Coaches Network: Teaching Footwork
In previous weeks, the USA Basketball Coaches Network has tackled more general issues – philosophy for the postseason, rules changes, etc. – but in the coming weeks we will ask them more specific questions about how to coach players on the court.
This week’s question:
How do you teach kids footwork?
• VIDEO: V Cuts
• VIDEO: One-Two-Step Drill
Brian Robinson, head coach, Bishop McGuinness High School (N.C.)
Teaching footwork is the foundation on which we build everything else. We start our sessions without a basketball to teach footwork on defense and then, on offense, we emphasize being efficient with their movements.
This basically means that we constantly repeat the proper foot to catch the ball on and then how to make a number of moves using the same pivot foot.
We actually have had some fun in the past with footwork as we've brought in a Zumba instructor to help with those who are "rhythmically challenged" -- what we are trying to teach on the basketball court is like attending a dance class (meaning proper steps in a proper order) with a basketball. Footwork is all rhythm, so we spend a lot of time teaching it to get the right "beat" without a lot of wasted steps or movement.
We remind players that proper footwork is like having good wheels on your car (or bike). You can have the best looking car in the world, but if your wheels are flat you are going anywhere.
Sue Phillips, head coach, Archbishop Mitty High School (Calif.)
When it comes to shooting footwork, there are three general schools of thought: permanent pivot foot, inside-pivot foot, or catch off the hop. While most coaches are insistent with their players about sticking to a particular technique, we believe in teaching our players a varied footwork approach. This will not only expand their skill set, but also improve their game-day adaptability and execution.
For example, given a penetrate-and-pitch situation, we teach the “hop-shot” on the catch. We believe it is quicker to get the shot off, and our players can utilize either pivot foot if they need to drive or pass. A teaching point for the “hop-shot” is to catch the ball in the air so as to avoid the travel call. On the other hand, off the bounce, we teach an inside pivot foot or a “one-two stop” for the mid-range jumper. We have found that our players are more explosive, execute the move with greater balance, and get into their shot quicker off the “one-two stop.”
Coming off a screen for a shot however, we encourage our players to determine their preference of either a “hop-shot” or “one-two stop.” Our players vary in their preference of footwork when coming off screens, but we expect them to identify their preference and drill it accordingly. As a side note, we have observed greater efficiency when our players utilize a “one-two stop” when they curl screens, but they are equally effective with a “hop-shot” when fading screens. Regardless of your school of thought, just remember shooting mechanics is poetry of the feet.
Don Showalter, head coach, Iowa City High School (Iowa)
Footwork should be taught as a part of every drill that is conducted in a practice session. We always start our practice with drills called “line drills,” where we work on inside and outside pivots, defensive footwork, shooting footwork and screening. We teach the shooting footwork with the one-two step and shoot when facing the basket and pivoting on the inside foot when catching the ball facing the sideline and pivoting into the shot. Footwork is an aspect of basketball that should not be overlooked as great footwork determines how well a player can function on the court.