“It’s the most wonderful time of the year! It’s the hap-happiest season of all!”
There’s nothing like a good Christmas song to remind me of my real favorite time of the year. This is the time of year when when the biggest plays are being made on the biggest stage. We want to watch guys and gals rise to the occasion and dominate those pressure situations. This is the time of year where amazing stories unfold that we’ll talk about for years to come. The time when we cheer like crazy for OUR team to win it all.
As a former basketball player and now coach, it’s hard to explain the feeling and atmosphere surrounding tournament time. The opportunity to compete in a game, when all the hours and sweat have come down to that one moment, is nothing short of spectacular. But I have a challenge for you this year: Don’t just watch these moments. Instead, study them.
Want to improve your game and basketball IQ while watching the Madness? Here are three ways to be more than just a fan during the next three weekends:
Don’t just watch the ball-handler
There’s more to the game of basketball than just what the ball-handler does. In fact, what the ball-handler does, a majority of the time, is a direct result of the action going on around, and away from, him.
While watching the rest of the offense, can you identify …
- How the ball-handlers’ teammates move without the ball?
- How and when those teammates cut to the basket?
- How and when they set screens off the ball?
- How they create better post position for a deeper post touch?
When watching the defense, can you identify …
- How the defensive players react to the ball?
- What does their stance look like?
- Are they active off the ball, looking to make a play, or are they just resting?
- How they defend screens?
On every possession, there are moments to identify and analyze on offense and defense. Grab a pen and paper and take notes on the action that’s happening away from the ball.
THINK THE GAME
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Study the mechanics and
preparation of the players
- Why are some shooters able to get their shot off more quickly?
- Why are some on-ball defenders better than others?
Mechanics have so much to do with success. Especially if you are limited in athletically, or lack speed and strength. Technique can be the great equalizer. So instead of just sitting at the end of your couch and throwing your hands in the air when a potential game-winning shot takes flight, take note of what happens BEFORE the shot hits the net and how was it accomplished.
Ask yourself these questions after the shot:
- How did the passer deliver the ball to the shooter?
- How did the shooter prepare in order to get his or her shot off more quickly?
- Or … how did the defender come up with a big-time stop? Was he lower? Did she use angles?
- If it was a rebound put-back or tip-in, how did the rebounder get position to get a crucial offensive rebound in crunch time?
Before the big play happens, there’s always preparation involved to create the success. Notice that preparation throughout the game.
Study the Different
Offensive and Defensive Systems
The last aspect of the game to take note of is the various offensive and defensive systems run by the teams you watch. This is a perfect way to practice thinking more like a coach and to enhance your basketball IQ. During my coaching career, my favorite players to coach were the ones who had a high basketball IQ.
Here are some questions when you’re breaking down the offense and defense:
- How quickly can you read the defense?
- When do the players start fouling at the end of the game? Were there other options?
- When does the coach call a timeout? Why?
- How is the offensive team running down the clock for a final shot?
Enjoy the thrill and excitement of March Madness but be a student of the game, too. This is a great way to become a favorite of your coach and train your IQ at the same time. The more you study the play of elite teams in pressure situations and understand the why behind the what, the better you’ll become as a playmaker and decision-maker.
There are lots of ways to enhance the mental side of your game, and this is just a small one. But for those of you who’ve just started your offseason, this is an easy way to get started on next season. Don’t just watch the Madness, study and understand it. Next season, the Madness may be your own!
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But when you shift the way you think, the way you play begins to change. Playing this way is hard. It takes superior conditioning & mental toughness. But never forget: Everything worth having is on the other side of hard.
PGC Basketball provides intense, no-nonsense basketball training for players and coaches. Our basketball camps are designed to teach players of all positions to play smart basketball, be coaches on the court, and be leaders in practices, games and in everyday life.
We combine our unique PGC culture with a variety of teaching methods and learning environments to maximize the learning potential of those that attend our sessions. In addition to spending 6-7 hours on the court each day, lessons will be reinforced through classroom sessions and video analysis.
Our goal at PGC is to empower you with the tools to fulfill your basketball dreams, while also assisting you in experiencing the joy of the journey.