By: Joe Haefner

Here is an excerpt from the FAQ section of the Post Player Development book by Don Kelbick.

What about practicing post moves with a defense? I’ve read that players need less 1-on-0 and more 1-on-1 and situational drills. Once they have a base for some moves, they need to practice those moves against competition. Otherwise, they won’t develop the “feel” of when to make the right moves. Why wasn’t that addressed?

I am completely on the opposite side here. I think players need more 1-on-0 work and less 1-on-1. I don’t believe in competitive teaching. I don’t teach reading the defense. I teach action and counter. There is no right move, there is only what you do well. 90 percent is mentality. The information in this book is exactly what I teach. Then I just send them out to play.

Now you’re probably wondering why I don’t believe in competitive teaching and reading the defense. Even though my feelings on this are too extensive to cover here, I’ll try to address some of my thoughts.

My philosophy has developed over 30 years of coaching in both team and individual situations. I combine that with three degrees in Education. I say that not to blow my own horn or to minimize anyone else, but to emphasize that it is not an arbitrary method.

I believe that to be an effective teacher you have to remove stress from the classroom. I don’t believe in negative reinforcement, running for mistakes, placing penalties for missed shots or turnovers, or winners and losers in teaching situations. All that adds to the stress level of the players you are trying to develop. A basic effect of stress is that it narrows the perceptual field. It limits what the player is able to see, and how they form perceptions.

When you are a big picture teacher, as I am, anything that prevents the players from seeing all the possibilities or puts them in a position to fear failure, as competition does, would be counter productive. I have seen situations where players fail over and over again because they are working out against a better player. That affects self-image and retards development. I have also seen players take advantage of lesser players and never fail. This gives them a false sense of accomplishment and when they fail in a game, it is a hard fall.

I put my competition into scrimmages where they actually have to play and do the things they practice. Admittedly, it goes slow at first but then the curve becomes very steep. I don’t teach reading the defense. Having a defense there so it forces a particular turn does not fit with my philosophy. Shooting over a hand or having to deal with contact are moot points because I try to build an act and counter mentality to the position. I also really push the mentality that shooting is all rhythm. So, getting a shot blocked, bothered or shooting with contact doesn’t matter because I want to ignore those things and just concentrate on rhythm.

In practice, not using competition in your teaching allows for a better pace of learning, more consistent situations, less dropped passes, less bad passes, more skill intensity and better self image.

And then there is the biggest issue; if a player can’t get on the floor they can’t improve or help you. If I had one hair on my head for all the players that got hurt in competitive drills and had to sit out practices or games I would have more hair than the ex-Governor of Illinois (I can’t even say his name properly, no less spell it, but I do know he had a lot of hair). An injury in a game or scrimmage is acceptable. But an injury in a teaching situation is tough to defend. To say they need to knock heads to become better when it knocks them out instead is not acceptable.


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