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Basketball: A Game of Habits

The Art of Teaching Basketball

What You Will Discover or Recall:

Game of Habits

Vital Importance of Keeping Hands Up

Preventing Bad Habits

“I am your constant companion. I am your greatest asset or heaviest burden. I will push you up to success or down to disappointment .

I am at your command. The things you do may as well be turned over to me. For I can do them quickly, correctly and profitably.

Those who are great, I have made them great. Those who are failures I have made failures.

I am not a machine, though I work with the precision of a Machine and the intelligence of a person. You can run me for profit, or you can run me for ruin. It makes no difference to me.

I am at your servant. Take me, educate me, lead me. Just be firm with me, and I will place the world at your feet.

Be easy with me and I will destroy you.”

Who am I?

Down Arrow

(Your Habits)

Aristotle habit quote

Habits are not instincts. They are conditioned reflexes created by repetitive acts over a period of time. They are embedded in the brain. Since the brain cannot decipher good habits from bad habits, bad habits cannot simply be erased. They must be changed and replaced which is no easy task. It can take years. You cannot achieve success just by thinking about what is correct. A player can listen and read about every aspect of successful shooting. However, the only way for that player to develop good shooting habits is by repeated shooting. “Perfect practice makes perfect.” Since our habits are the result of repetition over time, following the coach’s instructions, when a player makes their first shot it is probably luck. After repeated practice, if a player makes the thousandth shot and follows it up with the thousandth and one shot, it is a result of a good habit.

Luck vs Skill : Click Here to View


“Habits do not change during a game.”

This is true with team habits as well as individuals. Team habits are fostered and reinforced daily in practice. If a lack of effort, execution and discipline are tolerated or ignored in practice, they become bad habits. Therefore, the importance of paying attention to the smallest details cannot be over emphasized. If missed lay-ups, careless passing and bad shot selection is allowed in practice, it will definitely carry over into games. Coaches must persist and insist on proper execution and effort at all times.

In helping all your players in developing and refining their individual skills, it will not only provide them with the necessary training and habits that will afford them, along with the team, the best opportunity to be successful, but more importantly, have a great experience in this great game. Coaching great players is easy. Where great coaches excel is in getting the most out of every player on the squad regardless of physical abilities and skills. Individual player development, on and off the court, is by far the greatest satisfaction of coaching.

The Vital Importance of Keeping Your Hands Up

Importance of players' hands up at all times.

Often overlooked but a vital part of basketball is that the game is played with your hands up. You shoot, pass, dribble, receive, rebound, and play defense with the hands up. In fact, the only times a player’s hands are down is on a mistake such as a loose ball or when receiving a very low pass. Therefore, it is imperative that players, on every level of the game, create a habit of having their hands up at all times.

Both Hands Are Up When Shooting

All types of shots, including layups, are shot with the hands up. Since underhand lay ups are very susceptible to being blocked, it is highly recommended that players develop the habit of shooting layups overhand. Even with the two hand underhand free throw, the shooter finishes with both hands up. Note: the off hand plays a very important role in shooting the ball accurately.

Both Hands Are Up When Passing

Two hand chest pass, finish with thumbs down and palms out position follow through position. When executing a one-handed push pass the off arm is used to protect the ball from the defense. In throwing a baseball pass the off hand guides and protects the pass in the same matter as in shooting the ball. Except for an underhand flip pass, which most of the time is a dangerous and careless pass, all passes are executed with both hands up.

Both Hands Are Up When Receiving the Ball.

In passing the basketball, players should always pass to receivers that have both hands up and call for the ball. Therefore, to eliminate unforced turnovers, it is a good rule for players not to pass to any player with their hands down no matter how open. On the NBA level, players learn quickly to keep the hands up on offense; otherwise, their noses will be bloodied with sharp, crisp passes from great passers.

Both Hands Are Up When Dribbling

Both hands up dribbling

By rule the dribbling hand must remain on the top of the ball. In fact, it is a violation (carrying or palming the ball) and automatic turnover any time the ball is dribbled with the hand on the side or under the ball. The off hand is held in an elbow high position to protect the ball from the defender.


Both Hands Are Up On Defense

Both hands up on defense

When guarding the player with the ball, it is important to have both hands up in order to take away the shot and pass options and forcing the ballhandler out of a triple threat position. When guarding a player without the ball, having hands up allows for deflections and interceptions. It also discourages passers in throwing the ball to the defender’s opponent. When playing zone defense having both hands up is mandatory.

Both Hands Are Up Rebounding

Both hands are up rebounding

Both offensive and defensive rebounding positioning requires having both hands up ready to react to the ball. Rebounders must assume every shot is going to be missed. If they watch the flight of the ball with their hands down, they become easy targets to be boxed out.

Teaching Your Players to Listen

Improving hand quickness and playing skills in becoming a better player, starts by creating a habit of holding both hands up at all times when they are on the court. During practices, players should hold their hands up any time a coach is talking. This accomplishes two things:

  1. First and foremost, it is a good way to remind you to pay attention and listen. As a player, before you can learn any basketball skills, you must learn to listen and see.
  2. Secondly, in holding your hands up throughout practice, it helps to condition and strengthen all the muscles that are required to keep your hands up.

Once players learn to keep their hands up, it will eliminate many of the unforced turnovers along with increasing their scoring and passing abilities. By having your hands up, it also creates a positive attitude of wanting and calling for the ball which in turn develops and increases their confidence.

Preventing Bad Habits

  • The importance of “Early Time,” the time prior to practice starting, cannot be over emphasized. It is the foundation of a successful workout. Early Time does not only prepare players physically, but more importantly, it puts them in the right frame of mind. With a proper use of early time players will be able to better concentrate, understand, and learn.
  • Be sure to include the “When” and “Why” when teaching the “How” in skill development,
  • Bad habits, such as missing layups during a game, start in practice. If coaches tolerate missed layups, and dunks, during practice, don’t expect players to be perfect during games.
  • On offense, when in possession of the ball (triple threat) or dribbling make sure that the players see the floor by focusing their eyes on the rim.
  • On offensive and defensive transition, players must maintain vision on the ball and never run with their backs to the ball.
  • On offense and defense, players must assume that all shots will be missed and establish rebounding position.
  • On defense, players should always sprint back. You are never too late on defense.


Five Stars


Coming Next:

Correcting Bad Habits


Art of Teaching Basketball Series
#1Coaching, Life Skills, Keys to SuccessTap Here to View
#2Legal LiabilitiesTap Here to View
#3Major Medical EmergenciesTap Here to View
#4Motivation & LearningTap Here to View
#5Different Learning StylesTap Here to View
#6Motor Skill LearningTap Here to View
#7Game of HabitsTap Here to View
#8Changing Bad HabitsTap Here to View
#9Goal Setting & Season Review8/25/2020



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Time October 26, 2020 at 11:29 am

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