If I were to ask any coach out there what is the most annoying, redundant and infuriating type of turnover there is, I believe 9 out of 10 coaches will say “Traveling”. Traveling happens on all levels. While the interpretation of traveling may differ with the level of play (And sometimes among referees themselves), all players will commit this turnover on many occasions throughout their career, and inevitably, add another grey hair or two to their coach’s head.
Footwork is such a vague term when it comes to basketball. Many coaches wish their players had better footwork, and just as many players believe there is nothing wrong with their footwork. Let me say this first: Solid footwork has nothing to do with a player’s athletic ability (It could help a player’s footwork skills, and at the same time, extremely athletic players sometimes are sabotaged by their own athleticism when it comes to footwork). Having great footwork, in my opinion, has a lot to do with a player’s ability to stay on the ground and move on it correctly, rather than take off for a dunk.
Players rarely ever pay attention to their feet and how they move, study how they can move more efficiently and cover more ground by using angles and length in their step, mainly because being able to shake of your defender with solid and simple footwork and pull up for a mid-range jumper from the wing while using the backboard (Tim Duncan anyone?) is not as glamorous as working on a killer crossover move using 5 cones, two tennis balls, weights on your wrists while being strapped to a bungee cord…
Working on footwork is not glamorous. Many players go on YouTube to look for videos that depict the latest and greatest move, neglecting form and footwork, causing them to play out of control and yes, you guessed right – travel.
I believe that training should be simple. Tim Duncan was a spectacular player. A future first ballot Hall of Famer, and one of the best the game has ever seen. Duncan’s footwork has been studied for over 17 years at the NBA level, yet no team has been successful in completely stopping him over the span of 17 years. The reason, among others, is Duncan’s complete mastery of very basic and simple footwork principles that allow him to continue to dominate the league, even at the age of 38. Tim Duncan is not the fastest player. He is not the strongest player, not is he the best shooter, or the flashiest. Tim Duncan never jumped out of the gym. What Tim Duncan has done over his career to separate himself was to become the most agile big men in recent memory (Hakeem was there before him, and arguably better at using his feet). Duncan is best at the little things. He is called The Big Fundamental for a reason.
Young players – proper footwork is key to your success. You must be able to move efficiently on the court, minimizing unwanted movement and learning how to use angles and length to gain an edge over your defender. Learn how to utilize your feet better on offense and see how that translates into defense immediately. By training your feet to become more efficient on offense, you are training yourself to become a better moving defender. Collapse time frames and maximize your time. Mastering good foot work, both offensively and defensively, is important to being a very good player. Not just having good feet, but also knowing how to use good foot work to your advantage. Don’t get pulled out of the game for another travel call. Learn how to move better on the court.