Friday, May 31, 2013

Use an Agility Ladder

An agility ladder is a simple piece of exercise equipment that will help increase your quickness. It will improve your foot speed and give you that quick first step to blow by your opponents. Plus, it will make you a better dancer and let’s face it you could use some better dance moves.

Of course none of these benefits will come without dedicated practice. Try to commit to doing the exercises everyday during summer. Or do them everyday after school for a month. See if your coach will buy a couple ladders for the basketball team and commit to doing them before or after practice.

Frugal tip: If you don’t have money to buy an agility ladder, then tape on the ground with masking tape. I didn’t have the cash to make one when I was young, so I tapped one to my garage floor.Check out the videos posted for exercises. Get to stepping!

Be The First One In, Last One Out

Always strive to be the first one in the gym, first one into practice, first one at conditioning, and be the last one to leave. When you’re the first one in the gym, don’t just sit around waiting for your friends to show up or for the coach to start practice. Take this time to do some extra warming up, so you can hit practice full steam and begin with a good start. When you arrive early into practice you can also do shooting drills to work on your stroke.

An important benefit of coming to practice early that many young players don’t think about is that the coach will notice your drive and enthusiasm for the game and hopefully he or she will be more likely to put you in the game.

Don’t forget this also applies to being the last one to leave practice. When practice or conditioning is over, this is a great time to work on your free throws. It’s best to practice free throws when you’re tired just like a game time situation. And what better time to shoot free throws than at the end of practice.

Be the first one in and last one out and you’ll game will drastically improve because of it.

Run Extra After Practice

Running more than the rest of your teammates, and hopefully your competition, will achieve a couple things. One, you’ll be in better shape. You want to not only be in better shape than your competitors so that you can win the game, but you also want to be in better shape than your teammates so can make big plays down the stretch of a game. Two, If you’re in better shape the coach will also be more likely to call on you to shoot the game winner. You can’t be a leader when you’re out of breathe!

Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to run after practice. If you get made fun of, ignore the comments. Realize that you are improving better than everyone else. Running after practice is part of the first in the gym, last out of the gym mindset that will allow you to play better than your friends.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

No sugar before playing a game!

No sugar before playing a game! Sugar is like an energy vampire. It will suck energy right out of you. Some kids will eat candy or drink soda before practice or the game and you will get some quick energy called a “sugar rush” but shortly after eating the sugar there will also be a “sugar crash” and is will soak up all you energy. Gatorade can be good during a came because you will be replenishing electrolytes, but drinking a Gatorade before the game can still give you that sugar rush and crash. Water is the way to go!


I’m going to go ahead and throw energy drinks in this post too. Energy drinks are not only loaded with sugar, but caffeine as well. Caffeine is a great energy boost for the short term. You may feel good at first, running around the court like a bat out of a cave, but the crash is inevitable and miserable. Plus, caffeine will also make you more dehydrated and is never a good idea to take before conditioning.

So, keep the energy drinks to a minimum, including a 5 hour energy shot. Stay away from that!

If you’re looking for some energy before the big game or before practice, I recommend a Vitamin C boost. There are a ton of products, such as Emergen-C, that make this vitamin C boost. If will give you a small jolt of energy with no crash. And it’s great for your immune system, so hopefully you’ll be sick less and can stay on your game. Of course a good night’s rest and a big breakfast is the best way to keep you going all day long.

And never, never bring candy to a basketball camp!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Cross Train to Improve Your Conditioning

In addition to basketball, condition training like swimming and bike riding can improve your game on the court. Training outside of basketball can be useful because you work out different muscles.

For example, bike riding can be a great way to strengthen and condition the muscles in your thighs which are crucial to hold a defensive position. Swimming can be a great way to improve endurance on the court. Never slow down on those fast breaks!

Also, don’t be afraid to try some yoga. Yoga will strengthen your core and increase flexibility, which will help you avoid injuries. Join a class at a local gym or buy a DVD to try in your bedroom. Heck look up some yoga YouTube videos for free. Many of basketball’s elite practice yoga on a daily basis, including Kevin Garnett. Try it out today!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Get Strong Fingers!

Go buy a stress ball and squeeze it throughout the day. Rather than just using your whole hand to squeeze the ball, try different exercises. Squeeze the ball with your thumb and point finger. Then to your middle finger and thumb, ring and thumb, and pinky and thumb. Also, put the ball between your thumb and pointer finger and squeeze. Continue this with your point and middle, middle and ring, ring and pinky.

Do these each ten times and as you get better add repetitions. Strong fingers will allow you to control the ball better when dribbling and avoid finger injuries. Plus, you’ll be able to beat all your friends in thumb wars!

Here's a product that will strengthen your hand by forcing you to dribble with your fingers:

This drill will also help you strengthen your fingers:

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Play Against Older Players

There is no quicker way to get better faster than to compete against older players. Older players who are stronger than you, faster than you, and better skilled. You will learn a great deal playing against them.

Play up, like this kid:

You may think you’re good against your friends or at the local YMCA, but at some point if you want to play in college, you’ll be playing against the best ballers in the country. You need to find talent to play against to start preparing for the bigger, faster, stronger opponents you’ll find in college. Like we discussed earlier, you want to be doing basketball activities that make you better, faster than your competition. There’s no better way to do that than play against older players.

Don’t be afraid to ask to play against kids, 2,3,4 years older than you. What’s the worst that could happen? They don’t ask you to play again. No biggie, no worries. Even try to match up against the grey haired old guys at the local rec. I guarantee they’ll play tough and might teach you something.

Find this old guy to play against:

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Improve Your Vertical Leap

Higher vertical jumping will allow you to snag more rebounds, rise above opponents on lay ups, and release a higher jump shot. Jumping exercises will also drastically increase your quickness. Notice some of the highest jumpers in the NBA are also the quickest.

Doing jumping exercises will also help out your cardio and is good at getting you conditioned for the short, quick bursts that happen so often in basketball. Beat your opponent to loose balls, steals, and rebounds. With stronger legs you'll also avoid sprained ankles and injuries. Work on jumping drill this summer so you're ready for school ball this winter. If you go to a basketball camp this summer, ask the counselors if they do any exercises to jump higher. For more information on the best vertical jump program, visit my review on

Never forget to stretch before and after playing!

You jump higher, run faster, and get injured less when your muscles are loose and stretched out. Injuries are a baller’s worst enemy. You can't hone your skills, you cant work out, you can't do anything but sit around and watch every one else play. Avoid injuries at all costs! Get in the habit of doing stretches every day on your own. Some players only stretch when the team is doing it before practice. Try to get in the habit of doing it every morning before school or before you go to sleep.

A good time to stretch is in front of the TV. Just like dribbling in front of the TV, instead of sitting on the couch, spend the time wisely. Do some stretching exercises while watching your favorite TV shows is on.

A lot of players don’t realize this, but stretching can actually make you jump higher and run faster. Loosening those muscles isn’t just to avoid an injury. Top athletes go to stretching expects to loosen their muscles and teach them exercises they can do themselves. Stretching, just do it!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Ridin’ The Pine

If you spend more time in the bench than in the game, this is okay. Getting upset about it to the point where it lowers your motivation will only hurt your game play. If you want to get in the game, you have to give something to the team. Be a defensive specialist or work hard to get rebounds. If you work hard, your coach will notice it, and you’ll get game time.

Be like this bench player:

In the short term, if you’re playing with better players than yourself, then this will help you improve your skills faster than if you were playing with players who were less skilled than you were. Use your bench time to motivate the players in the game or learn from their strengths and weaknesses. Be active on the bench. Sitting there being upset you aren’t playing won’t get you in the game, that’s for sure.

Celebrate All Wins, Even Small Ones

Sometimes in basketball motivation is hard to come by. To prevent a burn out of the game, make sure you celebrate everything you can. Take pride in a hard practice or intense workout. Know that slowly you are getting better, and all this hard work will pay off in the game. Try to find something positive out of every game or practice. Goals help you celebrate the small wins because when you achieve a goal, well, then it’s a small win.

Lebron James celebrated this win and it wasn't even his:

Thursday, May 2, 2013

When you hit the basketball floor, bounce back up

If you get pushed or trip and fall on the floor, there’s no need to lazily lay around on the floor. There’s no need to see if you’re injured. When you hit the ground, pop back up and if you’re injured you’ll know because you’ll fall back down. If you’re not injured then you’ll that much faster get back into the game helping your team score or prevent the other team from scoring.

If you hit the floor and bounce back up. This is all part of playing tough. If you’re diving for loose balls and taking charges, you’ll be on the ground a lot, and getting up quickly will just get you back into the game ready to contribute.

Don't play weak like these guys:

Prefect Practice Makes Perfect

Every time you go out to that court or garage or where ever you play, you should be striving to practice perfectly. This is because if you practice the wrong shooting form, then you shot only gets worse. If you practice dribbling the ball with your head down, then you’ll dribble in the game with your head down. If you practice bad habits with your friends, then your bad habits will only hurt your live game play. Practicing doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practicing makes perfect.

Practice With Basketball Scenarios In Your Mind

"Ten seconds left, he crosses him opponent over, takes two dribbles left, pulls up for the shot, and…" When you practice play with game situations in your head. There are two reasons why you play with scenarios. First, because you’ll be better prepared to step up during game time.

Second, they’re just plain fun. These scenarios are what drive players to put in the long hours at the court, perfecting our skills, and practicing when others are playing video games. We wish to be like Michael Jordan hitting the game winner. Make up your own scenarios, and dream about that big game.

Remember you can never be a perfectionist:

Of course if you attend a basketball camp this summer you don't have to imagine any scenarios!

Speak Often With Your Coaches

Talking with your coaches after practice is important to improving your skills. Ask the coaches where you should improve your game? Is it better dribbling skills, passing skills, or defensive skills? The person who would know best is your coach. Plus, if the coach knows you want to get better and have been working on the things he told you to, he’s much more likely to play you in the game. He or she will know you’re a hard worker and will want you to succeed.

A good relationship with your coach will ultimately determine if you’re a good player or great player. You don’t have to be best friends, but you must respect each other. If you and your coach don’t get along it will really hurt your game.

Use Visualization to be a Better Player

One of the best ways to prepare for a game is visualizing what the game will go like. Close your eyes and imagine your perfect game and everything you’d like to do during that game. The more detailed the visualization is, the more likely it will happen in the real game. Your brain cannot tell the difference between you setting a perfect pick and simply imaging setting a perfect pick. Visualization will prepare you to play live in the game and do the things you want to do. If you want to remember every play you might run you’re your team, then go through the plays in your head before the game.

Great coaches like Phil Jackson, multiple NBA championship coach, encouraged his players to practice visualization before playing big big games.

More Basketball Motivation Tricks

Make bets with players before the game to achieve goals. You don’t always have to bet money. Bet food, or chores. An example of a bet is whoever gets the most charges or most rebounds gets free ice cream after the game. If you lose a bet and have to wash your friend’s parent’s car, you’ll definitely not want to lose the next bet!

You’re Gonna Play Like You Practice

Don’t expect to fool around with your friends and then be able to turn it on for the game. It’s okay to goof off with your friends every once in a while. Basketball should be fun and not something you see as a chore like mowing the lawn.

But, always remember if you want to be great in the game, you have to practice hard just as if you were in the game. It’s going to be hard to finish that tough shot in the fourth quarter if you haven’t been playing hard in practice and are not used to playing when you’re really tired, out of breathe, and losing strength. When you lace up those sneakers be ready to play, and play your best!

Practice as hard as these guys and you'll be successful:

Basketball Motivation Trick

When you are practicing, imagine Lebron James or your favorite basketball player is watching you play. Think for a second how hard you would practice, how much you would want to impress Lebron James if he was actually hanging out watching you play.  You would try to do ball handling and dribbling drills the fastest you’ve even done them. You’d concentrate on every shot. You’d play tough defense. This is the level of intense practicing you want to be at. If you need to, go buy a poster of your favorite basketball players and put it in your garage to act as a reminder to practice hard!

Here's a great motivational video:

Criticize for the Better!

If you have a bad player turning the ball over, telling them, “Hey quit turning the ball over” will never get them to actually do it. Aim your criticism at something more specific, like “hey, try a pass fake before you make a pass next time”. Or if they went through a play wrong, don’t say “dude, you did the wrong play”, say what needs to be done. Criticizing will only get the player down, try to always aim your criticism to make the player better. Offer a solution. Something that will make them better.

Tell them what to do and then explain why. For example, if you’re playing against a zone explain the benefits of trying to attack two defenders before passing the ball. Explain how it will get two defenders on one offensive player which will cause someone to be open. Communicate and teach! Just make sure you know what you’re talking about!