Motion Offense – Getting Post Player Touches

By Joe Haefner

In our recent teleseminar for the people who purchased the Motion Offense eBooks, there was a question that I really wanted to share.

Here is an edited version of the question and answer between the listener and Don Kelbick.

Guest: I’ve got a 6’9″ kid actually that’s going Division 1 next year. I want to make sure that our number one rule is that every third, fourth touch is a post touch. Does this rule sound like a good rule for the motion offense?

Don Kelbick: Right. I used to do that, and that might work for you, because it worked for me sometimes. What I found with this rule is that it shows how much kids want to please you. A lot of times, they’d get concerned about how many passes were thrown.

So a kid would stand out on the wing, and somebody would be wide open. They wouldn’t throw it to them because they would say, “You know, I thought we were on the fourth pass, so I have to throw it into the post.”

I actually went away from that rule and used this rule instead, “We’re not taking any jump shots until the post man touches the ball.”

And if you have a real good post player, then let him touch the ball twice. And then you teach your post player that when the ball goes into the post, the defense is going to collapse. At the very least, the defense is going to turn around to try and find the ball.

Teach your shooters, when the ball goes into the post, here’s where you go. And then you teach the post guy that if he doesn’t have a post play, this is where you look.

By throwing the ball into the post and having the post guy throw the ball back out, the number of open shots that you will get will stagger you.

Could 3 on 3 Basketball Be the Best for Youth Players?

By Joe Haefner

Back in college, I came back to my hometown for a Christmas break. I ran into one of my old high school coaches by the name of Casey Ditch and we were talking about youth basketball stuff. Then he said, “Man, I wish all they did with youth players was play 3-on-3. That’s all I did when I was younger.” This really caught my attention, because Casey had developed into quite a player back in his day. He led the state in scoring, beating out former Chicago Bull Bobby Hansen (for those of you who remember him). He did unbelievable stuff with the ball and still could. If it wasn’t for two bad ankles, who knows what Casey would’ve done. We had a particular coach in the area who bragged about holding him to 15 points.

If Casey became such a good player by mostly playing 3 on 3 HALF-COURT as a youth, don’t you think your players could benefit from this as well?

When I thought a little more about the conversation I had with Casey, I realized that I played a lot of 3 on 3 when I was younger, too. I started playing in 3 on 3 tournaments when I was in 4th grade. I didn’t start playing organized 5 on 5 until 6th grade, and I handled myself quite well against players who had been playing since they were 8 years old.

If you think about it, 3 on 3 HALF-COURT basketball makes a lot of sense. It will improve a youth player’s long-term development for a number of reasons.

1. Players touch the ball more often. In the 5 on 5 game, players can go almost the whole game without touching the ball. In 3 on 3, you could touch the ball EVERY possession. When the player gets more experience handling the ball during game situations, the player is going to improve much more than the players who hardly touch the ball in 5 on 5. It doesn’t matter if you are the point guard or the star post player, you’re still going to get more touches in 3 on 3.

2. More room to operate. A lot of younger players, especially under the age of 12 don’t have the skill, strength, or experience to utilize their basketball skills with 10 players on the court. 3 on 3 gives them more room to operate and practice their skills.

3. Players learn the game! When there are only six (3 on 3) players on the court, players are more inclined to run the pick-and-roll, screen away, and screen the ball without a coach even telling them to do so, because there are fewer options out there. After awhile, they will start to figure things out for themselves which is FANTASTIC and exactly what you want the players to do. With ten (5 on 5) players on the court, a lot of those options aren’t there, because they lack the skill, strength, and experience. Now, with fewer players on the court, it gives them a split second longer to recognize a situation.

4. No pressing & zones. Now, instead of spending time on breaking full court pressure, breaking half-court pressure, playing against a 1-3-1, playing against 3-2, playing against a 2-3, playing against a triangle-and-two, playing against a box-and-one, you can focus on the FUNDAMENTALS. Youth coaches waste so much of their precious time working on things that they shouldn’t worry about at an early age.

99% of the presses that are ran by youth coaches wouldn’t work in high school or college, anyways. Most of the presses I’ve seen, just run 2 to 3 players at the ball and hope he throws the ball high enough, so somebody else can pick it off. It’s just a tactic that takes advantage of a flaw in our basketball development system, because players lack the skill, strength, and experience to react correctly to these situations. Spending that extra time on basketball skills and concepts, will benefit them much more for the future. Not to mention, if taught incorrectly (which most of the time they are), the zones and presses can ingrain some terrible habits in your players that don’t work at the higher levels.

Personally, I feel that youth players should not play in 5 on 5 leagues before age 10 or 11. Part of me feels that may even be too young.

What are your thoughts?

Coaching Youth Basketball with Limited Time (1 Practice a Week)

By Jeff Haefner

We just wrapped up our bonus tele-seminar for customers that ordered the Motion Offense eBook last night…

During the tele-seminar a few youth coaches asked some very good and interesting questions.  One question in particular was…

“I coach 5th grade girls.  We only practice once a week for one hour.  What would you recommend that we focus on during that short amount of time”?

Summarized in my own words, here’s Don’s answer…

In that short amount of time, I would focus on SKILLS, allow the kids some time to play, and give them homework.

To give you an example, here’s a way to work on Skills (fundamentals) and Motion Offense at the same time…

1.  First, pick a couple cuts or screens that you think would be good for your team.  For example, you could choose down-screens and away-screens.

2. Next, run shooting drills that incorporate those movements.  You could have two offensive players (no defense).  One player on the wing, another player on the block.  A coach or third player could have the ball on top of the key.  The player on the wing sets a down screen, the other player rubs off the screen, catches the ball, pivots, and shoots.  Now repeat over and over.  Your players are working on screens (part of your motion offense), pivoting footwork and shooting (skills).

3.  You can do the same thing with away screens, basket cuts, and any type of cut or screen.  The key is to choose a couple elements from your motion offense and turn those elements into skill building drills.  Your imagination is the only limit to the types of drills you can come up with.  It doesn’t hurt to mix things up and make the youth basketball drills fun too. 

By practicing this way, you’ll save a ton of time and get a lot more done.

Also, you’re providing drills that your players can practice on their own.  Don’t be afraid to give them some homework.  Some players will put in the work outside of practice to get better.

Let them play

After practicing skills, I would let them play at the end.  It’s up to you how much time you spend scrimmaging.  But as an example, you could work on skills for 45 minutes, then scrimmage for 15 minutes at the end.   In practice, I think kids need to play at least a little bit.

During the scrimmage, start by showing the kids general spacing.  You’ll probably want to put tape on the floor so they know the basic motion offense spots.  Then just tell them to play.  If they don’t know what to do, just say “Do you remember the down screen drill we did at the beginning of practice?  Do that.  Sometimes it will work, sometimes it won’t  That’s ok.  If it doesn’t work, do it again.” 

Now you have worked on skills, you have the beginning of a motion offense, and your kids are “learning how to play”. 

How productive do you think that hour would be if you spent nearly the entire time teaching them a set play or a patterned offense?  It takes a long time for kids to learn and remember patterns and plays.  Kids will get VERY little benefit from that!

That’s the great thing about a motion offense.  You can work on skills and motion offense at the same time.

You could even practice some man to man defense during the scrimmage.  Just have one coach responsible for making minor corrections during the scrimmage.  This coach only watches the defense and tries to improve their positioning.

This is how you get the MOST out a short amount of time.  Kids need to play, learn skills, and have fun.

If you’d like to hear the actual question and answer in audio, Right Click here and select Save As.

My Personal Experience With Tom Nordland’s Swish Method

By Joe Haefner

When I was in 9th grade, I developed into a pretty good shooter. Every shooting session, I would hit a hot streak and bury 10 to 15 three’s in a row. I think I made as many as 25 during one session.

My shot was quick, but I had a very low release. My varsity coach then asked me if I wanted to play college basketball and I said, “Yes!” From that point forward, he worked with me to develop a higher release point. For some reason, things didn’t click, and I developed a hitch in my shot. I lacked the coordination between my lower body and upper body that was required to shoot a jump shot. Looking back, I wasn’t using my legs to get my shot there, I was straining too much with my upper body, and I tried to shoot at the peak of my jump rather than shooting as I was going up.

I lost my shooting touch..

By senior year, I was a total head case. I was always thinking about my shot mechanics instead of letting the shot fly. I shot 33% from the field which had dropped from 42% the previous year and 50% my sophomore year.

Now, let’s fast forward to this last year. As I was reviewing and watching some great shooting DVDs, I came across Swish 2.

I started toying with the shooting methods Tom Nordland uses in Swish 2. I hadn’t practiced or played with any consistency for about 2 years, so I was quite rusty. My girlfriend also took some interest in shooting with me and I tested out the shooting methods on her.

Here is a quick summary of what I did:

1. I developed my “Pure” shooting stroke. I practiced shooting to a partner, not at the hoop.

Swish 2 goes into great detail about the “Pure” shooting stroke and how to develop it.

2. Next, I started to incorporate my legs into the shot. I still did not shoot at a hoop.

3. I started to toy with adjusting my shooting distance with my legs while using the same stroke. Still did not shoot at a hoop. All I was trying to do is get a feel for the shot.

4. I started shooting very close (about 5 feet away) to the hoop. I gradually moved out.

Instantly, I noticed I was shooting with TOUCH! It felt good. Granted, I was shooting from 5 feet away, but it still felt great. Gradually, I started moving out. The same thing happened. I was consistently hitting nothing, but net. The shot felt good. It looked good.

After a few months of shooting with the Swish Method, I really started stroking the basketball with a nice touch. Not to mention, my girlfriend (who never played high school basketball) was becoming a pretty good shooter.

Want to know the crazy thing about it? We were only shooting once a week.

Now, remember when teaching or making shooting adjustments, it isn’t all gravy. I struggled and still struggle at times when practicing as will anybody else when first changing a shot. Most players will often miss more before they start making more. This applies to the whole “Take 2 steps backwards to take 3 steps forward” analogy meaning that you may miss more at first with your new shooting technique (2 steps backwards), but you will make more in the long-run (3 steps forward).

I’m still working on my 3-point shot after 5 to 6 months. If I had time to practice like I did in high school, this could’ve been done in a few weeks. This is just to put in perspective that you do not want to learn a new shooting method and jump straight out to 3-point land. Things just won’t work and you’ll get frustrated.

Here is what I learned from the Swish Method:

1. At any age, you could develop a GREAT shot using the Swish method with some persistence and patience. And you truly develop that “Pure” shooting touch that all of the great shooters have. When I used to miss shots, I would MISS. The ball would clang off the rim and come flying back at me or somewhere else. Now, I get a lot of shots that go in with those “shooter’s touch” bounces.

2. Now, my girlfriend shoots better than me, so I’m never teaching her anything basketball-related again.

If you like to learn more about the Swish Method, check out our review on Swish 2 or visit their website here Swish 2.