Advice to a Young Player

At the tail end of last season, one of my clients asked me to take a look at some YouTube footage of his high school junior in action and to offer advice for his development. The video featured the young man’s ball handling and shooting routine – jukes and drives to the rim, step-back jump shots and lots of threes. I don’t think he missed a single shot during the entire video clip. It was impressive.

Here’s the response I emailed to the dad. (I’ve changed the names to protect the innocent!)

“Bob, just watched the footage of Tim in action — very neat!

I’ve been out of the game for a long time… and obviously I haven’t seen Tim in an actual game. But here are a couple of ideas to consider in his development:

• Beware of “game stoppers” — I want a dribbler to go somewhere with the ball as quickly and simply as possible; a lot of kids waste the possession with an array of dribbling motion that actually contributes little or nothing to the offensive attack. They effectively “stop the game.”

 Develop skills without the ball — cutting, moving, creating space; using angles, change of direction, and quickness to become un-guardable; playing defense with your feet and heart.

 Develop a midrange jumper, particularly the 8-12’ pull-up jumper. The college three-point line will eventually be moved back — better get ready for it. AAU coaches and ESPN glamorize dramatic dunks and corner threes but the best players remain those who are offensive threats from multiple spots on the floor.

Finally, watch this video of Austin Carr setting the NCAA tournament record of 61 points — without the advantage of the three-pointer. At 6’3” he averaged 38 points per game and shot 52% from the field. Never a wasted movement. He kept everything simple and epitomized the advice offered above.

Good luck!”

2 thoughts on “Advice to a Young Player

  1. Keep it simple. Great advice Mark. This stands for all sports and especiIally youth sports. We all like to see the awesome highlight shots, but as a player advances, the competition gets better and the fancy stuff just doesn’t work. What little time and space a player gets is hard fought and short lived. Take a shot and drive for a rebound…..that’s what I tell my hockey player and I think it works pretty well for basketball too!

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