Tips From Kyle Korver – Is Your Inner Circle Making You Better?

By Joe Haefner

Kyle Korver was the 2nd oldest player at the age of 33 to make his 1st all star appearance.

Prior to joining the Atlanta Hawks in 2012, he’d only started in 10 career games.

As Kyle mentions below, hard work, the right attitude, and surrounding yourself with the right people can help you achieve goals that others did not believe you could attain.

“I think there’s something to who knows what can happen when you put your heart and soul into something and do the daily work every day and try to be consistent and try to be open minded,” said Korver. “And surround yourself with people who can make you better. Who knows what can happen? It’s kind of a cool message, I suppose. There’s the saying: ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ I just try to be open minded and learn from it all.”

“It wasn’t always easy. There were a lot of hard moments and sometimes you learn from the end of the bench. Sometimes you learn from injuries. If you can keep a good attitude and keep on working eventually situations change and you can put those things to use.”

“I’ve always thought of myself as a basketball player. Shooting should always be what I do best, but I enjoy the whole game. I enjoy defense. I enjoy passing. I love setting screens. I like coming in and trying to block a shot on the weak side. I love x’s and o’s. I love working, For me, I’ve never thought of myself if I was labeled as a shooter, you can go and say whatever you want. I know that I love the whole game of basketball. So that’s what I’ve always believed in. Maybe now some people are changing their opinions a little bit and that’s great, but it really doesn’t matter because I have the most amazing job. I play basketball and I can keep working on getting better.”

Practice Does Not Make You Better. Practicing The Right Thing Does.

By Don Kelbick

I have been coaching, effectively, for my entire life. Even as a child, I played while preparing myself to be a coach. While it is what I have the most passion for, I do other things. However, no matter what I am doing, I see basketball in it. I often draw analogies from other things that I do to basketball. I want to share my latest experience.

After a 2 year injury hiatus, I returned to playing golf, for recreation. At one time I had gotten down to a 6 handicap but now I felt I had to start all over again. That meant buckets of balls on the driving range before I hit the course.

Three or four times a week, I would go to the practice range and hit balls and re-acclimate myself to my clubs. Every day, I would see others on the range banging and banging balls and complaining about how their games where not getting any better. Every day, they would be back trying to hit the ball as far as possible and being discouraged with their last round.

“Basketball!” I thought. How so? To understand, I have to ask you to indulge me for a few minutes while, if you are unfamiliar with golf, I explain how the game is constructed.

The object of golf, for those who keep score and don’t play competitively (where the objective is to get a lower score than your opponent), is to beat “Par.” Par is the number of shots that the golf course designer and operator program into each hole. When you add the Par of all the holes together you get the course objective (hence the phrase, “Par for the course”). With a very rare exception for a Par 6, most courses are made up of par 3s, par 4s, and par 5s.

While playing, there are 3 types of shots: tee shots, approach shots, and putts. When the holes are designed, they use the number of each shot you should make (based on layout and distance) to get the ball in the hole. In the design, every hole has a tee shot and every hole has 2 putts. What determines par is the number of approach shots you should make. A “Par 3” has a tee shot, no approach shots and 2 putts. A “Par 4” has a tee shot, 1 approach shots and 2 putts. A “Par 5” has 1 tee shot, 2 approach shots and 2 putts.

Just bear with me a little longer.

Putts are always made with a putter. Approach shots and tee shots can be made with any club. If you want to get better at golf, why is this important to know? Because in an ideal round, 50% of your shots are made with the putter. The other 50% can be made with any of the other 13 clubs you are legally allowed to carry in your bag. There are 18 tee shots on an 18 hole course. On a Par 72 golf course (which a majority of golf courses are), probably 8 – 10 tee shots are made with the “Driver” club. That’s about 14% of your shots are made with a Driver.

Here is the payoff. I go to the range, watch people spend 90% of their time practicing with their driver. They keep banging and banging and banging a club they will use 14% of the time and complaining about how they are not getting any better. It seems to me that if you want your score to come down, you should spend the majority of your time practicing your putts, the shot you will use at least 50% of the time. Since the designers built in 2 putts per hole, any hole where you take less than 2 putts, your score will come down. If you get better at putting, your golf score will improve. That is what the pros do.

Thanks for bearing with me. Here is the analogy.

Whenever I walk in to the gym, all I see are kids throwing up 3-point shots. I watch practices and teams are practicing getting 3-point shots. Over and over again I see this. When I work out with players (especially young ones), all they want to do is throw up 3s. They will change their form, their rhythm, their footwork, so they won’t go over the line. In a workout, a make, a miss, a 3, a 2, a lay-up, all count for the same amount of points – 0. We don’t keep score in a workout; we just want to get better.

I go watch young players work out on their own. Like the bangers on the golf driving range, they keep throwing 3 after 3 after 3 (especially younger kids, which is especially damaging to their development). Then, they come to me (or their coach does) and they want me to help. They don’t understand why their shooting is so poor.

Looking at their numbers, I have seen kids practice 3s for hour after hour, only to have them take one or two 3s per game (or less). But, they say, they are even missing short and mid-range shots.

It seems to me, like in golf, if you want to get better, you should practice most the shots you take the most.

I have worked with some of the best 3-point shooters in the game, some of the highest percentage 3-point shooters in the history of the NBA. A huge percentage of our workout time is spent on shots inside the 3-point line. In a 500 shot workout, we may shoot 50 3s. Most of those are reps at the end of the workout, after we have gotten other things done.

Even the best 3-point shooters in history, Reggie Miller, Ray Allen, Dale Ellis, who were not only great shooter but high volume 3-point shooters as well, only take about 30% of their shots from beyond the arc for their careers. The 3-point shot might be the loudest part of their games, but they became great players by doing the other things well.

The sayings go, “Practice makes Perfect.” Then came along “Perfect practice makes perfect.” I don’t believe anything makes perfect. Thomas Edison once said, “If you try to make everything perfect, you’ll never get anything done.”

I think if you want to get better, practice the things that you actually do. Set aside some time to work on things that expand your game, but spend most of your time getting better at the things that you do most.

To view coaching products from Don Kelbick, including The Attack & Counter Skill Development System – DVDs & eBook, go to Don Kelbick Products.

Don also conducts Attack and Counter Skill Development Camps throughout the country.

Owen Groesser – 8th grader with Down syndrome Nails Two 3-Pointers!

By Joe Haefner

Check out the video below!  It’s a story about an 8th grade manager named Owen Groesser who has down syndrome. Owen got a chance to play in the last game of the year and drains two 3-pointers in the last two minutes of the game. Truly awesome!!

I dare you not to tear up!

Considering that my wife’s Aunt Mary Ann had down syndrome, this really hits home for me. “Mares” is one of my favorite people of all-time. We miss her every day!

Do You Think Too Much When You Play?

By Don Kelbick

I am a huge proponent of leaving your brain at the door when you step on the court. I believe that over-thinking produces the most deadly of all game killers, “Analysis Paralysis.”

Just by looking at the words (a good English project for players) “analysis paralysis” means what it says, you are unable to take action because you are examining your action so closely that it forces you to freeze.

I also believe that coaches, in our desire to create the best players that we can, foster analysis paralysis by our teaching coaching methods. Insisting on attention to the minutest detail, focusing on the tiniest minutiae when performing skills, such as shooting, while well-intentioned often produces a result that is opposite of what we intend.

When shooting, concentrating on elbows, launch angles, aim, etc. places emphasis on the wrong priorities. Shooting is a skill of kinesthetic sense and feel. Anything that gets in the way of that feel, diminishes results (have you ever tried to aim a shot with a 6′ 10″ athletic monster with the wing span of a 747 running at you?). When a player misses a shot and goes back to the minutiae for correction, odds are his shot will get worse, not better.

I find analogies in the strangest places but I am easily able to relate them to my teaching. When I find something that I think will support my coaching philosophy, I integrate it into my teaching. My latest discovery comes from watching football player Plaxico Burress.

If you have never seen the TV show “Sport Science,” you owe it to yourself to search it out and watch a few episodes. “Sport Science” looks for scientific reasons behind many sports phenomena, it even creates some itself. Some examples of the show include a scientific study of who is more accurate at 25 yards, Drew Brees of the New Oleans Saints in the NFL or an Olympic Gold Medalist in Archery (it was Brees), who has faster hands NBA guard Jared Bayless or a rock and roll drummer (Bayless) or what is the most effective distraction on the foul line (it was not physical distraction of people acting crazy behind the basket or the sound of 20,000 people booing). It is truly fascinating stuff and it might blow away some of your theories behind your playing or teaching.

In the episode featuring Plaxico Burress, I don’t know if it was BP (before prison) or AP (after prison), they were studying the effect of pass patterns and timing on completion rate. They asked Burress to run multiple pass pattern; buttonhooks, in patterns, out patterns, slants; and simulated when the ball would arrive. I don’t know how they come up with this stuff, but they scientifically measure things like deviation, probability, etc.

Here is the payoff. After having Burress run patterns and measure them for accuracy, consistency, speed, etc., they had him run the same patterns blindfolded. BLINDFOLDED! These were the results, when blindfolded, there was LESS variation in his pass patterns then when he could see. In addition, the variation between the patterns with and without the blindfold was less than 1″ vertically and less than 2.5″ laterally. That means he was able to virtually duplicate his patterns whether he could see or not.

Both Burress and the Sports Science people attribute this to the huge amount of repetition he has had in running these patterns.

I believe that repetition is the key to becoming proficient with any skill. When it becomes an unconscious action, it gets better. If you do the same thing over and over and over, accept the little variations as being human as opposed to being failures, eventually you will get good at what you do. That is not to say that there aren’t more efficient ways than others, but the search for efficiency should not overcome the search for effectiveness.

Don’t think about what you do, just do it over and over again until it becomes an unconscious action, like walking. You don’t think about putting one foot in front of the other when you walk, yet you still get to where you are going. Don’t think when you play. You might be surprised at the result.

To view coaching products from Don Kelbick, go to Don Kelbick Products.

For more information on Don Kelbick, go to www.DonKelbickBasketball.com.

Can Cross Country Hurt Your Game?

By Joe Haefner

I first came across this a little over ten years ago while watching a Steve Alford shooting DVD. He mentioned that basketball players should never run cross country. He said it made you slow and that it didn’t transfer well being in basketball shape. Hence, the old adage “Train slow. Be slow. Train fast. Be fast.”

This certainly is not ground-breaking by any means. Many athletic development experts have been preaching this for years. According to Vern Gambetta, “many training experts and coaches confuse building a training base with developing an aerobic base.” Aerobic base would be referring to the slow, continuous long-distance running.

Now, don’t get me wrong. If you like cross country, by all means, go out for it! This is directed towards the athletes who run cross country to get in shape for basketball season. I believe that your time can be utilized more efficiently.

Rather than going to a 90 minute to 2 hours practice for cross country, I believe it would be better to follow a well-designed program for basketball and athletic development during that same time span. If you went to the gym and worked on your game for 45 minutes to an hour, then spent another 45 minutes to an hour on athletic development, you will be better prepared for basketball season and more efficient with your time compared to attending cross country practice then going to the gym to work on your game afterwards.

What legendary strength coach Al Vermeil has to say about endurance training:

A few years ago, I was listening to an interview from Complete Athlete Development with Strength & Conditioning coach Al Vermeil. Al Vermeil has trained the best football players like Reggie White to the best NBA players like Michael Jordan. He was the strength and conditioning coach for the Chicago Bulls championship teams.

He stated that there was an Italian researcher by the name of Camelo Bosco that studied training of kids from ages 14 to 18. Bosco found a group of kids with the same muscle fiber type. People who have more fast-twitch muscle fiber tend to be more explosive. People with slow-twitch muscle fiber tend to be slower and have better endurance.

Bosco took the young athletes with the same muscle fiber type and split them into two groups. The first group did explosive training through more explosive sports. The second group did more endurance training through endurance-type sports.

After some years of training, he tested both groups in both explosive events and endurance events. The group who trained explosively did everything better than the group who trained endurance. They ran faster. They jumped higher. They even did better in the endurance events, because they were naturally faster and it was easier to train endurance to the athlete who was already fast than it was to train more speed to the athlete who already had endurance.

During the interview, Vermeil also mentioned U.S. runner Jim Ryun. Jim Ryun was the first U.S. miler to break the 4-minute mark. Vermeil said that Jim Ryun was timed around 11 seconds for 100 meter sprint. It’s not Usain Bolt speed, but it’s still very fast. That time will win many events around the U.S. at the high school level. If you watch the world events, you’ll know that the athletes who win the 800 & the mile have fantastic speed. All of those athletes can run sub-50 second 400s.

So even if you were serious about cross country during your teenage years, you may want to avoid excessive long-distance running and train fast.

Well, my kid got stronger and faster running cross country!

If you have a good coach, this is a strong possibility. A good coach will work on speed and power development. As Vern Gambetta said in reference to long distance events, “Very quickly I saw that those who could run forever, but could not run fast were not going to be competitive in races.”

Another possibility is that any training would help. Due to the running, leg strength could have developed and the athlete got faster and quicker because they could apply more force against the ground. However, I still believe that a well-designed plan would be much more beneficial.

What are your thoughts on this?

Can Golfer Rory McIlroy Help Your Basketball Game And Shooting?

By Don Kelbick

I am a big golf fan. Not only do I love to play, but I am always finding lessons in golf that I can use in teaching basketball. Unfortunately, it doesn’t go the other way. I have not found anything in any other aspect of my life that will help me with golf. If you have read anything else that I have written, you will notice there are a lot of golf references. I even recommend the book “Zen Golf” to all of my basketball clients because I believe there is a great carry over in the mental aspects of golf that can help in almost any other situation.

Golf is the ultimate individual mental challenge. Everything about it is counter-intuitive and makes no sense. If you want to make the ball fly further, swing easier, if you want the ball to go higher, strike it on the downswing, etc.

While reading the June 30 issue of Sports Illustrated, I came upon this article, by Brandel Chamblee, about Rory McIlroy. If you are not familiar with McIlroy, he is a 21-year old Irishman who crushed the field while winning the U. S. Open after leading the Master’s for 3 rounds and imploding on the final 18 holes. He is widely considered the next great player in golf.

The story appears below.


“Rory McIlroy’s swing—a combination of perfect positions, tempo and balance—makes comparisons with the great Sam Snead inevitable. Meanwhile, McIlroy’s surrounded by technique-addicted golfers who have been stack-and-tilted, golf-machined and one-planed to death. Rory (below) is dismissed as a natural by those who think that the swing should be more complicated. Teachers who preach a series of static positions over a fluid motion and scoff at the word fundamentals are the root of the problem. Until 30 years ago golf was taught by former Tour players who talked about grip and grip pressure, stance, posture, ball position, tempo, rhythm and the waggle. These are the fundamentals. Recently I read a blog by a teacher who said that I was reaching when I used the word fundamentals, to which I say he is reaching if he doesn’t.

What makes Rory’s swing perfect is not the positions he hits, but an approach that allows him to achieve those positions. His posture is relaxed and poised for athletic movement. By comparison, his fellow competitors look as if they are trying to achieve prescribed angles at address and straining to do so. Rory’s grip is perfect, but the lack of tension is the best element, because it allows him to hinge the club perfectly and unhinge it properly.

Some will use his swing as a model and show their students the positions he gets in and make it a goal to copy the original, but the genius of Rory’s swing is its simplicity. Simplicity that’s born out of fundamentals, which sadly are considered antiquated in today’s world.

Brandel Chamblee is a 15-year PGA Tour vet and Golf Channel analyst.”

Some may read this article and think it is about his swing. That may be, but I see it as about his mentality. It is not the swing, but how he gets to the swing. It is not where he puts his hands, but how his hands work. It is not about where he stands, but how.

How does this help us in basketball? Well, I get hundreds of emails, I read thousands of questions, “Where should my thumb be when I shoot?”; “Should I flick my thumb down or inside?”; “Should my elbow be at a 60 degree angle or 90 degrees?” I see comments such as “The optimal arc for a shot is 137 degrees, strive for that when you shoot,” and “Make sure your knees are directly over your toes and your back is at 90 degrees to your waist when you play defense.”

I don’t believe that is any way to play basketball. When I teach the game, as I have for 30 years and to thousands of players, I have learned that they will figure out what is best for them by themselves. Throw in too much technique, it gets harder, not easier. Too much science in this game of art makes it worse, not better. Computer analysis, hours of film study, statistical analysis does not, in my opinion, make better players.

It is not necessarily what you do that predicates success, but how you do whatever it is you do. Some of the best shooters in history (see Reggie Miller) have shots that look like they have never been on a basketball court. I defy you to teach someone how to shoot like Shawn Marion, but he is an NBA Champion. Give players the idea, the basic concepts and then give them confidence and encouragement, correct don’t criticize and enough repetitions, the players will figure it out. As they figure it out, they will gain confidence and will acquire a relaxed approach to their skills and the game. Once they have that, their enjoyment of playing and their enthusiasm will grow.

As a coach, it is not my job to get players to do what I want them to do. It is not my purpose to get them to fit some type of ideal. It is my intention to try to teach players to enjoy the game and allow them to become the best players they can be.

It remains to be seen how Rory McIlroy’s career will progress. But, if you watch him play, it is easy to understand how he has accomplished so much at such a young age. I believe using the same thoughts and philosophies in basketball can lead to similar results.

To view coaching products from Don Kelbick, go to Don Kelbick Products.

For more information on Don Kelbick, go to www.DonKelbickBasketball.com.

TIME OUT PLEASE!

By Joe Haefner

Here is another guest blog post by our coaching friend, Bud Leonard.

The game is on.

You are working hard. The crowd is on their feet cheering. The basketball pops loose and is headed out of bounds. You sprint to the ball and leap to catch it. As you fly through the air with the ball in your hands you realize that you are headed out of bounds.

To save the possession you quickly call for a time-out.

The Referee blows his whistle and awards you the time out. All of your friends in the stands are standing and cheering for you.

You notice that your coaches are not cheering.

They are looking at you as if they would like to kill you!

Why?

Then you notice the score clock.

The clock shows you that the score is tied at 8 points each with 1:23 left in the first quarter. Your coaches would much rather give up one possession of the ball at this early part of the game and save the time out for later when it may be needed to rest the team, settle the team down during a period of confusion, or to set up a play near the end of the game.

You have watched numerous NCAA basketball games on TV and the coach has never been upset when a player calls a time out to save the possession arrow. Why is it not important to those coaches?

You must realize that televised NCAA games have TV timeouts run by the networks. These time outs are often two minutes long. They are called at regular intervals by the scorers table where a TV representative calls the time out according to a schedule agreed upon by the networks and the NCAA. That doesn’t happen in our league!

Time outs are precious.

Your coaches will tell you when you may call a time out.

This is one of the reasons your coaches instruct you to both listen for their voices and to look at the bench during each break in the game.

Now that you have read this, you too should value your time outs!

Importance of Communication With Your Coach & How It Helped the Villanova Wildcats Reach the Final Four

By Joe Haefner

If any of you have followed the Villanova Wildcats, you’ll know that Dwayne Anderson has played a huge factor in Villanova’s run to the Final Four this year. Despite being an impact player averaging 9 points and 6 rebounds per game this season, Dwayne barely played in his first 3 seasons at Villanova.

Alan Stein is a Strength & Conditioning coach for the perennial powerhouse Montrose Chrisitan and has trained NBA players such as Kevin Durant and Michael Beasley. One of the many players he has trained and developed at Montrose has been Dwayne Anderson. Alan recently wrote an article about Dwayne Anderson and the reason behind his sudden success this season.

“He worked brutally hard every off season and exercised great communication with the Nova coaching staff on not only his desire to earn playing time, but exactly what he needed to do to earn it. He basically worked as hard as he could to fix the areas he (and the Nova staff) found weak in his yearly evaluation. In other words, he didn’t make excuses or point the finger and he didn’t feel entitled to more playing time… he rolled up his sleeves each and every off season and put in serious work. He was focused and determined.”

So many players want instant gratification and would quit within 1 or 2 years if they’re not getting playing time. This happens because a lot of these players have never faced adversity and were “The Star Player” throughout their whole playing career. When they’re not getting big minutes and scoring a lot, they quit.

Players are not the only ones guilty of this. The North American culture is obsessed with short-term success and has forgotten the long-term approach. Dwayne could’ve easily transferred to a mid-major and been an impact player, but he stuck it out and worked his butt off to get to where he’s at. He didn’t take the easy way out.

John Wooden once said, “Don’t look for big, quick improvements. Look for the little improvements one day at a time. That’s the only way change happens. And when it happens…it lasts

If you want to play, if you want to improve, and most importantly WANT TO WIN, you need to communicate with your coach. You need to put your ego aside, improve your game, and do whatever your team requires you to do to win.

If that requires you to score 0 points, make the good pass (notice, I didn’t say assist), dive for the loose ball, take the charge, and stop the star player on the opposing team, DO IT!

If it requires you to be patient, work hard in the offseason, sit on the bench, be a great practice player and challenge the players who get the playing time like Dwayne Anderson did for Villanova, DO IT!

If you have this mentality, you’ll not only be successful in basketball, you’ll be successful in the most important game…

LIFE.

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Basketball Workouts With NBA All-Star Joe Johnson

By Don Kelbick

I had the opportunity to work out with Joe Johnson, NBA All-Star of the Hawks. He was in Miami for a quick vacation. This was what his schedule looked like.

Thursday

  • 3 pm – arrive Miami
  • 5 pm – strength training
  • 6:15 – speed and agility training
  • Friday

  • 10 am – strength training
  • 12:00 – shooting workout (450 made shots)
  • 2:30 – yoga and flexibilty
  • Saturday

  • 9:30 – shooting workout (430 made shots)
  • 12:00 – strength training
  • 3 pm – massage therapy
  • Sunday

  • 10:00 – strength training
  • 11:30 – speed and agility
  • 2 pm – yoga and flexibility
  • joejohnson.jpg
    Photo By Chris Nelson

    Monday – 11 am depart Miami.

    This is a guy who is 26 years old, single, wealthy and on vacation in one of the most decadent atmospheres in the world for the first time. Don’t let anyone tell you that NBA players don’t work hard.

    Are You A Leader?

    By Joe Haefner

    View this video on leadership from walkthetalk.com : Leadership Video.  It has some great stuff. 

    Here is my favorite quote from the video:

    “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams 

    It doesn’t matter if you are a coach or a player, you are a leader to somebody.  It could be your players.  It could be your teammates.   It could be your family.  It could be your co-workers.  It could be a schoolmate.  It could be anybody.

    www.walkthetalk.com has some fantastic videos and motivational quotes. If you haven’t signed up for their free newsletter, I would highly recommend it.