• Ian Stacker

What makes a great basketball player?

Okay so I’m starting a blog, the purpose is to present some ideas that might be of interest to basketball coaches, especially coaches in Australia.

My own personal experience of coaching in International tournaments, our National Basketball League, State Teams, Association teams and now in the school system has given me some insights into the challenges that coaches face at these different levels and I hope I can share my experience to help fast track anyone interested in making a difference to their players.

No doubt I will also have some views on our professional leagues and the particular basketball programs run by Basketball Australia and the State Associations.

Firstly, I’d like to highlight to coaches the particular areas of development that are crucial to producing players who have reached their full potential. In my view you need focus your development goals and training sessions on the following key areas;

  1. Fundamental skills – this is the obvious one, players who can dribble, pass and shoot well are clearly going to have more chance of success than those who can’t.

  2. Players who can function in a team structure. Players need to be able to run an offense, whether it be something as simple as five out or as structured as the Triangle or Shuffle or as quick as set plays. Players need to be able to remembers sets, understand the importance of timing, court balance and ball movement in a coordinated fashion with the other four players on the court.

  3. Players who can make good basketball decisions. The shot clock puts a terminal time on each possession, if your offense has not created a shot for your team and there is less than 8 seconds on the shot clock, players need to be able to recognise the situation and make good decisions about what to do next, should they penetrate with a pass, penetrate with the dribble, shoot or just make a simple pass? In a fast break situation players need to be able to make good decisions, in the half court they need to be able to make calculated and strategic good decisions.

  4. Develop players who can defend all the above situations. Players who cannot defend dribble penetration have limited chance of moving up the levels of play. Players who can apply full court pressure, surprise ball handlers, shoot gaps, defend screens, block out and have a competitive mind set will always find teams to play on. Players need to be able to remember scouting instructions and follow a defensive game plan.

  5. Finally, players need to be fit enough and strong enough to maintain the level of play. They need to be competitive, determined, resilient and possess an analytical mindset. They must also love the game, love the hard work and practise that is required.

Perhaps you can think of something I’ve missed? These are the areas where the players I have coached over the years who have gone on to achieve their potential have been strong. The great ones are usually strong in all these areas, some have gone on to play in the NBA, some at the Olympic Games, some have been great NBL or SEABL players, each player has a different level of play they are capable of achieving. I hope that this blog will help coaches get their players to reach their potential.

My articles, over time, will address some of the areas of the game highlighted above.

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