Control is important to improve as a player as it shows how confident you are with the ball, with pressure, without looking at the ball. Many of the workouts in the 94Fifty app test your control. This video gives you a brief overview explaining why control is important to becoming a great ball handler.
Learn how to improve your wrist strength and increase hand speed. Once you understand why hand speed is important, you will be on your way to become a great ball handler.
Practice these skills with the 94Fifty Basketball and app within Workout. Continue to level up and your hand speed will improve!
I have been fortunate to spend a great deal of time with some outstanding high school and college basketball coaches across the country. One of these coaches include Dr. Jim Burson, who recorded over 540 wins while coaching at Muskingum University in Ohio for 38 years.
Coach Burson’s teams were known to have extremely skilled fundamental players and were difficult to beat by anyone. He also taught his son Jay how to play. Jay was only 6’0 tall and maybe 155 pounds in college, but scored nearly 3,000 points in high school, was an all big-ten guard at Ohio State, and would have played in the pros were it not for a career ending neck injury he suffered with just 10 games left in his senior season.
Another great coach I have been able to learn from is John Miller, the former coach at Blackhawk High School in Chippewa, PA. Coach Miller recorded 630 wins in his career and 4 Pensylvania state championships, numerous coach of the year honors, and at one point had a 111 game conference winning streak. Wow.
Like Dr. Burson, Coach Miller’s three children were also outstanding high school and college players, one who played point guard at Pitt, another at North Carolina State, and another who at 5’3, was the Pennsylvania player of the year her senior year. Coach Miller has produced over 40 players who have played at the college level.
Finally there is Coach Carl Kremer, current head coach at Archbishop Moeller high school in Cincinnati, Ohio. Coach Kremer has won 3 state titles in Ohio and has also won numerous awards in Cincinnati and Ohio for his coaching success. Coach Kremer has also produced numerous college level players and his teams are known for, you guessed it, being highly skilled and fundamentally sound.
Do you see the recurring theme here? Fundamentals are key to a winning program, and successful players. Focus on the fundamentals as a player, and a coach, and be prepared for success!
I’ve had some interesting conversations with various town and league directors about their programs. A recurring theme is that these towns all have a few very advanced Jr. High players in their system. When I ask what advanced means, I get a combination of two answers: 1) We have a couple of “big” kids that pose matchup problems or 2) we have some good athletes whose skills are advanced for 7th/8th graders. The sentence usually ends with ” and we win most of our games by a significant margin, so we worry that our kids won’t continue to improve”
There is good reason to worry. The Jr. High Curse is right in front of you. The problem with judging most talent at this level is the disparity in growth rates and development rates for young athletes, both boys and girls. Kids that start to grow early can dominate at this level by sheer size or athleticism. BUT, if there skills are not being developed, they can quickly become irrelevant to the program by their sophomore year when everyone else has caught up. It’s a curse, because its hard to communicate with kids at this age – 8th graders in particular have a tendency to not listen.
This is where objective measurement can be of enormous value. It is our strong belief that every player at this level, EVERY player, be treated as if they will play guard in high school. Even if you have an 8th grade boy who is 6’3″ or 6’4″. The reason is simple. If they never grow another inch – they will still be very good or great players in your system at their current height. If they continue to grow, you will have a special player in your system that will be extremely versatile. Every player needs to develop their ball handling skills. Period.
So the trick is communicating this to coaches, parents and the players. It’s not easy. But think how powerful it would be if you could focus their attention on improving their greatest weaknesses? What if…..without giving you a sales pitch, I think you know our answer to this question.
We know this works, just look at the European system as an example. The number of Europeans entering the NBA has quintupled in the past 15 years. Most European programs make every player, regardless of height, work on their ball handling starting very early. It shows.
Whatever system you use to motivate players – make it your town’s mission to develop all youth talent as if they will play the guard position. Food for thought.
During Michael Jordan’s induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame, he made a comment that every basketball player, perhaps every athlete, should really consider. He commented that as a young player and as a professional, even after he had won multiple championships at the NBA level, he always worked on his game. He always found ways to improve.
This is the guy who was THE top player in the world, without exception. Yet he still had the drive to improve. His lesson to the rest of the basketball world, obviously, is that every player, even the most elite, should find and work on their weaknesses. Every player has them.
If you think you are a great ball handler, we can virtually guarantee you that there are better ball handlers out there. We find them all the time. If you think you are a great shooter, there is someone right now taking those extra 200 shots a day.
What Michael Jordan said is simple. Never be satisfied. Find new goals for your game. Especially, probably most importantly, when you think you are at the top.
A lot of people ask us…and by a lot, I mean nearly every coach we speak with…whether the drills in the app translate to the court. The answer is not black and white. In most cases, those who score higher with the 94Fifty basketball and app have the skills to be effective with the ball on the court, which means they can simply play well whether its shooting, ball handling, etc.
But what about the players in game situations? What is it that the great ball handlers do that translate to the drills and skills 94Fifty can measure? We had the opportunity to watch a number of the NBA’s top players over the years. Its pretty obvious that the guys with a great handle do two things very consistently on the court.
They rarely pick up their dribble when faced with pressure. In fact, pressure is a relative word here, because the defensive pressure they face on a normal play would freak out most high school players. But in any case, even under this pressure, they simply back out of the pressure zone and find a new place to attack, or continue to dribble through traffic with strength.
They nearly all have the ability to move the ball quickly with their hands while attacking defenders. In fact, they are so good at doing this, it looks pretty easy. But after watching a lot of ballhandling over the past year, the force and reaction time that they can use to handle the ball with either hand is pretty impressive.
So the short of it is this: In game situations, when we see players that continue to dribble and use the court when under pressure, and that also can re-direct the ball when attacking defenders with great speed, then these players almost always score higher. Watch for these two ball handling keys during games a little more closely, and you’ll see what we see.
I’d like to welcome Coach Jim Burson this week as a guest contributor to the 94Fifty Blog. Coach B was the past President of the NABC and brings an enormous amount of basketball knowledge. He is perhaps best known for being featured by Sports Illustrated as the only coach outside of the Princeton system to have deciphered the Princeton motion offense. In basketball terms, its equivalent to deciphering the Rosetta stone. With that, please extend a warm welcome to Coach B!
How important is teaching the fundamentals of the game? Fundamentals are the basis for all of your coaching. That’s how important it is.
I coached at the Division III level for nearly forty years and won over 540 games in my career. At that level, my fundamentals development program was essential. In other words, the players needed to get better each practice, each day and each year.
I developed the Basic Daily Dozen Dribbling Drills and the Basic Daily Dozen Passing Drills. We did all these plus form shooting every day before practice. Repetition was the key – at least, I thought it was. The truth was and remains today: players have to want to get better themselves regardless of what their coach or personal skill trainer tells them to do.
And that was my most compelling job – to get the players to want to do the drills – those endless, repetitive drills.
My own experience with the power of drill work was pretty compelling. I started my son, Jay, on the Daily Dozen Drills when he was just 6 years old. He did them for years, even before he knew how to play the game.
One summer, I spoke at Coach Charlie Huggins’ camp, and I brought Jay along. I spoke at noon, and Jay wanted to play in the pick-up games that began that evening around 9:00 PM. Jay was a skinny high school freshman, 5 feet 4 inches and 125 pounds. His head accounted for half that weight. But even then he had averaged 19 points a game his Freshman year in high school and thought he was a superstar. I tried to tell him that he wasn’t ready to play with the college players. I admired his courage, but doubted his intelligence.
Finally, at about 10:30 PM after someone had called “last game,” Jay was picked to play. He took one shot and it was blocked; the ball was stolen from him twice and his team was beaten 10-2.
We headed home. Jay pouted, showing a full case of Lower Lip Syndrome, and complained all the way about getting fouled. We arrived home around midnight. As my wife asked me how our day had gone, the light went on over the patio at the back of the house and we heard the distinctive sound of a bouncing basketball.
I ran outside and there was Jay, practicing. I asked him what he was doing. He replied, “For nearly ten years I’ve done the Daily Dozen Drills because you told me to. Tonight I’m doing them for me. Next year I’m going back to Huggins’ camp ready to play.”
The next year Jay led the nation in scoring, averaging 40.1 points per game as a high school sophomore, and he still was only about 5’10 and maybe 140 pounds, and went on to become a an all Big 10 guard at Ohio State where he still holds multiple season and career records to this day. Jay had two things that led to his success: he could handle the ball without thinking about it, and he had a very accurate, lightning fast release. Both skills developed through repetition.
You don’t have to wait and hope for a “eureka moment” like Jay’s. This game is about repetition, and improvement can begin as soon as a player decides that he or she wants it. It helps even more if you can measure those results, (which is why I like 94Fifty so much).
Committing to the repetitive drills can make any player, regardless of athletic skills, become a fantastic player. And as I have seen both in my own home and with my many college teams, you are never too young or too old to develop a high level of muscle memory skills. It just takes your commitment to be the best you can.
We become what we repeatedly do.
As a follow up to our post on the key to having a great handle, I want to expand a bit on why wrist strength is so important and how we can see when a player doesn’t have it. Wrist strength is often forgotten as the secret to having a great handle – its hard to take it from a player with strong wrists because he/she dribbles with more force, and can use it to break a defender down or control the ball under pressure.
The two ball V dribble test with the 94Fifty ball and the app is very difficult to do. It shows you if your wrist strength isn’t up to speed. This is a clear indication that wrist strength is a problem.
Another indication in the same drill occurs when a player has good control of the ball, but has to use too much shoulder to keep the speed up. Those with strong wrists and hands have very little movement in their shoulders when doing the two ball V dribble, it’s all in their wrists. Too much shoulder movement is a signal to us that wrist strength is a problem. The sensors pick this up as well because the ball stays in the hand a lot longer when players rely on their shoulders to move the ball.
Finally, poor strength really affects the figure 8 drill. To get a great score on this drill you have to get a lot of dribbles in, and the ONLY way to do that is to have a strong wrist/finger tip combination. Remember, power is generated from the wrist through the thumb, index, and middle fingers. Consistent dribble speed is sustained through these three fingers in the figure 8.
Finger tip pushups and specific two-ball drills with the 94Fifty basketball can solve this deficiency in about 2 months.
I’ve been asked by a number of coaches across the country to explain what it is we see visually that the 94Fifty basketball confirms. Here are a couple of key thoughts about technique and muscle memory that are very relevant to having a great handle.
Players must understand that muscle memory is only improved by one thing: repetition. The only way you can develop a handle is by dribbling a lot, all of the time. We can see immediately when a player works on muscle memory because they don’t lose the ball even when dribbling at high speeds.
We have asked players with high scores if they do ball handling drills regularly. EVERY single player say they practice at least 30 minutes a day. Some much more. When a player loses the ball, we can tell a lot about their handle.
You can see how deep the ball gets into the hand. Many players allow the ball to roll too far into the palm. A big no no if you want to sustain control. There are far fewer nerve endings in the palm then there are on the pads and fingertips. Also, letting the ball get too deep causes an inconsistent dribble that our system can pick up. Players with this problem generally have trouble breaking a player down off the dribble.
Finally, hand speed has a huge impact. Low hand speed tells us that there is a strength problem in one or both hands. Most players and some coaches don’t realize that the muscles on the top of the wrist actually create power in the fingers and hands, so those are very important to develop.
To summarize, control, speed, and technique can be seen visually, and now understood precisely with the 94Fifty Smart Sensor Basketball.