Why players who know how to move WITHOUT the ball are more successful.
By The Morris Basketball Program
Whenever you imagine yourself playing basketball, 99 percent of the time you are in a situation where you have the ball and have your heart set on creating something, whether it be your own shot or an opportunity for a teammate. No one really imagines setting themselves up for the game winning shot by not having the ball to begin with. But in reality, this is where most uncontested shot opportunities begin. Being able to create a shot for yourself is important, but it is not everything. Having to create for yourself and your teammates can be rewarding, but it can also be very frustrating if things are not going your way. Being able to always find the open space on the court and make yourself available to an open pass for an uncontested shot is just as effective, and requires minimal effort if you are in great basketball shape. This is one of the easiest ways to Earn More Playing Time.
A perfect example of a player of this nature would be Ray Allen (in the latter years of his career). After all the athleticism left his body, he still found ways to be an effective shooter and scorer on the court, to remain a valuable piece to his team. He kept his body in great condition, to allow him to have a high motor to find open spots on the floor with non-stop movement. When you move without the ball, you will realize you create opportunities not just for yourself, but you will open up more opportunities for your teammates as well.
1. They find more shot opportunities.
If you are already a consistent shooter, moving without the ball should be a second nature to you. If you are hungry to find more shot opportunities on the floor, you should go seek them, and not just stand there and hope that they will come to you (because they probably won’t). If whoever on your team has the ball is in trouble, and must make a pass, most likely they will pass to whoever is closest and most available to an emergency pass. This could be you every single time, if you would just move without the ball!
There is nothing worse than watching a team of basketball players who literally all just stand there and watch the ball. This shows a lack of discipline, lack of basketball IQ, and lack of intensity on the court. No one wants to see the game played this way. The ball wants to find you, but you are not letting it. Use all of the available space on the floor to balance out your offense, and find a sweet spot where you would like to score from. It’s actually rather simple, but extremely effective.
2. They help their teammates get open.
Players who are skilled at moving without the ball will also find themselves getting a lot more than just shots. Other stats that are affected by this: assists, and indirectly, rebounding.
Don’t believe that a little movement could make all the difference in your stat-line? Have you ever come off of an off-the-ball screen EFFECTIVELY (If you don’t know how to use a ball screen effectively, the Morris Basketball Program can teach you) at 100% gamespeed, received the ball, and realized that the player who just set the screen for you is wide open? Make that easy pass and you just secured yourself an extra assist for the day, along with helping to pad your teammate’s stats, all while helping the team at the same time. Wonder how he got so open? Since you used the screen effectively without the ball, and did not stop moving, the player guarding you most likely got caught up in the effective screen (there is a reason I stress the word effective in this situation), thus requiring his defensive teammate to help cover you, leaving your teammate wide open for an uncontested shot/layup.
A minimal amount of court awareness and effort can change the entire landscape of a basketball game.
3. They weaken the defense.
Players who don’t stop moving are the hardest to guard. Simple as that. There’s a reason certain players always find themselves open. They work hard to get open and find open areas where they can receive the ball. It’s all about your mindset. No defensive player wants to work harder than they feel like they have to, and if you are constantly moving, you are draining their energy play by play, to the point where you will start to lose them, and they actually will become easier to defend on the other side of the court because they are tired and out of shape. If the defense can’t keep up with you, you can pretty much get the ball and make a positive play whenever you feel like it. This is why #4 is so very crucial to this discussion.
4. They are usually in the best shape on the team.
Players who move well without the ball, usually move well without the ball for the entire game. It takes being in tip top basketball shape to make this work successfully. So usually the player who finishes first consistently in sprints during practice, the player who gets to the court early to stretch to keep their body limber, and/or the player who is the first back on defense/first down the court on offense during games can be considered the best conditioned player on his/her team. A well conditioned basketball player with half the skills of a star player is still more valuable than a star player who is out of shape. You can have the best skills in the world, but if you don’t have the stamina to fight to get yourself open, no one will ever know. CONDITIONING IS KEY! You must be able to MAKE shots when you are tired. If you need to get in better basketball shape, the Morris Basketball Program’s Sunday Workouts can help you achieve your goals.
Curious how? Check out a video from one of our past workouts focusing on shooting/conditioning simultaneously. Follow us on Instagram for more Skills and Drills: @mbp_973