Fewer Dribbles Equals More Effectiveness
By Pat Quinn
If you look at the game of basketball nowadays, you can be successful with only having to put the ball down two or three times if you’re a wing player.
Klay Thompson comes to mind. He doesn’t have great ball handling moves but because he’s efficient in getting to where he wants to go and catching the ball, he’s a great shooter.
In our workouts we normally start with shooting, then go into ball handling control and moves, then back to shooting.
Then we go into playing. How many times in a game will you be able to take four or five dribbles, add a defender and make a move? Not that many at the high school or college level. Most of the time you’re touching it in a half-court set and you’re going to catch the ball with the defender, within two or three feet of you.
Young players tend to dribble the ball immediately after catching it and most of the time they pass up on an open shot. Keep it very simple:
- If you catch the ball, are you open? If you’re open and have a good shot, shoot it.
- If you’re not open, pass the ball to a teammate who is open.
- If neither of you is open, make a play. If you’re a triple threat, you basically have three options –jab, shot fake or pivot.
You have to be able to react.
It’s very simple:
Make some type of fake to get the defense to move left, right or move closer to you with a shot fake;and whichever way they move, go the other way. It doesn’t need to be jab right, go left, pivot left,rip through right. If you do one of those three things –jab, shot fake, or pivot – every time you touch the ball, you will be able to get by your man. At the high school level you’ll probably be able to get by your man 90% of the time.
Many athletes who work out with us say, “All we do is run plays in our team practices.” There are a lot of good coaches who have great X’s and O’s, but if a play leads to a missed shot, it wasn’t really a great play.
In my opinion, it’s more important to have players working to create and make shots. Spend at least half of your practice on skill work; if you don’t have a dominant big to throw the ball inside to, you need five guys who can put the ball on the floor. If you’re playing with a well-coached team and you only have one or two guys that can make plays, a good coach can game plan on that, zone it, triangle into it and take those guys out.
You need to work on shots every day in practice. Focus on shots that they’ll get in the game – drive and kicks, take-and-roll stuff, whatever type of offense you’re running. Everyone needs to practice putting the ball on the floor because sometimes your athletes won’t even remember a play when you call it out in the game. Then it comes down to who can make a play on their own. That’s why you need to keep it simple: Pass and screen, pass and cut, set good screens and then once you get a guy on an angle, just attack the paint.
You need more than two players that can handle the ball once you get in the paint. Prepare for this with a great ball handling workout for the entire team every day in practice. It should take less than 20 minutes.
The NBA has 30 of the best coaches in the world and they all know how to draw up a great play. Which teams win? The teams that have the best players who can make the most plays. Remember, the goal of the game is to put the ball in the hoop;the team that does more than the other one wins.
Mike D’Antoni is running the exact same offense he ran with the Knicks.The Knicks weren’t good because they didn’t have the players to run it. Now he’s the coach of the year because he has the best players. As important as coaching and the X’s and O’s are, I personally think it’s more about getting your players to believe, getting them to play hard and holding them accountable. It’s very individualized and you have to know your players.
Most players have one or two flaws in their shot, which leads the ball to go short or to the left. Make little adjustments and you’ll see a huge improvement. Give your athletes the foundation of dribbling low and keeping the ball under control with head up. Don’t worry about doing all the flashy movements between the legs,behind and back. Keep it simple!
Pat Quinn is a professional basketball skills trainer with Results Basketball in New York City. You can email Pat: PQresults@gmail.com, or find him on Instagram: pq_results.