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Eliminate Travels By Focusing On 1 Thing!

Traveling is the most common turnover I have seen over the course of my basketball career. The funny part is that most players don't even realize that they are traveling. The closeout is supposed to be one of the hardest things to guard on defense, but often times the offense makes it the easiest play to guard when they catch a kick out pass from a teammate on the perimeter, shot fake and then attack the basket hard blowing by the defender, only to hear a half second later the whistle blow. Players then tend to throw their hands in the air with a look of confusion on their face until the ref signals...."Traveling". Frustration piles on as game after game they are called for the same violation and they start to realize how many more points they would have scored if they were more disciplined in regards to footwork and its fundamentals.

Now, this is easier said than done as breaking bad habits is not easy to do in a high school player or someone who has had these habits engrained for a long time. But in order to save this player from spending anymore time on the bench due to turnovers, we must address the problem. The first thing I would do is go right to the film. Again, often times players don't realize what it is they are doing so just telling them to stop traveling is not always effective, especially with younger players.

So instead of telling them, we will show them. Every time they pick their pivot foot up before the ball hits the floor and prove that the refs aren't wrong...most of the time. Now that they can visually understand the mistake, we can begin to drill it on the floor. My biggest emphasis to players is to focus on playing off of your dominant pivot foot. Unless you are super advanced and highly skilled most of us can easily determine which leg is our strong pivot based on comfortability and what comes natural. For righties, the dominant pivot is typically your left foot and for lefties their right.

There may be some rare cases where a right handed player is more comfortable on their right pivot because they have been doing it for so long, it's a habit, and depending on how far along they are in their career it might actually be detrimental to their progress to force them to switch back. So instead, we work with what we have to ensure that they play off of that same leg 90% of the time. There will be instances where they might catch on the run or off balance and end up on their "weaker" pivot but for the most part they should focus on consistently catching on that strong pivot.

Once we master planting and playing off of that strong pivot, we can work that specific drive action that most players fall subject to traveling in. The biggest focus is to ensure that the first dribble happens before or at the SAME time that the "non pivot" or lead foot steps. Put the ball down EARLY! After saying and demonstrating this simple concept to players, more times than not, the lightbulb turns on and they understand and can now be accountable. Once you show the player the film and explain the statement above, they can begin to make a change. Spend 10 minutes a day passing them the ball off a drive and then closing out hard, mixing up whether you want them to attack right away, shot fake or even use some jab and go moves. Record ALL OF IT. Go back to the film, evaluate and continue to progress.

Now I know this isn't anything life changing in terms of innovation, but in my opinion the majority of travels in women's basketball come from this scenario, and it needs to be addressed. When a player can visually see their mistake, understand what's causing it and then apply a SIMPLE technique or saying that can hold them accountable for this mistake, it really is a weight off their shoulders knowing that they now might be able to get those 2-6 points back without hearing a whistle blow.

Jen Fay

Blog #4

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