Coaches Corner January 2020

Welcome to the first Coach's Corner of a new decade.

It is important that any player learns how to lose, has the maturity to shake the hand of the opposing team at the end of the game and acknowledge that on this occasion they were beaten by a better team . However there is nothing better for morale when a team is playing competitively than a win .Losses and big losses especially aren't easy on players or coaches and ,yes, we can enjoy the playing of the game and can also take credit and pride from having played well but there is nothing like a "W" in the Win column to have coaches and players buzzing . Players arrive at the next training session full of energy and excitement and you can see the confidence in their play. When we are teaching a player a new skill or giving them plays we are hoping that they then use the new skill or play in a game that means our chances of a team win has increased. Player or Coach we all want to win!

There is a saying that Darts Professionals use that says "Triples are for Show , Doubles are for Dough" Hitting the 180's gets the crowd of their feet but they don't mean anything to the game if you miss the Double 8 that actually wins the game . The reality of basketball , especially in the Junior game, is that the ability of your team to have a high success rate on lay-ups is key to producing a winning team.

" 3 Pointers are for Show , Lay- up's are for Dough "

There are generally considered to be 3 basic types of lay ups in any Junior players skillset. An OVERHEAD lay up is the purist form of lay up . To perform a Right-hand Overhead lay-up , from a strongly planted left foot a player then steps right-left- right carrying the ball . As the player lifts off from the right foot, they bring up their right leg and right arm to provide momentum which propels them into the air. This momentum means when they actually release the ball , the ball only has a couple of feet to travel into the basket off the backboard. The fact that there is only a couple of feet to go means that of all shots in basketball this has the highest percentage chance of scoring.

The second style of Lay-up is the UNDERHAND where after the player executes the steps, they have the ball In a turned-up hand and moves their flat hand upwards and push the ball up towards the Basket . The fact that the ball ,when released , has far farther to travel and is more likely to be intercepted by an outstretched hand means this shot has a lower percentage hit rate than the Overhead lay-up.

The third type of lay-up is rarely seen in Junior Basketball and is a HOOK SHOT lay-up. After the right- left -right movement the players take the ball out to the side and hooks the shot over the outstretched hands towards the basket. This should be used when you have defensive players hands blocking your way. PS. This particularly Coach used this type of lay up recently in a bounce game at the end of a practice and even I was surprised if went in. So, three different types of lay ups each with a decreasing scale of probability of success. Common sense really, that the closer the ball is to the basket the more chance of scoring .

" Common sense really, that the closer the ball is to the basket the more chance of scoring "

It's game day, your team are playing well, some fantastic movement from your players ,and maybe even a well set screen means, one of your players has a clear passage to the basket and powers towards the basket and executes the right left right movement of a lay-up to perfection and then chooses to perform an underhand lay-up ,the ball bobbles on the ring tantalisingly and then drops off the side and is recovered by the defensive rebounder .

In the next offensive play, your team manages a fast break. Your player receives the ball 12 feet from the basket, the crowd is watching, he/she is alone and there is a clear route to basket. You see their feet grip the floor , you see them bend their knees as they moves their hands to position the ball, they move upwards to perform a well-executed jump shot which then sails in an arc towards the basket , some go in, some bobble out , some airball .

So why do players choose to perform long range shots or riskier underhand lay ups when a well-executed overhead lay-up is far more likely to score a basket and propel their team to a win? . The added pressure of a game , that rush of adrenaline and the possibility to score . Good decision making which Coaches call Basketball IQ for any Junior player is something that comes with time and just a little bit of coaching. Part of Basketball is showmanship and the scoring of a 3 pointer gets people on their feet. An underhand or Hook shot layup can look a lot flashier. Players will practice harder on flashy moves and shots that they can use to impress their mates and team-mates . It's human nature and we have all done it at some point to a degree.

The other factor for players doing underhand lay ups is that when any player is 10 or 11 years old, they generally don't have the required upper body strength to push a heavy basketball upwards, so they learn the skill of lay ups doing them underhand. Generally, by the time they reach 13 or 14 their muscle mass changes, and they have the required power. As Coach you put an emphasis on using the overhead lay-up and try to build the players confidence and Basketball IQ so that they will make the right shot decision when the pressure is on and have the confidence to drive and execute to add that 2 points to the scoreboard.

So next time you watch a basketball practice or game. You will generally find the first warm up routine the players do is a lay-up routine. The reason.


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