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Guide to Coaching Basketball Summer Manual for the Gym Rat

The Summer Manual For Gym Rats is for basketball players who can already play the game. If you want to improve your skills, read on. It's an explanation of the little things, often overlooked. Great players seem to do these little things by instinct; however, these skills can be acquired.

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Before we stick these bugs in your ear, let's look at the twelve stages of progress every basketball player passes throughout his career. Here are the stages:

  1. If you are a ball player, I'm an astronaut.
  2. Hey! You're not bad.
  3. By golly, you are a fair ball player.
  4. You are okay.
  5. Say, you're pretty good.
  6. Well, what do you know, you are good.
  7. Son, you're terrific!
  8. You are fantastic!
  9. You are great!
  10. You're amazing!
  11. Man! You are something super!
  12. You can play.

It's The Little Things That Count

Nobody likes to hear that he's no good. Still, most players who people say are great, fail to do many important things game, after game.

You are probably not even aware of the things you don't do well. Oh, on a night you might score 15 or 20 points, you might even go home thinking you played well. Even so, you may not have impressed many coaches observing your play. So, what? You put in a few jumpers, a couple of lay-ups, picked off a few rebounds, and your man only scored nine. This doesn't necessarily mean you're good. Maybe you are and maybe not.

How many times have you heard coaches say, "Pay attention to the details!"

What they are really telling you is, "It's the thousands of little things that determine whether or not you can play basket- ball. Even on those nights when the lid is on the hoop and you go one for nine, you can still play well if you do the little things. Regardless of how he shoots on a given night, a good player does the following:

  1. A good player makes it difficult for the other team to score. If they score, that's okay. They are good, too. Their shots were difficult, because a good player makes it tough to get easy baskets.
  2. A good player helps his teammates stop their men.
  3. A good player helps his teammates score.
  4. A good player contributes in many ways that the average fan or average players never notice or think about.
The last item is what we will convey to you in this manual and hope it sticks like "a flea in your ear." Coaches of winning teams know what it takes to make a good player. So, if YOU want to be a good player, you better know, too.

The Summer Manual For Gym Rats serves as a massive checklist of the little things, a GOOD PLAYER does that often go unnoticed by the average fan and player. You can't read through it only once and expect instant results. It takes action on your part. This manual serves only as a tool. You should practice some of these concepts over and over. If you concentrate, many of these pointers become a habit. You can ONLY accomplish this gradually; but, work at them consistently. Make them part of your STYLE OF PLAY, second nature, something you do automatically, and without even a thought. The world is full of players can perform a given task when told to just concentrate on that, or when asked to do it in a drill. Do they do it in games? Do they do it consistently?

Give Your Best Effort Every Second In Practice & Games

For example, without considering technique, ask yourself, "Do I go after (I mean ACTIVELY SEEK) every rebound after your team shoots?" (I don't mean a casual effort to go toward the ball.)

To best describe what I mean, let's suppose I said, "I'll give you a $100 if you will get the NEXT offensive rebound!"

You know good and well what kind of effort you'd give! You might not get the rebound; but, it would be obvious to everyone that you were after it. Yet, during the course of most games, hardly anyone makes that kind of effort, including YOU! Yet, you tell your coach, your friends, and even yourself that you want to be a good basketball player.

What's Your Excuse For Lack Of Effort?

What excuse to you give to yourself by not doing the best that you can every time? Did you know that your coach can watch you play, even on a night you scored twenty points, and point out dozens of things you never bother to do. Therefore, there many things you should be doing ... but, don't.

Winning Coaches Know What It Takes To win

Take Rich Risemas, former coach of the Memorial Tigers of Evansville, Indiana, for example. Previous to his coming to Memorial High School, a few years ago, that team had won only two sectional titles in the history of the school. In the next seven years, Coach Risemas has led that small private school to the finals of the IHSAA Semi-State Tourney three times. In the annals of Indiana Basketball, this is a feat that very few coaches have ever accomplished.

Coach Risemas has often said, "A winning team must be skilled in fundamentals, well conditioned, and most of all, play together as a team."

Now, let's look at the fundamental aspect of his statement. A long basketball season is tough for both the coaches and players. Despite its length, there is simply not enough time to teach everything a GOOD PLAYER needs to know.

Often a coach finds himself saying things like, "Don't do it because I said it. This is the way Dean Smith or Bobby Knight does it."

He does this because, sometimes, there is need for special authority to emphasize a point. No coach can point out all the little things that need to be stressed. In the course of an intense practice, a player has enough trouble psyching himself into playing hard, let alone, absorb everything that's thrown at him. Yet, there is so much he needs to know. Things a coach may never have time to mention, let alone, emphasize. That is the reason for the Summer Manual For Gym Rats. It's a common sense approach to basketball fundamentals that you can review over and over. There are things to do whether you are working out alone or with others. The intent is to provide the conscientious player with ideas he can work on during the off-season.

Possible Differences of Coaching Philosophies

I'd like to point out that a few of the concepts put forth in the Summer Manual For Gym Rats may conflict with the philosophy of a lot of coaches, On the other hand, most of them are confirmations of what many coaches already teach, but, with a slightly different angle.

Generally, all of these concepts are acceptable. They will serve you well on any court, anywhere in the world. However, if your coach disagrees on some particular point, don't be stupid and argue with him. DO IT HIS WAY!

There are many ways to score a point or stop an opponent. None of the ideas in Summer Manual For Gym Rats are stupid. There are simply other ways of doing them. Any coach will be delighted if you can master these concepts and use them in games. So, try to learn them all; however, be prepared to alter some of them if your coach feels you can get a slight edge by doing them differently. Take individual defense, for example. Some of the top coaches in the nation teach you to have your weight on your front foot. This is so you can push off it when your man goes and you need to retreat. It is my thinking that you should get in your man's face and have your weight back. At the same time you are in his face, be thinking "retreat." What you lose by push-off you gain in readiness.

Your Coach Is Always Right

Who is right? Your coach is right. Do it his way! After all, he is the one that puts you in and takes you out of games. Your coach is the one you must please. Besides, in a game things happen so fast nobody, even your coach, will notice where your weight was when your man suddenly takes a pass and drives on you. Your coach will want to see you ready to go with him, to cut him off, or beat him to a spot.

The point I want to make is two fold. First, learn to do these things. Second, learn to listen to your coach. Even if your coach isn't the greatest in the world, five guys working together doing the wrong things have a better shot at winning than five guys doing their own thing.

If you want to be a GOOD PLAYER and will work for constant improvement; then, the Summer Manual For Gym Rats is for you. It will help if you work on the little things and make them part of your game. People may never call you great or fantastic; but, your coaches will pay you the highest compliment of all. They will say, "You can play."

The Reason For This Manual

I wanted to write this manual so it could be interesting to the player and an indispensable tool to the coach. There simply isn't time for any coach to include, in his two hour practice session, all the things he thinks important. By the time he gets the team's offenses and defenses down, he's likely to let slide all sorts of fine points of the game.

I've seen players, even in championship games, so conscious of running their offense, they never noticed their defender had fallen to the floor after darting past him. Instead of taking the ball to the hoop, for a lay-up, the guy passes the ball off and continues the offense. Penetration and a lay-up never occurred to him. Man, this is called READING THE DEFENSE.

How To Use This Manual

Glance through it, first; then, read it. Practice using some of it's pointers on your own. Do it again and again. Make them instinctive habits and part of your game. It won't happen overnight. To become adept at anything takes time and hard work. Work on these concepts will pay dividends next winter. Try to be the best player you can.

Refer to the manual frequently, even during the season. Use it to jog your memory and help keep your vision of the game in proper perspective.

Good luck! Keep at it. Bask in the pool of victory. The water is fine.

Ken Lindsay
14 March 1992

Links to other articles in this manual:

  1. Basketball summer manual for the gym rat
  2. How to play basketball defense
  3. How to play basketball offense - description of team positions
  4. Physical training on the off-season for the basketball player
  5. The basic basketball moves without the ball
  6. Basketball rebounding
  7. Passing and catching the basketball
  8. Dribbling the basketball
  9. Setting and using basketball screens
  10. 0ne- on- one basketball moves
  11. Summer workout for post players
  12. Summer workout for perimeter players
  13. Home