“If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes”
John Wooden, UCLA
My last blog was about a coach who had won many championships here in Madrid. I said that he had a preference for 2 safe passes rather than 1 long risky pass….as I was typing it I wanted to write that I didn’t agree with that….but who cares what I think…! So this time, I will talk about another coach who had a different philosophy on the matter. Just to show that “…there are many roads to Jerusalem” ….(good quote Len Busch!)
This weeks coach worked with 15 year old boys.
To put this risky pass into a situation, from an inbound pass, running from free throw line extended, across the free throw line in a ‘U’ form, receive the ball and without stopping, spike the ball to the floor, and with 1 or 2 dribbles max, throw the ball ahead with a 1 handed pass off the dribble. The receivers at the other end would be crossing through from wing to wing. All season long, in training and in games they had passes flying out of the gym, off the backboard, through rafters, high, wide…all sorts. But, as the season progressed…these ‘risky’ Hollywood passes got more and more successful, inch perfect at times for easy lay ups or after receiving- a nice little touch pass for trailers.
The coach thought that if it was the right decision…it’s cool de la…turnover or not…if it comes off it looks like the professionals, this is the pass that Steve Nash, Rubio or Teodosic would make, so why not practice it all your life, he said you can’t just spring these things on them when they are older….build up the muscles and let them get a feel for it.
The coach was very creative in how he taught these skills too, the team used to have competitions-who could hit the glass or who could score using this pass, if you miss the glass you are out, or use a bounce pass and hit a bottle, last one to hit buys everyone a drink. All sorts of games to train this pass. These competitions made developing fun.
These were his method for training technical skills, but, in the tactical side of the game he was very different, step by step, basic progressions, even at this age there were no pick and rolls, just off ball screens towards the last 3rd of the season. In saying this he trained the movements, he would have players run towards the ball as if to set a pick then they would cut the the basket at the last second. He had plays that looked like the were going to use screens but they weren’t, this again gave the players a feel, he had a pass and cut offences that looked like horns and ucla…but the screens were not used. In the beginning players would pass to the wing and run straight to the weak side corner, similar to pass and screen away, very simple…building for the future. You could say it like a mis direction play…
(Oh, please send me your best misdirection plays…no excuses, draw on a piece of paper, photo it, then email it, or describe or send me a link to a video…it’s something I’m interested in firstname.lastname@example.org I promise I will publish the 2nd best one I see on here with your name on it and keep the best one to myself)
Another coach I spoke to with a similar philosophy to the one above taught his players to catch and attack every time they caught the ball, keep moving…upon receiving they would spike the ball down the the floor and go 1v1 all the time, these girls were aged 12-13. Going 1v1 didn’t mean catching and attacking the basket every time. They were encouraged to use this skill everywhere on the court, to go at your player and either get by them or back up so they can use the space they create to shoot or see passes etc. The players off the ball knew what was happening so their spacing and off ball movement was so good it was never a problem for the ball handler. They played at 7-8 metres so more than enough space.
All season long his girls turned the ball over trying to attack, but as with the passes before, the turnovers became less and less and the girls were never pulled up for turning the ball over, only ever spoken to for not attacking, the team had worked together to get a player the ball, so when they caught and didn’t attack they lost the little advantage the attack and kick out had created. The players were praised for catching/controlling and attacking…this built up an attacking mentality in the players, they were not be afraid of defenders and not afraid to try to create an advantage…
With the passes or the 1v1, it was always important to say why you are using this method….
The players here understood the bigger picture, they know what the pros were doing and were taught that in 2-3 years time these difficult passes or tough 1v1 situations will be the norm. It would be easy for the coach to say…don’t play 1v1 or don’t make that pass as its always a turnover…the players always play, the games were never on the line, players were not taken off for turnovers. The games were a playground to have go irrespective of the score at the end of the game. The beauty of the youth games here are there are no score boards, so they players don’t feel that burden of time/points/league tables to bury their creativity.
So does the quote that Coach John Wooden made apply to players as well as coaches?
At my club…yes….and no.
Any questions or blog requests….get in touch.