Why I’m Starting This Blog III: “Basketball Training is Too Homogenuous”

July 16, 2015 § 1 Comment

I’ve dug through mountains of YouTube videos, websites, and books about basketball training. An underlying problem I’ve discovered is most resources either only cover basic fundamentals, or cover team strategy.

I believe that after a certain point of learning from these online materials, you hit a barrier. After the first few times, reading “follow through on your free throw,” or “work on dribbling with both hands” just don’t help anymore. You want next-level training, you want to learn the small things.

You get exasperated when a video tells you the crossover is leaning one way and then dribbling to another hand. That’s a “crossover,” yes, but that’s not an effective, dominant, or nasty crossover.

So to be clear, the first part of what I mean by basketball training is too homogeneous is most material on the web covers only basics.

The second part: I believe basketball coaching tends to be ingrained in outdated beliefs. This arises largely because the basketball world is, interestingly, hierarchical. It starts on recess courts, where ten year old boys naturally enforce a hierarchy amongst themselves, with the best players being chosen as captains, and decent players getting picked subsequently. The worst, less athletic boys (and girls) face humiliation and rejection, resulting in some harboring lifelong aversions to the sport and the hierarchy it stands for. A few of these kids, I suppose, become spearheads and voices of equality movements in their adult lives, but that’s a story for another day, and another blog.

The rigid hierarchy of the sport carries on. At the top of the hierarchy are the Michael Jordan’s and Phil Jackson’s of the world, whose words trickle down to the ranks of high school coaches, who pass down their philosophies to their best players and future coaches. The lessons of the best become gospel handed down from generation to generation.

As great as the founding fathers of basketball were, we are only now learning that innovation and openness is the best path towards excellence — in any field. Take, for example — from Bill Russell’s Celtics of the 60’s, to Magic and Kareem’s Lakers of the 80’s, to Jordan and Pippen’s Bulls in the 90’s, to Kobe and Shaq’s Lakers of the 2000’s, for as long as basketball fans have existed, the greatest NBA teams have centered around one to two “superstars.”

Yet, European coaches who were never exposed to the rigid American basketball “core philosophies” developed a basketball paradigm that focused on passing and ball movement, as opposed to focusing on the stars. In 2014, the San Antonio Spurs adapted this style, and became legendary for their ‘beautiful basketball’ as they defeated the ultimate team of stars (the 2014 Heat, with Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh).

Analytics are also shifting paradigms in the basketball world. No longer is basketball “a big man’s game,” despite what great coaches like Phil Jackson will tell you. Analytics have unearthed the value of the 3-pointer and teams across the NBA have been forced to adapt in order to win.

The basketball hierarchy is showing cracks, and this is a good thing for the sport. But we need to continue to embrace the openness of ideas in basketball — after all, for a game so dependent on natural athletic ability, it makes little sense to merely assume the best player is also the one with the most basketball knowledge. Let’s embrace the ideas of all basketball players on this blog, and we’ll publish the ones that are the best — old or new, common or rare, revolutionary or not.

Why I’m Starting this Blog II: “Current Basketball Culture Stresses Discipline Over Innovation”

July 16, 2015 § Leave a comment

Basketball is a great avenue for youth to learn important traits, such as discipline, teamwork, and selflessness.

This is great, and there’s a place for it. But there’s a trade-off: disciplinary coaching or teaching is less effective, discourages discussion, stifles innovation, and ultimately perpetuates sub-optimal practices throughout the basketball world.

For personal coaches, the relationship we should be striving for is one of golfer-caddie. Discussion, refinement, and guidance. This sort of relationship, however, is against the mold, and coaches of this type are hardly accessible at the non-professional level. Many players must resort to self-coaching and training, and that is where this blog comes in.

Why I’m Starting This Blog I: “Addicted to Getting Better”

July 4, 2015 § Leave a comment

I’m addicted to getting better at basketball.

This blog is for people who love the game and want to get better. How does this blog help? Private coaching is not a sensible option financially for most people. If you want to improve by joining or making a team, then the coaching is streamlined towards team success, and is not optimal towards developing the individual.  For many players outside of America, coaching is out of the question, both in terms of availability and in terms of cultural stigmas.

Thus, how do most players get better? They learn by playing, and by trying to find videos and resources on the internet.

The resources on the internet are growing and improving significantly, and some day I’ll create a blog post sharing my favorites. But we need to take advantage of the crowd sourcing ability of the internet to collect all the best basketball tips in one location, and facilitate an avenue of discussion. This is the most optimal way to improve our games.

Trial and error is how (read my post on the black box) we get better. We try things we read online, and we implement them in our games. If they work, we stick with it; if not, we move on. But why go through the trials and errors that millions of others have already tried?

In this blog, I will post low-level and high-level basketball content, including tips, mindsets, skills, and drills designed to get you better. I will stay away from material I see commonly found elsewhere. I’m going to start this as a one-man show. If the interest builds, I envision guest bloggers, and eventually a community of sorts, expanding beyond a blog.

Millions of people know they will never play in the NBA, and will never make a living playing basketball, but work hard to get better. I love that, want to facilitate that, and that’s what inspired this blog. Let’s get the ball rolling.