August 16, 2018
NEW BERLIN, Wis. – My favorite way to catch up with former players is to do what I call a reverse workout. Go to the gym to shoot and work, but more importantly, talk about their past and upcoming seasons, joke about old times, and let me pick their brain about new ideas, skill development trends, and pop culture references I don’t understand. Unlike regular skill sessions, I get to be the listener and learner. It's a great way to reconnect and I always take away something new and exciting.
This past spring, Reed Timmer finished his collegiate career as Drake’s all-time leading scorer and signed on to play professionally in Germany with Tigers Tübingen. He recently joined me in the gym to share some of the wisdom and knowledge he’s gained in his four years at the NCAA Division I level. Here are a few takeaways from our session together:
I had been toying with the idea of breaking down advanced “first step footwork” into simpler drills to introduce younger players to certain easier concepts. After talking walking through some of Reed’s go-to moves, it became clear just how important footwork efficiency is to overall quickness. Sure, players can get quicker through plyometrics, weight training, and agilities, but the quickest way (no pun intended) to a faster first step is EFFICIENT and SMART footwork. Reed does it better than anyone. When you watch his highlights, his moves are simple movements with flawless and efficient footwork.
All-Time Leading Scorer at Drake University
2,000 Career Points
2017-18 MVC Top Scorer
2 time MVC Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year
1st Team All Conference
CoSIDA Academic All-American
41.3% 3-PT Shooter
with Tigers Tübingen
Scorer at Eisenhower
We talked about some drills and ideas to help young players understand and learn these concepts…and what we came up with is going immediately into my workouts.
After 15 seasons of basketball, you can imagine how many coaches and trainers Reed has worked out with. We discussed what concepts and approaches lead to actual growth and success for him as a player. “If you watch your game and you see zero of the complicated double and triple moves you spent hours drilling, then you’re not getting anything out of those sessions” he told me. So what actually creates a player’s ability to improvise a successful and complex combination move?
First, players need to master the underlying simple moves and footwork of each individual move of the combination. When coaches move to complex moves before their players have mastered the basics, they create only the illusion that the player is capable of executing the complex move against live defense (and not a cone). Once the player has a solid foundation of fundamental concepts, they then need to develop their own creativity and instincts by playing against live competition. Your young players will create and execute moves you never even dreamed of. Trying to instill complex creativity using cone drills is like trying to build a house using pictures of tools.
SIMPLE MASTERY DRIVES COMPLEX CREATIVITY
Reed was kind enough to hang around for my next workout with one of my 7th graders. I’ll never get tired of seeing my older players give their time to work and help a younger player. But more importantly, young players receive a colossal dose of motivation when they learn directly from a successful older player that they look up to. This is especially true when smaller kids get to watch and learn from Reed, who put together such a vast list of accomplishments at only 6’1...including this awesome four-point play game winner. “If he can do it, so can I.”