By Jeff Haefner
I don’t know about you but I watched quite a few of the state playoff games in Iowa recently. I noticed a few things we could all learn from. I’m sure if you watched in other states you noticed the same things happened all across the country.
Every team that made it far in the state tournament and into the championship rounds had GREAT guards! (Duh) They usually had good inside players too – but every single team had TWO, THREE, FOUR, or even FIVE really good guards that could handle the ball and control the game.
I noticed these guards were very well schooled and could do 4 things extremely well…
1 – They could handle the ball with either hand effortlessly going at any speed. You could tell they spent a lot of time working on their feel and control of the ball.
2 – They changed speed beautifully keeping the defense off balance and controlling the game. They constantly used a variety of speeds, not just slow and fast.
3 – They used the back up dribble consistently to get out of trouble, keep their dribble alive, keep the defense off balance, create good passing angles, and control the game.
4 – They used change of direction cross-over moves skillfully and effortlessly keeping the defense off balance, penetrating at will, getting where they want, and controlling the game. They almost always changed speed when they made the cross over dribble and change of direction.
It was a beautiful thing to watch these skilled guards play at such a high level and control the game. It is no coincidence that you see these skills at such a high level.
As a coach, you are NUTS if you’re not proactively developing these skills with your players. And not just the point guard! You need at least three players on your team (and preferably more) that can do all those skills above. It’s not rocket science. It just takes practice.
Use the off season to develop these skills and maybe at some point you’ll find your team at the state tournament too.