• BJ Mumford, B.S.S

The importance of training decisions.

Basketball has been around for a long time. The coaching strategies out there have been tried and tested on thousands of teams and millions of players, all over the world. Skills and techniques have been taught and re-taught, passed down along from coach to coach over multiple generations. Physical training at the highest level has been pushed to a maximum to optimize every player’s athletic potential.

There is only one area left to improve, and it is the point of greatest leverage on player performance and team success in all of basketball: Players’ ability to make correct and timely decisions at game speed.

There are incredible coaches out there that have amazing X and O knowledge,  instructors that have a drill for every skill imaginable, and there are trainers that produce players with unbelievable athleticism. Yet, hardly anyone is focused on training the one thing that connects all of these aspects and allows for players to create masterful performances on the court: What is commonly referred to as basketball IQ, which boils down to the players ability to make correct, timely decisions.

The average player has been taught from a very young age to do as the coach says, to follow instructions, to perform skills and run plays on command, and to avoid making decisions that could lead to mistakes, embarassment, or the coach’s disapproval.

It is no wonder then, that basketball players trained under this system often struggle to ‘play the game’ of basketball – a game which is defined by its up-tempo, controlled-chaos style requiring hundreds of decisions per game based on dozens of data points, each constantly undergoing change.

Play-Practice offers an alternative approach. We begin at the youngest ages, creating simple rule-constrained games with clear objectives, and then allow the players to problem-solve, make mistakes, learn and re-try skills, and above all – make decisions! We provide positive coaching by reinforcing the best decisions, occasionally explaining why a players decision was the right one in that situation, or providing guidance toward alternative solutions to a problem.

Ultimately, this creates a driving urge for the player to learn new things. By developing a contextual understanding of their strengths and weaknesses through self-discovery, they naturally next seek new tools with which to solve their problems. This is where a coach is needed most, and can effect the most positive change – applying the player’s desire to change as leverage toward accelerated learning.

We have found that making the simple change from the coach pushing knowledge toward students, to the students pullinglearning toward themselves greatly increases their retention and successful application of that learning…… andTHIS is what we are most passionate about.

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