Training with a WHY

As a younger player, Skill Trainers were non-existent. A workout consisted of yourself and a teammate rebounding different shots and playing pick-up games. I spent hours each day working on ball-handling drills in the racquetball courts of the Downtown Tacoma YMCA. I was fortunate to play for legendary Coach Dennis Buchholz (Stadium HS). He built my IQ of the game by giving me a “WHY” for EVERY drill or situation he broke down. This carried over to my individual workouts I put myself through as a player. Every drill had to emulate a game situation, at game speed. Coach Buchholz would always quote “Game shots at Game Speed“.

I recently (via Twitter) got an overwhelming response from Coaches to write about workouts.  I have decided to write about the progression in teaching skills. A lot of coaches/trainers fail to teach the ‘WHY’ – Assume your players know nothing! As Coaches, it is our job to teach players how to workout/play. EVERY drill must have a purpose! EVERY breakdown must be precise! Your teaching points must resonate in your players heads! I take great pride in building instinctive, skilled and savvy players. Teaching skills require three concepts:

  • Breakdown – Whatever skill you are teaching needs to be broken down to the simplest form. I teach the same breakdowns to NBA/WNBA players that I do my youth players.  Players need to understand what skill is being taught, how they will use that skill, when they will use the skill and WHY they will use the skill. This will also allow players to create good habits within skill/situation.
  • Repetition – After learning the breakdown/technique of drill or situation, players need to be drilled. This is where innovation comes in. Find creative ways to drill your players to keep learning fresh and engaging. I use this acronym with my players quite often – “Repetition Elevates Personal Skill” – REPS REPS REPS!
  • LIVE (Situational play) – After breaking down and reppin’ each drill/situation, players must be put into LIVE game situations to become instinctive. Coaches don’t want drill robots who “freeze up” during games. Coaches want players who can read defenses and play instinctively!

It’s important to note – During LIVE drills, this is your time to coach. Players will make mistakes and wrong reads, CORRECT them – Praise good decisions!

You don’t want to teach more than 1-2 skills per session. Allow players to spend time learning, reppin’ and playing!



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