Basketball Tips – Defence

Defensive stance and movement

The defensive stance and the ability to move while staying in that stance are two aspects that will define a good defensive player. The longer you can stay in your stance and apply pressure to your opponent, whether he has the ball or not, will be crucial to your team’s chances of winning a game and more. As the old saying goes: Offence wins games, defence wins championships.

Stance and slide

Crouch with your knees bent and weight evenly distributed on the balls of both feet. Your thighs should be almost parallel to the floor with head erect and back almost straight. When moving to defend an opponent who has the ball, the defensive player should take short sharp steps and the feet virtually slide across the floor. It is important not to bounce on your feet as this limits your ability to change direction quickly and adjust to the different pace your opponent will use to disguise his intentions.

Drop step

One of the most difficult things to learn is to move backwards quickly. The drop step is an essential skill you will need to retreat fast down the court, covering your opponent using a good defensive stance while being aware of the positions of your teammates and opposition.

To learn this movement, take up a good defensive stance. Try to imagine you are going to fall backwards and land on your right buttock. The only way you can stop falling is to move your right foot backwards and around very quickly. This movement will keep your stance low and in good position. Never cross your feet, but slide.

Drop step drill

Players move backwards down the floor, taking a drop step first then sliding a few steps while maintaining a good defensive stance, then taking another drop step in the opposite direction and sliding again. There would normally be about eight changes of direction to move from one end of the court to the other.

Tips for better defence

  1. Study every opponent and know each of your team-mates defensive assignments. If you are forced to switch, you will then know which man to take.
  2. All five defensive players should be in the keyway for defensive rebounds. After a shot by the opposition team your first job is to check your man and then go after the ball.
  3. Learn early in the game, or through scouting, what are the favourite moves, or fakes of your opponent. It is rare a player will change his normal habits during a game so being prepared will help you apply tougher defence.
  4. Always  be in a position to see your man and the ball, without turning your head. The distance you are away from your man will depend on whether you are one or more passes away from the ball.
  5. Be alert for screens. When your man sets a screen on a team-mate, you must warn him and be prepared to switch. Sometimes get reluctant to “talk” while defending. If you are defending a screener the typical instructions could include, switch, fight over, slide. Each of these instructions will depend on the skills of the opponent, the distance between the screen and the basket and the effectiveness of the screen.
  6. When  defending an excellent shooter the defender may have to fight over the top of the screen, otherwise he will be vulnerable and the offensive player may have a good scoring opportunity. While the defender fights over the screen he may need temporary help from the team-mate guarding the screener. Sometimes it might be appropriate for both players to double team the shooter. In this case the screener could be open for a return pass if there is not enough defensive pressure on the player who was being screened and a third defender might be called on to help. This will require a rotation of defensive assignments and a lot of communication between all defenders with quick adjustments to new assignments.
  7. The man defending the centre, or post man should also call help when he is required to front an opponent near the basket. When a man receives the ball close to the basket he has a high percentage scoring chance, so it is necessary to deny these passes as much as possible. When ‘fronting’ the post to deny a direct pass, the lob over the head of the defender is the natural option for the offence. That requires defensive help from team mates on the weak side to prevent, or intercept the lob pass.
  8. When caught in a two on one fast break situation, protect the basket first. Try to fake the ball-handler and force him to stop his dribble. Normally there is no way you can prevent a shot, but you might be able to force them into a poor shot, or delay them long enough for help to arrive. The instruction given to offensive players in this situation is, the dribbler should attack the basket until the defender gets into the driving lane and only then make the pass. So the defender must try to confuse the dribbler by faking and retreating in an effort to intercept a pass or force a contested shot.
  9. When defending a ball handler on the side of the court overplay slightly toward the baseline to prevent him from driving in that direction. You are more likely to receive help if the player is forced to drive toward the middle of the court. Some coaches teach the opposite, encouraging a drive to the baseline, with the expectation t help will be available from the centre, or postman close to the basket. This strategy is more common in the American NBA where tall, strong and aggressive players are common, but the ball-handling skills and quickness of modern players means that allowing players to penetrate the baseline will usually lead to a good scoring opportunity for the driver or the man he passes to.
  10. Do not foul un-necessarily. It is possible to play aggressive defence without fouling. Team-mates, opponents, spectators and officials always respect players who play hard but within the rules.
  11. There are many players who can score, but it takes a lot of determination and effort to play good defence. If you are not a great shooter but play tough defence, you will find a place on most teams.

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Basketball Tips – Hook Shot

Since the advent of the jump shot fewer players are spending more time on developing the hook shot. But the hook shot is still and effective shot when taken close to the basket. Whilst it is usually a favourite weapon of the taller players all players should work on the skill so they can take full advantage of opportunities which otherwise might be wasted. A smaller player will often succeed with a hook shot, whereas a jump shot is more easily blocked by a taller opponent.

Perhaps the most famous exponent of the hook shot was Kareem Abdul Jabbar who, at over 217cm tall dominated the sport through his long career playing with the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA after winning three NCAA championships with UCLA. Kareem exploited the NBA rule that prohibited the use of zone defenses and in one on one situations became almost unstoppable using what commonly became known as “the sky hook” No player has taken over the mantel of hook shot specialist since Kareem retired although there are many players at all levels of the sport still using the hook shot effectively.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Action Portrait

In cases where a team is lucky enough to have a tall player who is being covered by a smaller opponent, it is a worthwhile tactic to set up the tall player close to the basket and let him work on his hook shot. If he is able to convert a high percentage, which he should if defended one on one, then you have a valuable asset. However it is more likely that the opposing team will call for defensive help against the tall player using double teaming tactics. This should open up opportunities for passes to team-mates and uncontested perimeter shots.

When making the hook shot the object is to receive the ball as close as possible to the basket and then keep the body between the ball and the defender. If the shot is taken with the right hand the shooter jumps off his left foot and keeps the ball close to the body with his elbow bent as he is jumping. The balance hand is used to protect the ball but will be released from the ball before it gets to about head height. Although the shot is normally commenced with the player’s back to the basket you should be facing the ring at the completion of the shot and upon landing be ready to follow the shot for a possible rebound. The hook shot may also be used following an offensive rebound. After recovering the ball from a rebound the player makes a strong cross-over step turning his back to the defender and then pivoting toward the basket while protecting the ball for the hook shot.

Source: betterbasketball.com.au

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Why basketball is the best sport

3aa552847fe71f00a575689fdcb653f7What does it mean to call a certain sport “the best”? In this instance, it involves discussing inherent aspects of a certain game that make it more enjoyable to any given athlete, as compared to another sport.

It’s extremely difficult to tell people why their opinion is wrong, when all claims are founded on preferences, but that’s exactly what we sports editors are setting out to do with one another. Here’s why a game that supposedly began as offseason training for football is objectively the best sport.

Basketball, which was first played in 1891 with peach baskets and no dribbling, combines the ideal amount of necessary raw physical attributes—height, strength, speed, agility, power, etc.—with the necessary skills—shooting, dribbling, passing, etc.

So many areas of the game involve utilizing strength and power, such as rebounding, scoring in the post, and protecting the paint, while others involve extreme finesse and acquired skill, such as ball handling, jump shooting, and passing. Overall, basketball has the widest range of physicality and contact level in all respects.

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Let’s look at some examples. Charles Barkley, in his prime, made his living off rebounding and scoring in the paint by using his immense strength and power. Alternately, Dirk Nowitzki’s game relies on one thing: the fadeaway jumper, which requires playing in open space—he hardly needs contact with defenders at all. Magically, both of these players play the same position. Additionally, James Harden is a guard who takes lots of shots and relies on drawing contact when getting into the lane, exhibited by his 27-point performance on 22 free throws in December. In contrast to him is Steph Curry, another high-volume shooter whose bread and butter is ball handling and pull-up threes, which require creating space. Again, here are two players who play virtually the same position with completely different uses of strength and skill.

Because of this unique combination and plethora of physical traits and skills, basketball allows for the athlete to customize, to personalize his or her unique style of play. To quote Bobby Joe Hill from Glory Road, “Having the ball in your hand[…]is like making sweet music with your game.”

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Basketball allows for more creativity than baseball or football because of the range of playing styles—there are so many areas of the game to personalize, like shooting form, ball-handling moves, defensive style, court vision, and more. In baseball, the only real space to get creative is in swinging a bat, and in football, it’s even more difficult to personalize different skills. In soccer, you can’t customize much at all, and hockey only really allows for skating and shooting in different ways.

On a related note, when players get pumped up in basketball, they can release pent-up adrenaline in a way that is most conducive to climactic conclusions that also combine strength or athleticism with skill. Think of the most impressive basketball highlights—they’re mostly alley-oops that combine passing with athleticism, individual dunks that combine ball handling with athleticism, or crossovers with some impressively difficult jump shot—all combinations of raw physical ability and skill.

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In football, players seem to climactically finish plays by either simply hitting someone hard or running really fast, which is far simpler than basketball plays. While simplicity is often beautiful in itself, basketball’s strength lies in its difficulty of combining different physical abilities. In baseball, strength and speed are necessary for many plays, but skill is still by far the dominant trait, exemplified by back-to-back American League MVP Miguel Cabrera, who relies on hand-eye coordination for his remarkably impressive hitting, which is clearly his most valuable quality. In soccer, skill and speed are almost always necessary for big plays, but beyond speed, there’s not a whole lot of strength or power necessary, unlike in basketball.

Another facet that makes the game on the hardwood the best is accessibility. Much like soccer, basketball is played on a worldwide scale, and for good reason: All one needs to play is a ball and a basket. There’s no required gear, like in baseball or football. Moreover, one can play and practice basketball by oneself for hours on end, which is not true of football. In baseball, it’s possible, but one needs many baseballs and a pitching machine. In soccer, it’s also possible, but to shoot by oneself requires lots of retrieving the ball from the net. The amount of “wasted” motion involved is far greater than when shooting around by oneself.

A slight nuance to this argument is that pickup basketball is extremely common. Pickup soccer is also common. However, because many people go to shoot around by themselves, it’s natural to convene on teams and compete against one another, whereas soccer is much less conducive to many players going to shoot around and suddenly finding enough on one field for a pickup game.

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Since basketball doesn’t require too much of a financial burden, it’s played on all levels of social class, which can help unite people from different communities.

Lastly, the nature of the basketball court’s boundaries makes it the only major sport other than hockey that allows fans to sit directly adjacent to all boundaries, creating the closest, most intimate sort of atmosphere for fans to lose themselves in the action.

All in all, basketball is an extremely complex game physically, which allows players with all sorts of abilities to flourish. This is part of what gives basketball the most diverse scale of any sport. Also, it’s plain easy for anyone to play, either alone or with anyone else, without requiring much of a financial contribution.

From a sport once played solely as offseason training, to one that owns the entire month of March and drives fans mad, basketball has found its place as objectively the best sport.

Source: chicagomaroon.com

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10 psychological and social benefits of sport for kids

Kids playing with friends

Everyone talks about how important sport and exercise is for our kids – including us.

Of course, with the rising rate of obesity, it’s an undeniable fact that our kids’ health and fitness should be top priority.

Sure, we’re all aware that active children are more likely to become active adults. But sport is much more than just a means to an end in trying to keep kids physically fit.

Studies suggest that sport can also have a huge impact on a child’s psychological and social well-being. And teach them some extremely valuable life skills too.

Here’s a rundown of sport’s top 10 psychological and social benefits for kids…

1. Camaraderie

Kids hugging

Joining a sports team gives kids a sense of belonging and the opportunity to make new friends. Some may even become buddies for life!

Getting involved in a sport also gives kids another social circle outside of school.

With roughly one in four students (27%) reporting being bullied at school, joining a sports team could be a much-needed source of social support.

2. Learning to lose

Broken tennis racquet

And learning to do it graciously.

Bad sportsmanship is an ugly thing. No one likes a sore loser.

Of course, there’s no harm in being competitive and expressing frustration in a non-aggressive manner.

However, losing with integrity to a better opponent is a lot more honourable than throwing tantrums as regularly displayed by certain young Australian tennis players.

Which leads us on to the next point quite nicely…

3. Respecting authority

Tennis coaching

Does your child need the occasional extra dose of discipline? Sign them up for a sport.

Following set rules, taking direction and accepting decisions is a large part of playing competitive sport. And players are often penalised for bad behaviour.

With regular interaction with coaches, referees and other players, respecting their elders and listening to their peers is an important skill kids can take from the court or pitch.

4. Controlling emotions

Kids playing volleyball

As kids grow up, we expect them to learn to control their emotions. Especially the negative ones.

In sport, emotions can run high and learning to channel them the right way can be tough for youngsters.

A good coach understands that negative emotional stress hurts performance. However, once this piece of wisdom is ingrained, your child will be better equipped to tackle a whole range of other life challenges.

5. Self-esteem

Kids high-fiving

Many studies suggest that sport and other physical activities can contribute to the development of self-esteem in kids.

A pat on the back, a high-five from a friend, or a handshake with an opponent at the end of a match (even if they lost), is all character building for your child.

The difficulty however, is to not let their self-esteem be distinguished by winning or losing. But instead, to focus on their effort and enjoyment of the sport.

The supportive relationships of coaches and teammates, plus encouragement from parents, can all positively affect children’s self-esteem.

So next time your child plays a game – of anything – ask “how it did it go?” versus “did you win?”

Or better still, “did you enjoy it?”

6. Patience

Swimming lessons

Unless your child is extremely athletically gifted, then practice will play a large role in whatever sport or activity they’re involved in.

And if practice makes perfect, then perfect takes patience.

Of course, we shouldn’t encourage our kids to aspire to ‘perfect’ but if the message is: “if you want to get better at something, it’s going to take time.” Then this is certainly a worthwhile lesson for kids to learn.

7. Dedication

Kids drawing

Similar to patience, the discipline of training and the commitment it takes to pursue a sport is a trait transferrable to many other aspects of life.

It’s no coincidence that participation in sport is linked to higher academic achievement in school.

If your kids put time and effort into getting better at something, and see the results, maybe – just maybe – they’ll put the same amount of dedication into their studies.

No promises there though…

8. Working together

Team huddle

“There’s no I in team.”

“Teamwork makes the dream work.”

Or whatever other clichéd phrase coaches may tell their team. It means nothing unless the team members buy in too.

A team can’t succeed without working together. No matter how good the individual players.

Communication is key and learning to be part of a team is synonymous with learning to value the effectiveness of teamwork.

A useful lesson for kids to carry into adulthood and their future careers.

9. Less selfish

Kids sharing

Closely tied to teamwork, sports (particularly team sports) are a great platform to teach kids to be less selfish.

In sport, kids need to think about what’s best for the team. Not themselves.

You see it so often in soccer. Players have the opportunity to pass to a teammate, but instead choose to go for glory themselves. Shoot for goal, and then miss.

Egos are not good for team morale or performance.

Coaching kids to understand that they can achieve more by being less selfish, is one of team sports’ great takeaways.

10. Resilience

Kid giving a thumbs up

The highs. The lows. The wins. And the losses.

Sport can be a bit of an emotional rollercoaster.

One study found that youngsters who are highly involved in sport are more ‘psychologically resilient’.

This isn’t surprising when sport teaches kids to pick themselves up after a hard tackle, or to hold their head high after losing badly, then get right back out there the next week.

Sport is about bouncing back, and learning from mistakes. The earlier kids can learn these skills, the better.

Overall, the psychological and social benefits of playing sport can help kids become well-rounded, mature adults.

So whether it’s a team sport or an individual sport like tennis, what your kids can learn goes beyond the physical.

Source: uqsport.com.au

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