Three’s A Charm?

It’s the rubber championship match between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers starting Thursday June 1. My pick is the Warriors in 6 games. I don’t think the Cavs have enough to win more than 2 games. My hope is that we see two different teams next year. A fourth installment of this rivalry would be boring.

What’s Happ-ening?

The Chicago Cubs recently promoted Ian Happ to play with the big boys. Another young future star in my opinion. He’s a perfect fit for Coach Maddon. He’s versatile, can play infield or outfield, has power, and is a good fielder. Just another young talented prospect on a team laden with future, if not already stars. What a dilemma for the coach. Who, when. and where to play all these guys. 

After evaluating the current starting pitching corps, as well as the roller coaster bullpen, I feel a trade for pitching is in the cards. With all this talent, someone will no longer be a Cubbie. I hope it isn’t Ian Happ. He is fun to watch.

How Many Strikes Until You’re Out By Josh Gordon?

Josh Gordon in trouble again? Imagine that! This NFL bad boy gets more negative air time than on the field time. I empathize with his issues as I am a recovering addict and know of the struggles. In no way am I judging him. I will refrain from calling him an addict. If he is, he needs to own it. But his issues reflect that of the behavior of one. As a former drug and alcohol counselor, Every addict shows these behaviors. Only Josh Gordon’s is magnified by his occupation and the media.

From my view, Josh is in a lot of denial, which is the main component in the disease of addiction.” I don’t need to change. Nobody understands me.” The list of excuses goes on. The key to change? Admission and following a program of recovery. This usually doesn’t happen until enough consequences are administered and one surrenders.

Sports organizations are trying their best to get a grip on addiction and other behavioral problems. I salute that.But no matter how good an athlete a man is, how many chances does one get until there are no more. As long as a person is given another chance, you can pretty much determine that the behavior won’t change until there are no more chances. And that is still not a given.

Josh Gordon is a good player and I love watching him play.But he may need to be banned from playing, maybe for life, and hopefully that will be the consequence he needs to make the changes he needs to make for himself. Many addicts die from too many chances. In sports as well as every place in life, there needs to be a line and no more chances. That may be the opportunity for a chance at living a life.


BBWAA vs. Derek Jeter

BBWAA vs. Derek Jeter

Sunday night yet another New York Yankee’s jersey was retired! The ceremony for Derek Jeter was awesome and fitting. A lifelong Yankee fan, I was blessed to watch “The Captain” play for his entire 20 year career. All-time he didn’t hit the most home runs, steal the most bases, or have the highest batting average. No, all he did was play the game the way it should be played.With style, grace, respect, and a work ethic unmatched by anyone. Not to mention, a gentleman off the field.

He made the news because of his accomplishments, not because he failed drug tests, got shot at a night club, arrested for drunk driving, or beating his wife. Because he was/is a role model for all, no matter your age, occupation, sports affiliation, or race. Overall, the best athlete I’ve had the pleasure to follow. In my opinion,the greatest baseball player ever to don any uniform. In any other sport, he would still have been the greatest.

Although it’s 3 years away, I’ve been thinking about the voting for the Hall of Fame and the percentage of the vote Derek Jeter will get. Over the years, the baseball writers (BBWAA) have ticked me off. No player has ever received 100% of the votes cast. Not Ruth, Gehrig, Cobb, Mantle,Robinson,Koufax etc. Ken Griffey Jr. received the highest percentage of the votes @ 99.3! I love Junior,but 4% more votes than the Babe?

Years ago, I always thought the voters were harsh. I will always believe that Pete Rose should be in the HOF. And Barry Bonds. And some others.But not the omnipotent BBWAA. I believe that they have loosened up some in their criteria for induction. Often I wonder which writers voted against the Babe and others. Did they want perfection? Did they just not like them as a person? Or did their power of the vote go to their heads?

Few things bother me as much as the imperfect demanding perfection. As the BBWAA’s criteria seems to be. In three years, it would be great to see Derek Jeter as the only inductee. That’s probably a pipe dream, but if it’s perfection they seek, I hope their eyes are wide open come voting time. It’s right in front of them.

A Tale of Two Teams Yankees Fans

Being a Yankees fan since my father took me to a White Sox/Yankees game some fifty years ago and a Cubs fan since WGN was broadcasting games on cable, last weekend’s Yankees/Cubs series tore at my heartstrings. Although I couldn’t lose, I wanted them to both win. As a little shaver I remember the few books about baseball mostly involved Yankees players. Ruth, Gehrig, Dimaggio, Berra, and my hero, Mickey Mantle. I took my mitt to batting practice that day fifty in hopes of catching a ball then or during the game. We arrived just in time to see the Mick batting left-handed. We were some 300 feet away down the first base line and my mitt was ready! Or so I thought. Mickey hit a ball foul in my direction. I HEARD it coming it was hit so hard! Fearing for my life, I didn’t try to catch it. Instead, I watched it hit the seats and bounce to who knows where. I was either too scared or too shocked to retrieve the ball. I wish I had that ball now!

Thanks to cable TV and WGN, I got to see the Loveable Losers nearly everyday. Banks, Santo, Williams, Beckert, Kessinger, Jenkins…. Over the years, I was able to survive the disappointments and heartaches along with the loyal Cubs fans from my home in Wisconsin. They were either really out of the race or close but no no cigar. Hardly anywhere in between. When they announced the hiring of Theo Epstein five years ago, I predicted a World Series Championship in 2016, 2017 at the latest. My friends scoffed. My prediction was a lock after Joe Maddon was hired. 2016 was a special year for me as well as millions of loyal Cubs fans.

Now both of my favorite teams are young and loaded and the expectations are high. Although the Yankees swept the Cubs at Wrigley, I have faith the Northsiders will find their rhythm and the Bronx Bombers will endure and they will square off in October making 2017 even more special! But, that’s just a prediction.

Introduction to Basketball and Its Tricks

Basketball is a sport played between two teams normally consisting of five or more players. Each team has five players on the basketball court at any given time. The objective is to score more points than the other team, with points being scored by shooting a ball through a basketball hoop (or basket), which is located ten feet above the ground. The two teams shoot at opposite goals. In order to move while in possession of the ball, a player must be dribbling, or bouncing the ball.

The number of points awarded a player for successfully shooting the ball through his team’s goal varies according to the circumstance. The most common scenario is the two-point play, wherein a player scores two points for making a basket anywhere inside the “3-point line” while the ball is in play. A semicircular line (the three-point line) marks the area beyond which, if a player makes a basket, three points are awarded for the shot. One point is given to a player upon successfully making a free throw, or a foul shot.

During play, referees monitor the game and call fouls, which result from a player illegally interfering with another during the game. For instance, if someone pushes a player on the other team while he is taking a shot, a foul is called. In this situation, the shooter is allowed to shoot two free-throws from the foul line while being unguarded. Some examples of fouls that can be called in basketball are:

  • Blocking
  • Charging
  • Hooking
  • Shoving
  • Over-the-back

Besides fouls, players can also be punished for other violations of the rules of basketball, such as traveling, which occurs when a player moves more than one step with the ball without dribbling or shooting. Such violations result in a turnover, wherein the ball is given to the other team.

Defensively, there are a few ways in which a team can gain possession of the basketball in order to score. Offensive fouls (such as charging) result in the defensive team being awarded the ball. Unforced turnovers, such as when the offensive team travels or throws the ball out of bounds, also result in the defensive team being given the ball. If the offense misses a shot, and the defense rebounds the missed shot, the defensive team then becomes the offense. Also, the defense may steal (without fouling) the ball from the offense.

How to Become a Better Basketball Player!

Secret #1 Develop Skill Synergy
The fastest way to get better is to learn and practice the fundamental skills. Fundamental skills like passing, catching, shooting, dribbling and basic footwork are as much responsible for basketball success as any cross-over move or behind-the-back dribble.

When you work on and advance your fundamental skill levels, you can develop what I call “Skill Synergy”. Skill Synergy is based on the idea that the better you become at any one particular skill, the better and more developed you will become at each and every other skill. Then with the development of each skill, your entire game becomes almost twice as effective as it was before. Each skill doesn’t just work alone it “stacks” or builds on every other skill. This “synergy” then catapults your game into more advanced levels and makes success in basketball much easier.

For example, if you become better at dribbling, it will automatically make you a better shooter. The dribbling will help you get a better feel for the ball and make you feel more comfortable with the ball. That will automatically help you become a better shooter. But the “synergy” doesn’t stop there. The result is you don’t just become a better dribbler or a better shooter, instead you become a more effective all-around player. The synergy starts filtering out to all phases of your game.

Your entire game will expand quickly because you can expand on each skill learned. That will flow into other areas of skill development. Soon you will be able to do more moves, make more shoots and play more effectively than ever before.

Take Michael Jordan for example. All of his high-flying acrobatic moves and game winning shots were not practiced or planned. Instead, they just happened “naturally” because he had become a master of the simple fundamental skills and applied Skill Synergy to make all those spectacular shots. Remember, however that most of his 32,292 points were compromised mainly of basic fundamental jump shots and lay-ins. Not the SportsCenter highlights he is remembered for. He mastered the basics first, then all those “fancy” moves developed from there.

If you want to become better, learn the fundamentals and practice them. Every skill you learn and develop will help you expand your game to new levels.

Secret #2 Practice The Right Way
One day I was “practicing” and my coach at the time walked by the gym and asked what I was doing. I said I was “practicing”. Then I added, “you know coach, because practice makes perfect”.

Then he said something very powerful to me. He said “No. Perfect practice, makes perfect.”

Him telling me this gave me tremendous insight into what it takes to become a better player. I quickly learned that how you practice and how you perform are directly linked.

By developing Perfect Practice habits and mentality, you can take your game to new levels at a rapid pace.

The wonderful thing about the Perfect Practice mentality is that you can use it at anytime. It doesn’t matter if you are just shooting around with friends or are doing a grueling individual workout. The principles can and should be applied at all times.

Here are my Perfect Practice Principles:

Use Maximum Effort and Focus On Every Play.

Perfect Repetition, Leads To Perfect Execution.

Repetition Is The Key To Skill Improvement.

Practice Must Simulate Games.

Constantly Analyze Your Results.

Study and use these principles. These principles will save you hours of unnecessary frustration and wasted practice time. Your game will develop at a significantly faster pace and help you reach your maximum potential.

Secret #3 Add Variety
The great thing about basketball is that you can either play on your own or with other people. Basketball can be played in so many ways. Each can help you develop your skills in different ways.

To become the best basketball player you can be, it is important that you practice the game in a variety of ways. Your skills will enhance and you will see faster development.

Here are some ways to add variety to your game:

Practice By Yourself
This is the best way to learn the fundamentals of the game and to develop individual skills. You should spend lots of time by yourself working on different fundamental skills. Get in all the repetitive learning and practice you can with just you and the ball.

Playing 1-on-1 will help you learn how to both score on and defend against a single player. 1-on-1 is a great way to get in lots of repetitions and practice. It is also a great place to use both Skill Synergy and Perfect Practice techniques.

Lots of outdoor or “street” ball tournaments are played using the 3-on-3 format. This provides you with great opportunity to get in even more work on your game. 3-on-3 probably gives you the closet thing to real game simulation without having to run the full length of the floor. You can develop both 1-on-1 moves and learn to play in a team concept while still getting in a good number of personal repetitions.

5-on-5 Full Court
Obviously this is what most “real” games consist of. I recommend that you play as much 5-on-5 as possible. This is the best way to learn the game and develop your total skill package. It is also the best measure of telling you what you need to work on and what areas you need to improve in. If you don’t feel that you are able to score very often then maybe you should do some more 1-on-1 drills or learn to score off the pass in games of 2-on-2.
Playing 5-on-5 will also help your conditioning. Most 5-on-5 games are played using the full court, the others are usually in a half-court setting. Having to run the full length of the court will challenge your skill development because you add in the element of fatigue. The better conditioned you are and the less fatigue you encounter, the more successful your skills will be. Be sure to learn the skills you need by practicing in half-court games. Remember, that you need to develop your conditioning to achieve maximum results when playing in full-court games.

Secret #4 Seek Out Mentors and Be Coach-able
One of the biggest secrets to becoming more successful is to seek out mentors and be willing to learn from them.

Many times people are reluctant to seek out mentors and coaches, because it opens them up to being criticized. However, you can learn a lot from that criticism if you are willing to accept it. If you want to be more successful at anything, then you must find the right teachers and be willing to learn from them and be coached.

This is especially true in the game of basketball. There are lots of great coaches and players out there that you can learn from.

Another key to success is, don’t wait for theses coaches to find you. Instead, be assertive and go out and find them on your own. No matter what level of play you are at, there are lots of people out there that can make you better. It can be a coach, a personal trainer, even a nutritionist; all of these people have valuable information that can make you a better player and a better athlete.

To get the maximum results from this instruction, you must be willing to learn and be coached. I can tell you that virtually every big time basketball coach I have ever talked to says that the one trait that all their “star” players possess is their willingness to learn and listen.

The ability of the human mind and body to learn and process new information is remarkable. If you want to develop your skills to maximum level, then you find people to coach you and listen to them!

Secret #5 Watch All The Video You Can
Watching video is one of the best ways that I know of to get better and learn more about the game. With today’s modern technology, video is easy to get and use. I highly recommended that you get your hands on as much video you can and learn from it.

There are lots of different types of video that you can learn from. First of all, there are all kinds of games broadcast on television. It is easy to tape these games and watch them over and over again. I personally have over 400 games on tape. This has become one of my most valuable resources. I have learned, used, and taught thousands of moves that I have gotten from re-watching games.

Another great resource is instructional videos. There are a lot of different tapes that have been made through the years. Many have much of the same information, but it is important to learn those key fundamentals. Plus, even if you watch 10 videos and only learn one new move, that move could lift you from being an average player to superstar status. (For more information on instructional videos, be sure to check out my personal Dominate The Game instructional DVD video and basketball improvement program at [].)

There is one other video secret that I am almost reluctant to reveal. I find this technique so powerful and helpful that it is just too good to keep secret. It is very simple, but rarely used.

It’s called Self Video Analysis. Many times coaches or parents will make tapes of games and watch them to critique the teams performance or to relive a personal sports moment. This is very useful for this purpose, but it isn’t the kind of video analysis that I am talking about. I am talking about taping yourself when you practice by yourself.

When you are alone working on your game by yourself, tape it. Tape it and watch it. It doesn’t take long to see what you need to work on. This also allows you to start seeing little tiny adjustments in your game and start correcting them. Even little errors can lead to bad habits which can negatively effect your performance.

I especially like to use this technique when working on shooting. Shooting is almost a fine art. Any minor problem can lead to a drop in the amount of shots you make. Tape your shooting practice and then analyzing it. Watch to see if you are using proper form and technique on every shot. Watch and see what is working for you and what isn’t. Watch and you will soon see a dramatic improvement in your shooting performance.

Secret #6 Learn From Different Sources
Basketball is a very popular sport. There are all kinds of books, videos, magazines and newspaper articles out there for you to learn from.

I recommended that you start finding and studying as many as these resources that you can. You will be amazed at all the useful information that you can learn from these sources. I find some “piece” of useful information in almost everything I read, watch, or hear about the game.

The most successful basketball players and coaches I know are constantly reading books on basketball. They read autobiographies on famous players. They read instructional books. They read books on training, books on motivation, books on other sports to see if they can learn something to apply to basketball and make them more successful. These high level coaches and players know that learning from all these different sources is a key to staying on top.

I also know of players that have made entire scrapbooks from newspaper articles that they collected about other teams and players. Then before they would play against them, they would read to be better prepared and to gain an “edge” against them.

I recommended that you start your own “basketball file” and collect or write down all the things you find useful. You can then look at them over and over again and apply them to your game. (Note: Printing out and saving this newsletter is a good place to start you new “basketball file”.)

Secret #7 Become A Better Athlete
I am a firm believer that skill development goes hand-in-hand with athletic development. The better trained you are as an athlete the easier it is for you to develop your basketball skills.

Most athletes struggle not because they lack proper skill, but because they lack the strength, conditioning, and speed that it requires to perform those skills at a higher level. Many times pro athletes aren’t any better shooters or players than some junior high players, but their athletic ability separates them from the rest.

One of the great benefits of training to become a better athlete is that you can often make significant jumps in skill development very quickly. The better trained you are, the faster you will be able to learn new skills. When you’re well trained you can perform skill repetition at maximum speed, strength and conditioning. When you do this, it naturally allows you to develop your game quickly, because your body isn’t holding you back with fatigue. In fact, having a well-trained body is helping you succeed because it just makes every thing easier and allows you to learn faster.

Let me give you a good example. Say that you were in good enough shape to shoot around for 1 hour. In this time, let’s say you could shoot 200 shots. Now if you were in even better shape you could probably shoot around 300 shots. That’s 100 shots more in the same amount of time. This would undoubtedly make you better! Plus, out of those 300 shots, you will make more of them because you are better trained!

Do you see how your game can grow on multiple levels just by training your body? It can have a positive impact in each phase of your game and your development.

I highly recommended that you start training to become a better athlete immediately. There are lots of different programs and training routines out there. Give it a try and watch your results soar!