I’ve spent a lot of time training and watching games over the years. No matter what age or gender there is one common weakness that I’ve observed and that is a lack of Athleticism. Now don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of kids that can run fast, jump high, shoot well, etc. I constantly hear people in the crowd talking about how “athletic” a kid is. A kid can be athletic yet not have athleticism. An athletic kid may have attributes or skills of an athlete (i.e. speed, jumping ability, etc) but not have athleticism. Confused yet? This definition may help:
Athleticism can be defined as, the ability to execute athletic movements at optimum speed and/or quickness with precision, style and grace in the context of the sport or activity.
It is easy to see when someone has it and when they don’t. There are some young athletes that may exhibit rare instances of athleticism but very few exhibit athleticism consistently. The athletes that do exhibit athleticism consistently and effectively are those that contribute more to their team (i.e. more playing time), get noticed, and have a much better chance of playing at the next level. Have you ever noticed players that lose control of the ball when moving quickly and/or changing directions? Or a player that travels when they attempt to make a move on the perimeter or inside? A player that drives so hard and fast they lose body control and the ball or travel? A post player attempting a move and stumbles, travels, falls down or simply loses body control and throws up a bad shot? All of these examples are simply athletes attempting athletic skills without athleticism.
The only way an athlete can execute athletic movements at optimum speed and/or quickness with precision, style, and grace is to have ultimate control over their body from head to toe. In basketball, body control and balance are a must to be successful. It goes further than just being coordinated. Basketball is an intensely quick and multidirectional game. An athlete must not only be able to accelerate quickly but also change direction on a dime while still accelerating and not lose control. Even more, the athlete must know how to correctly decelerate under control and balance then immediately jump, change direction, and/or accelerate again! Many times while handling a ball! Are you kidding me!? It is one of the most difficult and challenging sports to be a success. Balance and control are at the root of any success. “How do I get some of this athleticism stuff for my kid?” Glad you asked.
I have developed a program entitled, “Ultimate Control”. It will last six weeks and consist of three, one hour sessions per week. The sessions will be intense with education and instruction. Training will be conducted both in and outdoors (weather permitting). The goal of the program is to teach and train each athlete how to gain that ultimate control over their body that will produce a more effective player. A few of the areas focused on will be:
- Core Strength: Every basketball movement begins in the core. Without a strong core ultimate control and balance is not possible. New research has also shown a link between a weak core and knee injuries.
- Overall Body Strength & Flexibility: Everyone knows you should be stronger. A stronger athlete is not only more effective (i.e. balanced and controlled) but also less prone to injury. While the program will educate athletes on the importance of overall strength and how to train properly, the main focus will be on lower body strength and flexibility. The hips are crucial in developing stride length, quickness, balance and control.
- Vertical Jump: The main focus is not to increase the athlete’s vertical. But, the exciting result will be the vertical will increase as the athlete not only becomes stronger but learns how to jump properly and effectively off one and two feet.
- Quickness & Agility: As you noticed, I didn’t include speed. The game of basketball is more about quickness and agility. The ability to accelerate, decelerate, and change directions quickly. Top, straight-line speed is more important for track, and certain positions on soccer and football teams than it is for basketball. A player rarely goes baseline to baseline in a straight line. Five, ten, and twenty yard sprints are more the norm. Top speed is not needed. Quickness, the ability to accelerate, decelerate, and change directions while maintaining control is crucial.
- Footwork: Could also come under quickness and agility. Quick feet, controlled feet, agile feet, balanced feet are the way to success! A MUST for Perimeter and Post Players.
- Special Note: There will be no long distance running. There will be a lot of very intense, powerful, and explosive training exercises and drills.
A final thought on skills, athleticism and confidence in high school athletes: A young athlete’s confidence grows as their skill level increases. An athlete will be hesitant to shoot or drive if they think they don’t have the skills to do so. If, through individual training and hard work, their skill level increases then their confidence will grow and they will attempt to do more on the court. An athlete’s skill level must be equal to their level of athleticism to be effective. If an athlete is super quick or fast without the ball but can’t maintain control of the ball while attempting to perform at the peak of their athleticism, then they must slow down to where their athleticism equals their skill level. An athlete is not as affective and productive to the team if the skills don’t equal the athleticism. When strengthened and improved skills and athleticism are coupled together the confidence level of the young athlete will explode both on and off the court. A wonderful and powerful cycle will develop: more skills and athleticism causes more confidence which will then cause the athlete to want to improve even more skills and thereby gaining even more confidence. The ultimate goal is to have a never ending cycle and a confident young athlete both on and off the court.
Thanks for your time and I hope to hear from you soon.
Ultimate Control I
- Program Length: 6 Weeks
- Sessions Per Week: 3
- Maximum Athletes Per Program: 6
- Start Date: Contact Coach G for next program details
- Finish Date: TBD
- Session Times: TBD
- Cost: $360 (averages just $20 per session)