Deliberate Play and Old-School Development

Originally published in Hard2Guard Player Development Newsletter 5.26. Now available in Kindle and paperback. Subscribe to the weekly newsletter here.

Basketball has split down the middle. Trainers and those who believe there are too many “meaningless” games, and players should spend their entire offseason doing drills represent one side. On the other side stands the status quo, an environment of weekend tournaments for 52 weeks a year, often with one practice for every three to five games. The old-school approach is forgotten: nobody combines workouts with open gym runs or pick-up games at the park. Regardless of whether a coach or trainer is pro-training or pro-games, he or she favors a coach-centered, structured environment. […]

Should the U.S. develop players like Europe?

There is a popular undercurrent throughout basketball circles in the United States (R.C. Buford, Kobe Bryant, Stan van Gundy) that the U.S. need to develop players more like European countries or Canada. Typically, this rhetoric never is supported with actual plans or suggestions as to the differences between development in other countries and the U.S., and when I argue in favor of some of the primary differences between the systems in FIBA countries and the U.S. (24-second shot clocks, small basketballs for youths, lower basket height for youths, longer high school season, fewer games per week, etc), these same people argue against their feasibility. Rather than change the structure to match the European structure, it seems that there is some mythic drill or philosophy that coaches in the U.S. are missing. […]

The perfect grassroots talent development basketball system

As I pulled into a middle school to referee a soccer game between two local club teams, I saw an advertisement for the local recreation league that will sponsor teams in the fall. For a second, I thought of the gradual migration of new signups to the recreational league to the select few making the competitive club team, and the progression made sense. The better players moved to more competitive, year-round soccer, and the lesser players played a fall season of recreational soccer. Then I remember that I was refereeing 10-year-olds, and I questioned whether or not it was fair to make these determinations of talent at such a young age.  […]

Thoughts from a Long Time Reader

First of all, I’d like to thank Brian for allowing me to post on his site. Over the years, I’ve been a regular reader of Brian—whether through his books, the Hard2Guard Newsletter, or this blog—and I’ve had the chance to have many discussions with him in the comments section of this site, on Twitter, and through email. I’m honored to have been given the chance to contribute to this blog and look forward to doing so moving forward. To give some background, I don’t have outstanding credentials. No PhD here. I’ve been coaching youth basketball for the last 5 years, and I don’t really have a list of achievements that I can give you. Hopefully whatever Brian sees in me, maybe someone can detect it and let me know because I’m way in over my head with this. […]

The evolution of basketball, play, and practice

Kobe Bryant’s comments earlier this season about the lack of skill development in American players highlighted the angst felt by many who are involved with basketball in the United States. Whether right or wrong, basketball has changed over the last generation. I find it hard to argue that the U.S. cannot produce skilled players anymore when I watch NBA games with Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant and others, but when I watch recruiting videos of 18 and 19 year-old non-elite players from the U.S. and Europe, I find myself favoring the European players (Of course, part of the argument that is missing is that I am comparing players who play for the junior national teams in their home countries to players who would be ranked well outside the top 250 players in the United States).  […]