Make Your Own Madness

A Guide to Home Basketball System.
 
Everyone who’s shot at a hoop in the driveway has done it. You shoot a 3-pointer, trying to replicate one of the most exciting plays in all of sports: the buzzer-beater. THREE! TWO! ONE! And everyone screams out the iconic final horn sound.
 
As spring gets into full swing and the sun shines a little longer each day, it’s no coincidence that you hear more basketballs bouncing on driveways across America. While college basketball’s best create madness on the court, it’s easy to create hardwood moments in your own driveway.
 
It doesn’t take much to have the essentials required to re-create that unforgettable Villanova game-winner from last year’s tourney. Thanks to Spalding, the Official Backboard of the Final Four, there are plenty of choices for any budget.
 
Baller Basics
 
Given so many different brands, types, materials and sizes, selecting the right basketball can sometimes be a challenging task. You’ll find indoor-only, which are often genuine leather or a leather composite; indoor-outdoor, providing a little more durability to withstand concrete surfaces; and outdoor-only, which are usually rubber and are the most durable for outdoor surfaces.
 
Ben Simms of Spalding suggests asking yourself, “Where am I going to be playing the most?”
 
Once that question is answered, he explained, all you have to do is check the packaging on Spalding products. Spalding.com has a module on their website that can help guide as well.
 
Portable Pros
 
There are countless benefits to adding a portable basketball system to a player’s arsenal. You can not only go out and shoot on a whim, but with the technological advances found in Spalding hoops, you can also move your hoop around. This lets you bring the game anywhere, from shooting around in the driveway to playing three-on-three in the street.
 
Portable systems help players of any age or skill level stay in tune and in top shape by having a hoop mere steps away. There’s nothing easier than picking up a ball and going outside.
 
“Athletes are training year-round to perfect their game,” said Simms. “Having an at-home backboard system allows athletes to stay active, perfect their shots, simulate plays or play a little friendly pickup whenever they want.”
 
A fantastic feature of Spalding’s “The Beast” system is undoubtedly its size and glass backboard material. At 60 inches, it’s only 12 inches shy of a regulation backboard. And the heavier, more durable glass backboard gives a truer bounce, leading to a more authentic shooting experience.
 
“The Beast is the first and only 60-inch glass portable,” explained Simms. “You can bring the arena straight to your driveway.”
 
Backboard to the Future
 
“After you have identified if you want a portable or an in-ground, there are four main categories we utilize to categorize the systems based on playability: glass, acrylic, polycarbonate and eco-composite,” said Simms. “Each of those are board materials, with glass being the best play and eco-composite being limited play.
 
Acrylic backboards feature a solid rebound and bounce, but they are not quite as strong as glass. Acrylic is, however, optimal for competitive play. Polycarbonate won’t give you as true of a bounce but is still a great option for shooting around with friends. Eco-composite won’t give you that gym-like shooting experience, but it will be a perfect start for that young college baller to be.
 
Every March, college basketball offers more than enough madness to go around. And it’s only the kickoff to springs and summers filled with dunks, 3-pointers and pickup marathons all over the country. From outdoor balls perfect for the driveway all the way to gym-like backboards like The Beast, Spalding offers the tools to create hours of mad moments this year.
 
Since the confetti has long fallen in Phoenix and a champion has been crowned, closing another March basketball tournament, grab your ball and some friends and get out to make your own moments. Remember, the clock is ticking: THREE! TWO! ONE!
 
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Greg Kelser’s 32 Tips to Improved Basketball

[Written by Greg Kelser].

 

The following are Greg Kelser’s 32 tips to improved basketball:

 

1. First and foremost, you must decide that you want to improve and then commit yourself to doing all that is required. You must realize that this is a process and results are not immediate.

 

2. Since the game of basketball involves many different facets, decide which areas require your most immediate attention. These are the areas you will want to devote most of your concentration in the beginning.

 

3. Determine the progress you hope to achieve and set your goals to meet those expectations. Remember to be realistic but challenge yourself.

 

4. Roadwork should be part of your basketball regimen. On days that you are not playing on the court you should run on a track or treadmill. Doing it at a brisk pace helps build stamina and endurance which is essential on the basketball court.

 

5. A customized weight training program should also be implemented to increase strength and help limit the potential for certain nagging injuries.

 

6. Stretching is a key element that should proceed your workout program. Stretching will increase your flexibility and also decreases the risk of pulled muscles and other muscle strains.

 

7. Get used to playing the game of basketball from a flexed knee or bent knee position. Everything you do in the game of basketball begins from this position. Whether you are dribbling, rebounding, shooting, passing, or defending, all will be accomplished from this stance.

 

8. Become a better ballhandler. Do this by understanding the importance of keeping the ball on the finger tips of your hands and not in the palms of your hands. Start with the basketball in your right hand and dribble 25 times with your head up and ball on your finger tips times. Switch to left hand and do the same. Repeat 4 times with each hand.

 

9. Once you’re comfortable with the above steps, alternate the basketball from one hand to the other (crossover style) remembering to keep it on the fingertips. Keep your head and eyes up as this will allow you to become comfortable with the basketball when its time to dribble on the move. Do 4 reps of 25 dribbles.

 

10. Now you’re ready to advance to the two ball drill which now places a basketball in each hand. Once again with your head up and your knees flexed, dribble the ball 25 times simultaneously remembering to keep it on your fingertips and out of your palms. Dribble as deliberately as necessary to maintain control.

 

11. When you become comfortable and efficient with the aforementioned exercises, now it’s time to do each on the move. Same amount of dribbles, same amount of reps but start each with a slow walk. Increase your speed as you become more adjusted understanding that it is more important to move slowly and control the ball as opposed to going fast and mishandling the basketball.

 

Much of success for rebounding involves desire, determination, & a consistent effort to go to the glass. After that, leverage, blocking out, and quickness to the basketball are all key elements.

 

12. Basic rebounding should always be done by using two hands. The use of two hands ensures control of the basketball even with your opponents slapping at the ball in the attempt to strip it away. To become comfortable with two handed rebounding simply take a basketball and toss it against the backboard. As it carroms off the glass jump from your flexed knee position and grab the ball with two hands. Do this on either side of the basket 20 times each then repeat. While this will encourage two-handed rebounding it will also increase stamina and strength in your legs.

 

13. Now that you’re comfortable snaring your rebounds with 2 hands, let’s work on offensive rebounding. You will do the same drill of tossing the ball against the backboard and jumping from your flex position to rebound it. This time however, you will take the ball back up immediately and score the basket. Do this exercise 10 times on each side of the basket. If you have a partner working with you feel free to have him stand next to you as you’re rebounding to bump you as you’re attempting your put back. This will allow you to get used to the contact thats common under the rim.

 

14. The best rebounders are not necessarily the highest jumpers. As I stated earlier, determination and desire often wins this battle but staying active on the glass is very important. The ability to be able to do multiple jumps as if you were on a pogo stick will help increase your rebound total. Jumping rope will improve your multiple jumping capacity. So get out your jump rope in give me 50. Once done, drop the rope and continuing jumping with both arms extended above your head. Four sets of 10 should do the job nicely in terms of increasing your multiple jumping ability.

 

Repetition is a very important factor in becoming a good shooter. Knowing your range and where you can be most effective in the offensive area is the key to becoming a high percentage shooter. You will want to be able to achieve success has both a spot up shooter and and off the dribble shooter.

 

15.The George Mikan drill is almost as old is the game itself but it is a perfect tool for beginning your shooting practice. It will also help build confidence in shooting with your off-hand. Simply start by shooting the ball with your strong hand from underneath the basket and as it comes out of the net swing to the opposite side of the basket and use your other hand. Continue this back and forth routine until you have completed 15 shots per hand. Try not to let the basketball hit the floor. Repeat this exercise and once completed you are now ready to move into other shooting areas.

 

16. As a spot up shooter you choose 5 spots around the basket, usually 15 to 18 feet away. Shoot and advance to the next spot but only after making two in a row at each position. If you have a partner, he can rebound and feed the ball to you from each spot but you must catch and shoot without the dribble. Chart your progress to see how many shots it takes before making a total of 10 consecutive baskets, 2 from each spot.

 

17. Now you will do the exact same thing but this time you’ll shoot from each spot coming off the dribble. For this exercise, stand far enough away from your spot so that you can apply 2 hard dribbles to your spot where you will now elevate and shoot a jump shot. This exercise will help you to become comfortable freeing your own self for a shot. You will work up a good sweat with this drill on your way to making 10 consecutive baskets but it also builds leg strength and increases stamina.

 

18.To become a complete offensive threat shooting the basketball you also need to be able to move without the basketball and work of screens. You can use chairs or cones placing them at various spots in the offensive area. Now with your practice partner , imagine coming off of those objects as if they were screens ready to shoot the basketball. Remember, your movement is for the purpose of getting open to receive the basketball . Therefore make your cuts with precision and energy. First to 20 made shots wins this phase of the exercise.

 

19. Now you will look to make your same moves without the basketball, coming around your screens to catch and drive. Remember your flexed knee position. This is how you will receive the basketball. This will put you in an immediate “triple threat position” whereby on the catch you are now able to either drive, pass, or shoot the basketball. Practice catching and driving hard to the hoop finishing with your right hand. Make 10 layups and repeat making 10 drives to the basket for10 left handed layups.

 

20. Don’t forget your series of post moves. This will be where you position yourself on the low box on both sides of the lane and work from me back to the basket position. From this low position you will practice the turnaround jumper, baby hook shot and drop step. With your hook shot, practice using both hands. It is very important especially close to the basket to be able to use your off-hand to convert baskets and possibly get to the free throw line if fouled.

 

21. Now comes the part of shooting the basketball that is the most fun. This is where you get to engage your practice partner in games of one on one. I used to play a lot of one on one because I felt it really increased my ability to create my own shots. Playing one on one teaches you the ability to counter the defensive strategy being played on you almost subconsciously. It forces you to react instinctively and on the move. If you have enough stamina left, play 5 baskets in a best of 7 series

 

22. Before you’re done shooting for the day you must spend time at the free throw line. Making free throws is one of the forgotten fundamentals at all levels of basketball. Challenge yourself to shoot at least 100 free throws before you conclude your shooting program. Your overall goal is to increase your shooting percentage.

 

Catching and passing the basketball are critical fundamentals to offensive basketball. Many of the shooting drills that involves two people will provide many opportunities to work on both passing and catching.

 

23. Regardless of one”s experience in the game of basketball it is always important to see the ball into your hands and catch it securely. Practice this with a partner or toss the basketball off the backboard . As it is coming back to you make sure to see it onto your fingertips and secure the ball safely. Just as 2 baseball players warm up their arms by simply tossing the ball back and forth to each other, this is a valuable exercise in basketball because it conditions the hand eye coordination helpful in preventing bobbled passes.

 

24. Now go through the series of passes back and forth with your partner. Start with the chest pass, followed by the bounce pass. Make sure that your passes are easy to handle. Usually passes are better and easily handled if they are between the numbers on the uniform and the waist area. Now increase the distance between you and your passing partner for the last two series of passes. First, the overhead pass whereby you will extend the basketball over your head and pass it from that position to your partner. This is key in making outlet passes after rebounds or cross-court passes in a half court offensive set. Finally, you will practice the baseball pass. This past is executed the same way you would toss a baseball. This pass is useful in making long passes up to court during the fast break.

 

26. Let’s now get on the move again. With your partner stand on one baseline separated by 15 to 20 feet. Now sprint to the other in of the court using the chest past back and forth and finish with the layup. Since you are using the chest pass, the ball should not touch the floor. Now come back in the opposite direction with the same spacing and use the bounce pass. Finish with the layup . Do this until you have made a total of 10 lay layups without a single mishandling of the basketball.

 

27. Time now to take your overhead and baseball passes the length of the court. Execute this part of the program by standing on the baseline while your partner is at midcourt. First, past the basketball to him using the overhead pass. Now sprint to the far end of the court while he returns an overhead pass to you for the layup. Now do the exact same thing utilizing the baseball pass. Switch up and continue this exercise until 10 layups have been completed without a single mishandling of the basketball.

 

Becoming a solid defensive player takes tremendous effort and discipline. Is one of the hardest phases of the game because it is done as a reaction to some other cause. Good defense can also be difficult to measure. Imagine holding your opponent to 30 points. You may not consider that to be a very good defensive job but if that player is Michael Jordan, your effort gets applauded.

 

28. To work on your defensive footwork and speed, begin by getting into your flexed knee position with your feet spaced just outside of your hips. While standing in place begin to shuffle your feet. Be sure to keep your hands active by waving them around as if flicking at the ball in your opponent’s hands. Do this in five 30 second intervals. It builds stamina and endurance along with increased foot speed.

 

29. Once you have collected your breath, return to your defensive stance with your flexed knees. It’s time now to get on the move again. Starting on one side of the key , move laterally from side to side across the lane using your defensive shuffle . Continue this procedure for five 30 seconds intervals.

 

30. Now with your practice partner on offense you will play defense . The offensive player will begin on one baseline and dribble in a diagonal pattern to the other baseline crossing over every 4 to 5 dribbles. Your job as the defender is to use your defensive shuffles to stay on the ball side. You’re not trying to steal the ball but your hands will remain active. While you are defending, your partner is working on his ball handling skills therefore a dual-purpose is being accomplished. Switch and continue this drill until each of you have completed 10 reps as a defender. This exercise will help to increase your effectiveness as an on the ball defender.

 

31. You may end your practice with another game of one on one to 11 baskets. In this game try to incorporate all the fundamentals that you have worked on previously including ball handling, shooting, rebounding, and defending. When the chance comes to play in a game with 10 players on the floor , you will want to remember that everything you’re doing on the court is for the purpose of improving your fundamentals. It is crucial that you play hard, play with energy, and play with purpose.

 

32. If you are truly going to be serious in maintaining your practice regimen, you will need substantial nutrition and rest. Make sure both are part of your everyday routine. Try to eat well and avoid unhealthy fast foods as much as possible. Getting your proper amount of sleep will help assure the stamina and energy necessary to accomplish your routine each and every time. Becoming a better basketball player does not happen by chance or accident. No matter how talented, hard work is often the difference between average and very good players. You control how determined you are, how hard you work, and the amount of sacrifice you’re willing to endure in the pursuit of your goals.

 

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Every Four Years

Every few people can claim to be the best in the world at what they do… and back it up with empirical evidence. Which is just one reason why the Olympics are so compelling. Run, jump, swim, lift weights — even ride horses — if you do it there is only way to be the best in the world. Win an Olympic Gold Medal.
 
More than 13,000 athletes will compete in the Olympics (Winter and Summer Games), representing more than 200 countries, virtually every government in the world. The modern Olympics have become nothing short of a world spectacle, continually drawing the world’s biggest television audiences. The games began in 1896, a re-birth of the ancient tradition that took place in various Greek city-states from the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD.
 
The modern games have developed into one of the world’s greatest spectacles, overcoming a couple of World Wars and a boycott or two. In July and August, the world will again focus its attention on the games of the 30th (modern) Olympiad in London from July 25 through August 12.
 
Run for Your Life
 
Running is perhaps the oldest competition known to man (other than boxing, perhaps). And its beauty is its simplicity. Start at point X… run to point Y… first person there wins. But running doesn’t have to be a competition. Drive down any roadway or park trail on a sunny day and you’ll see people running for the simple joy of running. It’s hard to think of an activity that is better for you physically. It will build endurance, improve your cardio-vascular system and strengthen you aerobically. Even if you’re a casual runner, or thinking about being a casual runner, good shoes are imperative. You can wear an old t-shirt and 20-year-old Bermuda shorts, but don’t scrimp on your shoes. Your feet will thank you for taking care of them.
 
Choices, Choices, Choices
 
Shopping for shoes is like shopping for a car — you have hundreds (thousands?) of brands and models to choose from. Where to start? Even if you’re not a real runner, running shoes may suit your lifestyle, anyway. “What we’ve seen over the last few years is that running shoes have taken the place of basketball shoes or cross-trainers as kind of a ‘be-all’ shoe for casual wear,” says Tom McLaughlan of Nike. “People like them because they are light, comfortable and provide a lot of support for your foot, no matter what you are doing.”
 
Light weight is a definite trend in running shoes. “Probably the biggest trend in running shoes over the past few years is that they have become lighter,” says Brian Laumeyer of Reebok. “Technology has let us use lighter materials, especially in the uppers, that provide just as much support, but with a lighter weight.” Shoe representatives agree that you can find very light shoes these days, and that light weight does not necessarily increase the price of the shoe.
 
If the Shoe Fits…
 
Finding the proper fit for any shoe is important, but with running shoes it is an even bigger issue. You will be pounding your soles on pavement and wherever-else, so you need to not just protect and cushion your feet, but you have to have the right fit. So how do you know if the shoe fits? “I know it sounds like a cop-out, but the sales associate in the store is probably your best source of help in fitting the shoe to your foot,” says Mike Prock of Asics. “The associate can tell how much you pronate, and find the right shoe for your foot.”
 
Pronation has traditionally been a big deal in running shoes. The pronated foot is one in which the heel bone angles inward and the arch tends to collapse. It flattens the arch as the foot strikes the ground in order to absorb shock when the heel hits the ground, and to assist in balance during mid-stance. If habits develop, this action can lead to foot pain as well as any number of foot and leg-related ailments.
 
However, there’s some controversy over pronation in the shoe industry these days. “For years, the prevailing wisdom was that pronation had to be corrected by the shoe,” says Prock. “But now, a minority school says essentially ‘pronation — so what?’ That theory says that as long as the foot is protected against the elements and that there is support and cushioning, that’s what’s important.”
 
Of course, your running mileage is also a factor. “A marathoner obviously has different needs than someone who is wearing the shoe for casual use,” says Brian Laumeyer.
 
So You’ve Always Wanted to Dunk a Basketball
 
In time for the London Olympics, Nike is introducing a new basketball shoe called the Hyperdunk. You’re 5’7” and you’ve always wanted to dunk a basketball? Well, stepladders aside, this may not realize that dream for you, but Nike says it will definitely help your “verticality.” Nike says the new shoe is light, more supportive, durable and breathable, and is expressly designed “to meet the demands of elite basketball players worldwide.”
 
The upper of the Hyperdunk uses high-strength cables for support and stability. These responsive cables are loose when at rest and dynamic when in motion, tensing to help stabilize the foot. A synthetic heel clip enhances lockdown, as the engineered foam and mesh of the upper reduces weight while further increasing breathability, strength and durability. Simultaneously, the collar of the shoe wraps lower in the back and higher over the front, increasing flexibility and lateral stability in the heel and ankle.
 
If that all sounds complicated, it probably is. But then basketball players need all the help they can get. “Basketball is one of the most demanding activities anywhere for the human foot,” says Nike’s Tom McLaughlan. “Think of all the lateral movements and quick cuts a basketball player makes while running. This shoe will definitely help support the foot and lessen the chances of blisters that are so common for these players.”
 
Less Drag in the Water
 
For swimming, Speedo introduced its Fastskin line in time for the 2000 Sydney Olympics. It uses tiny triangular projections that point backward so water spirals off the swimmer’s body. It must work, because 83% of the medals and 13 of the 15 world records in Sydney were set by Speedo swimmers. Now, in time for the London Olympics, the company is introducing the Fastskin3 — a complete system that integrates the suit, cap and goggles.
 
Miniscule reductions in body drag are critical for a world-class swimmer, but Speedo spokeswoman Audra Silverman, says for the recreational swimmer, it’s not all about speed. “Increased comfort is what most people are going to notice about our products — either in the Fastskin or the Elite line, which is geared more for the casual swimmer.”
 
A Sport for Every Player
 
There are hundreds of sports in the Olympics — and hundreds of sports you can try to get yourself off that couch. Want a family sport? How about table tennis? Perfect for a basement, and you don’t need as much room as the Olympians who sometimes seem like they’re in the next room when they play. Don’t have a partner? Try the Joola Ipong Topspin Table Tennis Robot to give you practice time.
 
Of course, there’s regular tennis, too, and a beginner’s racquet is surprisingly affordable — ditto for a can of balls.
 
Football (not soccer, but football, as the rest of the world calls it), is also an Olympic sport, and while the Olympics may not have the cachet of the quadrennial World Cup, it will still get plenty of attention world-wide.  It’s another sport that won’t cost you a lot — $15 for an entry level ball, though you can pay up to $70 for ‘thermal-bonded seamless surface(s)’ and ‘valve counterweights to improve flight characteristics.’
 
Want to try something a bit more exotic? How about boxing? No, you don’t have to slug it out with a family member or your neighbor (unless you want to), because there is a lot of boxing paraphernalia to keep you in shape without getting your head bashed in. Boxing gloves, a heavy bag and punch mitts can all give you an excellent workout in the comfort of your basement.
 
The Olympics will once again attract the largest television audiences of the year. But it seems a waste to just sit on the couch and watch. Even if you’ll never win a medal, Get in the Game!
 
-Fitness Fanatic
 
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