Coach John Lucas is widely regarded as one of the foremost authorities for basketball training and development on every level in the world with top college and NBA players flocking to Houston to train in the offseason. A former All-American at Maryland, Lucas played in the NBA for 14 years before serving as head coach for the San Antonio Spurs, Philadelphia 76ers and Cleveland Cavaliers. Currently, Coach Lucas is the Director of Player Development with the Houston Rockets. Now Lucas kicks off his blog with USA Today High School Sports.
There’s a huge discussion currently happening; parents, trainers, coaches and everybody from all walks of basketball life so often get team development confused with player development. One of the many things I always stress is having the front of the jersey win as well as the back of the jersey.
How can this win/win be accomplished?
To get the right coach needed for player development, one must find a coach that’s willing to count college scholarships and not victories. I always ask college coaches which would you rather be: The guy with 800 wins or the guy that got 800 scholarships for your players?
If you can have both, that’s great. But if you can only have one, what’s his choice? His answer depends on who he is as a coach.
The coach’s primary concern is for his team to develop as a unit. So, the training and drills that he runs, whether at the high school, AAU, college or professional level, is all about the development of the team. Therefore, player development is solely left up to the individual.
The athlete may have to play a small forward on a high school team when he’s really a two guard; or any other position to help the team win. But, it’s on the player to reach the skill level needed for his physique, so that when he peaks, he won’t lack the skillset needed to reach his maximum potential.
What does that mean?
If a player is having to play out of position, it’s on the player to get the training and development needed for his skillset during his free time. For example, if he’s a guard, he knows the importance of shooting the ball, especially if he’s a two guard.
Now, the great gift of basketball is how you can blend all your development plus who you are as an individual player within the game. Ask yourself, “How do I make myself an effective player? How do I identify my God-given talents to put into this game that I love?”
Your individual trainer should know who you are as a basketball player and should train you specifically in the areas of your own development. You’re already getting development with your team and getting shots in their system. But with player development, you’re getting shots that will make you a better player and take you to that next level. Looking back at my career, one of the greatest gifts that I received was learning my position at an early age.
You may hear that you should play more games than you train. But if you’re only playing 32-minute games every other weekend, how do players stay in shape? How do they develop? Playing games alone only benefits the front of the jersey.
It is of great importance to learn the skill and apply that skill to the game, and in many cases life. This can’t be accomplished by just participating in games. For instance, what if for 32 minutes that an AAU game provides, a player could get 32 minutes of individual work; playing five 32-minute games is equivalent to 160 minutes of individual development. Get the right mix of training and games; find your right mix.
Play Hard. Play Smart. Play Right.
Don’t forget to follow Coach John Lucas on Twitter: @JLEnterprises