Nothing Off Balance Counts

“Imagine your reaction if, before a big game, the referees got all the players together from both teams and announced that, in addition to the usual rules of the game, they were going to call every player for a violation any time he got off-balance. An off-balance shot, a pivot against a double-team, a pass not thrown with authority, a lunge on defense….” TWEET! Turnover!

NCAA Basketball Referee

Love this thought. And let me just say everything about this post and it’s prose is inspired by, or taken from, the late Dick DeVenzio. In fact, I’ve loved it so much, that I began to literally call off-balance shots as violations in my practice sessions.

Not On Balance Shots

“[Tweet!] That’s a NOB. Going the other way,” my voice will echo in practice. Yup, you got it: NOB or NOBs = Not On Balance (Shot).

I believe adamantly in the value of taking shots that are on-balance, in-range, with adequate time to shoot.

By example, let’s take a look at the most common offenders of NOBs: the Bigs—especially the developing post player.

Often when a post player gets the ball in the key on the pass or on an offensive rebound, s/he’ll try and sneak up a quick shot. To me, it’s an automatic sign of an immature player with a junior-high-school mentality.

There’s no reason to chuck up a hurried shot inside the paint. There’s no reason to shoot before you know where you are in relation to the basket and the defenders. Peak at the rim… gather yourself… freeze ’em with a fake… initiate contact!

For every shot that gets blocked, you’ll get ten fouls called against the opposition’s defense. Any shot-blocking center will tell you that it’s easier to block a fade-away or an off balance shot than a shot that goes up right past his nose.

Rarely do you see efficient players do things off balance. You want to repeatedly do things with the highest probability of success. When you can play an entire game, play hard, and not do one thing off balance, then… you can play.

If you’re an athlete, think about this “new rule” the next time you play. Think that “nothing off-balance counts.” When you learn to play a whole game and play hard and not do things off-balance, you can play. You’ll become the kind of player that a good coach will trust.

Coach’s Challenge

Take the next month of your practices in add “NOBs” to your practice rule book. Blow them as violations; or, in drills don’t allow baskets made as a result of a NOB to count. Demand precision. Penalize it when it’s not there.

Remember the old coaching axiom:

It’s not what you teach, it’s what you emphasize—consistently over time.

Will your practice get choppy at first? Yup.

Will the players get frustrated early and often? Absolutely.

But… those are merely symptoms of a bigger problem: POOR SHOT SELECTION. If you find that there are a lot of ‘NOB’ violations called, practice becomes choppy, and players are frustrated, it creates an awareness to the fact that your team is choosing to take low(-er) percentage off balance shots.

If you want to affect the quality of the shots your team takes, you have to make shot selection worth something.

Get after it. Let me know how it goes…!