What does it mean to be a dominant basketball player? It means being a player who truly leaves an impact on the game!
Use this mentality and these methods to dominate the game and improve your skills!
(Shooting, dribbling, passing, rebounding, defense, moving without the ball on offense, playing in transition)
Focus on developing your fundamentals! Practice, practice, practice your skills. These skills are the ABC's of basketball. Develop your shooting, dribbling, passing, defense, rebounding, etc.. The more skills you develop, you can use them to DOMINATE situations on the court by having the skill level to succeed.
Some players are exceptional at one skill, we call them specialist. They focus on that skill and that is the way they DOMINATE THE GAME. Other players are versatile and excel at multiple skills. These are the DOMINANT players that can take over games because they effect the game in multiple ways at the same time!
Work Smart and Hard!
"REPETITION is key!" The more you dribble the ball, the better you will get! The more you practice on your shot, the better shooter you will become! Practice until you become dominant at the skills that you want to add to your game!
It's important to realize that we must practice efficiently. When we have practice or training, we should work on the skills that we need to become the dominant player. That is how we can evolve into the player that we see within our minds. We need a training system so that we are making the most of our time and energy!
When working on a skill, focus on form and function. Then, we must ask ourselves: what is the proper way to perform this skill? How is this skill used in the game? It's imperative take the skill and break it down into smaller parts.
Breaking the game down to small pieces allows us to fine tune the details of our game that we are never taught or that we forget about.
Take shooting for example. We can break a shot down into 2 parts: your lower body and your upper body. Your lower body (feet, legs and core) is responsible for balance, jumping, and generating power to get the ball to the basket. Your upper body (hands, arms and shoulders) is responsible for your touch and your accuracy, and help you guide the ball to the basket. You must break down these components and understand how they both effect your shot in different ways. Then you put them together and you become a better shooter! We must break down every skill in this way if we wish to get to the roots of what we need to fix in our game!
Play Your Position or Don't
As your skills begin to take shape, so will your identity as a basketball player. Some of your skills may be better than others! You may be better at driving to the basket than shooting or vice versa or you may be known for your ability to get every rebound. We tend to want to do the things that we do well more than the things that we don't.
As our stronger skills start to emerge, we can determine our basketball position. As the game constantly changes, so do the roles of the position of its players. The traditional basketball player positions are:
1- Point guard
2- Shooting guard
3- Small forward
4- Power forward
Each position has a certain role to fulfill on the court, so positions are based on players’ abilities to perform a certain task.
Point guards for example do a lot of dribbling and passing, so to play this position, a player needs to be strong at these two skills. However, in recent years the game has evolved as point guards have begun to develop more shooting and scoring skills.
Positions in basketball can be useful when orchestrating good team play. But, as a basketball player DO NOT LET YOUR POSITION DEFINE YOU AS A PLAYER! This can be dangerous because you want to constantly be evolving and improving your skill. Don't get caught in the thought that, "I'm just a shooting guard, I don't need to improve my dribbling or rebounding."
Basketball does not simply mean we have to jump the highest or run the fastest. Although we certainly want to have a monster vertical leap and to run the court like an Olympic sprinter, basketball athleticism is learning to use your body in ways that maximize your basketball skill!
To develop true athleticism for hoops, we can't only focus on power and explosion. We must also develop our balance, core strength, acceleration (speeding up), deceleration (slowing down), lateral movement, footwork, conditioning, flexibility etc.
Our athleticism is the ingredient that we mix with our skill to enhance our game. As we learn to strengthen our lower and upper body and we get stronger, we can do things like shooting the ball from the three-point line with proper form!
Footwork, Footwork, Footwork
As our balance improves, every one of our basketball skills will improve because we will have more stability as we make any move on the court! We will be better on defense because we will be more balanced in our defensive stance.
The foundation of our balance is our feet. Every move that we make on the basketball court starts with engaging our feet.
The perfect marriage between skill and athleticism is footwork. The more we understand how to control our feet, we can control the rest of your body. We want our feet to move as efficiently as possible. This will allow us to move our body on angles where we will be able to gain advantages on our opponent.
Often we find that slower, less athletic players with superior footwork are able to beat faster players with inferior footwork. The slow player with better footwork is able to out maneuver the fast player on offense and defense.
Basketball is a dance, learning footwork is like learning the dance steps! As our basketball athleticism improves, we are able to "Dance to the rhythm of the game.”
Basketball IQ: Know the Game
Understand the game! Learn the rules, Learn the objectives of the game! Learn the history of the game! Learn the language of the game! Learn the form of the game!
There are rules and boundaries that the game is meant to be played within. We must learn these "lines" so that we can find use our individual skills within the context of the game. When you learn the game, certain things become obvious; you don't want to dribble out of bounds, you want to make shots (in the other team’s basket preferably), you want to pass the ball to the players on your team.
As our knowledge progresses, we begin to learn how the game operates. We learn when certain situations will present themselves in the game. When should we shoot? When should we pass? When is a good time to try to steal the ball on defense? All of these questions are great questions, but they all have more than one correct answer! The more we learn the game the more we understand the different answers to these questions!
Time, Score, and Possession
A big part of our basketball IQ is understanding time, score, and possession. This will answer the questions from above. We should always be aware of how much time is on the clock, the score of the game, and what we want to accomplish on each possession. As we keep these things in mind when we make decisions on the court, we become "smarter" basketball players. As we understand time, score, and possession, we will have a better understanding of when we should use certain skills and when we shouldn't.
Learn to use your SKILLS AND BASKETBALL IQ within the context of the game. For example, learn the skill learn proper shooting form and techniques. Learn how being in better shape and being a better athlete can give you the strength you need to be a good shooter! Then use your BASKETBALL IQ to look for great shots on the court!
As you begin to elevate your basketball IQ, the speed of the game will seem to slow down. The next play will begin to reveal itself to you and you will develop the basketball instincts to react accordingly.
Courage Over Fear
The secret ingredient to being DOMINANT is overcoming your fears that may arise in your basketball experience! Remember that fear can be overcome by finding strength within yourself and making one courageous play. Hustle Hard! Shoot big shots even in the face of defeat. Be a relentless defender even when you are tired. Work when no one is watching!
When we say fear, we are not taking about standing across from your opponent trembling and terrified. Fear can creep in your mind in more subtle ways. We may be afraid to make a mistake, and because of that are hesitant to trust our skills. After missing three shots you may become "gun shy", and when it’s time to shoot the next shot you may be afraid that if you miss the fourth shot your coach may put you on the bench.
We must not be discouraged by coaches who communicate poorly. We can't be discouraged by hostile teammates, crowds or environments. If we allow these things to affect our mentality in a negative way, it will be nearly impossible to dominate the game!
Be proactive on the court! When you have decided to make a move, make it bold and aggressive. After all we are looking to leave our impact on the game. As we shoot, defend, attack the basket, rebound, etc., we have to do these things as though we intend to dominate the game with our play.
Play as though you belong. Own your physical space. Use your athleticism to carve out real estate on the court and aggressively protect that space. If we are dribbling and attacking the basket, we have to protect the ball aggressively with our body. You have to attack the basket boldly with the mentality that you won't be stopped!
If you are on defense, defend aggressively! Remember it's your job to prevent the offense from scoring. You have to defend in a way that you can dominate the offensive player. Highly skilled and athletic players can do this without fouling.
Dominate The Game
In conclusion, to become the most dominant version of yourself as a basketball player we must remember the four keys:
- Develop your basketball skill
- Develop your basketball athleticism
- Develop your basketball IQ
- Play with courage over fear
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