THE "PERFORMANCE GAP"
Basketball is life! On a smaller, less consequential scale. For those of us fortunate enough to compete, basketball is a playground in which we harden truths that transfer into every other context of our lives! This is no more evident than in the GAME OF LIFE podcast provided.
David Nurse (NBA Skills Coach/Speaker) and Alan Stein (Basketball Performance Coach/Speaker/Author) discuss the mentality of those who perform at their peak each and every day. What stood out to me in this conversation was Stein's explanation of "THE PERFORMANCE GAP".
We already know enough right now to be a hell of alot more successful. The reason we aren't is what I like to call the PERFORMANCE GAP! The PERFORMANCE GAP is the gap between what we know and what we do. Just because you know doesn't mean you do. The key to improving performance is to close that gap!
Alan Stein - Game of Life Podcast with David Nurse (2019, 18:03-22:42)
WHAT WE KNOW vs. WHAT WE DO: A Practical Application
There are a great many contexts in the game of basketball that allow a coach to address the "Performance Gap". None seems as parallel to the concept as the skill of what we call "Closing the Gap". For this reason, teaching this skill early in the season is a great way to introduce the Performance Gap concept.
CONTACT is CONTROL: CLOSE THE GAP!
One concept we want to instill in our players is that establishing appropriate contact puts us in control of our opponent. In order to establish appropriate contact, players must first know when and how to close gaps between themselves and their defender. Below are three related contexts in which it is the players responsibility to close gaps and establish control of their opponent through contact. It is within these "Close the Gap" scenarios that will be utilized in bringing players to recognize the concept of "The Performance Gap"
VEER TO FINISH
Here is an example of how closing the gap allows a player to control and create seperation on the drive when battling with the defender to cut off the recovery angle.
PUT 'EM IN JAIL
Here we see how contact might be used once the defenders recovery angle is severed. The advantage here is that it buys the ball handler time to read the situation and make a decision. This can be applied any time the defenders recovery angle has been severed.
Here you can see the concept of closing the gap to sever the defenses recovery angle in transition. Though this may not have been executed perfectly in this case, the concept is evident.
THE GAMES APPROACH: Context is Everything
For players to fully understand when and how to utilize specific skills, they must learn within the context of the game. As such, best practice requires the utilization of the games approach. In doing so, a game is modified to highlight a particular game context that requires the determined skill. Players are first put into to game to experience the context. Play is stopped to explain what they are seeing and to break down and rep out the correct responses. Players then return to the original game to apply their newly developed/refined skills.
Game Situation One: 1v1 Check
Players begin by play 1 on 1 from the point. The defensive player places the ball on the floor. Once the offensive player picks up the ball the game is live. The offensive player has limited dribbles (1-2) to score. Offensive rebounds are live. Defense must finish the D (rebound/steal/offensive violation) to complete the possession.
1) Ball Pressure.
2) Force offensive player outside the elbows.
4) Finish the D (Box-out)
1) Triple Threat. If necessary, create space with space step (Contact).
2) Utilize fakes to sell opposite (shift/stand-up the D)
3) Attack the front foot.
4) Travel in Straight lines (beat the defender between the elbows).
Skill Breakdown: Closing the Gap with Veer Finishes
Explain that we can control our opponent through correct contact (Contact is Control). Of course the goal of the defender is to stay between the offensive player and the hoop. When beaten, it is the defenders job to recover. This means that when the ballhandler gains a one second advantage on their defender, they want to maintain it. This is done by closing the gap to sever the defenders recovery angles.
The Drill: Part One
- The coach will set offensive players up in a one second advantage scenario (Offense should to hip on the defense).
- With the pads the coach or a manager will seve as the recovering defender trying to recover.
- On the coaches "Go" the offensive player will close the gap to sever recovery angles while dribbling to the rim.
- The offensive player will finsh with a strong two foot stop at the rim. No shot.
The Drill: Part Two
- Various finishing possibilities based on defensive reactions will be demontrated and repped out.
- Create space to power finish.
- Ceate space with 1 foot finish.
- Euro step againt defenders momentum.
Return to Game Situation One: 1v1 Check
Now that players understand how to react to the context, put them back in the original game situation so they can apply their new skills.
Game Situation Two: 1v1 Chase
Players begin at the outlet with the offensive player in front of the defender. The ball handler dribbles to, and around a cone on the closest side of the centre circle, turns the corner and attacks the basket in the end which they came from. The defender sprints to a cone on the opposite side of the centre circle, turns the corner and attempts to recover to the basket in the end from which he came. This should give the ball handler a 2-3 second advantage in the open court.
- Ball control
- finishing in the open court.
- Hustle to recover in transition.
Skill Breakdown: Closing the Gap to put the defender in jail.
Remind players that "Contact is Control". In this situation contact also ensures the safety of both players as well. Even when we are ahead in the open court, it can be beneficial to sever the defenses recovery angle and slow down to contact them. This is followed by the offensive player creating seperation when nearing the rim through acceleration.
Connecting Concepts: Closing the Performance Gap on and off the court
The third game situation will be given to players in the next training session. The concept of closing the gap to sever the defenders recovery angle is still the focus, but in this case, there will be no additional skill development required. Players know what to do because we have addressed how to VEER and how to PUT EM IN JAIL. They simply need to close the Performance Gap to do what they know. Inevitably, many if not all the players will forget to apply the skill worked on just one session before.
At this point, practice will be stopped. Discussion of the "Performance Gap" will take place.
Players will be asked:
- In the game of basketball, have you ever known the right thing to do, but you still didn't do it?
- Why not?
- Is this concept true in your life as well? When things are hard, do we sometimes not do what we know to be right?
It will be explained that taking control of your life is not unlike taking control of your defender. When we close the gap to make WHAT WE KNOW and WHAT WE DO, we put ourselves in the driver's seat. This leaves nothing within our control to chance. We control the controllables!
TAKE-AWAYS: Players should come to know that we as a team have everything we need to be successful. We simply need to act upon what we know to be right. If we can get better at recognizing when we fail to do so, and re-focus on doing what we know, improvement as individuals and a group will come.
HOMEWORK: The Game of Life podcast link will be shared with the players via the teams communication application.
EXTENSION: The concept of the performance Gap should be revisited in any practice or game when players do not do what they know. Stop them. Ask what they should have done. If they don't know, correct them. If they do, simply state "CLOSE the GAP!".
Game Situation Three: