Basketball is a sport that demands technical on court skills, tactical and mental acuity and athletic ability.  The greatest athletes aren’t just born with these qualities, they put in the sweat and train for the game of basketball.

Simply shooting 500 shots a day and focusing only on your technical skills isn’t enough to excel at the game of basketball.  Most high school players think they can get by with their natural ability and some technical skills.  That does happen for some players.  But to be a complete player, a dominant player and excel at the highest of levels, training your body is imperative.  That’s where basketball weight training, strength and conditioning and overall athletic development come in.

The problem: not only do players not train enough or correctly, when they do, they tend to focus all their energy on improving their on-court skills.  That’s better than nothing.  But it’s not enough to be a complete player who dominates all facets of the game.  Isn’t that our ultimate goal?

Putting in the time and sweat in the weight room (the right way) makes you stronger, quicker and more explosive, and that directly translate into on the court performance.

1. Strength

Getting stronger allows you take contact and finish when attacking the basket.  Hold your ground in the paint going for boards and handle bigger opponents on both ends of the floor.

2. Quickness

Being quicker helps you blow by your defender with an electric first step.  Out run your opponent to loose balls. Leave the opposing team in your dust on fast breaks and keep your man in front of you on defense.

3. Agility

Being able to change speed and direction explosively can help you to take your man off the dribble and stop on the dime for the shot. Agility is the missing piece for a lot of players; improving footwork and the ability to transition from shuffling to sprinting, backpedaling to shuffling and so on can take you game to another level.

4. Power

Power is more commonly referred to as explosiveness by basketball players.  It’s the guy who explodes up for the dunk with defenders hanging all over him.  It’s grabbing rebounds above the rim and tossing an opponents shot into the stands.

5. Conditioning

It is imperative that you’re physically fit to handle the demands of the game.  Being gassed in the 3rd quarter isn’t going to get help your team win.  And chances are you’ll be on the bench if your not in good condition.  You need to be able maintain the same high level of play from the 1st quarter into double overtime.  If your legs die and you get winded your entire game will break down.  You’ll start settling for bad shots.  You will get beat on defense and to loose balls.  You will hurt your team.  Improving your conditioning will allow you to play your best game, all game.

So when the off-season hits focus a good amount of time on targeted basketball weight training to improve your physical capabilities. The more time you spend improving your athletic ability the better you will play and remain free from injury. The best players spend just as much time on court as they do in the weight room.

Pros like Danny Granger, Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, and Amar’e Stoudemire know that improvements in the weight room are important for staying healthy and getting better.

You should to!

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Image of Effective Basketball Training

You’re here because you want to get better as a basketball player.  What holds you back is knowing how to do it.

How do you train to become a better basketball player?

While having stock workouts and countless drills will help (and we will be providing many on this site as we grow), that alone isn’t enough.

What we really want to do is help you understand how to train and how to practice.  Essentially we want you to how to make the most of all drills, exercises and workout plans that exist out there.

10 Keys to Effective Basketball Training

1. Preparation

Preparing to train is just as important as the training itself.  Without this critical first step, you will go to the gym and haphazardly attempt to work on your game and athletic development with minimal results.  I can’t overemphasize how important it is to maximize your time by training efficiently.

Here is my simple four-step process for preparing to train for basketball that gets optimal results.

  • Evaluate your game. What are your strengths and weaknesses in terms of skill, athletic ability and basketball IQ?  What does your coach need you to improve upon to help the team?  Answering those questions are the foundation of your personal basketball development.
  • Study what works. You want to maximize your time and effort in your workouts. So you want to go in already knowing what drills and exercises will develop your ability the best.  Whether that means reading books, watching videos or stopping by this blog from time to time, don’t waste your sweat with ineffective training tactics.  Learn what works and get to work.
  • Schedule your gym time. While studying what works is important, you must not paralyze yourself in analysis.  You must schedule time on the court or in the weight room to apply what you’ve learned.
  • Plan your workouts. I see it all the time.  Players come to the gym with the intention of working out and randomly come up with drills on the fly.  Lack of a thought-out plan to improve your game with each workout minimizes the effectiveness of the session.  And don’t just think about it and grab your ball and go.  Write it down, type it up.  Just make sure you have today’s workout schedule on paper with you at the gym so you can maximize your time and effectiveness.  Don’t waste your sweat.

2. Repetition

You can’t avoid this.  You can hope the next guru’s gimmick will magically make you better with no work, but you’ll just be dreaming and wasting time.  You gotta put in the time and sweat to really improve your game.  Combine the right drills and exercises with a high quantity of quality reps, and that is your key to unlocking your full potential as a basketball player.

3. Attitude

You must attack your training with the same effort and competitiveness as you do games.  Michael Jordan sums it up perfectly:

I’ve always believed that if you put in the work, the results will come. I don’t do things half-heartedly. Because I know if I do, then I can expect half-hearted results.

I play to win, whether during practice or a real game. And I will not let anything get in the way of me and my competitive enthusiasm to win.

I approach practices the same way I approached games. You can’t turn it on and off like a faucet. I couldn’t dog it during practice and then, when I needed that extra push late in the game, expect it to be there. But that’s how a lot of people approach things. And that’s why a lot of people fail.

~ Michael Jordan

4. Concentration

Far too often players fool around or just shoot around when training their game.  Not you.  If you approach your training like a game, you will be laser-focused and zoned in.  That is a critical element for skill acquisition and development. Your mind tells your muscle what to do.  If you’re not concentrating at the highest level your results will suffer.

On top of that, practicing with heighten concentration directly translates to heighten concentration in games, making your game sharp and dominant.

5. Technique

If  you’re going to train and practice you might as well do it right – right?

I think Rick Torbett said it best:

Use the best techniques that will give you the most return on the time you put in. ~ Rick Torbett

Any practice is better than nothing, but the best practice, using the best training techniques builds the best habits that translate to in-game performance.

6. Intensity

Go hard!  You’ve heard the sayings “practice at game speed” or “game shots at game speed.”  That’s because it’s great advice.  You are training to play the game.  Understand that practice and training is just a means to an end, not a means unto itself.  You are working toward improved ability in games.  The best way to do that is to go harder in practice, pushing your limits helps to develop skill faster and makes the games easier.

I played hard every day in practice; so playing hard in the game was just a habit. ~ Michael Jordan

Tip:  If you get tired during a practice session, take a break.  Don’t take casual shots or go through the motions because of fatigue.  That leads to bad habits and is a time waster.  If  you need to, rest a bit, then get back to high-intensity practice.

7. Conditioning

You can’t practice hard enough or attack games with the kind of ferociousness necessary to succeed if you are out of shape.  Condition your ENTIRE body so you can handle all the demands of the game.

8. Expectations

You must expect great things of yourself before you can do them.
~ Michael Jordan

9. Track your training

How will you know if you’re getting better if you don’t record what you do?  That means track what shots you take, how many and how many you make.  Create a simple shooting chart for your workouts.

The benefit of keeping a log of your shots is it allows you to see your strengths, weaknesses and even hot zones on the court.  How much better would you be if you knew that you shoot a higher percentage from the left elbow and right corner three than other spots on the court?

It’s the same when you are in the weight room.  You keep track of how many sets, reps and how much weight you are putting up, don’t you?  Take that approach to the court as well.

You probably noticed the first letter of those 8 keys spell out “PRACTICE.”  And that is the 10th and most important key to effective, skill-producing basketball training.

10. Train to play the game, don’t play to train.

Lack of dedicated practice focused on skill development is easily the biggest mistake players make in their quest to become better basketball players.  One that I didn’t fully learn until my freshman year of college.

We simply play too many games.  Pick-ups games, summer league games, AAU games, pro-am games you name it.  All those games leave little time for real skill acquisition and development.

Finding an empty gym or open court, whether it be alone, with a partner or a group of players and practicing different elements of your game is the fastest and most effective way to improve your in-game skills and ability.  It allows for the necessary touches (repetitions) and individual attention for real skill development to be achieved.

You can’t do that by playing countless games.

This point is so important I will be covering it in much more depth in a future post, so look for it.

Until then, sign up for EffectiveBasketballTraining.com updates for more game-changing basketball training tips.

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Image of basketball shooting 101Let’s quickly dispel this basketball shooting myth…

What is perfect shooting form?

That is a common question based on the widely held myth that perfect form actually exists.

It doesn’t.

There is no such thing as cookie-cutter perfect form for all players. What I mean is, every player doesn’t need to shoot identically or have what is perceived to be mechanically perfect form to be a good or great shooter.

Skill acquisition occurs through deliberate training, exploration and personal creativity.  While deliberate training tends to get much of the focus, each component is critical to effective development.

For an example of this, picture these 10 great shooters in NBA history:

  • Larry Bird
  • Reggie Miller
  • Ray Allen
  • Steve Nash
  • John Stockton
  • Chris Mullen
  • Steve Kerr
  • Hubert Davis
  • Peja Stojakovic
  • Mark Price

Those are 10 of the best shooters of all-time, past and present.  Do they all shoot exactly the same way? Do they their shot mechanics look the same? No!  They all have distinctly different shots and mechanics.  That’s because great shooting doesn’t mean you have to be a robot.

5 Traits of Great Shooters

With that said there are 4 things all great shooters have that lead to their success shooting the rock.

1. Consistent & repeatable shot mechanics that get results

Whether you have picture-perfect form or your elbow sticks out to the side, it’s critical that you shoot the same way every time.  Inconsistent mechanics lead to inconsistent results.  You want a shot that you can easily repeat time and time again without fail.  If your shot isn’t broken and you are a shot maker, chances are your form is good enough.  What’s important: shooting your shot every time.  That’s what leads to consistent performance shooting the ball.

2. Comfort

When I was learning to shoot, all I would hear is “Get your elbow in.  Tuck it under the ball.”  While that is decent advice, it was uncomfortable as hell.  It didn’t feel natural and forcing myself to shoot that way lead to inconsistency because I was always thinking and forcing my elbow in.  Not smart.  Thankfully I got over that, and recently learned that having your elbow perfectly positioned under the ball is not only unnecessary for good shooting but potentially counterproductive.

The point: Follow sound guidance and shooting fundamentals.  But also explore different shooting techniques as well.  Find your own comfort level with your shot mechanics.  Doing so allows you to shoot the same way every time with the least amount of effort and thought.

3. Feel

I am a big believer that shooting has a large degree of “feel” to it.  Sure there are many technical components of good shooting which we’ll cover.  But if you were to ask many of the best shooters they probably couldn’t tell you why they are so good.

Feel develops through all your practice and repetitions combined with a high level of concentration.  It’s knowing the shot is going in as soon as it leaves your hands because you felt that way before when making similar shots.  More importantly, your feel helps you correct your shot when you miss so you don’t go into long slumps.

4. Confidence

Your mind is what determines how good you will be as a shooter.  You need to believe that every time you put up a shot it’s going through the net.  You need to trust your preparation.  Doing so allows your mind to get out of the way and let your body do what you trained it to do.

You can have great shooting mechanics and perfect footwork.  But when the game is on, if you aren’t confident in your ability, all that gets tossed out the window.  That is how powerful your mind is.  It can screw up something you have practiced for years.

Develop your consistent and repeatable shot – and believe in it!

5. No Hesitation

This is a direct result of trait #4.  Great shooters never hesitate when they have a shot.  They put that bad boy up and drain it just as their minds eye envisioned it.  Hesitation leads to failed shot mechanics, which leads to missed shots which kills the confidence of many shooters.

Don’t let this happen to you.  Put it up!

Now let’s be clear, you want to practice good shooting form.  But you shouldn’t be looking for a magic bullet in terms of perfect shot mechanics.  What you want is to develop YOUR perfect shot.  One that is unique to you and gets consistently good results.

Subscribe to EffectiveBasketballTraining.com to learn how to build your perfect jump shot, step-by-step.

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Image of basketball shooting 101What is the ultimate goal of shooting a basketball?

To get a round, 9.5″ diameter orange ball to go through a round, 18″ diameter rim.  Simply put: to make the shot.

So what are the two most important elements for consistently making shots?

The simple, and surprising, answer is…

  1. Connection to the target (the basket)
  2. Controlling the flight of the ball towards it

This may seem overly simplistic, but therein lies the beauty.

Simplicity is a critical trait of good shooting.

Just remember that having a strong connection to the goal and your ability to control the flight of the ball toward it ultimately lead to your success or failure shooting the ball.

I learned this way of looking at shooting after my collegiate basketball career had ended.  I spent countless hours practicing shooting and working on my shot.  But it all came together after I started to really study shooting and basketball skill development from the likes of Rick Torbett and Tom Norland.

Connect and Control for Great Basketball Shooting

As you prepare to shoot, it’s critical to see and connect with the hoop with a single mental focus of  making the shot.  Confidence is crucial to exceptional shooting.  If you doubt your ability or let your mind wander, you’ll create interference.  That interference is what causes otherwise good shooters’ mechanics to breakdown.

A clear and calm connection to target helps eliminate mental and even physical distractions so your body can do what its been trained to do – shoot correctly.  In order for that to happen, you must quickly fixate on a single spot at the basket with unwavering concentration, relax your mind and always maintain a positive mental picture of your perfect shot before and during the shot.

That’s the connection and mental part of shooting.  And it needs to be trained just as much as your shot mechanics.

Image of the flight of the basketball

Controlling the flight of the ball is the physical aspect of shooting.  What’s important is accuracy and distance control.  Better stated, getting the ball to fly straight toward the center of the basket with the appropriate arc and distance.

That’s what great shooting is all about…

Putting the ball through the basket with accuracy and consistency, using an easily repeatable shot motion.  And to do so with any kind of shot, in any situation and under all sorts of pressure.

The problem: we often find ourselves so focused on seeing the ball go through the net that we forget that the essence of great shooting is the step-by-step process that precedes the ball leaving our hands.

How Do We Build an Accurate, Consistent and Repeatable Shot?

With these two simple principles in mind, we can now drill down into the nitty gritty fundamentals of shooting, step by step.  We’re now in a better position to fully understand and appreciate the specific techniques  that lead to great shooting.

For example:

  • Shooting stance and balance
  • How to power your shot
  • Grip and hand position
  • Shotline
  • Where to focus your eyes
  • Set point
  • Up and out or “pushing” shot motion
  • Your pure release
  • Follow through
  • After the shot

From here, I’ll be starting a series called “Basketball Shooting 101.”  We’ll examine how to build an accurate, consistent and repeatable shot step by step, one that is simple and free of unnecessary variables that throw your shot off.

Once you get that down and you begin to shoot better, increased confidence will follow. You will want to shoot more, even under pressure.  You will have more trust in your shot.  And that is when exceptional in-game performance becomes a consistent reality, not just infrequent hot streaks.

Subscribe to EffectiveBasketballTraining.com for the next installment of the Basketball Shooting 101 series, and take your shooting ability to the next level.

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image of Kobe slicing his defender's hip

Think it’s impossible to slice your defender in half?

It’s not.  In fact, doing so is a fundamental principle for driving past a defender.

Of course you can’t actually cut your defender into pieces unless you’re on the court with  a sword.  That would be a little too Kill Bill. But good players do slice their defender up figuratively by using their body to attack the right angles.

Slice at the Hip for More Explosive Drives

“Slicing your defender’s hips” simply means getting low and attacking the hip of your defender by brushing it with your shoulder as you see Kobe doing in the image above to Courtney Lee in the Finals.

If you hit your opponent’s hip and get your shoulders past him, you have effectively put your defender in jail.

Key point: Keep your head up.  Players tend to drop their chin on drives, especially when they get low to the floor.  By keeping your chin up you maintain your court vision which allows you to see and anticipate the second line of defense and where your teammates are cutting.

Benefits of Turning Your Shoulder into a Sword

Attacking your defender’s hips cuts off his ability to move laterally to stop your penetration.  If he tries to go through you, the whistle will be in your favor.

Your drives will be significantly quicker because targeting your opponent’s hip forces you to drive low and in a straight line towards the basket.  It helps you get in strong biomechanical position to use your most powerful muscles (glutes and quads) to explode past your defender.

The faster you get to the cup, the easier your finishing opportunities will be at the rim since  help defense has less time to recover.

Bonus Tip

In addition to attacking the hip with your shoulder, shoot your off arm out towards your defenders hip like an arrow.

Doing so creates more momentum going towards the basket.  Better still, your arm acts as a steel rod denying your defender back into the play.  It absolutely frustrates opponents because it renders them powerless as if you actually sliced them in half at the waist.

Note: Do not wrap your arm around your defender!  You will get called for a hook, and we hate unforced turnovers here.  Keep a relatively straight and very firm arm, and you won’t have a problem.

I learned this technique my freshman year at King’s College from the all-time leading scorer in school history.  Ever since I started using it my drives have been quicker, smoother and more effective.

Yours will be too.

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Are You a Lazy Shooter?

by Dannie Evans

Yes or No:

  • Do you settle for contested or even mildly contested shots?
  • Do you feel yourself rushing your shot?
  • Do you often shoot off-balanced?
  • Do you fade away on shots for no apparent reason?
  • Do you get lax with your shot mechanics sometimes?
  • Do you regularly allow defensive pressure to dictate your shot?

A critical element of becoming a better player is honest evaluation of your game.  Without it, you won’t know what to practice and how to train to increase your ability.

With that said, did you answer “yes” to any number of those questions?

If you did, you are a lazy shooter.  That means you are sabotaging your shooting percentage, scoring average and devaluing your worth to your team for no good reason.

The good news?  Being a lazy shooter doesn’t necessarily make you a bad shooter.

Increase Your Shooting Percentage Without Changing Your Shot Mechanics

If you are an otherwise good shooter there are there are simply things you can do.

Here are 5 ways to increase your shooting percentage before you even take a shot:

  1. Practice your shooting footwork.  During your on-court training add drills that incorporate movements you make in real game situations.  Place all of your concentration on your footwork leading into your shot.  Whether or not  you make the shot is less important.  This is a technique to build your shot piece-by-piece rather than focusing on everything all at once.  Make sure to practice the 1-2 step and hop.  Better footwork leads to better balance and less turnovers.
  2. Get into your shooting stance and stay balanced.  This goes hand-in-hand with your footwork.  You power your shot with your legs.  That power should move from your feet up through your release in a straight line like a rocket.  Anything else is inefficient and a waste of upforce.  One way to improve your balance is using where you land after the shot as feedback.  If you are coming down in the same spot you went up, chances are you are balanced shooting.  Practice makes permanent.  Just like with the footwork practice, take a number of shots with the focus on getting into your shooting stance towards the target, taking off in a straight line like a rocket and tracking your landing spot.  When the games come, it will be automatic.
  3. Stop fading away.  I am not completely against the fadeaway.  It has its place, for some players.  Most players should avoid it though.  If you feel like you need to fade, you probably should be looking for a better shot.  If you do fade away, make sure it’s already part of your game and ask yourself: do I even need to fade.  The biggest problem is not actually fading away; it’s doing so when it’s completely unnecessary.   If you’re not evading defense, go straight up.
  4. Work harder and smarter off the ball.  Moving without the ball and using screens are probably the two most under-utilized and under-trained skills in basketball.  Taking contested shots is a tell-tale sign of lazy shooters.  Need help with this?  Listen and watch Richard Hamilton.
  5. If all else fails, pass the damn ball.  If you’re not open or against the clock, why shoot?  Improving your shot selection is the quickest and easiest way to add percentage points to your shooting percentage.  Not to mention making you a better teammate.

Just remember, the biggest difference between good shooters and great shooters is what they do before they take a shot.  It’s their footwork, balance, shot selection and mental preparation.

Today is the day you stop being a lazy shooter.

Want more tips to improve your shooting? 

Subscribe to EffectiveBasketballTraining.com and look for our upcoming series: Basketball Shooting 101.

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  1. Practice
  2. Practice the right way
  3. Practice more
  4. Practice even more
  5. Practice even more than that
  6. Practice when you don’t want to
  7. Practice when you do
  8. Practice hard
  9. Practice harder
  10. Keep practicing!

“Really?  Is that it?  You’ve got to be kidding me,” you might be thinking.

I am more than serious about this. I’ve lived this and have personally experienced what it can do to my game.

To be frank, I know good players are not saying that because they live this practice mentality.  People looking for the magic pill that takes them from end of the bench scrub to starter, leading scorer and all-star are surely disappointed.

Sorry, there are no shortcuts to greatness on the basketball court or in life.

In 1978 Michael Jordan was cut from the high school varsity team as a sophomore for a number of reasons (height and strength) but also because he wasn’t quite good enough – yet.  He used that minor setback to motivate himself to do four things…

  • Practice more often
  • Practice smarter
  • Practice more intensely
  • Compete at a level that was unmatched

That was the catalyst for his ascent to greatness and immortality as a basketball player.

“Every time I play, I feel like I’ve got something to prove.  Getting cut in high school has a lot to do with that.  I was really surprised and embarrassed when the coach cut me.  That’s when I started to take the game seriously.” ~ Michael Jordan

Do you take your game seriously?

Nothing is stopping you from being like Mike when it comes to doing what it takes to become a better player.  Except yourself.

Find what drives you, bottle it up, take a swig and keep practicing!

Subscribe to EffectiveBasketballTraining.com to learn how to maximize the time you spend practicing and become a better player.

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Why Do You Play Basketball?

by Dannie Evans

Why do you play basketball?

Is it…

  • Fun
  • Competition
  • Popularity
  • Camaraderie
  • Scholarship
  • Money
  • Love
  • Something else?

Whatever the reason that you choose to play basketball, this blog was created for YOU.

You train in proportion to your aspirations.  That’s why it’s important to know why you play and what your goals are because they will be your motivation to practice and train hard.

No matter why you play or what outcome you desire there are two groups of characteristics needed to achieve your basketball goals.

Group 1: Ability to Perform at a High Level

  • Technical skills (dribbling, shooting, passing, rebounding etc.) that translate to in-game performance
  • Purposeful application of technical skills (otherwise known as tactical skills)
  • Basketball IQ
  • Athletic ability
  • Stamina

Group 2: Intangibles Only You Can Supply

  • Consistent work ethic
  • Determination
  • Heart

Group one consists of all the trainable qualities that make you a complete basketball player. We will do everything we can to help you improve every aspect in that group. All we ask is that you bring the work ethic, determination and heart.

Comments and suggestions are not only welcomed but encouraged.  The one thing this site will not be is an ongoing lecture.  Think of it more as an ongoing conversation among like-minded ball players.

Let’s get after it.

Real basketball training is an ongoing process that doesn’t happen overnight. Subscribe today and come along for the ride.

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