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Owner - Jerry Bus
GM - Red Auerbach
Head Coach - Phil Jackson

PG - Magic Johnson
SG - Michael Jordan
SF - Larry Bird
PF - Dennis Rodman
C - Hakeem Olajuwon

Bench

G - Gary Payton
G - Oscar Robertson 
F - Charles Barkley
F - Kevin McHale
F - Tim Duncan
C - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

If you can come up with a better 12 players than that, lets hear it. I dont think there is another combination of 12 that could beat these guys. Worthy canidates would be the '92 Dream Team. I think you'd be hard pressed to find another group with this sort of combination of talent & basketball IQ. These 12 players are the ultimate balanced combination of scoring, rebounding, and defense.
 
 
What are your goals?

  • Look good - Do you just want to be skinny?

  • Get in Shape - Is your goal to run a marathon?

  • Healthy - Do you want to improve your health and quality of life?

These are all 3 very different goals.

For example, a NFL football player that weights 380 lbs is actually a great athlete and has to be in tremendous shape to compete. But he doesnt look good and its far from a healthy lifestyle. A hollywood actress may look good, but in the majority of cases, they are far from in shape and are rarely in great health.

The problem is, that most people only really care about looking good. Being in shape or being healthy is usually secondary to how we see ourselves in the mirror. But the bottom line is this, if you live healthy, the other two goals will naturally take care of themselves. Ultimately, most people just want to look good. If they could eat junk food but still look like a fashion model they would go that route. But that world does not exist in this reality.

So your first goal will be just to get you "HEALTHY". That is the easiest of the 3 and you can get that started immediately. The other two goals will take time and a lot of change in your habits and lifestyle. You should tackle them as time progresses. Expect this entire transformation to take about 6-9 months to really set in.

Proper health starts with a proper diet and mental state. Set realistic goals, avoid stress, participate in healthy hobbies, and a stable personal life all go a long way towards the proper foundation to build from.

Here are the rules which you must begin to live by if you want to see the fastest results:

  • Beverage - Only drink filtered H20, Coconut Water, or (unsweetened almond milk). The human body isnt really made to drink anything but water. (Coconut water must be of the unpasteurized variety or it is basically just sugar water)

  • Certified Organic - If possible, eat organic

  • Grass Fed Meats - grain fed animals are nutritionally void

  • No GMO - Under no circumstances should you be eating food that has been Genetically Modified

  • No Corn or Soy Products - 80% of all corn and soy products are GMO, and besides that, neither corn nor soy have any real nutritional value, like grains, they can be toxic and the cause of many allergies

  • No Grains - Since grains were introduced to the human species diet, our brains have gotten smaller and we've gotten shorter. If you must eat a grain product, make sure it is absolutely GLUTEN FREE

  • No Processed Foods - If it comes in a box or has been manufactured in any way, STAY AWAY

  • No Preservatives - If it has preservatives, it is pretty much nutritionally void. If it cant break down naturally then your digestive system wont be able to break it down either

  • No Refined/Processed Sugar - Sugar may be the single most dangerous substance to our health. Stay away from sodas or anything else with High Fructose Corn Syrup in it

  • No Dairy - None whatsoever, if you need a list of dairy substitutes, just ask me I know a healthy and tasty substitute for just about anything. I do have one exception to this rule, Goat Yogurt. It has enzymes that no other foods have that are essential to fighting fungus or yeast issues (dandruff, athletes foot, jock itch, yeast infections, etc)

  • No Fast Food - This shouldnt even need mentioning but I have to say it anyways

  • No Alcohol - It ages you, it ruins your skin, adds to stress, and its a poison. Not to mention, its heavily fattening. If you're going to drink, avoid beer. Dark beers in moderation. Stick to red wine. Vodka if liquor, avoid mixers. But all in all, there is no need for alcohol.

  • Limit Rice and Potato intake to a minimum - Heavy starches are great for athletes that need the sugar, but not for the average person. The average person should be getting their energy from the stored fat on their body. Rice, Potatoes and other carbs are for athletes with extremely low body fats and thus low energy reserves. Body fat is a more efficient energy source. It burns slower, lasts longer, and gives you better energy and without the “crash” that comes from sugars.

If you have any questions on what to eat, brands, etc, just feel free to ask. If I was training you, eventually I would be pushing you to start eating the PALEO DIET. And way down the road I will even be able to tell you what types of dishes and pans to buy for your kitchens. But for now, just try to follow the above simple rules. Learning discipline at this stage and turning it into habit is going to be your biggest challenge.

Understanding “Fat Burning”:

The key concept of the Paleo Diet is that it’s all about getting your body back to it’s natural state. Humans have gone on for thousands of years through times of feast and famine, nourishment and malnourishment, and as a result, we have the genetics we have today. Getting things working in their natural order is the only way to achieve proper health. There are no supplements or protein powders that can provide for you better than what nature does. Nothing man-made will ever compare to the real thing that was developed over thousands and thousands of years by nature.

When you begin working out intensely for this program, you will encounter soreness at first. The reason why you are sore is because of all the toxic buildup in your body. Most importantly, from grains. Grains are toxic by nature. They are supposed to be, in order to prevent us from eating them. But we eat it anyway because quite frankly it is a easy product to produce and feed billions of people with. But it isnt what we are supposed to be eating thus the reason for lots of health issues. Mainstream media wont support this theory because it just doesnt suit their sponsors agenda. A corporations job like Monsanto is to make money at all costs. And Monsanto pretty much runs the FDA and has heavy influence over all school health programs and university level teaching curriculums.

We are omnivores, which means we can digest protein, fats, AND carbs. This is great for getting us through lean times. But the bad thing is, that a lot of the modern carbs in our diet are really bad for us. The only carbs we should be eating should be of the natural fruits and vegetable variety. And lets face it, those are all seasonal in nature, so they never were meant to be a staple of the human diet.

As a result the average American is constantly hungry or has intense food cravings every few hours. This is  because when we eat lots of grains/sugars in our diets, our body begins to run on sugars for energy. This is called being in a state of GLUCONEOGENESIS. This is not the way humans were meant to live. We are supposed to be in a constant state of KETOSIS. Ketosis is when the body uses fat for energy. Because that is what fat is, stored energy. But when we eat lots of grains (that get converted into sugars) and other sugars in our diets, our body stops knowing how to burn fat and simply uses the sugar for energy. The sugar runs out very quickly (after just 20 minutes of hard exercise) and then you enter a temporary state of ketosis. That is why it usually takes so much cardio in the gym in order to start burning fat. You have to use up the ready sugar first. When you are not working out, and you use up that sugar, your body instantly wants more. It is not in ketosis mode so what ensues is headaches, stomach cramps, hunger pains, and cravings for sweets/starches/carbs when you shouldnt be hungry at all. You and I both have enough fat stored on our body to last us a week without eating but most people’s metabolisms are not in that state of functional ketosis that makes them able to use the fat for energy. Fat is slow burning and a much more high quality & efficient energy source. The difficult thing is that most people's bodies are not in a state to readily burn fat. That is where the ratio comes into play. It is the most important aspect of the program IMO.

So what you must do at this time is remain EXTREMELY disciplined in your diet. The transition from GLUCONEOGENESIS to KETOSIS takes about 2 weeks of strict diet. It wont be comfortable. It can even get painful when the sugar cravings kick in. Sugar is a drug just like any other, a highly addictive stimulant and that is just talking raw sugar. Take all the highly processed refined sugars chemists have developed over the years like High Fructose Corn Syrup and I’d say that stuff is far more dangerous than most recreational drugs. The withdrawls from sugar can be uncomfortable, especially in the gym, because when we are used to gluconeogenesis, our bodies have a tendency to "crash" once all available sugars have been exhausted. "Crashing" is VERY painful and its unlike anything Ive ever experienced. I had one case of severe crashing once during a 107 mile bicycle endurance race. At about the 75 mile mark my body just began to shut down. It was nearly paralyzing.

Functional Ketosis requires that 75% of your diet be fats & proteins. The other 25% can be vegetables & fruits. Using the Calorie Counter App (by FatSecret) is a great way to track your fat/protein to carb ratio.

If you have a cheat meal, that is fine. Just make sure you do so in moderation, and know, for every cheat “day” you take, you set yourself back more than just that day. So try to limit it to (1) cheat meal per week. Remember, 1 lb of fat on your body is equal to 3500 calories. So for every time you eat out at Outback Steakhouse or In-n-Out Burger, just know, that each of those meals are usually in the 1000-1500 calorie range. The equivalent of a extra 1/2 lb that you will now have to struggle to burn off later in the gym.

“Cheat Meals” are one of 21 meals a person will typically eat in a week. So with every cheat meal, you are seriously affecting your diet. You could throw your fat/protein to carb ratio off by as much as 5%. Make it a “cheat day” and now you have just affected approximately 15% of your diet. And with just 2 cheat days in a week, you can throw your diet off by 30% and then you are well on your way back into a state of GLUCONEOGENESIS. So be careful with the “cheat meals”.

After about two weeks, you body will begin to adapt. Full adaptation can vary based on genetics but within the month you should be fully on the right track and then your body will begin only using the stored fat on your body for energy. The hunger and cravings will go away and you will feel great. And best of all, you will have tons of energy because your body will now be in its natural state, which is burning the ready and easy to use fat on your body whenever it needs it. Eating will become more of a routine and something you have to remind yourself to do rather than something you crave doing. That is when you know you are really on the right track.

Cooking Notes:
  • Baking - Replace Crisco Vegetable crap with Coconut Oil or Rendered Duck Fat for baking pies and whatnot
  • Sauteeing - Replace Butter with Extra Virgin Olive oil and/or Rendered Duck Fat
  • Frying - Extra Light Olive Oil or Avocado Oil (grapeseed oil is fine as well)
  • Sources: https://www.ninacucina.com/smokepoint-of-fats.html

The 10 rules of the Paleo diet

  1. The Paleo diet should be high in fat,moderate in animal protein and low to moderate in carbohydrates. Calorie counting is not encouraged, neither is portion control.

  2. Eat unlimited amounts of saturated fats like coconut oil and butter or clarified butter. Beef tallow, lard and duck fat are also good, but only if they come from healthy and well-treated animals. Beef or lamb tallow is a better choice than lamb or duck fat. Olive, avocado and macadamia oil are also good fats to use in salads and to drizzle over food, but not for cooking.

  3. Eat generous amounts of animal protein. This includes red meat, poultry, pork, eggs, organs (liver, kidney, heart…), wild caught fish and shellfish. Don’t be scared to eat the fatty cuts and all meals with proteins should contain fat as well. Learn to cook with bones in the form ofstocks and broths.

  4. Eat good amounts of fresh or frozen  vegetables either cooked or raw and served with fat. Starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes and yams are also great as a source of non-toxic carbohydrates.

  5. Eat low to moderate amounts of fruits and nuts. Try to eat mostly fruits low in sugar and high in antioxidants like berries as well as nuts high in omega-3, low in omega-6 and low in total polyunsaturated fat like macadamia nuts. Consider cutting off fruits and nuts altogether if you have an autoimmune disease, digestive problem or are trying to lose weight faster.

  6. Preferably choose pasture-raised and grass-fed meat coming from a local, environmentally conscious farms. If not possible, choose lean cuts of meat and supplement your fat with coconut oil, butter orclarified butter. Also preferably choose organic, local and/or seasonal fruits and vegetables.

  7. Cut out all cereal grains and legumes from your diet. This includes, but is not limited to, wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, brown rice, soy, peanuts, kidney beans, pinto beans, navy beans and black eyed peas.

  8. Cut out all vegetable, hydrogenated and partly-hydrogenated oils including, but not limited to, margarines, soybean oil, corn oil, crisco, peanut oil, canola oil, safflower oil and sunflower oil. Olive oil and avocado oil are fine, but don’t cook with them, use them in salad dressings and to drizzle over prepared food.

  9. Eliminate sugar, soft drinks, all packaged products and juices (including fruit juices). As a rule of thumb, if it’s in a box, don’t eat it. At the grocery store, visit only the meat, fish and produce sections.

  10. Eliminate dairy products other than butter and maybe heavy cream. You don’t need dairy, but if you can’t live without,read this article and consider raw, full-fat and/or fermented dairy.



Some good references:
  • Paleo Diet: www.robbwolf.com
  • Recipes: www.ninacucina.com
  • Supplements: www.rynopower.com
  • Supplements: www.onnit.com
  • Meats: www.toplinefoods.com
  • Vegetables: www.farmfreshtoyou.com
  • Rehabilitation: www.floatlab.com


What does it mean to be truly competitive? For most athletes they think it is about effort on the court in games or during practice. The truth is, a measure of a athlete’s competitive drive is all I need to see in order to tell what their potential ceiling is. It’s what separated the “very talented” from the “all-time greats”. Being more competitive than your competition means you are willing to do whatever it takes to gain an advantage (within the rules of course). Being talented isn’t enough. Great natural gifts will only get you so far in basketball or in life for that matter.

Where does it start? For me, it starts with nutrition. The energy you fuel your body with is the foundation for whatever sport you want to compete in. It’s the foundation for your performance on the court as well as preventing injury and illness. A race car driver would not put water in his gas tank. You shouldn’t do the same sort of damage to your body if you are truly competitive and want to get the most out of yourself in sports, and in life.
 
 
I was going to do a blog post about nutrition, but then Nate Robinson, one of my favorite players, had himself a GREAT dunk on the entire Blazers team so I had to post about it. I don't know how or why this guy has been on so many teams. He's a locker room favorite & loved even more by the fans. Clutch shooter, good hustle, high energy. Everyone needs a "Nate Robinson" on their team.

I'll try to get to my post about nutrition next week. But then again, I may find myself talking about the Miami Heat and their historic run of 25 (and counting) straight wins... and just for good measure, I added a second Nate Robinson highlight from earlier in the year. Enjoy. 
 
 
After the "dunk heard 'round the world" that happened Sunday (RIP Brandon Knight 1991-2013), I decided I would compile my list of the Greatest Dunks of All-Time. I dont know if DeAndre's measures up against the greats of history, and when you see what its compared too you will understand why, because context is everything. Context aside, it's easily the best dunk of the 2013 year. Have a look at the video below, and then compare it to the dunks I feel were the greatest ever. 
The younger kids aren't going to remember these plays much less who these players are, but let me tell you young bucks something... back when these dunks occurred, they actually meant something. In this dunk by Kemp, it was in retaliation for a bench clearing brawl that had occurred earlier in the season. Golden State and Seattle were rivals trying to claim their spot in the Western Conference's elite. This dunk by Kemp pretty much ended the battle and Golden State is still trying to recover 2 decades later...
In my opinion, Hakeem Olajuwon is easily the greatest center of all-time. I remember watching his Houston team take on the defending Western Conference Champ Suns in the playoffs in 1994. Two elite teams by any era's standards but largely forgotten in time due to the fact that MJ pretty much overshadowed anything less than perfect in the 90s. One event he couldnt overshadow was the highlight of Kevin Johnson's illustrious career...
If you are sensing a theme running here, it's that these weren't just average dunks against average opponents. These were great players making great plays against other great players. In all of these highlights, these teams hated one another and maybe no feud ran deeper than that between Jordan's Bulls & Spike Lee's Knicks. This dunk has it all. Its the Playoffs in the most famous arena in the world, Madison Square Garden, against the greatest player to ever play the game...
...and just to show you how much these two teams hated one another, take a look at this clip where Scottie Pippen downright abuses the legendary Patrick Ewing and then tell's Spike Lee, "It aint the shoes".
And last but far from least... would a dunk show be worthy without the one that started it all?
...And lastly, before we completelty bury Brandon Knight, we should give him credit for attempting to even block the shot. If you look at all the great dunks Ive posted above, Brandon joins some pretty legendary company in the likes of Hakeem or Ewing. For every great dunk, there was a great defender that had the guts to attempt to block the shot in the first place. All of the greats, Dikembe, Alonzo, Shaq, etc were all dunked on at one point or another. That is part of the price of being great.
 
 
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If you go back to my 2nd blog post several months ago, you can see where I mentioned the 5th & 6th grade team I began volunteer coaching in the Boys & Girls Club Recreational Basketball League. We started as a group of kids that I picked not based on their basketball skills but rather from what I saw in their natural hustle during evaluations. I went around and then talked to most of the kids during evaluations so I could get a sense of their maturity, intelligence, and willingness to listen to what I had to say. And when I drafted my team later that week, I took a lot of players that seemed to surprise the rest of my contingent.

For my first draft pick I took a kid that surprised everyone because he was frenetic and wild out on the court. But when I talked to him he was the most articulate 11 year old I'd ever met. I new with his intelligence and maturity I'd be able to mold him into the perfect point guard for our team. He is now a much more controlled player who runs our entire offense like a quaterback on the court.

With my second pick I took another kid who wasnt on anyone's radar but he caught my eye becuase of his sheer hustle. Nobody was sweating harder than him. He was diving for lose balls and was eager to do the job nobody else wanted to. He ended up making All-League honors and I couldnt be more proud. The kid is a coach's dream. Always attentive, 100% effort, selfless, and a leader out on the court. He would sometimes be directing the team before I had a chance to say what I was seeing, he was actually seeing things before I did sometimes. I cant really say enough about this kid, all I can say is that his parents have done a magnificent job and that he is going to be a coach's favorite no matter what sport he's playing.

And so the draft went, I kept picking the unconventional choices. Even taking a tall uncordinated girl that later would blossom into my teams best defender. I cant really take any credit for this one, all I can say is that all of a sudden one day in practice mid-season she just started playing the most fundamentally sound defense I'd ever seen out of a 11 year old. She became my lock down defender in a boy's league and if she keeps working at this rate, she will be playing for whatever high school team she wants too.

As the season progressed we lost games due to injuries, flu season, and we lost others due to the fact that I was sacrificing wins in order to teach them lessons. For example, I refused to let them run a full court press. I also discouraged them from fast breaks due to the fact that I wanted them to learn how to run a half court offense. As a result we ended up losing our final 5 games of the season. I kept preaching to the kids about the merits of hard work, perseverence, and discipline and with each mounting loss, it got harder and harder to do. They would look at me after games in the locker room with tears in their eyes asking "Why?" .... What are we doing wrong?" ... and "We've done everything you have asked us to do and we are still losing"....

And the truth is, they were doing everything I was asking. After two months of practicing 3 days a week, 100s of suicides and pushups later here I was having to tell them that they were doing all the right things and that this was a process. I was seeing the improvement and I didnt care about the wins or losses. But at 10 or 11 years of age, that rhetoric loses its meaning after multiple 2 and 3 point losses where we'd have the lead going into the final minutes of a game.

But the kids never wavered. They never lost their faith in what I was preaching. And I owe them and their parents all the credit in the world for that. I kept telling the kids we were built for the playoffs and that if we just stayed the course, I promised them we'd win the league championships.

As the playoffs approached, the kids did something I'd never seen out of athletes this age, they began asking for longer practices and more 1on1 coaching time with me. So I began staying after late, doing individual drills with the kids working on their ball handling and spot up shooting. I began also having nightmares about the upcoming games. Ive competed at a professional level in motorsports, and I can tell you that losing is as bad as it gets, and so I thought coaching would be easier but I was dead wrong. Especially with kids as young and fragile as this. There was no way I'd be able to live this down if we didnt deliver in the playoffs. But the fact is, it wasnt up to me, just like I'd always said from the beginning, the wins & losses are up to the kids. My job is to just teach. Well they were the ones that ended up teaching me that lesson all over again when they took charge and began asking for extra coaching. 

The night before our first playoff game I spent an hour with my starting point guard & shooting guard. We did 3 point shots from a specific spot on the court until my shooting guard could barely lift his arms. And the following night, in a 1 point game with 90 seconds to play, he came off a perfectly set screen and took a 3 from that exact spot that hit nothing but the bottom of the net. I've never been so happy for anyone as I was that moment.

After we won that game the kids proved that they had learned "how to lose". Meaning, they never got too down on themselves, they just kept working and working, knowing the results would eventually come. And they did. But now the next challenge would be to see if they could prove they knew "how to win". Meaning, rather than feel too good for themselves would they get back and work harder than they ever did before to avoid a letdown.

And on Wednesday March 6th, 2013 they did just that. They came out strong from the start, running our offensive system efficiently and effectively. Backdoor screens, cuts, and layups. A flood of 3 pointers. Aggressive boxing out and rebounding. Diving for any lose ball. Unselfish pick and rolls that resulted in wide open shots. 

We led 13-10 after one quarter. We were tied 15-15 at the half. And towards the end of the 3rd quarter we were down 19-23. But I wasnt worried. And neither were the kids. As I'd told them the night before the game at our final practice, "You dont ever want to look up at the score late in a game and think back and wish you had done more to prepare. It doesnt matter what the score is, if you know you have done everything you could have done, you will find great inner strength in knowing that." And it was during the intermission before the start of the 4 quarter that I reminded them of this. That we'd put in all the hard work. All those sprints and pushups were about to payoff. And sure enough they did. The kids went out and played flawlessly. While the other team looked fatigued and began making mental mistakes, my kids had barely broken a sweat. We went on a 15-2 run to start the 4th quarter and ended up winning easily.

The kids screamed with joy afterwards. All dancing and hugging each other as if it was the Final Four, and for them, it was. They'd worked their tails off and got to reap the benefits I'd promised them. It was a very special group of kids & parents that I will never be able to replace and will be VERY lucky to come close to duplicating. 

Ive been around world championship athletes my entire adult life. Ive competed in Europe, Asia, and all over the United States at the highest levels of sport. This was easily as rewarding and exhilarating a experience as anything Ive ever experienced and I owe it all to the 8 special kids whom I'll forever hold a special place in my heart for.

 
 
 
 
Here are my basic rules for playing post defense:

1. FRONT - Whether the defender is the smaller player or the bigger player, I never want my kids to invite the pass into the post. I teach them to fight for position and get in front of the offensive post player so that the entry pass can only be made via a "drop pass". This requires a low center of gravity and quick footwork. If the defender is the smaller player, then he has the advantage of having quicker feet. If the defender is the bigger player, then he will have a huge advantage once into position because passing over him will be most difficult.

2. PUSH THE OPPONENT DOWN LOW - Once the defender is executing the front, his goal now is to get as low as possible and start to push the offense to the baseline with his backside. Low man will have the leverage, and as I teach my kids, "low man always wins". This should be easy to accomplish because the offensive player at this point will be trying to usually abandon the front and will play tall in an effort to invite the lob pass from his teammate on the perimeter. This plays into the defenders hand perfectly. At this point, even a much smaller defender should have no trouble picking up valuable real estate in his attempt to box out his man under the hoop. Even just a foot or two gained by the defender makes the target zone of the lob pass that much smaller as well as that much closer to the help defense. The difficult part about this step is that their is not much time to execute the push down low. The opportunity will only last for a moment or two...

3. FORCE THE "DROP PASS" - Most offensive perimeter players at this point will not be able to pass up the opportunity to try and lob in a soft pass over the fronting defender. This "drop pass" might be the most difficult pass in the game to make. Despite appearing like a makeable pass, it has little to no success of making its target. First of all, it must be thrown is considerable touch and arc, this allows for the help defense to almost always have a shot at breaking up the pass. 

4. INTERCEPT THE PASS - Once the pass is in the air, most offensive players will give everything they have to hold their ground and keep the fronting defender from pushing them off their spot. This is another moment that the defender must be instinctual in his timing. Once that pass is in the air and the push from the offensive post player comes, the defender can abandon fighting back, letting the offensive player actually fall away from where the pass is going. And that is when the defender must be quick with his feet and leap for the lob pass and try to break it up.

5. REBOUND POSITION - The one downside to the front, is that the defender gives up position for rebounding. Especially if he is on the weak side. This is a risk Im willing to take with my teams. If a front is executed to perfection, the offensive post player has been pushed close enough down low towards the baseline that his position for the rebound is minimized. 

Whether you are the smaller player or the bigger player, always discourage the post entry pass by fronting. Make things difficult on your opponents. Because once they get the ball into the post and they have you backed down low on the block, the defender really is at the offensive players mercy.
 
 
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One thing Ive been hearing coaches ask lately is how to get their kids to learn a offensive system quick and efficiently. First of all, make sure your kids are of the right age level to begin installing a system. Secondly, keep things basic.

Personally, I do not think kids are ready to start learning a basic system until they are at least 10 years old. Any younger and we should just try to keep things about having fun. If you are coaching kids that are 9 years old or younger and you can get them to fall in love with the game, learn a proper jump stop and a proper defensive stance, you have done wonders and will make the next coaches job a million times easier.

For my 10 & 11 year olds that I work with, I have a series of basic drills that teach proper cuts, how to set a screen, jump stopping, and all the other basics  of perimeter offensive play. What makes my system of drills effective is that EVERY single drill  is actually a small piece of our offense that I will be installing later. What I've done is take our offensive system and break it down into as many small parts as possible to form a series of simple drills. Each drill has the players specifically on the spot of the floor where they will be once they are running the more complex system.

Over the course of about 3-4 weeks, the kids should have all of the smaller drills down solid and they will naturally begin to get bored with them. And that is when you start to piece it all together. Instantly once they start to run your offense as a whole, they will recognize the relation to the drills they already have well versed. The transition will be extremely quick at this point and more importantly, it will be fun and engaging for the kids and will instantly re-energize their enthusiasm for practicing. The more small stages you can break down your drills and development, the better off you will be. It will be easier to teach, and on the flip side, the kids will feel like they are accomplishing more as the drills get more sophisticated.

Once they are able to run your offense as a unit, then they are ready to do it with a live "dummy" defense. There will be a slight regression and adjustment period when you do this. This should take about a week or two of practice before they are comfortable with all of their cuts & screens with the defense on the court.

Once they then get comfortable with that, they are then finally ready for what they've probably been begging for since day one, which is a live scrimmage. Make sure it is a controlled scrimmage. Stop play if they are not sticking to the offense. Make sure they understand how to reset a play/offensive possesion. Keep things slow and make sure they are boxing out and understand their roles on inbounds and outlet passes. 

The key is to be patient and take everything in logical steps. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither will your team. They will not nor should not be expected to fully understand and run your offense the first half of the season in games. If you can have them fully up to speed by the mid to 3/4 point in the season, you have done a great job as a coach. And never forget to revisit all of the small drills you did in the beginning so you can re-enforce good habits and get even more specific in your critique and evaluation of their growth.

 
 
Hands down, their is no other rule in basketball more misunderstood than understanding position and what constitutes a charge or a blocking foul.

All too often you will hear people say that a player's feet were not "set" therefore it is not a charge but a blocking foul. This could not be further from the truth. Never does a defenders feet have to be "set" in order to take a charge. The rulebook clearly states that a defender  must "establish position", which means, you must be between the offensive player and the hoop. Establishing position can be done with either lateral movements or backpedalling. 

If the defender is in a position where he is backpedalling, it does not give the offensive player a right to lower a shoulder and bowl right over the defender if the defender has established his position between the ball and the hoop. A good defender plays defense with his feet. Shuffling from side to side and keeping the offensive player from a clear path to the hoop. If at any point the defender were to get his feet "set" in order to avoid a blocking foul called, it would make playing on-ball defense nearly impossible.

Now if a defender is late to establishing position, that is indeed a blocking foul. Late lateral movement will usually end with the defender illegally impeding the path of direction of the offensive player in order to regain position. If a defender is smart, he abandons his attempt at laterally sliding and turns and runs to beat his counterpart to "the spot" so he can regain a legal position and start from that point. 

All of the rules are written this way on purpose. They favor not the bigger player but the one that has the best technique. Basketball is not a game of size or height. It is a game of quick feet and technique.
 
 
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Currently, I volunteer at the local Boys & Girls Club here in Irvine, CA. I coach a 5th & 6th grade basketball team. We had our first game last night. It was a practice game, the official league games dont start for another week. But for the kids, it didn't matter, they took it as seriously as if it were the NBA Finals.

The league had only had our draft to divide up all the players just a few days earlier, so the teams didn't even have a chance to organize a practice yet so in every sense of the word, it truly was a "practice game". For example, I was still learning the kids names mid-way through the 2nd quarter.

By halftime though, I felt like I was starting to get to know each kid. I only had one kid to substitute so I was able to do a steady rotation at nearly every dead ball. No player ever sat on the bench for more than 2 minutes of play. It gave me plenty of opportunity to talk to each kid one-on-one. Give them little tips and then have them go right back out there and put it to use. Needless to say, that at 10-11 years old, these kids are extremely raw. All they know is that they love basketball. Everything else is up to me to teach them.

Which brings me to the point of this blog entry, which is to talk about why I love coaching, and why coaching kids at this age group can be such a fun experience. They are still too young for the wins & loses to really matter, but they are just old enough to where I can begin to lay the foundation of their fundamentals that they will carry with them the remainder of their playing days. Simple things like proper defensive stance, denying the ball, and learning how to box out may seem like childs play to the seasoned high school or college coach who wants to be in a more competitive environment. But for me, while I like high level competition as much as the next person (I've been a part of pro world championship teams) I also find it extremely gratifying to be able to lay the proper groundwork for tomorrows stars.

Our games are not about wins and loses (the kids would disagree, lol) so you wont see me arguing with the ref's. In fact, I see the referrees at this stage as a 3rd coach. I look at them as a ally. I want them to call the tic-tac fouls on my players. The ref's are the enforcement of all the good habits that I am trying to enstill in the young ball players game. 

By the end of the game, I was able to work on a few things with the kids that they were much better at the end, than they were at the beginning. Simple things like holding their hands up on defense and never turning their backs to the ball. Spreading the floor and communicating on the court. That was about all I could work on in such a short time but it was effective and their is still plenty of time left in the season to build on it.

During the time outs they were so wide eyed and eager to listen and learn. And they were all heavily invested in the game since they never spent much time on the bench during substitutions. And I think all of the parents were happy to see that their children were getting a lot of attention from me and then sent right back in the game. With 20 seconds left, the game was tied, we came out of our time out, and my kids went down and made the game winning basket with 3 seconds to play. They all jumped and threw their hands in the air in excitement and for me, it was about as great a feeling as I could feel seeing them so happy.

All in all, last nights game had it all for a coach. I got to work with the players, they were better in the end than when we started, and I got to see them all jumping in joy for their efforts. It was everything I coach for all in about an hours time. It doesn't get any better than that.