3 Simple Steps to Improve Your Rebounding

By Jeff Haefner

Rebounding is one of the most important, yet underrated skills in basketball. Of all the uncertainties that exist in basketball, the one constant is there will be missed shots. Whether a team shoots well or shoots poorly, often the winning or losing team is determined by what happens to the shots that are missed. The team that gets most of the rebounds gets additional offensive opportunities and that often translates into more points on the scoreboard, which usually means wins.

Becoming a better rebounder is simple and you can get there in 3 simple steps.

1) Conditioning

Basketball is a physical game. Running up and down the court over the course of a game will wear you out. In addition, there is a lot of physical contact. The closer you get to the basket, the more physical it gets. Remember, close to the basket is where most of the rebounds are. The combination of the running that you do during the game and the body blows you take while going after the glass is enough to wear anyone down. Often, rebounding comes down to a war of attrition, whoever is left standing at the end wins. The better condition you are in, the longer you can last on the glass. You will find that being in great condition will allow you to get rebounds at the end of the game that you might not be able to get early in the game.

Conditioning is a great equalizer. A player that is bigger and stronger than you are in the beginning of the game might not be so effective at the end of the game if you are in better condition than he is.

2) Knowledge

Just knowing a couple of things will drastically improve your chance of getting a rebound.

First, know personnel, especially your teammates. If you know other players tendencies, when they shoot and from where, you will greatly enhance your chances of grabbing misses. Knowing when shots will be taken will give you a quicker start to the glass and allow you to get better position than your opponent.

Second, knowing where the ball is going to go will also give you a great advantage over your opponent. The simple fact that 80% of all missed shot rebound at the same or opposite angle should give you a head start on the rebound. What that means is, if a shot is taken from the corner, 80% of the misses will rebound back toward the same corner or over the rim to the opposite corner. Shots taken from the wing will rebound either back toward the wing or toward the opposite wing 80% of the time.

Knowing these two things will put you in great position to collect any missed shots

3) Technique

You don’t have to jump over tall buildings or be stronger than a locomotive to be a good rebounder. You need good rebounding technique.

You don’t have to know a lot of things, only how to swim. What does that mean? A swim move is simple, quick and effective.

This is how to execute a swim move. The objective is to get your inside hip and inside shoulder past your opponent. As your defender either steps to box you out, don’t fight his pressure, use it against him. As he steps out, step inside of him with your inside leg (the leg closest to your defender on the side you want to beat him on). At the same time, use your inside arm (the arm on the same side as your inside foot) and “swim” over the top of his shoulder. It is called a “swim” because it is essentially the same stroke you use when you are swimming in a pool. The “swim” will allow you to get your inside shoulder past your defender. When timed properly, you will find yourself between the basket and your defender and in excellent position for the rebound.

Rebounding is an important part of the game of basketball and it is vital to the success of your team. With these 3 simple concepts you can improve your rebounding and become a significant factor in the success of your team and make you an invaluable asset to any team you are a member of.

How Watching Tiger Woods Can Improve the Mental Aspects of Your Basketball Game

By Don Kelbick

I had some thoughts while watching Tiger in the U. S. Open and how it can help with basketball. I think that more than any other sport, golfers have to deal with more mental aspects than anyone. I love to compare the mental aspect of golf with what is necessary to be a good basketball player.

Tiger Woods

For my money, Tiger Woods is the best player ever in any sport and also the most influential. You can talk about others but I don’t remember anyone raising the baskets because of Michael Jordan or the fences getting longer because of Barry Bonds. I am aware of golf courses trying to become “Tiger proof” by adding length, hazards, etc. as a result of the way Tiger plays the course. The PGA Tour now has a traveling gym so players can work out and the players travel with personal trainers, all in an attempt to keep up. We weekend golfers feel that effect as well. High compression balls, 460 cc drivers, titanium shafts with high torque and stiff tips, etc. are all “Tiger effects” to help us think we play the same game as he does.

Talent and skill aside, Tiger shows 2 things that set him apart from other players:

1. He shows no fear and lives in the moment. Each shot is a game unto itself. If he hits a good shot or bad shot, it has no effect on his next shot. If he tries to play a draw off the tee and it turns into a hook that winds up three fairways over, it will not deter him from hitting a draw the next time the shot calls for one. If he hits a bad shot (and there are plenty of them) he does not think about what he did to get there. He only thinks about the next shot and what he needs to do to get to where he wants to be.

2. He understands what he can control. Of his putt on 18 on Sunday to tie the tournament he said, “The grass was uneven and I wasn’t sure of the break. The only thing I can control is to make a solid and true stroke.  I do that, if it goes in or not, I can live with it.”

Compare that thought process to basketball players who turn the ball over or miss a few shots in a row. Sports is an exercise in failure, if you play – you will fail. Your success is determined by how you handle it when situations don’t go right.

By the way, the best golfer ever, Tiger Woods, loses about 75% of the tournaments he plays in.

Coaching Basketball Effectively by Leading the “Right” Way

By Don Kelbick

Sports hold a unique place in the American culture. Few things have the same impact in so many areas of our lives. Good days and bad days are often defined by how our teams did. Not just for the players, but for the fans as well.

So few things can teach as much about life as sports can. Teamwork, handling success, dealing with disappointment, standing up to the pressure of constant scrutiny, punctuality, leadership, etc. are all aspects that are developed through playing organized sports. For that reason, few professions offer more diversity or uniqueness than coaching.

Coaches are more than people on the sideline calling plays for their teams. The responsibilities and techniques of coaching basketball require the coach to be a motivator, teacher, substitute parent, confidant, tutor, policeman among other things.  But above all…. a coach is a leader!!

If You Lead, They Will Follow

In a culture as totally encompassing as sports, teams take on the personality and values of their coach. This is true for younger players all the way up through the professional ranks. Coaches make demands, set rules and make decisions based upon his own value system. To be a truly effective leader, the coach has to live those values. Players look up to and want to emulate their coach, especially with younger players. When you accept a coaching job, even at a youth level though to a lesser extent, you decide to accept a lifestyle. Regardless of what else you do, to your players, you will always be “Coach.” Whether you see your players in practice, at the supermarket or in a restaurant, you will be “Coach” first, and whoever you really are second. Your actions must reflect that.

Your players will do what you do. Use questionable language in practice, so will they. If you dress inappropriately, so will they. Be late for appointments with them, so will they. Your players, especially at the younger levels, will emulate the way you carry yourself. For that reason, coaching has become a lifestyle.

Create a Persona You Can Live With

Being a leader of young lives is an awesome responsibility. You have a right to lead your life the way you want to but you have to understand the effect you have on others. You have to find a way in your personal life where you can enjoy and grow your life and yet be a person that players will want to look up to. You have to be a person parents will want to entrust their kids to. You have to make sacrifices.

I know great coaches, great teachers, great leaders who have lost their jobs because they were seen in a strip club. I know others who are out of coaching, not due to wins and losses, but due to DUIs. After all, would you entrust your child to someone who doesn’t exercise enough judgment not to drive when he has been drinking? Once you decide to coach, you affect not only your life but the lives of others as well. You must create a coaching persona that you would be comfortable living with but it also must be someone you would be comfortable having your child play for.

However, that coaching persona cannot be different than the person that you really are. Players can tell when you are faking, they can tell when you are not being genuine. In addition, if you are not real, you can’t keep it up all the time. Coaching adults is a little different; they can figure out that there is a coach in their coaching role and a coach in a personal role.

But, if you decide to coach younger players, high school, youth, etc., those kids have a more difficult time with that. You have to remember, at that level, you are always a role model. Standing in front of a player in the supermarket is the same as standing in front of a player in practice. Remember back to when you were in 5th, 6th, 7th grade. If you saw a teacher outside of school and that teacher acted differently than you expected, you looked at him differently when you went to school the next day. The same is true, even more so, as a coach.

I am not saying that you have to change who you are. Nor am I saying that you have to live your life according to your players’ expectations. I am saying that is part of your consideration when making your decision as to whether to become a coach or not, the role model factor has to figure in. If you wish to be a coach, you have to be willing to bear that responsibility.

Which Passing Statistic (Not An Assist) Leads To Teamwork & Unselfishness?

By Joe Haefner

We posted a really interesting new article about Gretzky’s.  This little known statistic can help you improve basketball teamwork and passing. 

To read more about this great pass statistic, you can visit this page: Gretzky’s

We learned about this interesting stat from Don Kelbick and Mike Neer.  It was Mike Neer that actually coined the term “Gretzky”. So we thought you might be interested in an email from Mike Neer that supplements the article above.   

Coach Neer coaches at Rochester University. Mike has won over 500 games and has led his team to 8 Sweet Sixteens on the way to 4 Final Fours and a National Championship at the Division 3 National Tournament.

Here’s Coach Mike Neer’s email response to us:

I came up with the Gretzky in the mid-80s during the Bird-Magic era of the NBA. They made passing cool, but many of our players were forcing passes in attempts to get the assist. For example, when a point guard was looking to feed the low post with the post-defender playing on the high side, attempts by the PG to curl the pass around the post-defender were either assists or turnovers. I wanted much more than a 1:1 assist-turnover ratio, so I encouraged the PG to fake a pass to the post (to draw the post-defender up the lane) before passing to the wing (opposite the post-defender) who would then feed the post on the baseline-side while the post pivoted to seal his defender from the pass. The two passes led to countless baskets with far fewer turnovers, but our PG sulked because he did not get an assist. Even though he set up the assist with a pass-fake and pass to the wing, he thought he didn’t get due credit: he became the straight-man who set-up the punch-line but who didn’t get the laugh. I felt we had to recognize and credit the PG for his set-up.

It was then that I said to our team that we need to learn something from ice hockey. The players were confused as they knew that I liked ice hockey as much as root canals. I informed them that ice hockey was way ahead of basketball in one statistic; ice hockey can award two assists to a goal. If ice hockey can recognize sharing the set-up of a goal, why couldn’t we? When Abdul-Jabbar outlets to Magic near half-court who immediately throws ahead to Worthy for a lay-up, why shouldn’t Jabbar get as equal credit as Magic for initiating a quick score? So we began to chart the hockey pass, so we could recognize those who initiated plays by pass-faking and swinging the ball to a teammate with a better passing angle. Within days the term hockey pass became the Gretzky, as it was the only hockey player’s name I knew. The players immediately caught on and began using Gretzky as a verb (“Gretzky to the wing!”) and a noun (“I’m open for the Gretzky from the top of the key on ball reversals.”)

The concept of passing away from the defense has been basic to effective team play for many sports for many years. We simply put a name on it. Thanks for asking.

Joe (Myself):

I’ve seen this scenario happen countless times with Kobe Bryant.  He drives the lane and draws 2 or 3 defenders.  He kicks the ball out to the corner. The defense rotates quick enough to prevent the player in the corner from shooting.  The player in the corner quickly recognizes this and passes it to another open player on the wing that nails the shot. I’m assuming you would count this as a “Gretzky” to Kobe?

Coach Mike Neer:

Regarding your Kobe scenario…while I would credit Kobe for breaking down the defense, I would not give him a Gretzky.

  • When a player dribbles to the basket, there is some intent to shoot. It is that intent that draws the help-defense off his man which may set into place defensive reaction (possibly rotation) to another player with intent to shoot.
  • There is no intent to shoot in a Gretzky. A Gretzky involves recognition that A>C>B is safer and more effective than A>B. There is a dribble Gretzky when a player fakes a pass to B and then dribbles (once or twice) to improve his passing angle to B. A dribble Gretzky can also result in an assist.
  • Ultimately, it is a pass fake and pass to a 3rd player that makes a Gretzky. This is different than penetrate and pitch and any subsequent passes which involve a threat to shoot.

Thanks for your interest.

New Article: 10 Keys to a Great Basketball Defensive Stance

By Jeff Haefner

Ball pressure is a critical component to a tough defense (especially for man-to-man).  If you back off the ball too much, it’s easy for the offensive player to make the perfect pass in the post. 

Ball pressure is a very subtle thing that can seriously affect your defense!  It’s something you must constantly watch.  In order to pressure the ball and avoid getting beat, you MUST have great balance and a great defensive stance.

We posted a new article giving you 10 Keys to a Great Basketball Defensive Stance.  These tips should help you improve ball pressure and one on one defense.

Have a look and let us know what you think.

Important Lesson for Youth Basketball Coaches

By Jeff Haefner

Here’s a guest post and very good lesson from Coach Ken Sartini.  We really think he was on the money with this, so we decided to post it on our blog.  Enjoy…

I went to church this morning and as I was looking through the weekly bulletin I came upon this:

Jesus said:  ” A foolish person builds a house on sand…. A wise person builds a house on solid ground. ”

The Deacon spoke on this at length during his homily and it got me thinking.  Since I always told my students about building a house and that it takes a good foundation for it to last, but with a poor foundation the building will crumble.  I told them that their education was the foundation for their lives. Get a good education and build a good foundation for your future.

This holds true in basketball also.  If we are to have a good program we need to build from the bottom up… ( the foundation ) and that begins at the lowest level possible, teaching the fundamentals of the game and how to play, NOT just sets and winning as the end all.  Good solid fundamentals are the foundation of your programs.  As a varsity coach I loved it when kids came in knowing how to play m2m defense, be able to read and set screens and how to shoot.  I didn’t care what offense they ran, as long as they had these basics, we could teach the rest.

Now comes the planning part. 

I was talking to John Jenkins and we were discussing fundamentals vs winning and we came to the conclusion that while the basketball fundamentals are extremely important there are other things that the players need to know in order to implement these.  He related to me of a college coach that came in to coach some of his younger kids and taught nothing but fundamentals. Since they didn’t run a press offense in practice, they got destroyed and never got the chance to do much in games.

John and I talked about some kids that were shooting the ball off their left eye and pushing the ball instead of good solid fundamental shooting.  We had some kids that came in and they were dribbling with their right hands, taking the ball to their left side before bringing the ball up to the proper side to shoot.  It takes a lot of time to break bad habits like this.

So, to all you lower level youth coaches, plan your practices wisely! 

Make a good practice plan, just like you would have a lesson plan in the classroom.  I realize that at some levels time is a big factor – so planning is even more important.  If you don’t know how to make a good practice plan, search the Internet and find the answer….. or find a mentor to help you learn that skill.  Use your time wisely, make sure that you cover the things that they are going to need to  play the game while teaching good fundamentals.  Help them build a good foundation so they can continue to play as they progress through each level….. and they will have some success.

While everyone wants to win…. in the end.. who really cares if kids go 30-0 and cant play when they reach high school because they are so far behind fundamentally.  That is the measure of your success as a youth basketball coach.

OK, that’s my sermon for the day.  Sorry if I bored you… but like I always say…JMO….

If you’d like to contact me or ask me a question, just leave your comments below.

Coach Ken Sartini

In the long run, it’s not what we have done, but what we have become through all of our experiences.