Keys to player development

Keys to player development

At any level of basketball improving an individual’s skill set should be a priority. From youth to elite level athletes player development is what sets programs and players apart. Teams that focus on development win more. Athletes that focus on development end up surpassing those that are “better” than them in little time.

Player development is a strategic process. There must be clear cut goals and objectives to training.  An athlete must know what are the areas of focus, how to improve in those areas, how it will translate to making him/her a more productive player on the court and there must be a method to track progress.

                Here are several keys to player development that will set you in the right direction.


Create a clear and detailed plan for development. Through tools such as film, direct feedback, and observation one must learn what their strengths and weaknesses are. Areas of strength should be honed as they are your calling card as a player. However, you must always be working to add new weapons to your arsenal as a player and sure up areas of weakness.


Skills must be broken down to the smallest details. We call these MicroSkills. For example, when working on a jab step one dribble pull-up the best way to start this process is from the ground up without a basketball. We want to look at the following areas foot placement, jab speed, and direction, knee bend, hip movement, hand movement, torso/shoulder movement and eye fakes. Once you break these areas down you add the basketball and pick up the speed of the rep. however there is no need to even add the dribble yet. Once the athlete gets comfortable with the base movement you add the transfer and go by dribble. After many 1 on 0 reps you add the defender at half speed and work your way up to live action. This is the process to add an effective new move to your arsenal.


Once proper movement, mechanics, and footwork have been learned the athlete must push themselves beyond game speed in their reps. If we are working a ballhandling drill we want to overemphasize the pound and ball speed of every dribble almost to the point of losing the basketball. A turnover with proper mechanics that occurs because an athlete is going too hard is ok in skill development training.


Compete with yourself, with the clock, and with defense. Games are not played 1 on 0. Great players are great at visualization. Guys like Steph Curry and Paul George do not practice against cones and chairs they are always visualizing elite defenders guarding them with time running out in the 4th quarter. They are emphasizing game speed moves with special attention to ball security. Cones and chairs are no substitution for live defenders.


Every drill must have a purpose and you must know how that drill translates to the game. YouTube and Instagram are two great creations however you must avoid running drills and “working out” just to get likes on social media.

90% of the game is played off the ball. Yet 90% off skill development is done with the ball in your hands. Work on developing skills without the ball. Learn how to be impact the game every possession even if you do not touch the ball. Too many players “workout” with the ball in their hands making 14 dribble moves before taking a shot.


Find new ways to train that make training fun, challenging, and keep things fresh. This can be done by using overload training. This is where you take game like movements, skills, and situations and add extra stress. Some simple options to do this could be limiting dribbles, limiting time, adding extra defenders, using resistance bands or  a heavy trainer basketball, etc.

One of our favorites is 8 second ball security 1on1. In this drill the offense starts with the ball and has to pivot, rip and sweep the ball while maintaining possession and the pivot for 8 seconds with a defender on them before they can attack to score.


Three of the biggest workout killers are fatigue, boredom and wasted time. With physical fatigue comes mental fatigue. This combination makes it near impossible to get anything accomplished in terms of player development. You must be in basketball shape to improve your skill level. One must learn not to get bored with getting better. Trainings should be innovative and fun, but the truly great players enjoy the grind of getting better. The last workout killer is wasted time. If you are not working game skills, game shots, or game situations you are not working. You are wasting time. Don’t be an athlete that goes in the gym and gets up shots and plays pick up. Be an athlete that trains and plays with purpose.


It is better to practice one move 1,000 times than practice 1,000 moves 1 time

Remember it takes 10,000 reps to master a skill

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