What to Look for in Personal Skill Training
You are a young basketball player and you want to improve. Your school team is well coached but the coaching staff has a lot on their plate, they have to manage all the personalities, prepare the team and be ready for competition. Practice time is limited and in order to meet their goals the coaches cannot always focus on individual development. You know you need to improve and are hungry to either move up the depth chart or make sure your dream of playing at the next level comes true. You are willing to work on your game but it is not always easy to find gym time. You make the decision to look for an outside program that can help you personally reach your goals. In that decision you are not alone. Even the vast majority of professional players now employ a personal skill coach. Someone to oversee their development and make sure they are working on the right things, to help their game improve and to ensure their livelihood. Having made this decision what do you look for? First and foremost you need a program that pushes you to your limits. You need to work in an environment where you are attacking drills and doing things at pace. You may have to go slow at times to figure out footwork and skill but once you have the understanding you need to be attacking drills and building a sweat. If you don't leave the gym with fatigue you are not executing at game pace and likely not pushing yourself to the point where you are going to excel when you want to. A big part of moving from one level of basketball to another is understanding the effort that will be required for you to make the jump. If you have never experienced that effort in a work-out the speed of the game at the next level may leave you behind.
Secondly, this is personal training. You want to have that personal contact. You want the coach addressing you personally about what you need to improve. If it is all group work with just general correction then you are in no different situation then practice. You need to make sure the coach takes the time to speak to you personally about what you are doing and how you can do it better. Feedback needs to be Specific, Immediate and Positive. Same as you have to get sips of water, you need to get "sip"s of feedback consistently through your work-out. If you are not getting those "sip"s of feedback then you have to wonder if your game is going to improve.
The next element you are looking for is attention to detail. Is the coach addressing all the areas of your game that make skills work in a competitive atmosphere. Are you getting feedback about your footwork, how you set up moves, whether you are using a control or speed dribble? Are you gaining an understanding of how to set up your defender, or just going through the motions doing the move as it is shown, with-out gaining any insight into how or when to use it. Is this attention to detail extended to all elements of your game. If I work extremely hard on my scoring skills I may be gifted at putting the ball in the basket, but what about my passing? Can I operate in a team system and take care of the basketball? What about my defense? Maybe I can score but I cannot get off the bench because I cannot stop my opponent at the other end. If we never work on defense how am I sure that I am being defended hard enough that my skills will work against top notch competition. Having a coach that pays attention to all the skills of the game and can break those skills down to their smallest elements and transmit that understanding is why you are paying for the service.
Finally, what extras does the service provide. Do I get a written evaluation of my game? Does the coach provide video analysis of different things that I can work on? Do they come to my games and give me feedback on what they see? All of these elements are again the kind of personal service that helps a player improve, feel good about the work they are putting in and ultimately will allow them to move forward in the game. Having a coach that knows the game right to the smallest detail, can spot flaws, illustrate them effectively and finally work you hard enough to change your results is why you would employ a personal skills coach and the elements that you should seek out if you make this decision. Remember, when you choose to pay someone to help you, you have the right to make sure that they are making you better and not just training a group of players in the same manner.