7 Steps on How To Develop New Skills

Updated: Aug 2, 2019

We live in a fast food industry these days where players want results in the snap of a finger. At the risk of sounding cliche, helping your client(s) understand and buy into "The Process" really is a skill as a coach and takes years to master the delivery and tone of that message to your players. I have by no means mastered this skill yet and still have a long ways to go myself!

Aside from the motivational talk, one alternative method you use to help your players understand The Process is by using a step by step guide on how they can achieve the results they are looking for with a goal oriented, structured mindset. Tangible steps on how to accomplish "The Process" has helped my players tremendously over the years get the results they are looking for in games.

The steps below have been compiled through collaboration and conversations with fellow skills coaches in the industry including Matt Pugh, Dakota Webb, Luke Duckett, and several others.

Below are the 7 Steps toHow to Develop New Skills:

1. Show the Skill - Demonstrate the skill at full speed - and do it multiple times if you have to. If you're unable to perform the skill yourself for whatever reason, have a player who knows it on a deep level, demonstrate it for you. If you don't have a player available to demonstrate the skill for you, show your client(s) an in-game video clip of the skill. There is nothing more powerful than visual learning and representation of a skill that you are working on in a session.

2. Teach the Skill - Teaching does not just mean discussing the footwork patterns and body movements. Teaching means communicating the WHY. Discuss the decision making aspect and review the defensive schemes that your player will potentially see when performing said skill in a game. If you want to separate yourself as a skills coach or team coach, learn to teach and create a learning environment in your sessions.

3. Walkthrough the Skill - Take the time to go through the skill at half-speed over and over until the player starts to get it. Break the skill down to it's most basic form.. I generally try to reverse engineer a skill that I teach and simplify it to 3-4 steps and then slowly combine those steps into one, fluid movement.

4. Feel the Skill - This step is pivotal in order to be able to perform the skill at speed in a game-like context. Feeling the skill means the player understands all the micro-skills and nuances of that move on a deep level. Repping a skill correctly and FEELING a skill are two very different things. Your goal should be to get your players to combine the both of those things into one perfect rep.

5. Perform the Skill at Game-Speed - Once the first four steps have been accomplished, it's time to perform the skill at full speed with contact and decision making elements. This step begins the process of crossing over said skill into real games. Lets keep in mind that "game-speed" means performing the skill with rhythm and speed changes - not 100 miles per hour! And most importantly, implement decision-making in this step.

6. Correct the Skill - As a skills coach, your job is to teach and correct. Correct your player(s) until they get it right. DO NOT be afraid to stop them every few reps if they perform a skill incorrectly. I personally would rather have 5 game-speed, perfect reps than 30 full-speed reps with average footwork and feel. When correcting, it is important, however, to allow your players time to figure it out on their own as well. I usually try to allow 3-5 reps at a time before I insert a teaching-point or reminder.

7. Repeat Until Mastered - This is the step most coaches and players drop off and move on to the next thing. They perform a couple of perfect reps and call it a day. It takes TIME! Repeat steps 1-7 until that skill is perfect, without error, every single time no matter the situation you put them in!

Below is short clip of one of my clients from Centennial High School in Las Vegas, NV working on a Drop Hesitation. As you can see, there are mistakes at first and there is a slow progression from subpar footwork and feel to above average footwork and feel. The clip was the first day working on this skill and it needed more developing, however, the progress from rep number one to the final rep of the session is evident.

I hope you enjoyed this article. If you have questions, please don't hesitate to contact me at info@mychalmartinezbasketball.com. Go out and share the game!

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