A Secret to Chris Paul’s Success – Change of Pace

By Joe Haefner

How does Chris Paul blow by defenders so easily?

I feel sorry for all of the defenders trying to guard Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets as he blows by them for a jump shot or dunk.  I am amazed at the way he finds that 3rd and 4th gear and CHANGES PACE so quickly and effortlessly.

Chris Paul goes from really fast to super fast and he’ll stop at the drop of a dime which is nearly impossible to adjust to as a defender.   That’s why he has asserted himself as one of the top NBA MVP candidates along with Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett.  

Do you have Chris’s amazing speed and quickness? 

Most likely, you do not.  Don’t worry.  You can still be extremely effective by CHANGING SPEEDS.  Change of speed or pace can make a slow player very difficult to guard.  You think Larry Bird was quick?  If so, think again. 

Larry Bird might be one of the slowest players to play the game, but he still utilized the change of pace and was voted as one of the top 50 NBA players of all-time! Have you ever tried guarding somebody who changes speeds all of the time?  I have and it sucks!  You never know when he’s going to explode by you or slow down and pull up for a jump shot.  You can never relax as a defender!  

How You Can Practice Change of Pace and Become Harder to Guard

With that being said, you do need practice more than two speeds (Fast & Slow).   Good defenders can adjust to this after just a few possessions. Many of the great players have 4 to 5 different speeds to throw the defender off.  I remember watching Mike Conley of Ohio State in the NCCA Tourney in 2007.  I thought he had 6 different speeds and he was never out of control.

In order to practice this you can simply dribble the ball up and down the court.  Do your change of speeds at two to three times up the court.  For example, change speeds at the free throw line, half court, and the opposite free throw line. You can practice different speeds…. 3/4 speed to full speed, 1/2 speed to full speed, 1/4 speed to full speed, and stop to full speed. 

Try to minimize the time it takes you to reach that top gear.  This basketball move is also known as the “hesitation dribble”. You can even practice using multiple speeds.  For example, going from 1/2 speed to 3/4 speed to full speed.  Mix it up to portray game-like situations. When you get the hang of this, you can practice at a hoop going in for lay ups and pull up jump shots.  Once, you perfect this, this change of pace will have defenders’ heads spinning.