The Hard Truth About Individual Basketball Training

How much importance should we really be placing on Individual Basketball Training?

Now, I do believe that there is a time and a place for one-on-one basketball training and instruction in a player’s development. There is plenty of value in it and before you read this, I want to make sure that point is clear. Just like anything else in life, balance and moderation are key.

For example, individualized sessions are great for developing precision footwork, body and ball movement details, and shooting Instruction - which is what I primarily utilize individual training sessions for.

However, it's important to highlight the fact that there will always be a lack of REAL GAME context in a one-on-one training environment as there is only so much a private coach can do to simulate the decisions that will ultimately happen in a game. Additionally, most of us basketball trainers don't have the means to maintain rebounders and dummy defenders on the payroll to simulate game situations in individual sessions!

A trainer, by himself/herself, can play the role of primary defender. Most trainers understand the nuances of the one-on-one game exceptionally well. For example, they can provide on-ball pressure to work on your handle, they can teach you moves that will help you to blow by a defender that's pressuring you, and they can contest your shots in ways that a primary defender would in a game. This is all great and certainly has value, don't get me wrong.


But, understand that what is being sacrificed for the "individual attention” is the decision-making that comes into play after beating a primary defender. In my opinion, this is where the training industry is failing players today. We aren't developing players that understand and can recognize 2v1 and 3v2 advantages - which is what all offenses ultimately try to create for scoring opportunities.

We are placing too much importance on one-on-one basketball and not enough on TEAM basketball. The game is played against 1-2 rotating help defenders at any given time after an offensive player blows by a primary defender so we need to train our players in environments that will help them be more successful with these situations.

We also need to acknowledge and highlight the fact that a game is a series of random decisions and demands that players make those decisions, generally, in under a second. The hard truth is that if you’re primarily training in a one-on-one environment, then you will struggle translating your skill work into a game.

If you've ever wondered why your son or daughter isn't trying the "moves" they work on with their private trainers in games, there's a good chance the reasons detailed above are the cause.

I'm not here to say my way of thinking is any better than yours, I'm just offering my thoughts based on my experiences after 7 years of basketball player development.

Personally, I will be pushing hard in 2020 for players to participate more in group settings and academy formats. I believe there is more value and game translation in this type of training environment, especially for Youth and High School aged players who are still developing their sense of the game as a whole.


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