Tips

"The person is the player"

A Robert Yanders quote cuts deep as we reflect on the impact your life can have on your game.

Often, we are told to shut out emotions as players. The ideal basketball player is always calm, cool, and collected. It is one thing to play with passion, but carrying feelings of sadness, anger, or even a carefree attitude onto the court can negatively impact your play. All of this may be true, but it is unrealistic to expect this from players at all times.

Whether or not you realize it, your life is affecting you on the basketball court. This can be a positive or negative thing. When things are going well in your life, you have less worries. Less worry means less distraction to take away from what you are doing in game-time situations. Basketball can be a distraction from life on its own, but life always finds its way into your thoughts and demeanor.

“The person is the player” is a favorite quote of The Basketball Movement’s Founder, Robert Yanders. Rob understands that players are more than just guards and forwards - they are people; sons, daughters, friends, students, employees, what have you.

This understanding is what makes Rob such a great coach. He cares for his players and knows that one way to improve on the court is to have a happy life.

Eliminating negativity from your life can be important for not just basketball, but everything you do. The issue with eliminating negativity is that it isn’t always possible. You can cut out toxic friends and influences, but some potentially negative aspects of your life may be more permanent.

It may be easier said than done, but it is important to try and shape the negativity into controlled aggression, motivation, and a competitive advantage. No one knows exactly what you’re going through besides yourself. If you must dwell on those issues, put a positive spin on them. Use things like basketball to enhance your life by making you rise above your problems. Not much beats the feeling of netting a shot, outrunning an opponent for a loose ball, or skying over everyone for a rebound. The harder you play, the more the issues of the world melt away.

There are hurdles to overcome in sport and in life. Sport is a very valuable learning ground for how to live your life in the best possible way.
— Lynn Davies

If things are generally positive in your life, you will naturally have fewer worries on the court. On the flip side though, you may have less reason to have an edge or play with a chip on your shoulder.

As a player, I (@WilHarrington) personally had a pretty carefree attitude. Win-lose-or-draw, I was about the same after each game. I was happy to have been able to play and not too concerned when I didn’t get subbed in as much as I would like. As a person, this contentment certainly seemed like a strength. As a player however, it resulted in a lack of drive that could hold me back in a competitive situation.

Positive thinking is more than just a tagline. It changes the way we behave. And I firmly believe that when I am positive, it not only makes me better, but it also makes those around me better.
— Harvey Mackay

Everyone is different. Each individual player has a unique situation and a unique way to cope. With Yanders Law and at The Basketball Movement, Rob Yanders and his coaches are able to bring out a competitive fire in complacent players like I used to be. They can also teach players with more difficult backgrounds to take what they feel may be holding them back and turn it into a monstrous drive to succeed.

Do your best to mold your life into what you want it to be. For help translating everything to the basketball court, reach out to your Yanders Law coaches or contact The Basketball Movement here!

Back to school for Law Nation

As our athletes head back to school, we hope that they remember to embody the lessons they learned with us over the summer!

For our Yanders Law family - Law Nation - we want to see a bunch of checks in the win column, but most importantly, we want to turn out successful men and women. When the red, white, or blue jerseys are on, it’s game time; locking in and taking care of business on the court is paramount. Off the court, many of the same lessons can still apply, and we hope our athletes strive to apply those lessons.

At the level of the game our athletes play (high school on down), education is ultimately the most important thing you can focus on from a developmental standpoint. Fitness, competition, and staying active are absolutely important, but if you’re educated, you will understand that and handle it one way or another anyway!

Basketball is obviously huge for us here at Yanders Law, but part of that is because we understand its use as a tool to craft better people. Character is one of the greatest things we hope to aid our athletes in. Not only do we want our guys and gals to focus on education this school year, but also how they interact with those around them.

Sports help to create leaders. Lessons learned through Yanders Law and basketball in general can easily transfer off the court. As our founder, Rob Yanders has said “Sport is the greatest metaphor for life.” This is because you experience so many highs and lows and learn how to deal with both. All of this is done as a part of a team, which amplifies each experience.

Homework, studying, and paying attention class may not always be the most fun things to do. However, these are the little pieces that add up to an important whole.

The more you can soak up and learn in school, the more ammunition you will have to deal with all of your endeavors in life. Even if you don’t think you will use everything from algebra in day-to-day life, be aware that learning to think in different ways is just as important of a takeaway. Grow your mind and reap the rewards.

Perhaps you will have an easier time wrapping your head around our plays next time you suit up! Sound crazy? You may be surprised how many of our best players are also fantastic students.

Bettering yourself in any way is a positive, so take advantage of your classes and show them that #LawNation work ethic. Make us proud!

Be willing to adjust your game

You may have a good way of doing things. Are you willing to adjust your methods to become great?

A lot of players have multiple things they are good at. Solid free throw shooting, decent assist to turnover ratio, and serviceable defense can make you a contributor for a team. A player should not settle for these things. Shooting free throws at 70 percent? You may have to take some expert advice and be willing to tweak your shot to get to 75 or 80 percent.

Especially when it comes to shooting, players are often too proud to admit that they need to adjust from their old way of doing things. There have been a few players that have made it far with unorthodox shooting motions, but few of them have been considered great shooters.

You could get away with funky shooting if you make up for it in other ways like say... Dwight Howard. But let's be honest, you likely aren't Dwight Howard.

Being able to step back and take advice from those who have played the game at a high level and closely monitored the successes and failures of other players a high levels - that is how you can improve.

To be a good or great player, you will need to be able to adapt to doing things the best way possible. Keeping a low, strong dribble will reap more rewards than dribbling loose and high. Being tall will help get rebounds, but working hard at pursuing and having a nose for angles will elevate your ability. Always be willing to improve.

We can always be average and just do what’s normal. I’m not in this to do what’s normal.
— Kobe Bryant

If you are already doing something your way or a prior mentor/coaches way at an impressive clip - that's great. A good trainer or coach can recognize that and allow you to keep doing your thing. However, if they advise you to tweak it slightly to improve consistency (like keeping your elbow in a bit more while you shoot), it can't hurt to listen and give it a legitimate try.

We may be biased, but results don't lie. The Basketball Movement is the premier training facility in this part of the country, with some of the best coaches and trainers. If you're already good, that's awesome - we love it. There is however an opportunity for you to become great and they would love to help you. Contact them here to take your game to the next level.

Player profiles: Centers

We wrap up our player profiles series with the players that put the five in starting five - the center.

Whether your team has a true center or not, someone in the starting five is technically playing the "five spot". The whole team cannot hang out on the perimeter, so it falls to the center by default to set up shop in the paint.

Like the other positions that we have discussed, there is no specific way to approach playing the center position. The traditional thought is that the center of a team is its leading rebounder and best rim-protector. Most centers in today's game can do more than just swat shots and grab boards, but there are still plenty of prominent examples of traditional players that we will go over.

The best centers are often still great rebounders, but scorers as well. We will breakdown "all-around" centers below that can do a bit of everything on the court.

We will be going over former and current NBA centers, but it is worth noting that there are some great centers to watch today in the WNBA as well. Candace Parker and Brittney Griner come to mind with former player Lisa Leslie being another great one to watch.

Traditional centers to watch

For all the talk about traditional centers going away in the age of the three-point shot, there are still plenty of examples of excellent traditional centers in the game. There are three high-caliber examples that quickly come to mind: DeAndre Jordan, Rudy Gobert, and Andre Drummond.

Jordan is a tenacious defender and rebounder. His poor free throw shooting is offset by the way he uses his length on both ends of the floor to make an impact. Drummond is the player to watch if you need a free clinic on rebounding the basketball. Rudy Gobert may be the best interior defender in the world. Watch the Frenchman Gobert to learn how to use defensive length and footwork to protect the strong and weak side of the paint.

A few more current examples of traditional centers in the NBA are Steven Adams, Clint Capela, Dwight Howard, and Hassan Whiteside who all make their impact with defense, rebounding, and hustle.

Known for his defense and teamwork more than his scoring, Bill Russell may be the top traditional center in history. Film on Russell may be scarce, but his 11 championships and winning ways speak loudly for his style of play.

All-around centers

By now you may have noticed a trend with these player profiles. You can have plenty of success as a player that focuses on specific skills, especially at lower levels of the game. More often than not though, it is the players that can do a bit of everything on the floor that are often the best at their position.

Even players like Shaquille O'neal, that has every appearance of a traditional center is more well-rounded than he may get credit for. Despite his massive size, Shaq could run the floor, pass, and make shots from mid-range-in with surprising finesse. Another Lakers great, Kareem Abdul-Jabaar is arguably the best all-around center for his defense, rebounding, and peerless scoring ability.

The list of former all-around centers is pretty long and impressive, including names like Hakeem Olajuwon, Moses Malone, David Robinson, and Patrick Ewing.

A few current well-rounded centers that are quickly ascending are Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid. Jokic is a great center to watch for passing out of the post while Embiid is great to watch for his post moves and shot-blocking. An underrated, but well-rounded center to watch today is Al Horford.

Two more of the best all-around centers in the game, Karl-Anthony Towns and DeMarcus Cousins are certainly great players to study up on for improving centers. Just don't emulate Cousins' technical count.

That does it for our player profiles! Take note of these players to watch as great examples at their positions. Stay locked into Yanders Law as we continue to give you player tips!

Player profiles: Point guards

This is the first of a five-part series about specific basketball positions. We will show you some examples of players to watch at each position, starting with point guard.

Point guards have long been described as "floor generals" on the basketball court. They are in charge of bringing the ball up the court to initiate offense. Typically, the point guard will determine which plays are to be run, or the coach will relay the plays through the point guard. Some of the best point guards are the equivalent of another coach on the floor.

In player profiles, we will give you a few examples of players to watch if you are a point guard or would like to become one. There are dozens of players that set great examples on the floor, especially in the pros (which this series will primarily focus on). We will pick out a few of the best in the game, or maybe some older players if there is adequate footage.

Let's open up with the more traditional point guard style:

Pass-first point guards

In the age of the three point shot, perimeter players are often attempting to emulate the likes of Steph Curry. Historically, point guards have been less scoring-oriented and more concerned with facilitation and assist-to-turnover ratio.

Many of the best pass-first point guards have retired, such as Jason Kidd or Steve Nash. Their highlights are still worth watching as well as more general game footage. Their ability to keep their head up while dribbling allows them to see every passing angle available on the floor.

There are still a few pass-first PG's left in the NBA. Mike Conely of the Memphis Grizzlies has come into his own as a scorer, but is still defensive and passing-minded. Future Hall of Famer, Chris Paul is a pass-first guy that is a terrific example if you are on a team that plays at a fast pace.

 Another example is Rajon Rondo. Rondo has had an up-and-down career, but when he is locked-in, he may be the best example of a pass-first PG you can learn from in today's game.

Scoring point guards

Being a point guard means you will have the ball in your hands a lot. When you have a lot of touches and can score, it is a great benefit for your team. You will naturally get assists as well, but scoring guards are typically relied on by their team more for points.

There are many examples of scoring guards in today's game. Steph Curry, Kyrie Irving, and the combo guard James Harden are some big-name examples. An often underrated theme between these guards is their ball-handling ability that allows them to shake defenders on the perimeter and get to the rim at will.

Another great example to watch is Damien Lillard. Dame "Dolla" is a no-nonsense scorer that leads his team with a competitive fire.

Somewhere in-between

Not everything is black and white in terms of labeling a point guard's style. If you are interested in being a facilitating point guard that is also a capable scorer, there are plenty of those options as well.

The ultimate do it all guard today is Russell Westbrook. Coming off of his third season averaging a triple-double, Russ is a great one to watch as he overcomes his point guard size to ferociously attack the glass, the defense, and anything that stands in his way. Despite his tenacity, he always has his eyes open for teammates as one of the league's top assist men.

Keeping your head in the game

Knowing and understanding various situations in the game of basketball can be the difference between winning and losing.

There is a lot that goes into understanding the sport of basketball. There is more to it than putting the ball in the hoop. Coaching and experience are two very important pieces involved in this understanding.

Yanders Law coaches will take you far. For individual help, The Basketball Movement can help to further a player's knowledge about many aspects of the sport. The nuances of ball-handling, shooting, and how to conduct yourself are a few examples.

Game-time situations come at you fast. Sometimes it is in those instances that you learn the most, whether you get it right or especially if you get it wrong.

I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.
— Michael Jordan

Even the most experienced can still falter

For all of your coaching, practice, and game-experience, you will still make mistakes. Overplaying passing lanes, trying too hard to thread a pass into the post, the list of possibilities is very long.

A player must keep track of what they can control. Always being aware of the time on the game clock (or shot clock), how many fouls you have, and the score are simple, yet important facets of the game.

Even a grizzled NBA veteran like JR Smith can still make basic mistakes. Don't be a JR Smith.

Keep your head in the game and control as much of what happens as you can. Mistakes will happen; the best players often average the most turnovers.

Don't sweat the small stuff, but also do not assume that you will make the correct decisions at all times. Take deep breaths, analyze as much of each situation as time will allow, and play the game.

To continue taking your game to the next level, keep checking back here or get in touch with the guys over at The Basketball Movement!

The little things add up

Never underestimate the power of the little things. Set hard screens, make sharp cuts, and communicate.

If you have been around Rob Yanders or the Yanders Law program for at least a few practices, you have already learned about the little things. As a true basketball mind, Rob appreciates full effort on a back cut as much as he does a pretty jumper. A hard screen is as likely to get him out of his seat as a ferocious dunk. If you are putting full effort into everything you do, you will be a standout.

To succeed at the little things in the game takes dedication. For starters, you need to know what you are doing. Pay attention in practice, study the game, and learn from your mistakes. Repetition is huge - often times, doing the little things just comes down to muscle memory. For all of those little things to become muscle memory, you will likely have to be a pro. Until then, it will take frequent, conscious effort.

One of the best things you can do to hold yourself accountable is to remain engaged. Don’t ball-watch, but remain in constant motion on offense. Be active off the ball. If you are driving hard, the ball will find you. If you are setting good screens, you will be a better teammate and improve the whole offense.

When it comes to defense, stay low, but make yourself big. That sounds tough, but just make sure you are always in the stance and staying strong. Keep your arms out (or into the opposing player) and your eyes wide open. If you are doing your best to be ready for anything, you are probably doing the little things.

To work on the little things that make basketball such an intricate, special game, you have to get in the gym. Repetition is key, but only if you are doing things the right way. Get with a trainer or coach that knows what they’re doing and will hold you accountable.

It is difficult to say without being too cliche, but the little things really do add up. All of them add up to a whole that benefits the entire team in a big way. Get after it!

Road trips: Traveling to games

Home court advantage is nice, but half the time or less (during spring and summer) , you will be traveling to play ball.

Traveling to games can often be the worst part about game day. Different teams and players approach this aspect in diverse ways, but it is certainly something that everyone has to deal with one way or another. Traveling short distances is nice, but you may want more time to get in the zone. Traveling long distances is the most challenging, because your mind can wander, you could stiffen up, or frankly, you could get bored.

The time and distance between you and your destination can seem insignificant next to the game, shootaround, practice, and so on. While the order of importance of these things can be debated, the travel time is still just one more thing that you must prepare for.

It’s not the will to win that matters. Everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.
— Paul "Bear" Bryant

Some coaches encourage quiet trips to games. They see chit-chat, laughter, or what have you as distracting from the task at hand. Others may take no issue with it, as it may be seen as camaraderie that contributes to team building. As usual, when in doubt, do as coach says.

As a general rule, it is probably okay to chat with your teammates, but you need to try and keep it in the realm of basketball. Talking about your strategy, plays, or opponent/scouting report are all great ways to pass the time. Even talking about basketball in general, be it NBA, WNBA, NCAA… you are still thinking about the sport you are about to go play.

Another good way to pass the time is listening to music; the genre or artist is of course up to you. For some, it may be beneficial to listen to something a bit more relaxing if you tend to get nervous or worked up before a game. For many, something that elevates your adrenaline a bit like rap or rock is preferable. Find something in your sweet spot and stick with it.

Stiffening up on a long road trip can be a tough issue to avoid. Stretching is important here as it is in so many other aspects of basketball. Even if it is rotating your ankles, straightening out your back or legs, or rotating your neck, it isn’t a bad idea to maintain a little movement on the way every so often. Once you’ve arrived, remember that it is never too early to start stretching out.

Some road trips will be extra long. Sometimes you may even travel to a distant town and not play until the next day. In those instances, it is perfectly fine to relax a bit. Listen to what you want, joke around, so on and so forth. As much as possible though, stay locked in on the task at hand and stay mentally ready to do your thing come game time.

For more tips, team news, and more, keep checking back right here!