Don't Miss a Word of this Short Audio Snippet Where Don Kelbick Explains the Key to Developing Basketball Players and How to Avoid a VERY Common Mistake That Actually Deteriorates Player Skills!!!

Click the PLAY button below to listen to a short snippet of Don Kelbick explaining the KEY to developing basketball skills and why players in the United States are lagging behind other Countries.

Don Kelbick Workouts (2 min, 21 secs)
Don with pro players Rob Hite, Raja Bell, and Guillermo Diaz


Why Skills Deteriorate With Too Many Games

Don: I think this is one of the reasons why the U.S. has come under criticism, because their level of play and fundamentals and their - and the skill level of players in the United States is starting to lag behind the rest of the world because the rest of the world, they practice two or three times as much as they play. 

Here we hardly ever practice.  We just always play, play, play, play, play, play, play.  And players never get a chance to practice and improve on the things they need to improve on. 

Joe: I know I've seen on other websites and articles where they actually say that fundamentals can actually deteriorate during the season.

Don: Absolutely, they certainly do because fundamentals - just like anything else.  Just like any other skill; you get better the more you use it, and the less you use it the worse you get.  It's one of the seven fundamentals of learning called disuse.  In addition to which if you're playing in a game, and you might play for two hours, the entire two hours you may touch the ball for four or five minutes in two hours, and in half that time you're just gonna pass it to somebody else.  Probably of the other half probably 60 to 70 percent of that is gonna be doing stuff you shouldn't be doing anyway, and it doesn't leave you with a whole lot of time leftover. 

The Key To Improving Basketball Skills

If you wanna improve at a skill the key is repetition - repetition, repetition, repetition.  And unless you're gonna piss everybody off by going into a game and shooting 300 times during the course of a game you're not gonna get any better.  I mean, our workouts typically involve makes.  We count makes, and when I work with Raja Bell, when I work with Bruce Bowen, when I work with Rasul Butler is at a whole different level.  Normally, we try and go between 400 and 500 makes.  Rasul tries to get between 500 and 700 makes, and just -

Joe: Wow!  Is that like an hour long?  Is that what the workout is?

Don: Usually we go hour and 15, hour and 20 minutes.

What do you think about the points Don makes in the audio? Please leave your thoughts and opinion below...


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Joe Haefner says:
6/10/2009 at 11:59:18 AM

Great points, Coach E-Man. Everybody has different definition of fundamentals. Some would say that the tactical skills you mention as reading and reacting are fundamentals as well. Either way, you're right. Younger ages will focus more on skill drills and as they age, you need to implement some game-like drills to improve game performance.

I know some coaches use drills that put players in game-like situations where players are forced to make decisions. For example, play 3 on 3 where every play has to start with a pass to the wing and screen away from the ball. This forces the defense and the offense to practice this situation.

You might play 3 on 3 with no dribble to improve passing, movement away from the ball, and proper jabs & fakes to use when you have the ball.

You might play 3 on 3 with 1 defender trailing the 3 on 2 break to improve quick-decision making on the break.

These are drills that all work on game-situations and if some proper teaching is applied, it should increase the basketball player's intelligence.

There are many effective ways to do this, but an approach I like to use with youth teams is to:
1. Work on 1 or 2 skill drills.
2. Work on a game-like drill that's competitive and fun that uses those skills just practiced.

For example, after dribbling or on-ball defense skill drills, play some 1 on 1 full court.

You get repetitions to work on the skill and you also apply put it in a game-like situation.


Coach E-man says:
6/9/2009 at 10:12:22 AM

It all depends on the age group... and the main objectives of the season.

YES fundamentals are important, YES repetition is key to development...YES development should never stop. BUT....what if you do not have the resources for this to happen.

I run a basketball Progamme in the UK where resources are very limited...

I coach teams from U11 through to U19. My objectives on development are of course different on each age group.

Its all about finding that right balance to match up with your objectives. e.g my U11 team: we spend 80% on Basic Skills drills, focusing on 2 skills max in a 1.5hr session, the 20% is for them to practise that in a game during training. Our league is pretty small so we dont play fixtures much often, but for them to learn those skills is more important than winning games at that level.
While for my U16 and older kids: The objective is using those skills to win games. I believe its all about game awareness, knowing how to use those skills to win games. So out of our 1.5 hour training we have in a week we run skills drills for 30% of the time and play for 70% of the time. Kids over 16 need to understand the game more and how they can apply the skills to become winners by READING AND REACTING. Practise is all good BUT at that age with the limited time we have its the game experience that matters. We do get some new kids who join that age group, in an ideal world we will run fundamental sessions with them so that can catch up with the rest of the team but resources will not allow that here,but of cousre will take time out during the session to help them along with the basics e.g layup footwork etc.
Again its all about adapting our training session around your season objectives... and the bottom line is finding that balance to achieve those objectives. Fundamentals dont win games on there own, its how and when you use them that matters and that becomes easier with the more games a player plays.

Any idea on how other coaches manage this?


Charles says:
6/9/2009 at 3:23:20 AM

Thank u very much, it helps me a lot


Jan says:
6/8/2009 at 8:44:03 PM

Practice is more important then the game is so true. Make winning less important and learning how to play is way more important..

Teach the fundementals early, let them have fun while the do it and they will learn better. In games there are to many pressures- from parents and peers as well as coach on winning and not playing correctly...


Jan says:
6/8/2009 at 8:39:22 PM

Practice is more important then the game is to true. Make winning less important and learning how to play is way more important..


Coach B says:
6/8/2009 at 11:22:09 AM

Great advice! keep it coming


Coach Mark says:
6/8/2009 at 4:10:34 AM

Totally agree, found this out myself recently to my cost! I coach an under 10's team and from the start placed my focus on fundamental skills. I figured when they could do the basics without thinking i would move to more complex drills. We recently had to share our practice space with another team, their focus is on playing for long periods. My guys got drawn into this game focus mentality and the other coach encouraged both teams to just play. Boy has our game suffered as a result! Last week i went right back to basics, curtained off our space and worked on passing and movement. Game day they were like different kids!! Keep the great advice coming, two more of our league coaches are using this site now on my recommendation!


6/7/2009 at 11:35:43 PM

I am a AAU girls basketball Coach & I agree with u 100%, I am trying to get my players & parents to understand how important it is to come to practice I feel that's the only way u can become a better player no matter what sport u are playing.


Jamie says:
6/7/2009 at 10:30:11 PM

In junior high, our new coach practiced us 5 times a week with an optional on Sunday. It turned our basketball program around. We were better fundamentally and understood the game better. Consequently, we starting winning more games.


Bruce Blanton says:
6/6/2009 at 10:26:35 PM

Absolutely correct, I have coached high school basketball since 1990 at 4 different schools and people outside the game (parents, players, AAU teams) all looking for instant gratification in competition. Our philosphy is to practice 10-12 hrs. on fundamentals, dribbling, passing, rebounding, shooting, defense, offense and individual workouts before scrimmage or playing an opponent. More in off season and less during season, also working in weight program and conditioning makes time management skills of our staff of viable importance. Hopefully we can get this back to the top to make basketball a better game for all involved!


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