This past summer I had the pleasure and opportunity to work with 20+ teams and their coaching staffs. These teams ranged from youth teams to college teams from a single team of eight players to a multiple team organization of 100+ players on multiple courts at the same time. This experience took me through Maine, Maryland, Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Texas, Washington, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina and Kentucky. (I’ve been everywhere, man!)
Here is what I learned through this experience this summer:
Regardless of the level of the team or whether it was male or female, the number one problem : Players could not pass effectively, on target, or at the right time. The second problem goes hand-in-hand with the first. Players could not catch on the move without traveling or turning the ball over. When they did catch the pass, they had trouble finishing, that is either making the shot (most of the time lay-ups) or passing to an open teammate.
This explains why most players want to immediately put the ball on the floor. They are more comfortable (and sometimes more successful) dribbling than they are passing or receiving a pass on the move.
To try and help this, catching and passing became the warm-up drill and breakdown drill for the players I worked with. The first step was to teach the players to catch in a three-point-contact-twist. Just the body language alone raise the players’ alertness. You can see this described in detail in several of the VOD (Video on Demand) offerings on the Better Basketball including the new The First Day of Practice.
Catching in a twist allows the passer to uncoil and deliver the pass the instant they recognize that the cutter is open. Releasing out of the twist delivers plenty of power from the core and there is no time wasted stepping toward the receiver. Our friends at PGC Basketball do an outstanding job of teaching this skill in their summer camps.
The second half of the equation involves the player receiving the pass. Catching without a turnover was improved across-the-board with the following requirement: When the pass is in the air, the receiver (who is on the move) must get both feet in the air, catch the ball and stick the landing on two feet.
This allowed the receiver to take and make shots or create scoring opportunities where the cutter was not necessarily getting to the rim : “Logo” shots, “Logo” moves, “Logo” dish and “Logo” pitch. These scoring opportunities are detailed in Layer 1 : Cutting : Not Getting to the Rim. In addition, accuracy on their lay-ups almost doubled by going off two feet!