Young players have never been more physically talented than they are today. On the flip side, older coaches and experienced players say what is being taught and what is being mimicked by up-and-comers is hurting the game. We explore this phenomenon with one of the nation’s most renowned skill and footwork coaches and break down five aspects of the offensive game young players need to understand and work on.
To learn more about these five fundamental concepts and 12 specific drills to master them, considering checking out Jim Jones’ Instructional DVD “Basketball – The Old School Way.”
“You don’t play like you father.”
“You should of seen your father play, he was a lot like you, but tougher.”
“These kids don’t play like we used to.”
Go to gyms across the country and you’ll hear this type of chatter from ex-players, veteran coaches and long-time students of the game. You might also see young players roll their eyes a bit or laugh it off as if saying, “that’s great but this is how the game is played now.”
In the hyper-competitive high school landscape, parents and players are always looking for an edge. That has led players to working with trainers at a younger age at a much higher rate than ever before. It’s not uncommon for kids who have yet to play a varsity game to have a personal trainer.
One thing that different generations of basketball players have in common is the art of emulating. Young players mimic the players they look up to just as players from previous generation did. Skills trainer Jim Jones of Harbor City, Calif. was just like today’s kids. He learned the game by watching some of the game’s best of his generation, just as young players today look up to the Kevin Durants of the game.
“I saw Jerry West in person one time and I couldn’t believe how smooth his stops were and explosive his starts (first step) were,” said Jones, a 1969 graduate of St. Elizabeth (Oakland, Calif.) who played point guard at Nevada and Cal-St. Bakersfield. “ His change of directions were so smooth and explosive that defenders had no idea he was about to attack.”
There is now a growing generation of young players in professional basketball that had personal trainers by high school. The problem Jones sees is every trainer is trying to outdo the next one in order to secure clients. He sees a movement of teaching gimmicks to outdo the next trainer and, more importantly, a move away from the fundamentals of the game.
“I see trainers using more than one ball, teaching stutter-stepping, and teaching fakes to beat defenders,” said Jones, who previously coached at Fresno City College and three high schools in California. “The game is about beating your defender in the most efficient possible manner. The game is about seeing lanes and attacking the openings. Offensive players have a huge advantage because they know where they’re going on the court and when they are going to go.”
Jones’ focus is fundamental offensive concepts. No gimmicks, no wasted time and no wasted motions. Jones has worked with NBA players and understands some players are superior athletes with great size and explosiveness. Players with a special level of athleticism will always have an excellent chance to get paid to play. That won’t change no matter how personal trainers influence the game going forward.
“I think the biggest problem in the game today is young players spend too much time practicing 3-pointers and spot shooting to the hindrance of developing an all-around game,” Jones said. “Players of past generations would go into the gym and you very seldom saw them playing full court. We would focus on 3-on-3 half court and there wasn’t a 3-point line so you had to learn how to attack the rim or shoot it off the dribble in order to stay on the court. I go to high school games nowadays and players lack the ability to effectively beat defenders in half court situations.”
Today Jones shares five fundamental aspects of the offensive game players of various skill level and athleticism should work on and understand. These fundamental concepts, taught “The Old School Way” as Jones coins it, helps take players’ games to the next level. The key is to be able to apply them in an actual game.
5 Fundamental Concepts Young Players Need To Work On
1. Keep Your Head Up
“If you’re eyes are on the defender, you can’t see open lanes. You can get by in high school (looking down), but in order to get the maximum out of your ability, you have to play with your head up. No matter what the defense throws at you, the head never drops.”
2. Sprint With The Basketball
“All these skills coaches use two and three basketball dribbling drills and I don’t understand it. I see that then the players can’t sprint with the ball with either hand. The whole game is about the first step. You see something and you explode. Good offensive players don’t worry about defenders. Good players go where there is no help.”
3. Starts and Stops
“A lot of coaches call them jump stops. You won’t stop every time you change direction, but the more you can control your stops at any speed, the better your game will be. When you stop, you stop the defender and it’s easier to beat them when you control their momentum or take it away. The advantage you have is you’re going forward and the defender is going backwards.”
4. Backing Up With The Basketball
“Players with no game pick up their dribble under pressure. Great players know how to relieve pressure. There is specific and basic footwork involved while dribbling that good players use to back up the basketball over and over again. Of course, you’re getting further away from the basket, but it’s not a defensive mechanism. If you learn how to back up the ball, square your body up to the defender and make yourself a threat to go either direction again, you’ll take your game to a whole different level.”
5. Playing Open With The Defender
“You have to play square and not sideways. If you play sideways, you going in the direction your torso is facing. If you’re open, the defender has to worry about you going right or left. When that happens it’s a whole other ballgame. A defender will have to back off. A lot of trainers teach kids to play comfortably close to defender. You want to get comfortable playing with space because you need space to have an effective crossover. An effective crossover beats people. You have to cover ground, not dribble and go nowhere.”
To learn more about these five fundamental concepts and 12 specific drills to master them, considering checking out Jim Jones’ Instructional DVD “Basketball – The Old School Way.” CLICK HERE for ordering information.