The importance of fundamentals

If you read anything about the Shorecrest girl’s basketball program, there’s one word you will see over and over again: Fundamentals.

Fundamentals means individual work on shooting, dribbling, footwork, defense, or other basic basketball skills, spending hours in the gym getting up hundreds of shots, running through dozens of ball handling drills, or working on form and mechanics.

Many kids spend their off-season time playing games or practicing with their AAU or feeder teams. While game experience is certainly important, consider these numbers from the past year:

  • High school girls spend around 116 hours in the gym during the regular season (games not included) over 13 weeks. At least two-thirds of those in the Shorecrest program (78 hours) were spent on individual fundamental skill development.

  • An 18 week AAU program with 2 practices/week will average 72 hours of practice during the season. (Assuming 2/week.) Much of that will learning and practicing the team’s offense and defense.

  • There were 6 weeks of fundamentals camps in district gyms last Summer. In six weeks, that was 180 hours of time spent working on individual skills.

In which scenario would an athlete see the most improvement to their game?

Tyler Coston, of Point Guard College, wrote a great article about this a few years back. The important quote from his article?

“The only way to get [a college] opportunity is to do the painful, boring work in the dark where no one is watching or motivating you. Only then will you be seen in front of the lights. There are no shortcuts. The truth is this: Go and do your work to get good. Don’t waste your time thinking about how you will get seen.”

Every athlete has to choose their own path, and there’s no right one. The fundamentals approach is important to all athletes, but arguably more so for the 99% of the kids who aren’t natural, Division I athletes.

Any program that attracts kids with strong fundamentals will be a strong one. If the kids are confident in the basics, then the team can put their mental energy toward in-game decisions and schedule preparation.