Brian McCormick

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Brian T. McCormick, PhD is a professional basketball coach, consultant, and clinician. McCormick has coached professionally in Denmark, Ireland, and Sweden, taking a team to the finals in Denmark’s 1st Division and being selected to coach in a Swedish All-Star Game. He has coached CYO, AAU, high school, junior college, and college basketball in the western United States, and worked as a strength and conditioning coach for two junior-college basketball programs. McCormick has directed clinics in Canada, China, Greece, Ghana, India, Macedonia, Trinidad & Tobago, and throughout the United States, and spoken at coaching, strength & conditioning, and sports psychology conferences in the United States and Canada. McCormick completed his PhD in Exercise and Sports Science at the University of Utah, and has had peer-reviewed papers published in the International Journal of Exercise Science, International Journal of Sports Science and Coaching, and Strength & Conditioning Journal.

Brian is the author of numerous books including “The 21st Century Basketball Practice”, “Fake Fundamentals”, & “180 Shooter”.

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Have your notebook handy as you listen to this episode with Coach Brian McCormick, author of 21st Century Basketball Practice.

What We Discuss with Brian McCormick

  • Growing up playing the game at recess with his friends
  • Attending Terry Tyler’s Basketball Camp
  • Getting his start as a coach after an injury as a player
  • Doing his first book report on John Wooden’s “They Call Me Coach’
  • Picking up ideas watching the game on TV as a young coach
  • In the past kids played a lot more on their own before they ever joined a team
  • Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Motivation
  • “Initial motivation just changes our approach and how we feel towards the sporting landscape or the environment.”
  • Why a young athlete must eventually take charge of their own development
  • Life Lessons are harder to learn in organized sports than on the playground
  • Why kids should play with smaller ball on a lower basket
  • The advantages of 3 on 3 when it comes to learning the game
  • Force Parents to play on a scaled up court on higher baskets to help understand the challenge kids face shooting at a 10ft basket, with a big ball, and on a larger court.
  • Why kids drop out of the game at an early age
  • Making sure we keep the game fun
  • “We resist change even when everything is telling us that change is absolutely necessary.”
  • “The simple fact of having to make decisions changes the execution of the skill.”
  • Adding decision making and defense to shooting practice so the learning translates better to a game
  • The mental load on the player increases when decisions are involved in training
  • Why every drill should have an offense and a defense
  • “The goal should be to get beyond that undefended practice as quickly as possible.”
  • “You want to extend your players. You want to find out where they are and then you want to extend them.”
  • Coaches put too much focus on reducing mistakes and not enough on increasing creativity & options

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[00:00:00] Mike Klinzing: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to the Hoop Heads Podcast. It’s Mike Klinzing here tonight with my cohost Jason Sunkle, and we are pleased to welcome to the podcast. Brian McCormick, basketball coach, author, and a guy who has a lot of interesting thoughts about the way that we go about coaching the game of basketball.

Brian, welcome to the Hoop Heads Pod.

Brian McCormick: [00:00:21] Yeah, thank you very much for inviting me.

Mike Klinzing: [00:00:24] Absolutely. We are excited to be able to have you on and dig into some of the things that you have shared through your writing, through your work with other coaches and consulting and online. So excited to be able to get into some of those things with you want to go back in time to start off when you were a kid, tell us a little bit about your first experiences with the game of basketball and just what drew you into the game and made it something that you knew you were going to fall in love with.

Brian McCormick: [00:00:48] I mean, we started playing on the playground at recess and stuff like that. I didn’t join a team until fifth grade. , I went to a Catholic elementary school. So we [00:01:00] had sports at our school basketball started in fifth grade we had a JV and then we had varsity and, and something in eighth grade.

So it was really, it was the first sport that we could play for our school. , so I, I played soccer and I played baseball. Before that. But so basketball, we really started just kind of playing a recess and then,  I got a hoop sometime like a Christmas present, probably when I was like eight or nine years old or something like that so I used to do it on my own mainly and then just playing, playing school recess and stuff like that. And then the summer before fifth grade , an anticipation of, of playing on a team, I went to my first camp.

I went to the Terry Tyler basketball camp. Terry Tyler, the old NBA player actually lived in a house behind me in my neighborhood. His son was like, I think two years younger than me. [00:02:00] But so the, there were two girls lived across the street from me. Was my age and one was a couple of years older and they played.

And so I think, I think my mom put me in that camp so she could carpool , with them cause it was at the local junior college. So these days I would think that the drive is nothing, but that back then it was like a 20 or 30 minute drive, which I thought was a whole different city.

, so we could carpool with the girls across the street and stuff. So, so that was kind of the first time that I’d played organized basketball and then playing, playing , pal basketball, then our team ended up being pretty good. , in sixth and eighth grade. And then I went onto high school and played a little bit of high school and , sophomore year on the JV, I got hurt.

And that’s kinda when I started coaching , my dad had been my coach. In fifth to eighth grade for basketball, my dad was pretty good player when, when he was younger. And then, so he coached us along with a couple [00:03:00] other dads. And then when I, when I got hurt, when I was a sophomore, he was helping coach one of his friend’s team.

Actually we were talking about it this weekend cause the friend was Mr. Schubert, Carl Schubert and his, his son was just court Schubert was on the team. He was put in the Cal university of Cal, California, Berkeley athletic hall of fame because he was a national team, rugby player. So we were talking reminiscing about the days ofcoaching that, so that was kind of the first time that I went out and, and coached a little bit,  going out after my practices and stuff.

When I was injured and, and basically I started coaching from there. , I still, I still played, but I didn’t play again for my high school. I played again after high school, I was an exchange student and and Sweden. And so I played for the team of my town there. , like under, under twenties or under nineteens, and then basically the same team was like the second division men’s team.

, so I [00:04:00] played in that. And yeah, and then I, I stayed coaching and kind of being coaching on and off ever since.

Mike Klinzing: [00:04:08] What did you like about coaching initially right out of the gate?

Brian McCormick: [00:04:12] I, I kind of always wanted to be a coach. I was kind of the kid who was always the captain when we pick teams at recess and stuff, I saw, I was like the captain and yeah.

, telling other kids what to do and probably bossing kids around. And I was the one like that would pay attention to the rules and would know would argue about the rules and stuff like that. So I remember I did in like whenever third grade, or whenever you do your first book report I did my first book report on, they call me coach by John wooden.

And so I think between my dad being my coach , and then reading that book and my dad was a a big UCLA , fan and, [00:05:00] and Wooden fan and stuff like that. So , I kind of always figured that I wanted to be a coach. , I just, I just kind of assumed that I’d be a coach.

, my dad I’d have a job and, and , just kinda coach, coach on the side or whatever. , I never imagined the things that I’ve done it. I didn’t even know things like that were possible when I was young. So yeah, I mean, so I, I just, that’s what, I just always kind of imagined that I would be a coach just because that’s what my dad did and , my dad no, he, he wanted to be a co he wanted to be like a, a teacher and a coach.

And at that time once he got married and kids and stuff, your, your eyes that, that probably wasn’t going to be a way to, to make a really good living. And so that’s why I kind of went into business. But , I always got the sense that he really enjoyed the coaching and, and stuff.

And so , I think, I think I was. [00:06:00] Kind of thinking of that direction in some way, part of coaching.

Mike Klinzing: [00:06:04] Do you feel like at the beginning you were pretty good at that you took to naturally, was there some aspect of the coaching profession or the process of coaching that you thought right from the beginning?

Hey, I’m pretty good at this piece of it.

Brian McCormick: [00:06:21] I mean, not really. I mean, I started coaching when I was 16 years old. So I mean, what I was, what I was good at , probably was just being able to communicate with the players and have that understanding of what they’re probably not understanding.

I remember my, my senior year of high school actually, Coach the freshmen team at my high school. And one of the dads, or maybe it was even the, the boy on the team he told me that [00:07:00] at the end of the season, like, man I don’t know if my son would have even , made it through this year of high school without you, as his coach you just really helped him acclimate and feel comfortable and stuff like that, both on and off the court.

So at that time that’s probably mostly what I did, I think I always watched a lot of basketball and, and I probably had a decent especially for that time. I mean back then nobody was reading books or going on websites there wasn’t YouTube, no more a hundred courses you could take and Instagram and stuff like that.

So , basically most of the learning was based on what you had done as a player or maybe. , seeing on television. And I think I had a decent argument for, for taking things that I saw off TV and, and having an idea of, [00:08:00] of simplifying it a certain way that we could actually use some of this stuff with our teams something like that cause like I grew up as all our teams, fifth to eighth grade, all we did was ever run like flex office and stuff like that which has players, we always hated. And I mean part of why so we used to always just try to fast break so we didn’t have to run the flex. Cause for us it was all well we just have to kind of follow directions and whatever. We just want to play it.

Like we play it where we are , at recess and stuff like that. And so we played, we played together so much at recess and, and , back then. , man, our coaches wanted to run and stuff, but nothing like they weren’t as crazy as coaches today. , so I mean, I w we would I mean, and it seems commonplace now cause we see it more, but back then it was , much different.

Like I remember being in a, [00:09:00] whatever, six or seventh grade basketball game and throwing behind the back passes or going behind the back and back then it was like , some coaches were you can’t do that. That’s just, you’re just showing up the other team and, and stuff like that.

And , I guess now it’s commonplace and it’s not a big deal. If a seventh grader can go behind his back or thrown around the back pass or something like that. But back then, like it was unusual and it was things that we could do cause we. , we played on our own at recess. It wasn’t things that we really did during practice or anything like that.

But so then when I started coaching, like I was, I know had a decent idea of how to cannot rely on the flex offense and try to kind of implement very basic things that, that I probably picked off tell him.

Mike Klinzing: [00:09:52] So compare and contrast the way that you feel like you grew up in the game and learn the game [00:10:00] compared to the way that kids who come up in the US-based travel basketball system.

But just in general, obviously there are variations, but when you think about the way you grew up in the game versus the way a kid who kind of follows the traditional path of today’s youth player, what’s different about the experiences that you had versus the experiences that a kid has today. And then we can kind of get into what are the benefits and negatives of each of those two systems?

Brian McCormick: [00:10:31] I think the biggest change is for us, it was we, we played on our own before we ever, ever joined a team. So it was always, excuse me, it was always something that was a player or child. Initiate it now children start at such an, excuse me, such a young age that they can’t really make that choice.

Like, like, I don’t remember making a conscious choice to join a [00:11:00] little league team when I was six years old or or the youth soccer team when I was six or seven years old, whatever, it was like, I don’t remember making that choice. I don’t remember asking my mom, if I could play soccer, asking if I could play baseball.

I’m pretty sure that they saw a sign up somewhere. , I played, I started in soccer at my church, so I’m sure there’s something in like the church bulletin or whatever about, Hey, we have a soccer team You can sign up for it and that’s probably how I signed up for it.

I don’t think cause I mean, especially back then, like soccer wasn’t on TV. I didn’t know soccer was until I showed up at a practice and really didn’t know what soccer was until probably sixth or seventh grade after playing for five or six years. , baseball was a little different, cause at least it was on television and , by the time I started, I’d probably gone to a baseball game I, I probably went to a giants or an A’s game, probably a giants game.

, when I was about that age fish [00:12:00] 6, 7, 5, 6 or seven years old is when I probably went to my first major league baseball game. So I I’d seen it. It’s on TV the world series if nothing else. So , so maybe I asked if I could play, play little league, but, but I’m pretty sure it was the same thing.

My parents just. That’s what you did you play sports, so where can we sign up our son for, for sports, whereas basketball I mean, there may have been leagues, but nobody, I knew playing played in them at that age. And so it was something that we create we started on our own and then it was something that we can look forward to.

Okay. Well, when we get to be in fifth grade, we get to play on a team, ? And so we had those I think we probably started in second grade or third grade. I know we were playing in third grade. But maybe, maybe as early as second grade, we were shooting around and playing at recess.

So , we had a good two, three years of playing before we ever got on a team. , we’re where [00:13:00] we can make that kind of decision. Yeah. I want to play basketball. , I really enjoy this and we messed around and we learned through our own mistakes and stuff like that. Whereas now children are put on teams when they’re six, seven years old.

And like I said, with me, with baseball and soccer, it’s, it’s probably not really their own choice there. Their parents are probably putting them on teams because they think it’s good for them, or they don’t want them to fall behind or whatever the reasons which all have merit that, that parents have for putting their children in sports.

But it’s, it becomes a parent initiated activity. And then typically the practices and games are all coach driven. And so to me, everything, everything else that’s that’s different about the system starts with, with that idea is, is that for us, it was all intrinsically motivated.

And, and child centered for the first two or [00:14:00] three years before we even joined the team whereas today, most everything starts off from the, from the beginning as a adult initiated activity. In generally with kind of extrinsic or external motivation. And I just think that sets the stage for, for all the other various differences and changes that we see in the game for children of today versus a generation or two ago, how does it that constrain

Mike Klinzing: [00:14:31] the development in your mind of a young basketball player?

So I’m a kid who’s seven or eight years old and going back 25 or 30 years ago, I’m just out on the driveway or I’m in the park with my friends and I’m playing, I’m experimenting, I’m doing different things. I’m trying stuff. Versus I always feel like you put a kid today in a game at age seven or eight, and somebody in the stands, a coach is telling them what to do.

There’s a scoreboard, people are [00:15:00] watching and I always feel like it just constrains a kid’s ability to try. Different things. Cause the people are watching, you’re gonna kind of default to what’s easy or what you do well, and so can you speak a little bit to the, maybe the creativity in the game that’s been lost because we put kids into organized games far too fast and they don’t get that opportunity for free play.

Brian McCormick: [00:15:24] Yeah. I mean, I agreed the when we’re at recess or whatever , it’s, it’s a much more, like I said, it’s a much more child initiated activity, more freedom, creativity there’s no real right or wrong nobody told us not to shoot three pointers until we got to a team in fifth or sixth grade.

And then our coach has told us not to shoot three pointers. , when we were at recess, we did whatever we want. , so, so I definitely agree with that. But then I would also say the, the, the counter to that is that players today , [00:16:00] Have the ability to do far more creative and skillful things than most players when I was playing and, and , just because once you got on a team whenever you started for fourth, fifth, sixth grade most of the things were then discouraged.

So we, we had some ability to do different things cause we had made them up on our own but then once we got a team, it was no, you can’t do that. And , back then it was definitely , my way or the highway with coaches and, and , most of the time things were discouraged.

So it was , Different , than today where things that would have seemed like an anomaly or like I said you were showing up the other team because you throw it around the back pass now nobody would, would even look twice if a 10 year old throws around the back pass, [00:17:00] , and, and again, in an organized game.

Whereas like when that, if that happened when I was young, like the game would stop and be like, what’s, what’s going on? , like, this is the greatest ten-year-old in the history of basketball, ? So , it’s just different. So I’m, I mean I agree. I, I think the big thing in terms of long-term retention and the game is when you start and everything’s child initiated and it’s intrinsically motivated that it comes from within.

And so. It becomes something that eventually I made that choice to play, whereas soccer or baseball, like, like I said, I never really made that choice to play. , yeah. As a consequence when I, when I did join the team in basketball I was more motivated to practice things on my own and to [00:18:00] try to improve and, and to try to play better and earn more playing time and win more games and whatever, whatever the kind of external things are.

Whereas in, in soccer, baseball, I never kind of had that desire. And, and maybe it’s just my, my dad was more of a, of a basketball guy than soccer baseball. So maybe it was all just because  of my dad even though I don’t think he really pushed me hard into sports or anything like that, but maybe it was just no he liked basketball and basketball was kind of the sport that he enjoyed the most.

And I mean, he’d never played soccer and he was a decent baseball player, but basketball was definitely the sport that we enjoyed the most. So it could be something as simple as that, and I’m just kind of looking back and attributing it to something else, and I think obviously the true answer is probably it’s all of the above. But , I do, I do think that that is the [00:19:00] concern with putting children into sports too early and especially once the sports get competitive too early is that , like you said, there’s, there’s kind of the, the, I think it was the social inhibition theory that you’re going to do what you can say, which you’re already successful at, in front of an audience.

, and things like that. But or social facilitation theory is a genre. Social facilitation theory, I believe. So that’s definitely a concern and, and things like that. But I think, I think a lot of it just stems from, from that initial motivation and how that just changes our approach and how we feel towards the sporting landscape or the environment.


Mike Klinzing: [00:19:42] It’s so true. That intrinsic motivation, I think that’s something that if you don’t learn it as a coach or you don’t kind of realize it in your own journey as a player, I think for those of us who are out there that are parents, I think you come to realize very, very quickly that if your child [00:20:00] is not intrinsically motivated and whatever it is, it could be, it could be basketball, but it could be playing the piano or it could be art or whatever.

If you are providing those opportunities for your kid to try those things, and then you’re having to drag them to those events or those activities, we all know that your ability to achieve in that area, where it’s parent driven, as opposed to child driven. You’re, it’s just, you’re never going to achieve what you hope to achieve.

Or as a parent, your child is never going to hope what you achieve, what you hope they can achieve. If it’s coming from you as the parent, as opposed to calling from within the child right?

Brian McCormick: [00:20:40] At some point in and in the talent development journey. The players are going to have to take, or the athletes gonna have to take ownership of their own development.

And so if that never happens you’re unlikely to reach a very high level of success, you [00:21:00] know, like, like you said, if, if I mean, I remember when I started doing a little bit of private training I realized basically private training was there so that cause parents knew that their child needed to practice more, but they also knew that they lived busy lives.

And the easiest thing to eliminate would be taking their child to the park, just to let them shoot on their own for a half hour or an hour. But if they had a appointment where they’re working with a a trainer and they were paying for that trainer and that trainer was going to charge them whether they showed up or not, then they would make sure that they were there for that hour.

Penso it was less , I, I think personal trainers oftentimes that’s, that’s really what a personal trainer is there for people in a gym or whatever, weight loss or just to get in shape it’s it’s to hold you accountable for being there. But to be truly [00:22:00] successful, you can’t rely on that appointment to hold you successful.

You have to be. To initiate that,  and that doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily wrong. It doesn’t mean that you have to make that decision at eight years old, that you’re going to take ownership of your own development. But somewhere in that journey somewhere probably in the early teens, you definitely have to make that choice to say, yeah, this is something that’s important to me.

And I’m going to take ownership of what I’m doing and I’m going to start working out more. I’m going to ask my parents to take me here. I want I’m going to ask for a trainer because I think it’ll help me. Or I’m going to ask for hoop in my backyard or whatever the case may be.

I remember there the legend of this kid, you never mailed today, anything cause he didn’t have any grades. But I, I just remember there’s everybody always talked about this guy who was, I think he was probably two years ahead of me. And kind of ledge in the that he would go to the playground.

He would walk to [00:23:00] school at 6:00 AM and he would go to the playground. He would just play bass. She was shoot for two hours out on the blacktop , on his before he went to school and, and like I said, nobody knows who he is anymore because , you never even played in college cause you’re gonna have any grades.

So maybe would have been better off spending those two hours in the library instead of shooting. But he, he wanted to play basketball and he made that choice. Like nobody forced him to get up. Nobody took him there. Like he got up on his own, he walked to the court, he shot on his own.

Nobody was there. And it was everybody always talked about that, but , so at some point, if you want to be a really good player, you have to make that choice. And as long as it’s, if, if you rely on it. And so to me, If you make that choice early to and you, and you progress into a sport or gradually where yeah.

I just play for fun. I play with my friends, I play in the neighborhood and [00:24:00] then , I asked my third, fourth, fifth grade a mom, dad, can I be on a team? Like I’ve been playing basketball and, and it’s really fun. I want to be on a team. I want to have a coach. I want to get better. , I think you’re on the path to then say, and when you’re 12, 13, 14 years old, okay.

I’ve been on a team I’m improving. But I really, really I want to make the bars, the team, how I want to play in college. I want to, I want to do this. , I need to work that much harder. Whereas if you start when you’re seven years old and your parent jives you and put you there, and then they drive you and they say, you need a personal trainer.

And so they take you to a personal trainer all you learn is to follow directions and, and it’s almost like you learn. Sports are what you do when you have an appointment or when you have a practice and you forget that you can do it on your own and just time you want, like, you don’t need that appointment to go out and shoot, you can walk to a corridor or ask for a ride to a court or take a bus or whatever, and you [00:25:00] can get yourself to a court and you can practice on your own.

You don’t need to have that personal trainer there to get up shots, ? And so I think that’s one thing that, that gets forgotten when we, when we just from the, from the very beginning, everything becomes initial adult initiated. , I remember when I first wrote crossover people they’re like, ah this is great, blah, blah, blah.

But I started to try to listen to what you’re saying. And I, I I just put the ball out and tell my players to, to play. And they looked at me, they didn’t know what to do. Like they didn’t, they didn’t know what pickup was. They didn’t know how to pick teams or set their own rules and, and stuff like that.

, and it’s because they. Never played without an adult telling them what to do. , and I think that’s the danger of starting too young and, and always being an organized activities is, is you don’t learn those lessons. And like I said, when I was young I was kind of a brat.

I was [00:26:00] bossy stuff like that. But we all also learned how to , argue with each other and fight and, and make up and take care of ourselves and, and stuff like that. , social lessons that , we like to say sports teach us, but , how many lessons are you learning?

, when the coach is there and the coach settles or stops all the arguments before they happen, or they’re the ones that are separating players before there’s a fight or the referee stepping in, in a game whatever the case may be. , or you’ve got the parents in the stands that are fighting themselves so if, if, if you don’t have those environments where, where children are learning how to handle themselves and, and learn these things on their own where, where do they develop those lessons?

Mike Klinzing: [00:26:54] Yeah, it’s so true. I think that’s a really underrated piece of what [00:27:00] unorganized sports can do when you talk about playing driveway basketball or backyard football or Sandlot baseball. I think that ability to interact with other kids and be able to solve disputes and set up rules and figure things out is a skill that I teach physical education at the elementary school level.

And that’s one of the things that my students a hundred percent struggle with is they don’t know how to solve. Conflict on their own. It’s always, they’re always looking for an adult to step in and make a decision. They’ll start arguing, and then they’ll come running to me. Hey, can you tell me I’m right and he’s wrong, or vice versa instead of that back and forth negotiation and figuring it out.

And , sometimes it did, sometimes it did result, as you said, sometimes it did result in actual and actual fighting, but you learn to be able to negotiate and figure that out because you want it to avoid that. And I think the other thing that it also teaches you is [00:28:00] to, to stand up for yourself.

When you think about the ability to call fouls or the ability to say, Hey, this is balls out of bounds, or that was that was a travel, whatever. Whereas again, in the situations that we have today, Parents are always there. Teachers are always there. A referee is always there to step in and I think kids have lost some of that ability.

And I know one of the things that you’ve done is you’ve created your Playmakers league. Can you talk a little bit about the philosophy behind that? And just explain if there’s somebody out there that’s listening, maybe it’s a high school basketball coach. Maybe it’s somebody who’s in the private basketball space, but just tell us a little bit about what makes a Playmakers league different and kind of how you came about putting that together and what it looks like.

Brian McCormick: [00:28:48] Okay. So basically the mission for, for Playmakers is I wanted to create a platform to change the way that we develop basketball players. , and, and so, [00:29:00] , to a certain extent, the we’re probably not going back to where everybody yeah. Plays basketball recess until they’re in fifth grade and then joins a fifth grade basketball team like I talked about, so to me, I’m, I am a firm believer that before you play in a five on five league, you should, you should have considerable experience playing three on three.

And I I’m a firm believer that the number one way that we can improve shooting and teenagers, adults is for children to start shooting on a lower hoop with a smaller basketball. So essentially it using age appropriate , equipment for children. And so I did a study when I was working on my PhD.

The first study I did looked at it was nominally about physical activity. Cause that’s kind of what my department studied. But I also looked at at different things within the game. So I looked at. I forget now, I think it was like a 10 minute [00:30:00] five on five game versus a 10 minute three on three.

And again, first the primary component was looking at the physical activity and basically the amount of vigorous physical activity between the three and three and the five on five was more or less the same. And so what we don’t realize , when we think about five on five, we think about running up and down the court and it’s gotta be harder and more physical, but in reality , there’s a lot of walking up and down the court and with five people when you’re on offense, inevitably at least two people are standing around at all times , potentially three or even four are standing around watching one person dribble.

So in three, on three, you end up with , all three people being a little bit more active. And we kind of underestimate the intensity of changing directions versus straight light running. And so in a three-on-three game where there’s here in a [00:31:00] smaller space , there’s going to be typically more changed directions and more quick starts and stops.

Then there might be an a five on five game because in a five on five you might run especially if you’re a post player, let’s say you’re under the basket you get a rebound, you outlet it and you just run to the, to the next run, right. , run REMS rim you might be running fast and, and it has a certain amount of intensity there, but , then you go and you stand in the post and you basically stand there.

15 seconds. Let’s say shot goes up. You don’t get the rebound and you run from rim to rim whereas in a, in a three on three game the distance that you’re running is probably not going to be the same, but there’s more short , starts and stops and changes the direction and stuff like that.

So the intensity the vigorous intensity is actually very similar between a 303 game and a final five game. The heart rate stays elevated because there’s less [00:32:00] just kind of standing around and you get more breaks essentially in a five on five game. So that was the first part of the study, but, but what I was actually more interested in was was how 303 changes the actual game.

And so one of the things I looked at and I think I called them ball contacts and Ms. Tend to study ideas. And it was basically looking at kind of meaningful actions on offense. So that being like kind of opportunities where you could, or I think on offense, I simply looked at at touches. And so we always talk about in a, in a five on five game or just in general, we always talk about , post players develop more slowly than go.

And I remember when I started coaching it was well it’s because post players are taller it’s because post players are in coordinated everybody had their reasons, but no there’ll be actually ever said, well it’s because post players don’t get the ball as much. Right. Because if you, if you watch and obviously now it’s, [00:33:00] it’s taken even more so because the games even more guard dominated and, and the possessions actually might be bouncing out a little bit because posts touched the ball so much on the three-point line.

But if you go back let’s say 10 years close to when I did this study , post players in an average 5.5 offense your point guard is going to touch the ball every possession, right? You’re your best wing is going to touch the ball. Almost post player might go render him your point guard comes down, takes a jump shot.

Point guard comes down one point. , shooting guard, shoots the ball you run your offense, it’s a screen you bring up a shooter off a stagger pass shoot it off his dagger, ? So you might go a couple of times, a couple of possessions without touching the ball, ?

And so when I looked at that, when I looked at five on five and three on three there was a definite difference between positions. So point guard, like I said, touch the ball, basically every possession [00:34:00] significantly more than the wings and who touched the ball significantly more than post players and the 303 games.

The differences between the three position groups who was much smaller, there was still a significant difference between point guards and post players, I believe. But there wasn’t a significant difference between point guards and wings and wings and post players. So , it’s still not perfect.

The point guard was still, and again, this. This was using a high school team late in the season that already kind of had established positions within the team. And so one of the things that I think is if you took a group from the beginning and didn’t tell anybody who’s a point guard, who’s a wing, who’s a, who’s a post and three on three of the differences would be, there’d be very few differences between position groups.

Whereas because this group had played together I mean the drone up playing together [00:35:00] everybody knew who the point guard was. Everybody knew who the shooter was, ? So they’re kind of tailoring even within their three on three offense, they were kind of playing to these kind of strengths.

I think if, if there had been a group that didn’t know each other , the differences would have evened out even more, more so than they did with this group. But to me we, again, when we talk about posts that that’s the reason the posts just don’t touch the ball.

Like, how do you expect if you look at a, let’s say a 32 minute high school game, and then whatever, let’s say there’s 60 possessions on offense. And so your point guard touches the ball on all 60 possessions and your post only touches the ball on 30 of those possessions. How can you expect it there?

And then you do that for 30 games. How do you expect them to develop at the same rate?  and then you add onto it that when we’re in practice a typical post practice especially at that time was post [00:36:00] players just learning one on old post moves. Well, we gotta work on our post moves.

Okay. That never happens in a game like post players never touched the ball in a game where they’re going to make a one on old posts. So then they get a game, they travel and now you don’t pass the ball to your post player anymore because what they worked on in practice didn’t transfer because they actually had to play as a defensive player and guard suffers some of the same thing.

But for whatever reason we’re more likely in practice to have guards play one-on-one especially full court ball handling type stuff. Then we are to have post play one-on-one , posts a post-workout is a Mike and drill followed by block to block kind of one on old post moves for, we put a coach there with  Okay.

And what is it called? A football pad football pads. And so we’re going to knock the shit out of our post players when they go up for shots. And that’s how we’re [00:37:00] teaching them how to play through contact, but it doesn’t matter because in a game they’ve already traveled. So it doesn’t matter if they can play through contact.

, I mean, I remember it back, like almost 15 years ago, I was working with this girl a post player she’s going into like eighth, ninth grade. And I finally told her mom, I was like, look, I’m not working with your daughter by herself anymore. She knows every post move I could possibly give to her.

She’s got great foot work when there’s no defensive player there, but watch her playing the game and she can’t do it. I was like, I’m only working with her. If you bring another girl to work out with them, like bring a teammate, bring a friend. I don’t care. Take the best player that she plays against and we’ll play one-on-one.

But. Just going against air is not going to improve any more. Like she’s already learned the moves, she’s got good foot work. Like she can do everything when there’s no defense honor. And the mom was like, no, we want her to keep working by herself. I’m like, I kid you not, I’m not working with your daughter by herself.

[00:38:00] And so she took her to a different trainer who would do one on one on old posters, because she was like, well she doesn’t know the postman. I’m like, no, watch her when there’s no defense there, she can do every single post move. Right. Like, but it doesn’t matter. Cause she gets in a game and she’s never made that decision of what post moves use.

And, and she’s never had to do it through contact and stuff like that. Like we need a defensive player here. But , her mom knew better. So , she went and found that trainer who would, who would take the money to, to keep working on one on oh footwork. So anyway, back to the Playmakers league that was kind of.

That’s my belief is that if, if we can start players in 3 on 3, there’s nothing you can do on a five-on-five game that you can’t do on 3 on 3. There’s no situation most five and five games end up most possessions, offensively end up being , two person plays with three person plays.

, there’s the foundation of, of, of all five person , offense. So [00:39:00] all of that, you can teach small sided games, you can teach them 303 play. And so that’s the basic kind of mission behind Playmakers league is, is to be a platform to change how we develop young basketball players and.

What the entryway is to basketball and, and how we yeah, basically how we develop players and how we format leagues for players. And along with the three on three, then again, like I said, is using the age appropriate sized baskets and balls because I mean, people will children’s, shouldn’t shoot three pointers.

I’m like, well, yeah, a nine year old using a size seven basketball and a 10 foot UCEDD shoot a three pointer but give them a size five basketball on a eight and a half foot hoop. And why not? , they’re going to be able to shoot with decent , technique because now strength and size.

Isn’t the impediment that it is when we’re using an adult [00:40:00] basket in an adult bowl. , so, so that’s kind of the mission behind it. The original idea actually came from , when I was at junior college assistant coach. I ran a AAU league, like I was typical, more or less volunteer coach , making a small stipend.

And so the additional way that I can make money is they allowed me to use the gym. And so , I started an AAU league , and I had I was in Los Angeles. I had teams come in from San Fernando valley all the way down to orange county. , coming to our league at Santa Monica college , and running it on Saturdays and Sundays, I think , eight weeks or whatever.

And so when I got to the end of it and I looked at all the money that I brought in, and then I looked at all my expenses know I was like, man, if I did not have to pay referees, I actually would have made decent. So, so from [00:41:00] there I was like, well, how can I , create something where the coach actually keeps the money instead of having to pay referees, ?

And, and people I know my, my high school, when I was , that I went to when I was young they managed to keep the money by making their players , referee and so they, they basically kept the money in house, so they would keep the money, but they would also pay the players a little bit.

And then the players had used that money , like to travel to camps there in summer leagues and Penn stuff, like team camps and stuff like that during the summer they use the money that they were paid to referee and, and stuff like that. So , but that, that’s how some people get around Sending all their money out to other referees is you just have your own players referee, and then you either forced them to do it and don’t pay them and keep all the money for your program or you give the money [00:42:00] to your players and then make your players pay for certain things.

So but, but, so that was, that was one of the reasons why the 3 on 3 cam I was like, well we could easily do a 3 on 3 where my players could be coaches and just kind of manage the baskets , as nominal referees, but, but , not worried about whether or not we’re getting every call correct. , and, and so that was kind of the ideas this way we could, you could run a li , a three-on-three league takes less gym time than a five on five league. You can have more players in action at the same time. And you don’t have to spend all your money paying for referees.

And then Mike McKay up in Canada. He did an in-house study where they ran a 303 years ago. This was, this was before I re I wrote my, I did my study. He says at least a dozen years ago. And he said that what they found was in a three on [00:43:00] three league most of the dads went out and, and met outside the gym and had coffee together and had stuff.

And they kind of viewed the three on three, as , it’s not real basketball, so we don’t have to be there yelling at our kid each possession or yelling at the referees, each possession. And so they found that, that it was it changed the behaviors of, of the coach or, sorry, changed. Well, it did change the behavior of the coaches, but it changed the behavior of the parents as well.

And so you have less of the problematic behaviors that, that typify a lot of five on five of the eggs or AAU the kind of scenario tip of like. , just, just changing it to three on three kind of change those behaviors again, because it’s not real Ascott ball and stuff.

I remember when I ran my five on five league, like I had to bring in the, we basically had to call the police on a coach because the coach was going after the referee in our league. [00:44:00] So like things like that, you don’t have to deal with in a 303 league typically.

So all of these reasons are reasons why I developed a Playmakers league and kind of the final reason was when I wrote crossover and developing basketball intelligence, kind of , the earlier books that I wrote a lot of the feedback that I got was well I love your philosophy, blah, blah, blah.

But what, what does this actually look like? What is it I want, I want more. A step-by-step way to do it, ? And so kind of blitz basketball was kind of the first book that I wrote. That’s kind of like, okay, here’s the crossover philosophy. This is kind of exactly what I did using that philosophy with my under nine AAU team.

But Playmakers league was kind of , for a combination of crossover and developing basketball intelligence was kind of like, here is little practice [00:45:00] plans for an entire league, how to run it, how to score the games, et cetera, et cetera basically a turnkey cause, cause again, I was thinking originally my target was junior college or small college coaches the ones that are allowed to work with players not so much division ones.

They’re typically lower paid, but then they have a gym that they can use. , which, which for a lot of people, that’s the impediment to running their own league is getting the gym. So if I am a junior college coach I have my school, they let me use the gym. Great. So I’ve got the gym.

Well, what do I do? Okay, well, I’m gonna run the sleep. Well, I’m focused on my team. I don’t want to spend all my time planning activities for 40 sixth graders and that’s why the league is set out. It gives you all those plans are already taken care of so you don’t have to spend time [00:46:00] planning.

You just print out your practice plan, show up , run the league. So it takes away some of the planning and the thinking and stuff like that. But that would make running a separately hard for a coach. Who’s also trying to do a good job. , running their own teams, ? So those were kind of the, the basic ideas, like kind of the mission or the goal of the league as well as kind of the practical ideas of why I started it.

Mike Klinzing: [00:46:28] Why do you think there’s such resistance? You mentioned it a couple of times of, Hey three on three. That’s not real basketball or you think about the lower basket or the smaller ball. And I grew up, my dad was, I don’t know if he was ahead of his time, but he was an exercise physiologists and taught at the college level.

And so from the time I was in whatever, five, six years old, my baskets were always lower on my driveway. So I started out with probably a basket that was [00:47:00] six and a half feet when I was four or five years old. And then slowly over time it went up and I was probably, I mean, my, my basket on my driveway probably didn’t get to 10 feet until I was.

15 or 16 years old. And I was a pretty good player growing up, but my basket was always lower. And yet I think and Jason knows, and I know that there’s a ton of resistance when you have. Baskets lower. I’ll give you an example right now, Brian Ward run at a camp this week and we have some of our baskets set at 10 feet and we have some of our baskets set at eight and a half.

And our grade levels are one through six. So we’re dealing with kids who are from six to 12 years old. And I had one father who came in and I know the guy and we’re talking and he says to me, Oh, I see the baskets are low here. My son’s not going to like that. ? And his again, his son, his son’s a pretty good player he’s whatever, he’s probably 11 years old and there’s, there’s that resistance [00:48:00] out there that, oh, if they’re shooting at a lower basket, we’re hindering them because eventually they’re going to have to play on a 10 foot basket or they can’t spend all this time playing three on three, because that’s not how the quote real game is played.

So in your mind, how do we educate? I think this is the biggest challenge that we face when it comes to youth. Basketball is how do we educate parents when it comes to some of these things that are clear, the research that you’ve done, the. Thinking about it logically, it just makes so much more sense, but yet there’s so many people that are resistant to it.

How do we overcome that and educate people about the value of a lower basket, a smaller basketball three on three small sided games versus throwing a bunch of seven year olds on a 94 foot court, where all they’re doing is just running in between the two tops, the keys, and they’re not really developing their skills.

How do we educate people? What’s your thought on that?

Brian McCormick: [00:48:59] Well, the, the [00:49:00] most effective that I’ve seen is, is the examples where they in different sports, they forced the parents to play.  with equipment or on size of courts or whatever that would be kind of the same dimension proportional to what their children are playing on when they’re playing on 10 foot hoops.

So if you’re basically making, making the parents try shooting on 13 or 14 foot hoops or playing on courts that are 150 feet long and, and stuff shooting three pointers from 30 feet or 35 feet, like when they, when they can see that and they can understand, oh, this is proportionally, this is what we’re asking children to do.

I think that’s the most effective way because clearly me talking about it’s having no effect , as well as other people I know I’m certainly not the only person who’s ever said that we should play [00:50:00] three-on-three basketball or you smaller baskets. , so, so just talking about it doing research I mean, on my, on the Playmakers league website, I mean, on the side there’s links and there’s , probably a dozen different studies , that look at modifications to youth sports, but I think, I think I’ve pretty much just got the basketball ones on the website, but in terms of, of how it affects enjoyment, how it affects skill development, how it affects motivation, all the things that that really is what we, what we want.

Well, we want it to develop, like when we’re talking about a third grader playing basketball, like we should really be concerned, what is the actual three-point percentage on a 10 foot hoop is what we should be concerned is are they enjoying the experience? Is it increasing their motivation to continue?

Are the players coming back next year? , [00:51:00] are they learning skills that they can continue to develop as they mature? , and I mean, that’s, that’s essentially part of the problem is, is we look at each kind of age group, as the children are finished products for that, for that year.

And so if, if in that case we need to play on the 10 foot hoop or whatever. So , we look at, we look at the specifics of sports instead of understanding kind of the general movements that underlie the sports and how, how learning the proper movement will transfer as players mature, as opposed to I mean, realistic, if you’re, if you’re talking about third grader, you don’t want a third grader to master a third grade shot at a 10, 10 foot basket, because that shot’s not going to [00:52:00] work when they’re in high school. Cause they’re gonna it’s the story of Steph Curry he shot too low, he shot too low.

, and so his dad finally, at some point in his high school, I believe it’s all. Look, if you’re going to play in college and beyond, we’ve got to raise your shine a little bit it’s the same thing. Like if you master shooting threes as a third grade on a 10 foot hoop, some point in your life, you’re, you’re going to have to change your shot.

Whereas if you master shooting threes on an eight and a half foot. With a size five basketball. Your shot’s not going to have to change that much. Obviously when you move to a bigger ball, when you moved to a bigger basket, you’re going to have that initial adaptation, but you have that initial adaptation anyway, because if you’re four foot eight as a third whatever, let’s say fifth grader, I don’t know how tall kids are.

And then you’re, you’re you go through a growth [00:53:00] spurt and you come back next year and you’re five foot five, like you’re adapting. Like you’re, you’re relearning your coordination. And so that’s why this obsession with being well, we have to be specific. We have to use the adults, the adult size.

Cause they have to learn how to shoot on a 10 foot hoop. It’s like, yeah, but you’re four foot eight, third grader. Who’s a five foot, five fourth grader. That’s like a new person. , it’s not the same person. Next season. And when they’re a six foot ninth grader, they’re a new person. Again, like it’s, it’s not the same thing, eight or nine inch growth spurt from year to year, you’re going to be uncoordinated for awhile.

, whereas if you’re, if you’re just kind of growing an inch or two year by year you’re you’re that, that re adaptation that relearning of your, your just basic coordination. I’m not even talking about shooting a basketball, just basically moving, squatting, jumping landing all these things essentially if you grow five inches in a year, you almost have to [00:54:00] relearn all those skills and then you have to relearn the sports skills on top of that, have that new coordination.

And so, I mean, things like this we just, as, as just a general population, but just don’t understand these things. Well we understand as well, basketball is playing on a 10 foot hoop. So I have to plan a 10 foot basketball is played five on five. So I had to play five on five because that’s what makes sense if I want, because we, we think of learning as being.

Right. If I want to learn to play five on five, I have to play 5 0 5. But what we miss is the five and five that we’re playing really has very little to do with the five on five that we wanted to play. When we reach a high school level of college stuff, right. The 3m the, the shooting on a 10 foot hoop when we’re in third grade has almost nothing to do with the shooting that we want to do.

, when we’re in ninth or 12th grade or in college or whatever. And so we’re, again, we’re focusing on the wrong things instead of focusing on trying to have proportional or age appropriate [00:55:00] equipment. So that as our body matures, we can, we change the equipment to, to stay in general proportion to our body.

And so we, we never get too far. Away from that general proportion. , we focus on the absolute specifics and so if we can think of things in terms of proportions, instead of thinking, in terms of, of absolute specifics, I mean, that’s from, I guess from a mathematical standpoint, that’s how you convince people, but nobody wants to think about math or do math, so that’s not gonna work.

, so I mean, I, I talked about this, I talked about this with an NBA coach last week or the week before and we talked about, I know some other people talked about it potentially with 3 on 3 being in the Olympics and getting a lot more publicity potentially that’s going to change things.

And now people actually view 3 on 3 as real basketball since you can actually win a gold medal in the [00:56:00] Olympics doing it. , but , shorter than that like I said, the, the best one. To me is, is getting the ridiculous baskets out there, Riddick and just, just demonstrating and, and not trying to talk through it, but just showing like, this is essentially what you’re asking your kid to do.

Like, can you make with, with a basketball that’s bigger than a size seven ball shooting on a 14, 15, 4, can you make a shot from 30 feet? , there are very few adults who can do that. , like I mean, obviously NBA players can but your average out of shape dad bought is not going to be able to make a a shot from 30 feet on like I’m just like throwing a medicine ball like, and then you’re like, see that what you’re asking when you’re telling your son to shoot from 20 feet on a 10 [00:57:00] foot hoop with a size seven basketball.

That’s what you’re asking him to do. Yeah, well, I guess I mix it. Maybe I shouldn’t be asking him to do that. , I’ve I just think like doing things works better than , talking about it. Cause clearly I, like I said, talking and research and all that hasn’t had much of an effect.

, but I just I think it also comes down to like what’s, what’s the basic motivations, like why are you signing up your son or daughter to play sports? ? And, and most people initially will say, well I just want my son or daughter. I just want them to have a good experience.

I want them to learn. I want them to meet some friends, have fun, blah, blah, blah. But then you get to that first game now where batshit crazy and we’ve got to win every game. And my kids got to get up more shots and yada, yada and so if we can take those initial reasons why we sign up for sports and say, all those [00:58:00] things are better served.

In a small side of game, it’s three on three on a age appropriate basket. Like what do kids like doing? Do I shoot it right? How are they going to make more shots? They elect scoring? How are I mean, you go to second or third grade basketball game and the games are in single digits, like what’s the point put them on a, on an appropriate size hoop.

And now all of a sudden you see kids that can do things like that’s fun that’s, that’s what kids actually want to do. They want, they want to be able to do things. They want to be able to learn. They want to be able to put the ball in the basket because everybody realizes at the end of the day, that’s the point of the game.

And so if I go out and we play for a 32 minute game and we’ve got 12 points at the end of it versus we play at 32 minute game and we’ve got 40 points like scoring 40 more points, 40 points is more fun and more kids get. , that team that scored 12 points, it’s probably two people’s [00:59:00] scoring.

, you got the biggest kid on the team is probably scoring most points and then maybe some other player makes a lucky shot. , whereas if you’re scoring forward and you’re probably getting five or six kids putting the ball in the basket, that’s more fun for them. , they enjoy it more and if they enjoy it more, they’re going to want to play more.

They want to want to practice more on their own. They’re going to want to sign up for the team next year. And ultimately at the youngest age is those are the things that are most important because you can’t develop into a great professional basketball player, high school, basketball player, college basketball player.

If you quit when you’re in fourth grade, because it’s not fun or because you can’t make a shot because you’re the smallest player on the court and you’re using a adult basketball and a 10 foot hoop. And you’re just not strong enough to put the ball in the basket. So nobody wants to pick you on their team.

They don’t put you in the game, et cetera, et cetera. So you can. Like, you’re never going to be a professional player or a high school player or a college player if you quit playing when you’re fourth grade but we [01:00:00] know that by the age of 13, most players have dropped out of sports and it’s getting, supposedly it’s getting closer to 11 to 12, the 13 year old always made some sense because there’s going to be natural attrition when you move even in the, in the , my generation, our generation, when you move from middle school sports to high school, sports is going to be that natural attrition because not everybody’s going to be a three sport athlete anymore,  , kids are teams are going to be competitive and you’re, you’re gonna have to cut teams and stuff like that.

I mean my high school , I think my freshman year a hundred, 1,015 players tried out for the freshman team and my, my eyes got tired of cutting that many players. So we actually had two freshman teams, but it still means you’re cutting 74, so they’re dropping out at sport, not because they didn’t want to play anymore, but because there’s not a competitive team for them anymore.

So, so those statistics always made sense to [01:01:00] me, but , these days kids are starting to drop out before that kind of transitioned to high school. , and typically the reason why children give for jumping out sports is not fun. Why is it not fun? Well, one reason is cause it’s it’s, they can’t do the things that they see on TV because the baskets too, I, the ball is too big for them, ?

And then part of it is , the environment that we create as coaches and it’s parents that make it too competitive, too. , there’s a host of other reasons I mean, playing time you’re, you signed up because your friend is playing and now your friend decides to play baseball.

So you go play baseball. Like there’s obviously,  a ton of reasons, nothing, nothing in sports or in life ever boils down to one single thing. But these are things that are actually within our control. , we can have leagues that are, that use age appropriate equipment I met with I met with a YMCA or a parks and rec [01:02:00] years ago about how wanted off I was like, Hey, let’s I want to run Playmakers league. , let’s, let’s scrap your you’re third grade five on five league and let’s, let’s play through, let’s make a Playmaker seat. And he’s like and I, and I talked to him and he actually admitted year to year 50% of the kids in their league.

They did not come back the next year, but he refused to try something different because he said all you had to do to keep his boss happy was keep whatever a hundred players signing up every year. So that means 50 players quit. He just needs to find a new 50 players to fill it. And then those 50 quit next year, he just needs to find another 50 years.

As long as they kept a hundred players enrolled, he kept his job. Everybody was happy, right. 50% of the players from year to year. And he refused to try something [01:03:00] different. Like what if kids actually liked it better and nobody quit. And now next year you have 150 players because you got those same 50 that you brought in to replace the other 50, but you also kept everybody in the game, right?

What is your boss? Be happy? That’s, you’ve improved. , you’ve, you’ve added 50 players to your league like, but no, he was so worried about keeping his job and, and the fact that parents are odd he’s, he gave the wild parents are going to say, it’s not real basketball.

And they’re used to five on five and my coaches want to do it this way and I’ll lose my coaches and blah, blah, blah. And so he wouldn’t even try something different, like even on the side, like, you won’t even give like what we’ll run like yearly two days and we’ll run five on five, two days. And then we’ll , see who has the most kids return next year.

He wouldn’t even like and [01:04:00] so, so that’s the hesitancy is and I mean, it’s like anything in life change is hard even if you’re getting suboptimal results is often easier to continue getting those suboptimal results than the rent. Getting even worse, ? I mean, that’s why a lot of coaches are hesitant to change players shots and their teenagers are like, well, I know you only makes 30% of the shots, but what if I mess around with it?

And now he makes 25% without thinking, well, what if he makes 40 or 50% now you’ve got a player on your hands. , but it’s better do no harm. So we resist change even when everything is telling us that change is absolutely necessary. If you I mean, what, realistically, what business can last losing 50% of your customers here in a year, right?

Like , but, but it’s easier to stay with the no, well, I know I can get [01:05:00] more kids. They’re going to sign up and we’ll stay at a hundred from year to year then to actually try something new.

Mike Klinzing: [01:05:07] I think the most important point that you’ve made there is the fact that so many kids, when you think about the game of basketball specifically, and what attracts anyone to the game, it’s throwing the ball through the basket.

 It’s making baskets and Jason and I were actually just talking about this today at basketball camp and, and looking at the games that are played at lower baskets and how many more kids are brought into the game that can now make shots and can participate where on a 10 foot basket, they just can’t participate.

And I think to go along with that, one of the things that I find disturbing slash interesting, depending upon your perspective is the number of facilities that are. Theoretically designed for kids that don’t even [01:06:00] have the ability to have a basket that isn’t 10 feet. I know my gym at the elementary school where I teach, we have 10 foot baskets that are permanently anchored.

There’s no ability for me other than to bring in a portable basket to have a lower basket. And I think just you start looking at the people that are making decisions and it’s just, it’s a challenge and it’s, it’s an educational piece and there’s a, there’s an institutional piece to it. But I think if we could figure it out and we could get people to give it a shot, I don’t think there’s any kid who would say, Hey, it’s not more fun to play on a lower basket where I actually have a chance of making more baskets and playing, like you said, a game that’s 40 to 38 instead of a game that’s eight to seven.

It’s just, it’s just more fun to watch the ball go in the basket. There’s no doubt about that. Yeah. When you think about, I wanted to ask you a little bit about making teaching kids, how to make decisions on a basketball floor and how [01:07:00] too often as coaches, we think that by teaching the technique of the game, that we’re helping the player to really improve themselves.

Whereas really it’s a combination, as you said, there’s a difference between technique and skill. So just maybe talk a little bit about your philosophy there in terms of teaching kids to apply the technique with the decision-making within the confines of the actual game.

Brian McCormick: [01:07:28] Yeah. I mean, when we, when we watch a game it’s easy to dissociate from a, from a cognitive perspective, it’s easy to associate and say, oh yeah, well, I can isolate that skill and just.

That skill without any defensive player there, and then I’ll get better at that. And then that will make me better in a game. Right. Cause that’s kind of how we’ve learned in [01:08:00] other areas of our life. Right. And that’s, and, and to me, that’s, that’s one reason why I don’t like to say I’m a coach.

I don’t believe in that. Why I’m a teacher on a basketball court? No, I am a coach I coach like, and I don’t think that’s less than like, I, I think sometimes coaches we, we think of coaching as being less than being an an academic teacher or something like that. So we want to prove that we’re As good as, so no, I’m a teacher and the hardwood is my classroom and, and stuff like that.

And so I’m a coach and I think learning a motor skill, especially in a, in a team game and invasion sport, it’s different than other things. It’s why I don’t like when we try to compare , hitting a golf ball to shooting a [01:09:00] basketball or throwing a dart or playing the piano or violin or all these things that , we, we try to generalize the research from these areas or what we see in these areas and say, well, the learning would be the same in basketball.

Cause learning is learning, but it’s not like defense changes, everything. And so using shooting as the example, because that’s typically the hardest one with which to convince people,  my friend Harry Mannomen, and from Finland says that there’s no such thing as an uncontested shot, right?

Once you’re in a game there’s defense, now, they may not be very close to you. , you might be wide open judged by whatever the standards are for being wide open whatever it’s six or more feet, I think in the NBA is [01:10:00] considered wide open the way that they do their stats, but there’s still a defensive player.

Right. And so just having that player, even if that player’s eight, nine feet away from me, when I catch that ball, I have a decision to make I have to decide Is this the appropriate shot for my team at this point, does a teammate have a better shot? M my wide open, do I have time to get my shot off?

Is there a better shot for my team? If I pass up the shot and drive can I create all of these? And just the simple fact of having to make these decisions changes the execution of the skill. Now, when you actually put a defensive player close to you within six feet whether you consider it an open shot, which I think is three to six feet, or you shoot [01:11:00] considered a contested shot inside of three feet, just the presence of that defensive player is going to change.

Yeah, the actual bio mechanics of shooting. So if you shoot in an, in an empty gym, And then you shoot with a player somewhere within six feet of you, the actual biomechanics of your shot change. Right? So typically you’re going to shoot a little bit faster and you’re going to release it a little bit higher or a little bit for a little bit quicker, right?

Because you’re you, even if that players six feet away, you have that concern that if you take too much time they’re going to be able to close that distance and contest your shot. So if as has been shown repeatedly, your shot changes with a defensive player presence. They’re just the biomechanics.

Again, not even talking about the decision component part, [01:12:00] , how much does the isolated practice actually transfer to the game shooting and we’ve accepted this idea.  that there’s game slippage and you’ve got to shoot 90% and practice to shoot 40% in games and that’s just standard and big name trainers say, it’s everybody believes it but to me, why, why do we have to assume that you, you’re going to shoot half as well during games as you are in practice.

And to me, the answer is because you’re, you’re not practicing the same thing. You’re not practicing. What’s , the skill is being used in, in game. And even if you’re only shooting open shots in a game so obviously there’s going to be , in a game, there’s some things you can never replicate [01:13:00] in practice.

So there’s always gonna be.  a little bit of slippage, right. Even though, even though we always say that , we want to, we want to practice harder. So the game is easier and the game coaches and players love to say that the game should be easier than practice.

It’s like, well, if the game is easier and the practice why are you shooting half as well? , if the game is actually easier than practice, you should have a better shooting percentage in the game than you do in practice. , the backdrop is going to be different. All those things you don’t practice with 20,000 fans screaming as you shoot the ball you can’t possibly simulate the end of game pressure that you feel in the playoffs.

Like all of these things are going to affect shooting, but they shouldn’t affect it to, to create a 50%. , shooting percentage. And so the things that we can control are how we make decisions [01:14:00] shot selection and , shooting and learning how to shoot with defense. And so, but typically we look at and say, well, we just need to get better at our, at our technique.

And that’ll transfer and well we’ll show shoot better games. And so we, we shoot 80, 90% of practice. How are we going to games may shoot 30%. We wonder why it’s because we’re not practicing the same thing. And so that simple decision, even when it’s an open shot, that simple decision affects how I’m going to shoot the ball.

, and then obviously making passes, making the decision of when to drive how far to drive. , trying to draw a second defender to make the past okay. , the second defender, isn’t all the way in front of me. So I’m going to finish all these things. No, it’s easier to see how we need a practicing as defense to develop these things.

Right. But for some reason like even [01:15:00] I I’ve had dinners with, with really good coaches. Like I buy everything that you’re saying, except I still think that we need tons of isolated shooting practice. That’s the only way to become a better shooter. Like, but it’s not I mean, obviously with depending on the age there’s differences a third grader pioneers some isolated practice et cetera, et cetera NBA players probably can get more out of isolated practice than your average high school or college player.

And you probably have to manage. So having them shoot a ton of contested game speed make decision type shots , in workouts, especially during the season, probably isn’t realistic and probably isn’t beneficial, right. Because that’s one of the, one of the other things that I think that I’ve talked about a couple of times, but that I don’t think we fully grasp is when we make this transition that a lot of us are making and [01:16:00] we can go from doing a lot of, kind of the standard drills, the isolated drills et cetera, et cetera into being more kind of constraints, led coaching or doing a lot more small sided games and doing a lot more  competitive drills during practice.

Not only is it more typically more physically taxing to do these, but we underestimate the mental load involved. Yeah. Making decisions on every single possession and practice. So if I’m doing a typical shooting drill let’s say I’m just doing a a five by five spot shooting, drill I’m going to make five shots in the corner.

Then I gonna move to that. Like I can zone out. Right. , I’m just up there, I’m relaxed. I’m shooting. Somebody is rebounding passed me the ball. I don’t have to think about anything. I’m just zoned out in my rhythm just shooting the ball. Right. Nice and easy. There’s very little , mental load [01:17:00] involved in that drill, right.

Two things then in a game I can’t get in that kind of rhythm. Right. I’m not going to shoot five shots in a row. Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang. , if I’m, if I get five shots from the same area in an entire game and that’s not even counting the amount of defensive pressure, speed, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

Let’s just say that I’m , playing on a team where my whole role is just stand in the corner and shoot when I catch the ball I might get five or six of those, the entire game. Right. Whereas in that drill I’m bang, bang, bang. So the rhythm with which I’m shooting in that drill is not going to be the same.

I can never have that same kind of rhythm in a game. So, so there’s another difference between the practice and the games that accounts for differences in the shooting percentages. But, but just in terms of the mental load, if I try to do the [01:18:00] same , let’s say a similar type drill where I’m trying to, I’m trying to make 25 shots, but I’ve got on every time I’ve got a passing option and I’ve got a defensive player closing out and I’ve got to make the decision.

Do I have a better shot? Did my, just my teammate, I have a better shot, even in a simple drill, like. , where the decision should be pretty easy is a closeout taken away an open shot. Okay. My teammate’s got a better shot is a close out too far away from me. I’ve got an easy shot. That’s a fairly simple decision.

I only have to read one thing, right. There’s still mental load. And if we’re doing that, every repetition, every drill and practice we’re creating a lot more total fatigue than we realize. And so, like I say, in, in a, in a NBA situation where we’re already looking at how much load these guys have and the injuries that are happening just from, from from the games with I mean, I know most of these teams that are [01:19:00] having the injuries are barely practicing and I’ve been barely practicing for months.

, so , trying to say, okay, well we’re going to get you game ready. So we’re going to do a bunch of contested decision-making shooting, it’s probably not realistic. Right. So obviously there’s, there’s a spectrum. , and I’m, and, and I I understand this but from a general standpoint, high school player off-season workout, stuff like that.

We always talk about game, game shots. , we want to take game shots, game speeds, game spots, right. But those really the, the constraints that most effect shooting percentages in my opinion, are the defense and that decision to shoot more. So even than the speed or the distance obviously a distance has, has something to play , some effects you’re going to shoot better on layups than you do on free pointers.

Right. , making [01:20:00] a decision,  you know what I mean? You, if you really watch players closely, especially players that you’ve worked with over a period of time, so you can, you can kind of understand how they play and stuff like that. Like you can see where they’re kind of second guessing themselves on a shot or they’re catching the ball and they’re not a hundred percent sure as they’re going up for their shot or you can kind of see their eye diver to see like, they’re, they’re going up to shoot, but then they’re not sure maybe that player cutting the basket, maybe they should make making that, that pass to the cutter.

, all of these things are gonna affect shooting percentage. And if, if you only shoot an isolated practice and without defense and without these choices, without these decisions in practice, they’re going to affect your percentage is more than if you shoot in these situations , during practice.

And so. No. That’s why to me again, within reason because I, I do think you have to manage the [01:21:00] physical and, and the mental fatigue, but within reason I think there should be an offense in defense , in every drill. Right. And I think , this is how you start to develop decision making in players.

Right. , I was, I was , talking about that with a coach the other day, like we were going back and forth and talking about how coaches will basically instruct their players as though they’re robots in practice. And then they complain that they play like robots and games.

Right. , so as, as soon as a mistake happens in practice, you stop. If you don’t let them work through the mistake, well, how are they supposed to learn how to make the next play in a game? If every time they make a mistake in practice, you stop the action. Or if you’re telling them okay X to Y to Z, like that’s the drill like X, Y, Z, ?

And I see college coaches that they call that a [01:22:00] decision-making drill. I’m like, no, no. You’re telling the player what to do. Just because you stand there with a hand up, but you’re telling them to, to shoot over your hand that they’re not making a decision, like to make a decision. They have to have the actual choice of shooting the ball or not shooting the ball.

Shooting the ball or passing the ball. And, and so even if you’re doing a defended shooting drill,  like one of our warm-up drills just basic partner shooting, but we’ll close out just put a little bit of pressure. Right. , there’s no decision there.

I mean, we, we ultimately add the decision, but , initially I’m telling you, if you catch the ball, you’re shooting, okay. I’ve made the decision, right. That player hasn’t made the decision to shoot. They know if they catch the ball they’re shooting. Right. And so then we will generally add, okay, well, if the, the closeout is taken away, your shot, don’t take a bad shot.

, that’s where, and then we practice our mid-range pull-ups there, so, okay. I [01:23:00] have to close out. It’s too close. It takes away your shot. Okay. Then we’re going to dribble into a, into a pull up, but still I I’m telling them what shot to shoot. Right. So there’s a small decision judging the closeout, whether or not I have space to shoot or not.

Really the coach is making most of those decisions. Right. I’m telling them how to catch if you’re open, you’re shooting, if not, you’re dribbling to mid range. Right. So it’s limited. And so, so again, that’s kind of the beginning process of learning to make decisions and then, then you would load you more.

Now you put a third player in the drill, so they’ve got the passing option, right. Then you put the fourth player. So now you have two defensive players, ? And, and so you build like that. And that’s how whether you’re talking about shot selection, whether you’re talking about , a two on one fast break, whether you’re talking about , whether to finish at the rim or make the pass out all of these things to me, that’s basically.

 [01:24:00] how you do it you start initially kids have to learn the basics so they have to learn a little bit of, what’s a layup what’s a pass, et cetera, et cetera so you have a little bit of undefended , practice, but with the goal should be to get beyond that undefended practice as quickly as possible.

And also to realize that you can always regress a drill, you don’t always have to progress. So if I and like with teams that generally doesn’t happen because I’m I’m aware of my team and what their abilities are. So I can pretty much target where we want to start but like it camps, I might go into a camp and think players are going to be at level five and then we start.

So I start with let’s say a level five drill. And so let’s say I’m going to skip basically, and we’re going to go straight to kind of defended layups. And then I started watching, oh, wow. Yeah, we need to step it back to the other [01:25:00] three. We’re not ready for level. Fuck, let let’s let’s let’s do a little bit work on layups and let’s, let’s talk about what are different kinds of lamps that we could use so that we’re not getting called for charges every time.

And we’re not just taking the ball straight to a bigger player and putting it right into their hands. What are the options? , if that player’s beaten you to the spot if the player’s already there, if it’s an, if it’s a help player versus a player on your back, like what are the different shots that we can take?

? And let’s, let’s, let’s try those a couple of times without that player. Okay. Now we’re going to put that defensive player back. Okay. And now that we’ve done some work where we’re, where you’re shooting the ball, it’s just a matter of making the choice of which, which shot. Right? So that’s a fairly simple, simple decision.

Well, now we’re going to have that second defensive player. Right. And so now you’ve got it. Well, do you stop a shoot jumps? Before you get to the defender or do you go all the way and create contact for Finch and then we’re going to create, or we’re going to have that second offensive player.

Well, now, as you’re going in, if you, if you draw that help defender, now [01:26:00] you’ve got that passing option. So instead of you taking a contested shot, that might be a good shot, depending on your skill level. Now you’re going to make the past potentially for a great shot,  or maybe they’re just going to hedge and they’re going to recover.

So really you need to keep the wall and make the lay up yourself. And so and then you add the third and the fourth and fifth, and that’s that’s to me, how, again, regardless of the skill offensively or defensively , it, it, you start with the simple ones and, and you progress it.

And then if we, if we progress it to where. Not successful, then we’re going to regress it a little bit, then we’re going to progress it again. And it’s, it’s this kind of continuum or spectrum that we want to work on and, and most of the time is spent somewhere in the middle. We don’t, we don’t spend a lot of time on the undefended isolated practice, but we also don’t spend a ton of time , again, depending on level and the full five on five, [01:27:00]  level most because you’re not going to get as many repetitions there.

, most of the time is spent making that initial decision making the initial play and then the past these kinds of things and, and doing it in 200 to 300, 3, 4, and four, this kind of situations aren’t going to best allow for that because you’re going to, you’re going to hit that sweet spot in terms of, of the difficulty and the complexity of the skill.

The game representative of the skill, but also maximizing the number of repetitions the players get for the skill. , that you might not be able to get in a five-on-five situation and as a coach, you can’t control the action a little bit better in a two on two or three on three. So you can, you can constrain the drill, constrain the game to focus on the skills that you want to focus on better than you can in a five on five a game.

So [01:28:00] for those. So to get back to the basic question of how do you, how do you build in decision-making basically to me, that’s, that’s what you do. , you, you want to extend your players. You want to find out where they are and then you want to extend them. And then you wanna push them a little further.

And when you push too far, then you want to come back and you want to keep them so that they’re successful most of the time but, but they shouldn’t be successful all the time. Because if they’re successful all the time, they’re not really learning anything new they’re just doing something that they can already do.

? And so there’s I got the, the equation from a Gary Klein book. , that there’s basically improvement comes from two ways. You can either reduce mistakes or you can increase options or increased creative, right. So in terms of making layups, I can get better so that I make a hundred percent of my traditional right-handed layups and that’s one way to improve.

But [01:29:00] another way that I can prove is improve is to be able to shoot a reverse layup and inside hand, lay up a goofy foot layup all these different shots. Every time I add a new layer to my, to my repertoire, that’s also improvement. And so too often in practice, we focus on reducing mistakes.

And not enough time on increasing the creativity or increasing options or, or increasing ways that we can exploit the situations

Mike Klinzing: [01:29:30] Ryan, that is great stuff. I feel like, honestly, we’ve touched on like 5% of, of what we could have gone into. This has been tremendously informative. We can’t thank you enough for taking the time out of your schedule to join us tonight.

Before we wrap up, I want to give you a chance to share where people can connect with you, whether that’s social media, email website, just give us where people can find out more about you connect with you, and then I’ll jump back in and wrap things up.

Brian McCormick: [01:29:59] Okay. Yeah. Probably [01:30:00] Twitter is the best at @brianmccormick on Twitter.

If you just message me I mean, sorry, if you whatever replier at me or whatever , I’ll respond and, and  usually I’ll just send you my number to contact me , I have 180 and websites. I’ve been told the Playmakers website, the form doesn’t contact form often doesn’t go through, it always works whenever I try to do it.

So I struggled to figure out the mistake and how to fix it. But I do know a lot of people have struggled with it. So if you try it and I don’t respond, like I genuinely respond within a day or so.  If I’m traveling, I’ll respond a little bit less quickly to that, just because I don’t check that email as much unless I have my laptop with me, so if I don’t respond within a day it means I missed something or I’m out of town or traveling or something.

And it’s best to hit me on Twitter. [01:31:00] and, and I’ll reach out that way.

Mike Klinzing: [01:31:01] Fantastic, Brian again, can’t thank you enough for spending some time with us. Definitely. Like I said, I feel like we left a lot on the table and maybe there’ll be an opportunity at some point in the future to bring you back on and talk more about some of the things that you’ve talked about and all your books.

And if you have a chance. People out there in our audience. If you get a chance to pick up one of Brian’s books, I’d highly recommend that you can just search him on Amazon as an author. And a bunch of his stuff will come up. It’s really, really excellent material for coaches. So tag it on Twitter,

Brian McCormick: [01:31:31] So it’s there. The link is on Twitter.

Mike Klinzing: [01:31:35] Jason is still alive. Brian. He’s still alive over there. So again, thank you. Really appreciate it. And everyone out there. Thanks for listening. And we will catch you on our next episode. Thanks.