Applying lessons from the tennis lab to the basketball court

Every singles tennis match is bound by the same dimensions…. yet each one is a laboratory for innovation, unrestrained by a risk-averse coach or the conflicting desires of teammates (Bialik, 2016).

Basketball often is compared to the improvisational nature of jazz, but it tends to be played more like a well-practiced orchestra with a conductor standing and controlling the action as much as possible. Innovation is more difficult when someone conducts your actions from the sideline, and deviation from the rehearsed plan often is met with disgust and a quick substitution rather than celebrated for its creativity, as it would be in jazz. […]

Lateral movement, basketball defense, and persistent myths

Last week, I attended a high-school varsity girls basketball game between good teams with college-bound players, and it was evident that the players had been taught never to cross their feet on defense. When I lamented this instruction via Twitter, several people questioned my lamentations. These questions spurred a few videos this week on defense, lateral movement, and the crossover step. For more information, check out Fake Fundamentals. […]

Should we use professional players as model when teaching players to shoot?

This morning, I saw a picture of Carmelo Anthony getting ready to shoot, and the ball touched the palm of his hand. The headline read, “Shooting myth; keep the ball out of your palm.” I immediately had two questions: (1) Should we teach young players to model their shots after professional players? and (2) Is Anthony the model that we should follow? […]

Fundamentals and Footwork: What are we really teaching?

I am skeptical that USA Basketball overtaking basketball administration and coach education in the United States is a positive, and this article on footwork that was sent to me has done nothing to alleviate my fears. My primary fear with mandatory coach education by a single institution was deciding who determined the skills to be taught, and if this article is indicative of the USA Basketball curriculum, it should not be USA Basketball. […]

Expanding on the triple threat: The catch and hold jump shot

The triple threat is not important to me as it is for most coaches. First, I do not believe that players who use the triple threat are truly a threat to dribble, pass, or shoot. Second, when players receive the pass with a small advantage, and move to a triple threat position, they forfeit their advantage and must create a new advantage. […]

Searching for elite athletic talent

Originally published in Los Angeles Sports & Fitness, January/February 2016.

During a recent u14 girls soccer game, I watched the younger brothers play 3v3 tackle football between the fields. The parents were invested in the soccer game, and they never bothered the boys who ranged from 8 to 12 years old. The pickup football game was more interesting. There were no parents shouting directions or intervening when there was an argument or an injury. The boys figured it out on their own.  […]

The Effects of Frontal- and Sagittal-Plane Plyometrics on Change-of-Direction Speed and Power in Adolescent Female Basketball Players

Plyometrics is a popular training modality for basketball players to improve power and change-of-direction speed. Most plyometric training has used sagittal-plane exercises, but improvements in change-of-direction speed have been greater in multi-direction programs. […]

Assists, point guards, and ball movement

Earlier this season, I posed a question about Sacramento’s Rajon Rondo to several basketball coaches. I asked if Rondo’s gaudy assist totals were a positive for the Kings. The coaches answered unanimously that a point guard racking up a lot of assists could not be a negative, and several even questioned why I would ask such a question.  […]