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Home - Developing Hands-On Players

  Developing Hands-On Players

By Anthony Lanzillo

basketball game

"There is tremendous power in total attention to the matter at hand. In the intensity of performance or competition we are more likely to focus our minds on the present moment, forgetting all else."  

Dan Millman

"A struggling athlete will think of all matters except the task at hand while he's competing. That's a loss of focus, due to weakened mental discipline."

H.A. Dorfman

"You have to be here right now to play basketball when it's happening."

Bill Wellington (Chicago Bulls player)

As a basketball coach, especially at the college and pro levels, you have to teach your players to be "hands-on players". It's all about knowing how to make here and how decisions during any game-time moment on the court. Staying in the here and now gives players the best opportunity to stay mentally sharp, and make the smartest decisions on the court.

Here are two simple and quick exercises or drills that you can incorporate into a team scrimmage:

1. While the team is scrimmaging, and if you notice one of your players on the floor having a difficult time making a decision as to whether to pass the ball, dribble the ball or shoot the ball, blow your whistle, yell the player's name and say "eyes". You want the player to identify what he sees happening in front of him. The player is reminded that he is playing with his eyes and not his feelings, and has to clearly see what is happening, and what options or opportunities are  available to him. You will talk to your players about learning how to assimilate what is happening, anticipate what could happen and actualize what he wants to happen. You want to teach or train your players to use 3 simple verbal/visual cues on the court during the game. They are "see it", "size it up" and "seize it". This exercise/drill reinforces the importance of staying focused on the present moment and on what they control - themselves.

2. After the team runs through a play on the court, have the players get into their original positions for the beginning of play. Then you are going to ask the players to go through a simple 5 step process of visualizing and mentally rehearsing that play.

- Take a deep breath and slowly close your eyes
- Identify your role and primary responsibility for the play
- Identify a personal strength of yours to help in carrying out that role
- Identify the performance objectives for the play (short list of verbal/visual cues)
- Identify a positive feeling from a successful performance

This exercise/drill helps the players to visualize how they plan and want to play come game-time. In fact, in the actual game, they can simple use a short list of cues to keep them focused and proactive - role, strength, performance objective and positive feeling.  By doing this, they will play with greater concentration, composure and confidence.

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