 2010 Basketball Tip, Running the Race) The more versatile your game, the greater your advantage in the race becomes. Secondly, players are slightly quicker off the floor as jump shooters. And when a defender is off balance and back on his heels, a quicker pick up to the shot is a huge asset. Finally, we believe that the 1-2 step approach provides momentum and rhythm for an offensive player. The further from the basket the offensive player is; the more important momentum and rhythm are in creating a successful shooting base.
Our goal at the NRBA is to develop complete players. Hopefully the information in this tip will give you a greater understanding of offensive footwork, and the reason we teach the game in a particular sequence. Just reminder, you are only as strong as the foundation you build!