In May I had the opportunity to travel out to Las Vegas for the 6th annual Basketball Strength & Conditioning Conference which was held at UNLV. I have been to many conferences before but none solely devoted to basketball strength & conditioning. This was a unique experience which allowed me to get an in depth look at how some of the top basketball programs in the country train their players and push their development to new levels.
Many different concepts and philosophies on training were discussed to go along with many different tools that can be used to enhance the performance of athletes. I took little pieces of knowledge from a lot of people. Some of the concepts and techniques I knew that I could use right away and others I questioned and realized they didn’t fit with our Hoops360 philosophy of training basketball players.
A constant theme that kept coming up is movement efficiency. When it comes to moving, our philosophy on speed and agility training at Hoops360 is a program that focuses on high intensity game like movements that increases the athlete’s ability to accelerate & decelerate quickly, react & change direction, with proper balance and body positioning.
Some of the best in the business in teaching movement efficiency are the coaches at Athletes Performance (AP). Coach Nick Winkelman of (AP) spoke on the topic of Reactive Agilities: Speed That Transfers. In teaching speed/agility and in teaching basketball skills, the drills that will transfer most to improved performance on the court are drills in which the athlete has to react and make a decision.
In basketball we stress the fundamentals of shooting, passing, dribbling and so on. The same goes for teaching movement skills. We first teach foot speed, acceleration, deceleration, and change of direction with pre-programmed drills, but if we want our players to be truly successful we must progress towards teaching reactive agilities. Coach Winkelman describes these reactive agilities as “rapid whole body movements with change in velocity or direction in response to a stimulus.” These reactive agilities involve perception and decision making factors that include reaction time, visual scanning of the court, understanding your environment, and pattern recognition that leads to anticipation skills involved with picking up on an opponent’s cues that tell you what move he/she is going to do or which direction they are going.
Coach Winkelman showed us some examples of drills in which he tests the speed, change of direction, and reaction capabilities of athletes using a light based system such as the ones from Fusion Sports. These machines are great but coaches can easily create reactive drills by using numbers for cones, colored cones, or pointing in specific directions to make athletes react and make a decision.
Just as with speed and agility training, with basketball skills training we can’t always give them pre-programmed drills. Think about creating drills in which you call out a certain dribble move or a combination move right before they get to a cone. How about sticking a hand out to one side of the cone to mimic the defense jumping in front so they have to react and change directions. We can also have them use different finishes on command while approaching the basket so they get used to finishing without a move already in mind and finishing by responding to the situation. Check out the attached video in which we give you another options of training reactionary agility and hand eye coordination with the use of tennis balls, basketballs, and the Nike vapor strobe glasses.