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More Skills Equals More Time

December 8, 2017


I like watching the NBA as much as anyone but sometimes the influence it has on today's players isn't always positive. For example, the NBA has become a league full of specialists. Each team has a ball handler/penetrator, a 3point shooter, a slasher, a defensive stopper, etc. who has their own particular area of expertise.


There's a coach in our conference that has had a fairly successful career using the NBA model of building his team around a group of specialists. One player handles the ball, one spots up and shoots the 3, one drives from the elbow and one posts up when necessary. It seems like every player has a specific role that he completely masters which gives the coach the option to move everyone around like chess pieces.


This method of building a team and utilizing specialists has proved to be effective in many cases even if it forces all teams to look nearly identical. However, it's not always great for the players. As expected, when a player's specific skill set is needed he plays a lot, but if it's not needed then that same player may not get in the game at all. Then when it comes time to move up a level, the players are usually unprepared unless their new team has an overwhelming need for that one particular skill.


Given the choice, most coaches I know would rather not play this way. Instead, they would much rather have teams of all around basketball players who are capable of doing many different things well. Not only does it make for a better "team" but it is also more fun and more beneficial for the players. Unfortunately, largely because of the NBA's influence, there are a lot more specialists out there than there are basketball players and so many coaches just don't have much of a choice. They have to sub players in and out depending on what they need at that particular moment.


If you are constantly being subbed in and out and/or you are not getting as much playing time as you would like then maybe it's time to quit being a specialist and start becoming a basketball player. It's going to take some work on your part but the results could be well worth it!

If you are reading this in the off season then you should start spending at least 15 to 20 minutes every day working intensely on developing a new skill. This doesn't mean you should quit working on your area of expertise but instead means that you need to work an additional 15 to 20 minutes on top of your normal workout. The key here is to work on expanding your skill set every day - two hours once a week is not going to help you improve as much as 20 minutes every day will.


If you happen to still be in season you need to start approaching each and every drill with a whole new mindset. Instead of just trying to get through the drill you need to do whatever it takes to master it. Remind yourself that the quicker you become more well rounded as a player the more time you're going to spend on the court. Take advantage of having access to your coach and ask him to stay after practice for a few minutes so you can get in some extra work.


What skill should you start working on? Think of the player who subs in for you most often or the player who plays in front of you. What does he do well that you don't? Is that the skill that is keeping you from playing? Then that's where you should start!


Remember, basketball specialists play as needed but basketball players play all the time!

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