Reminder: Keep your cell phone away from the court

Even with some upsets, one of the oddest takeaways from day one of the NBA Playoffs was a player on the bench looking at his cell phone.

In the very first game of the 2019 NBA Playoffs, there was a strange moment in which the camera captured Joel Embiid and Amir Johnson looking down at Johnson’s cell phone. This didn’t happen pre or postgame, or even in the locker room. This occurred on the bench during the game with their 76ers squad trailing the lower-ranked Nets.

Amir Johnson was listed as “inactive” for the game. Embiid was “doubtful” to play, but still showed up and had some decent numbers despite poor shooting. The Nets did go on to upset the Sixers in Philly, taking game one.

Whether he was active or not, Johnson violated the NBA Operations Manual for “Use of Technology”. After the game, Joel Embiid stated that he looked at Johnson’s phone because his daughter was extremely sick. That makes the situation more understandable, but Johnson clearly didn’t alert the team, which fined him for having his phone after the incident.

No-matter the circumstances, this incident serves as a good reminder for our squads that cell phones have no business around a basketball court. During practice or games, attention needs to be on the task at hand. There may be instances that a phone is necessary to have a link for important things happening off the court. In those situations, a coach needs to made aware of the necessity.

In the age of social media and tech, phones and other devices are ubiquitous. They have become an unavoidable part of society. That said, there must still be boundaries and a basketball court is certainly one of those.

It is okay to be plugged in, but not at the expense of a team or moments that demand full attention.

One-on-One: Chris Ward, new Trainer and Coach

The Basketball Movement and Yanders Law are excited to announce the hiring of Yanders Law alum, Chris Ward as a Trainer and Coach.

Yanders Law is selective in it’s hires, and we know exactly what we are getting in Chris Ward. Chris has been coming around the gym and working with Robert Yanders long before Rob bought the facility and turned it into The Basketball Movement. Ward was among the first to play under the Yanders Law banner and has been involved with what Rob has been doing ever since.

“Being on Rob’s first Yanders Law team, it’s great to come back and get to be around the other generations” said Ward. He is not only a Yanders Law alumni, but a familiar face for many area hoops fans as well. Ward’s jersey is retired at Kickapoo High School where he was an All-District and All-State player.

Chris went on to play at Philander Smith College in Little Rock and even played professionally in the Republic of Georgia for a while. He knew that his passion for basketball was well-suited for training and coaching, so he came home and is now back where it all began.

Knowing Rob since he was 10 and playing with him since he was 14, Chris says that it is incredible to see what Rob has built since then. He recalls winning a lot of games with Yanders Law in high school. Those are times you don’t forget - especially with so many takeaways that come from working with Yanders.

Playing for Rob was and is worth it. He teaches you consistency and that hard work can take you lots of places. Summer workouts, everything, it all sticks with you. Rob is all about character and using basketball as a tool to give you a better life. It all stems from hard work.
— Chris Ward

Ward says that he is going to be giving lessons, doing strengths and conditioning, and helping to run clinics in addition to becoming a Yanders Law Coach. “It’s a job, but I get to be working every day with people that want to be better” says Ward. “Basketball is everything to me; it makes it easy to get up in the morning. So yeah, it’s a job, but it doesn’t feel like it to me.”

Asked about his training/coaching style, Chris says that he will naturally emulate Yanders. “I mean, I’m just going to do what I’ve learned from Rob over so many years.” He says that he is loud, energetic, and quick to relate to the players because he has been in their shoes. “As a coach, I like fast pace. I want to really see my players getting up and down the floor.”

Having played for Robert Yanders, Ward knows the meaning of “hard work” and it is probably not a term he would use lightly. Players that get to work with Ward will experience second-hand Yanders intensity, so they will need to come ready.

The Basketball Movement and Yanders Law are thrilled to help Chris Ward bring his basketball journey full circle. Watching players pursue their passion (basketball or otherwise) is one of the greatest feelings for coaches, trainers, and anyone else that is a part of our organizations. He will be another tremendous asset to our team.

Welcome aboard, Chris!

Appreciation - Yanders Law

Within Yanders Law, there is an emphasis on producing not only better players, but better people as well.

Too often in today’s game, players struggle to appreciate everything that is done for them. Players tend to see coaches, teachers, and guardians as little more than tools in place to help them improve. While coaches certainly do their best to help players improve, the good ones go out of their way to make sure that they are enriching the player’s lives beyond just the sport of basketball.

The amount of time that goes into being a successful coach is often dismissed because it revolves around a sport/game. People and players do not always stop and consider that coaches are putting in the time because they want to help young people grow in many ways using the sport they are coaching.

(Click here for more on Rob Yanders and how Yanders Law strives to set excellent examples for its players)

It is true that basketball coaches do what they do because they love it. Even so, good coaches are deserving of your gratitude. If a coach, assistant, ball boy, bus driver, or anyone in between has taken the time to help you get where you are - thank them.

The occasional “Thank you” can go a long way. Not only do coaches or anyone else truly love to hear it, but it can help to further connections that you have with these people. A coach-player relationship is symbiotic. That means that it is mutually beneficial for both parties. If the coach does improve not only your game, but your future, they deserve your thanks. Likewise, player successes are also coach successes. Take the time to appreciate each other.

Speaking of thankless jobs, don’t forget to stop and appreciate parents/guardians as well. The hours, days, and years that they put in working, raising you, feeding you, covering your teams dues, buying equipment, and driving around deserve so much thanks. It is true that as parents or guardians, they have certain responsibilities. That does not mean that their hard work should go unnoticed. Players, these individuals in your lives deserve appreciation. Remember to thank them as often as you can.

Parents and guardians - remember that the grind doesn’t stop for you either. You have already put in so much time and effort, but you know well that those responsibilities don’t take days off. You are so lucky to have these players in your life. Soak up all of the good times and stay strong through the bad - your kids don’t stop needing you.

In speaking with Yanders Law’s founder, Rob Yanders, he describes that parent’s roles with their player are almost always bigger than either of them even realize.

In helping get these kids through the recruiting phase, many people don’t realize that the guardians are being recruited and interviewed too. Parents often serve as a window into the player’s background and personal life. Recruiters don’t underestimate these roles and neither should the families.
— Robert Yanders

You will have many relationships in your life. Some will be personal, some will be professional, and all of them should be handled with care. Take time to appreciate everyone that has been a part of your journey. Aside from personally reflecting on these relationships, go out of your way to thank the individuals involved.

In a time in which some players may feel entitled, stand out as someone that coaches and other individuals want to help because you are so grateful. Never stop grinding - on the court or in life!

Playing for a tough coach or with a difficult teammate

You can pick your friends, you can pick your nose, but you can't always pick your teammates or coach. Or something like that.

If you have played a sport for any length of time, you have likely already encountered either a tough coach or teammate. Teams consist of many different styles, attitudes, and demeanors. In some ways, this is what makes team sports special. Sometimes though, it can be really hard to adjust to.

You will have teammates over the years that will not play hard. Some may not even have any desire to play at all. Some will hog the ball, others may pick on you at practice. These things will seem very difficult to get over in the moment, but in the long term, you will be better for it. Not only as a player, but as a person.

These people will not be limited to sports, but all aspects of life. You will experience many of the same personality traits someday at work, or in social situations. Learning to roll with the punches and taking the high road is not easy, but it is a key part of growth.

Ask not what your teammates can do for you, ask what you can do for your teammates.
— Magic Johnson

Not meshing with your coach

Not always getting along with teammates is one thing. Those are your peers that you share many of the same circumstances with. Even more difficult is experiencing a coach that rubs you the wrong way or that you do not see eye-to-eye with.

It is easier said than done, but this situation must be treated similarly to the teammate issue above. Taking the high road in a situation where you are the subordinate is a very backwards-feeling scenario.

If your coach is on you for no reason, stand tall and do not let him/her get a rise out of you. If you are not getting minutes or situations that you deserve, keep grinding until everyone in the gym can clearly see the mistake. Learning to turn the other cheek to those in positions of authority will pay off exponentially as far as your growth as a person.

Know when things have gone too far

Standing tall and not retaliating is the go-to response when you encounter these tough situations. That does not mean that you should just allow yourself to be bullied or harassed. If you feel that things have gone to far with a teammate, bring it up to them. If that does not resolve the issue, it may be time to approach the coach.

If the coach is the problem, discuss it with someone that you trust. A lot of coaches are intense people, and it may just be that they get a bit too passionate about the sport or getting the most out of their players. If it is going beyond that or becoming personal, it may be time to voice your concerns to someone with the ability to resolve the situation.

For examples of great coaches, a player-first atmosphere, and a true team mentality, you are in the right place and Robert Yanders is your man. Contact us at basketballmovemet@yahoo.com to get involved in our program!

Focus on strengths - Insulate weaknesses

You know what you are good at and you know what needs work. Which is more deserving of attention?

As a player, unless you are blinded by supreme confidence, you are aware that you are not perfect. Perhaps you have never been the best shooter or maybe you are an undersized post-player. You also know where you shine on the court or in the locker room.

With something like the sport of basketball, it is easy to get caught up in the areas that need improvement. This is not always a bad thing, there are always opportunities to elevate skill level, but do not forget also to focus on your strengths that set you apart.

Players like Shaquille O'neal and DeAndre Jordan have been mercilessly criticized for their free throw shooting woes. They are also heavily applauded - Shaq was an NBA MVP and DeAndre Jordan was 1st team all-NBA last year. You see where we are headed with this?

Focus on what sets you apart

Shaq was not a great free throw shooter, but it did not matter because he was so dominant in other facets of the game.

If you are a great shooter, keep working on shooting. Never fully ignore any one aspect of the sport, but stay sharp and keep improving even your best qualities. The all-time great shooters were not content with being decent. They still practiced shooting every single day. 

Even if you are hyper-focused on strengths, do not forget:

Insulate weaknesses to make sure you do not fall behind

Just because you are focused on what sets you apart does not mean you can ignore the other aspects of the game. You can become a great shooter, but coaches will be hesitant to play you if you never bothered to work on defense.

Not everyone can be fast. Stay in shape and keep your conditioning at the best level you can, but do not sweat it too much if you are struggling to improve foot speed. Focus instead on foot work and body positioning to insulate this weakness. Then, get right back to focusing on what sets you apart.

Great rebounders practice rebounding. Glue guys focus on defense and ball-movement. Shooters get up hundreds of shots. Be a well rounded player, but make sure your best skills are kept the sharpest for your team.

Shooting: Extending to three-point range

In today's game, it is almost impossible to get by without a shooting touch. Is a three-point shot realistic for you?

For a long time, three-pointers were reserved for point guards and shooting guards. Post players would be chastised for daring a shot attempt beyond 16-18 feet from the rim. In today's game however, big players are getting faster, handling the ball better, and showing finesse in their shot attempts. For guards, shooting has become even more important to hang with such players.

The saying goes: "The grass is always greener on the other side." Players that can shoot would give anything to be a powerful dunker the same way a powerful dunker wishes they could shoot (though of course some can do both). Needless to say, most players wish they could drain threes from anywhere like Steph Curry.

Shooting, especially long-range shooting, is not an inherent talent. Shooting takes years of work to perfect. Players do not start out shooting from deep either. Before you can hit threes, you need to be able to hit deep two-pointers. Before deep twos, mid-range shots should be no-problem. Before that: shots in the paint.

This applies not only to young players, but also current ones that would like to extend their range. You must be able to hit mid-range before long balls the way you must be able to walk before you can run.

Determining if you are a three point shooter

No one can stop you from working on outside shooting. However, if your coach says "Stay in the paint", then stay in the paint and practice everything that they tell you while you are on their watch. Sometimes if you want to branch out, you must do it on your own time. Get in a gym - maybe one with a basketball shooting gun at its disposal... The Basketball Movement may be able to help with that part.

As mentioned previously, you can't become a deep-threat overnight. Extending your range must be a gradual process. Get comfortable hitting mid-range jumpers from everywhere on the floor. Once you are fully comfortable and efficient from that range, reward yourself with some three-point shots. Just make sure you are practicing the right way.

For many young players it is a matter of strength. If heaving up threes takes you out of your traditional shooting motion, it might be a little early. Keep working on your strength and shooting from shorter distances. Patience is a virtue.

If you are already an established player looking to extend your range, seek guidance to make sure that you are starting the right way in terms of form, focus point, and situational awareness (contact The Basketball Movement to get started).

Outside shooting is not for everyone, so do not get discouraged if it doesn't work out. There are always other skills that you can work on to make you the best player you can be. You may possess abilities or qualities that other players wish they had, so focus on your strengths and keep grinding.

Dealing with referees

Referees have the impossible task of trying to point out every reasonable instance that rules are not followed. Sometimes, they get some things wrong.

If you have been around basketball at any level, for any amount of time, you have seen a referee miss calls or misinterpret infractions. Whether they are youth sports volunteers, part-time high school refs, or professionals, they all make mistakes just the same.

In a competitive atmosphere such as basketball, it is not tough to get heated when things like calls aren't going your way. Turnovers and mental errors are within your control as a player, but when something outside of your control like not getting calls starts happening, it can take you out of your zone. What are you supposed to do in these scenarios?

Sometimes it may be easier said than done, but you must always do your best to shrug-off bad calls and not let them get to you. Referees are human, and are prone to make the same types of errors with calls that players sometimes make with the basketball. Keeping your head in the game and not letting referees get to you is the best thing that you can do for your team.

Never let your emotions overcome you by slamming the ball, throwing your hands up, or verbally displaying your frustration. These things show your opponents weakness. If a foul call, accurate or inaccurate, can get under your skin, so can an opposing player.

Maintaining a next play mentality is a key in the game of basketball. If you get called for a charge or travel, give up the ball and try to make up for it on defense. If you are called for a bad foul, shake it off and be a little more careful next time, but still play hard. One of the worst things you can do for your team is start to accumulate technicals and take yourself out of the game, so always keep your cool.

Malicious referees

Once again - refs are people too. They are not only prone to some mistakes, but some other human flaws as well. Rarely, you may cross paths with a referee or two that make things too personal. Maybe they have a bias toward one team that skews the whistle blowing. Maybe they don't like your face. Hey, I'm sure you have a great face, but not all refs are going to be great people.

How do you handle these kinds of refs? Glad you asked! You handle them the same darn way.

The number one thing you can do if you feel like "getting back" at a terrible ref is to be unflappable. When someone is trying to get under your skin, keeping your cool and acting like you don't even notice is the best way to make them feel ridiculous.

The crowd may be getting rowdy as well as your teammates or coach. Parents - calling out refs from the stands will likely just make matters worse. They aren't going to reverse any calls; don't give them a reason to prolong their biased whistle blowing. Players - if your teammates are getting heated, go cool them off. Get between them and their issues, make eye-contact, and explain to them that their energy is needed for the game.

The individuals most equipped to deal with these situations are the coaches. Coaches - you need to keep your cool as well. Feel free to engage in occasional conversations with the refs, but don't scream. If you act reasonably, the refs are more likely to respond reasonably.

There have been some unfortunate instances of emotions boiling over recently that have been floating around online. Some have even turned physical. Remember, keep your cool and let your play and demeanor do the talking. We all want to win, but at the end of the day, the players, coaches, fans, and even referees are their because we all love the GAME.

Love the game

It’s Valentine’s Day, so Yanders Law wants to remind you to love what you do - especially basketball!

Keeping a love of the game of basketball is very important when striving to become a great player. Loving what you do does not have to only apply to basketball or other sports - it is important to love your job, your life, or whatever motivates you to be great.

We hear from the pros all the time about their love for the game or occasionally how they fall out of love and drift away from the sport. Love for the game is a common theme from the top-tier athletes.

Almost everyone likes sports, but it takes true passion to be in the gym for hours each day perfecting your craft.

The game of basketball has been everything to me. My place of refuge, place I’ve always gone where I needed comfort and peace. It’s been the site of intense pain and the most intense feelings of joy and satisfaction. It’s a relationship that has evolved over time, given me the greatest respect and love for the game.
— Michael Jordan

Do not be afraid to pour your heart into something like basketball. Even when your days as a player are over, the game gives back in unexpected ways. You can love watching the game, coaching the game, writing about the game (a personal favorite), and much more.

This Valentine's Day, cherish what you love. Have a little chocolate if you must, but don't forget to put down the box and get some free throws up too.

Happy Valentine's Day from Yanders Law!