Perform at your best this season

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Whether you love or detest the New England Patriots, you have to respect Tom Brady and the performance he put on in the AFC Championship game this past weekend at 41 years old. He’s performing at his peak in one of the most physically demanding sports at an age where the average athlete is a decade or more into retirement. Brady attributes a huge part of his success to his work on Active Recovery.

As you approach the most important and demanding part of your school basketball season, Active Recovery (AR) can be one of the best tools you have to get an edge over your competition.

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Feeling stuck and disappointed might be the best thing that ever happens to you

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I got an email from a player named Mike last week that basically said “I’m soooo frustrated that I’m thinking of quitting bball. I feel like no matter how much I train I just never improve that much. Help!”

Here’s the response I wrote to Mike. It’s worth reading because the feelings that Mike is expressing are something we all go through at some point in our career and something we need to learn how to manage.

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Tortoise and the Hare

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Look at the big picture

The story of the Tortoise and the Hare originated 2500 years ago but is even more relevant in today’s age of instant gratification than it was when first written. With Google, cell phones, movies, email and Twitter (to name just a few), we are surrounded by cultural forces that condition us to expect nearly instantaneously results.

Although we live in the world of the Hare, when it comes to developing good athletes, we need to start channeling the Tortoise.

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How to bridge the gap

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The Dream

Imagine for a second that you’re playing in the NBA. You’re one of the best shooters in the world and you’re tearing up the league.

What is your game like? How does it feel to move like this? What does your shot look like? Really try to picture and feel what it’s like to score against some of the best players in the world.

The reality is: you’re not there yet. You’ve still got a long way to go.

Bridging the gap

Obviously there is a big gap between what you’re capable of right now and what you just pictured. The multi-million dollar question is how do you bridge this gap? What’s stopping you from performing like this?

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How to be quicker without rushing


I have to admit that it took me a LONG time to develop a quick release. Years.

While I may not have understood exactly how important Split Seconds are at that time, it’s not like I didn’t realize that being quicker would help my game. So why did it take me so long?

Every time I tried to speed up my release, I felt like I was RUSHING my shot.

I’m sure you know that feeling. When you try to do something a little quicker than you’re used to, instead of speeding up you become clumsy, lose all smoothness, and paradoxically, often execute slower.

I wanted to get quicker, but every time I tried, I felt like I rushed my shot. Rushing never works for a jumpshot…so I was stuck. Maybe this is where you are at now?

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Why we fail to produce more truly skilled players.

10,000 hour rule

Becoming an elite player is about developing great habits, and then practice, practice, practicing (10,000 hours) until they become automatic.

The reason most young athletes don’t develop into great players isn’t lack of desire, or talent, or even willingness to put in the necessary practice time…it’s that the way we train players is totally backwards.

Think about it! Young players with little knowledge of the game start “practicing” their skills. In this crucial stage of development, when his initial basketball habits are formed, the player has virtually no idea what really makes the difference between success and failure. Read more

The best way to hold a basketball…and develop great hands!

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Catching and holding the ball

It’s really simple. You learned how to do it before you were in Kindergarten. Nothing to think about here, right?

Not necessarily. Let’s take a closer look at your habit to make sure you’re catching and holding the ball in a way that makes you a split second faster doing everything on the court.

After all, none of us can afford to lose even a few hundreds of a second if we want to be the best.

Hold the ball with thumbs parallel to each other and a few inches apart.

Notice how the thumbs both point directly up forming roughly parallel lines and a few inches apart.  Do not drop your thumb, because this will make you slower and take away power.

basketball training, hand position, cobra habit
Proper hand position= thumbs parallel and wrinkles in the wrist


Use fingertip control.
Your finger tips should pull back slightly, which gives your hand a rounder shape.  The ball  should touch all 5 fingertips and the “meaty” pad at the base of your thumb.


Always have your wrist 100% flexed.
In the picture above I am holding the ball on my *right side, setting up for a right handed shot, dribble or pass. Therefore I actively pull back on my right wrist so that it is completely flexed while my left wrist is just passively flexed.

basketball training in Vancouver
Easily shift to left handed action without moving hands


This is the ideal way to hold the ball because this position:

  • Allows you to quickly change over to a left handed pass, dribble or shot without having to change your hand position…instead, simply rotate the ball and pull back to load the other wrist more.
  • Enables you to get the full flexion you need in your wrist to generate instant power.  This is very, very important for Split Second Habits.
  • Is a perfect set up for your shot. As a right handed shooter,  without any adjustments your left hand turns into your guide hand as you bring the ball to set position. Notice how your left hand is already perfectly aligned as a guide hand, at 90 degrees to the basket.
basketball training, shooting technique, hand position
Kobe demonstrates how catching in this position leads to good shooting form
basketball training, guide hand is important to shooting
Kobe following through with perfect guide hand


Where do you use this?

This should be your default habit pretty much any time you are holding the ball on the court. This hand placement on the ball makes up an important part of the COBRA habit.

A HUGE part of your development as an ELITE player is learning to catch with this proper hand position in more challenging situations.

Start with a one foot pass off the wall to yourself. Easy to properly place your hands and immediately get your wrist cocked? Then move back a few feet.

An elite player can receive a cross court bullet pass, down low, off to his none-shooting side and still catch with the correct hand and wrist position…to allow him to immediately go into his shot without adjusting/moving his hands. This is where you need to get to.

If you’re running the fast break and someone fires you a pass, without thinking your hands should be in the correct position…and then almost SUCK the ball in to that sweet spot.

This is the definition of “SOFT” HANDS!

It’s also KEY to use this hand and wrist position whenever you pick the dribble up off the floor…especially if  you are shooting off the dribble .  This is more difficult when you are dribbling with your non-shooting hand.

For example, a right hand shooter dribbling with his left hand should have the habit of keeping his right hand close to the ball to protect it. This also allows him to be ready right away to pick up the ball with both hands.

This right handed shooter should meet the dribble low to the floor with both hands and immediately load his right wrist while putting his left hand in proper position and coming to set position.


Any exceptions? Long passes in the open court.

passing technique, basketball training habits
Nash dropping his thumbs- only use this unguarded in the open court


Do not make this your normal holding habit because it will make you slower, especially if you decide to shoot or dribble. However, if you are open and have lots of time, dropping your thumbs under the ball can help you make a long 2 handed chest pass.


*any left handers reading this article need to envision the mirror opposite for these examples.

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