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About Brian McCormick
Brian T. McCormick is a basketball coach who has coached CYO, AAU, high school, junior college, and college basketball, and worked as a strength and conditioning coach for two junior-college basketball programs. He also has coached in Denmark, Estonia, Ireland, and Sweden, and directed clinics in Canada, China, Greece, Ghana, Kenya, India, Macedonia, Trinidad & Tobago, Uganda, and throughout the United States.
McCormick completed his PhD in Exercise and Sports Science at the University of Utah, and has had peer-reviewed papers published in the International Journal of Exercise Science, International Journal of Sports Science and Coaching, and Strength & Conditioning Journal. He has spoken at coaching, strength & conditioning, and sports psychology conferences in the United States and Canada.
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Titles By Brian McCormick
This is not a book of drills or instructions. Fake Fundamentals challenges your preconceived ideas. Coaches hang on to the drills and instructions of their playing days. The nostalgia is cloaked in concerns about fundamentals, mistakes, and the right way to teach and play the game. The game evolves. Why not the common coaching instructions and drills?
I visit practices today that are exact facsimiles of my practices when I played in the 90s. We were not allowed to shoot three-pointers freely. We never used on-ball screens. Why are practices the same 30 years later?
This book (and series) is not for everyone, but for open-minded coaches looking to have their beliefs challenged to discover the best approach to developing players, skills, and teams.
I have coached at every level over the last 15 years, from u9s to professional teams. I have worked in the United States and Europe (and spent time in Africa and India). I completed a doctorate in Exercise and Sports Science, largely by studying basketball. My experience has provided a unique perspective to comment on practice and coaching. I have a practical perspective influenced by coaching at different levels and in different countries, and a theoretical perspective influenced by the latest research.
Tremendous amounts of learning occurred on the playgrounds and during pickup games for people of a certain generation, and players today often miss this learning to attend organized practices or sessions with a skill trainer. The 21st Century Basketball Practice attempts to reincorporate this learning that once occurred in unstructured settings.
Random and variable practice, task constraints, and contextual interference are academic words that describe ideas that coaches use daily in their practices. The 21st Century Basketball Practice briefly explains the background of these terms to explain the reasons for changing some fundamental drills and incorporating more small-sided and modified games into practices.
This book addresses what to do and what to say at practice and references my experiences with an under-9 AAU team, high-school freshmen, and professional teams. It is not a drill book, although numerous drills are explained and used as examples. Rather than list a number of drills, the purpose is to demonstrate at approach that generates countless drills, and drills that promote better performance in games.
Playmakers: The Player’s Guide to Developing Basketball Intelligence explains the basic tactical skills of every offense — from pick-and-rolls to 3v2 fast breaks — but moves beyond the skill execution to the all-important perceptual, anticipatory and decision-making skills which separate the expert performers. Playmakers: The Player’s Guide to Developing Basketball Intelligence teaches tactical skills, but also develops the characteristics of a high basketball IQ player — players who:
• Choose the best option in less time;
• Adapt to ever-changing situations;
• Possess good spatial awareness;
• Know the right play at any moment relative to the time and score;
There are two phases to the SABA offensive system: Creating the advantage and exploiting the advantage. Creating the advantage is similar to any other play or system. Exploiting the advantage is the more important element of the system, and basketball in general. The SABA system emphasizes the second phase, known as the endgame.
SABA is based around four simple principles. The principles guide behaviors, whereas in continuity offenses and set plays, rules direct or dictate behavior. When a player deviates from a set play to take advantage of a small opening, coaches frequently yell, “Run the play!” In SABA, taking advantage of a small opening is the entire point!
The SABA offense is not a free-for-all or roll-the-ball out and let them play system. It takes countless hours of practice to teach players to embrace the chaos and thrive in these situations. This book defines the principles and advances a new philosophy for offensive basketball, and provides the instruction and drills to teach the system and develop skilled players.
This book is about individual practice and skill development, but individual skill is a misnomer. Games are complex. There is no isolated or individual skill: All skills are interdependent. Despite the interdependence of skills, players do and should practice individually. This book provides strategies to enhance the effectiveness of individual practice, and offers advice on skill development hacks off the court, the usefulness of private coaches, and the value of play, pickup games, and collective skill development.
McCormick's philosophy centers on a few important concepts: Technique and skill are different; complex and hard describe different things; training and learning are not synonymous; intrinsic motivation is vital; and constant feedback interrupts learning. The specific strategies fit within this philosophy and describe different approaches for skill development, whether by oneself, with a private coach, or with a training group. The objective is to give players the tools and ideas to improve their individual practice and offseason training to maximize their skill development.
In 2009, I published 180 Shooter, which described my teaching methodology and drill progressions as a private shooting coach in the prior decade. A few players set NCAA shooting records and became All-Americans, but others struggled, and I examined the cause. I attributed some of their failings to my coaching and workouts, and I quit private coaching.
Over the last decade, I worked with teams as a head coach and a consultant. I have coached very good shooters — one finished second nationally in 3-point shooting percentage and another set the college's record for 3FGs — and very good shooting teams: 3rd in 3FG/G (9.7), 6th in 3FG% (37.4%), and 9th in FT% (72.6%).
Evolution of 180 Shooter chronicles the evolution of my thinking over the last decade and challenges the prevalent shooting dogma. My greatest changes have been to re-define game-like shots and appreciate the environment’s role in developing shooters. This is not a technique or drill book; it focuses on our culture of shooting — from our practice, to the extra shots, to the comfort and confidence — which develops shot makers.
"If you coach basketball at any level, read and study Brian McCormick's writing: It will re-calibrate your view of the game. You will think differently about basketball and how to teach the game to others." — Lindell Singleton, Head Coach: The Game Matters AAU
"I went from averaging 8 points per game as a senior in high school to averaging 22 points per game my sophomore year of college. Coach McCormick's workouts and drills played a key role in my vast improvement." — Matt Glynn, 2004 NCAA DIII All-American
"Coach McCormick has put together the most complete book about shooting that I have ever seen. His breakdown of shooting methods and techniques are essential for athletes who want to improve their form and accuracy." — Hernando Planells, Assistant Coach, Duke University Women's Basketball
"Brian McCormick is an outstanding coach, instructor, and writer. His newest book, 180 Shooter, covers in great detail how to become a better shooter from the ground up. Brian worked for my program (Hoop Masters) as a coach and his attention to detail and ability to teach young eager players is a special gift. I would recommend 180 Shooter to any player, coach, or parent that really wants to understand all aspects of improving your shooting percentages and overall shooting skills. In this day and age of quick fixes and short cuts, it's refreshing to have someone take the time to really explain how to become a better shooter. If you follow the drills and practice habits outlined in this book, and really believe that can become a better shooter, you will. There are no short cuts to improvement." — Jerome Green, Hoop Masters (Los Angeles) AAU Program
The book is not entirely about play, but play and related concepts, such as creativity, flow, intrinsic motivation, and physical activity, influence each column. Included are stories about our evolutionary need for play, using autonomy to enhance intrinsic motivation, changing technique to develop skills, the characteristics of great coaches, and reasons for children’s sports participation. The columns discuss many popular science topics of the last decade: Deliberate practice, grit, mindset, and the 10,000-hour rule among them.
Athlete, child, skill, and talent development are related, complex, and multifactorial. There are few absolutes, as every child and every situation differ. The themes are decidedly long-term; there are no short cuts or recipes to success. Many are cautionary tales about the wrong behaviors leading to unintended or unwanted outcomes. When should parents intervene in a bad situation? How should we react to mistakes? How can we embrace the natural learning process? What is success within youth sports?
The columns depict changes in my life, as I coached in 3 states and 2 countries, and my thinking, as I started and completed my doctorate. I coached basketball and volleyball, high school and professional, boys and girls. I refereed youth, high school, college, and adult soccer. I taught university coaching, sports pedagogy, and motor learning courses. I founded the Playmakers Basketball Development League. My experiences provided a unique view into youth sports and talent development, as I worked on both spectrums and inside and out of the system.
During this decade, I attended and spoke at academic, basketball, coaching, sports psychology, and strength & conditioning conferences, where I met and and spoke to people such as John Kessel from USA Volleyball, Mike MacKay from Basketball Canada, Vern Gambetta from the GAIN Network, and others. I listened to, learned from, and shared ideas with some of the greatest minds in youth sports and skill development. I travelled to conduct clinics in Ghana, India, Kenya, and Uganda, and learned from tremendous local organizations such as Impact Youth Foundation and DC Dynamics in Accra, All.One Academy and FEBA in Nairobi, and X-SUBA Sport 4 Development in Jinja, Uganda. I saw play and development from different perspectives, without the advantages of facilities, equipment, and more. These varied experiences shaped my writing during this decade.
Through my travels, research and experiences, it was clear that we underestimate play’s developmental importance. Structured adult-directed experiences have replaced child-directed free play over the last two decades. We replaced the very thing that motivates participation, ignites passion, and improves learning. More free play is not the only answer, but children need and have a right to play.
The book is a collection of 52 newsletters sent in 2007. The weekly newsletters are my thoughts and observations on what I see, what I do and what I read and relate to basketball, coaching, training athletes, and learning. In 2007, I coached high school volleyball and basketball, worked as a personal trainer with a client recovering from cancer, learned to box, started a business, moved twice, trained future college basketball players, interviewed strength coaches, college coaches, and NBA skill trainers, and visited different gyms to watch other trainers work. The newsletters draw on these experiences, and more, and are written to challenge coaches, players, and parents to think about their methods and approach to basketball. Included are drills, philosophy, teaching concepts, and interviews. Volume 1 includes interviews with ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla, NBA skills trainer David Thorpe, and Kobe Bryant's personal trainer. The book covers topics ranging from reducing ankle injuries to reasons not to use the zigzag drill to incorporating the Self-Determination Theory when coaching or training athletes, and numerous topics in between.
“Brian McCormick is slowly influencing the game of basketball in America, especially at the grassroots level. His insights on skill development are second to none. If you coach or, more appropriately, ‘teach’ the game of basketball, this book is a must-read.”
ESPN Analyst and former NCAA DI Head Coach
“I look forward to receiving my newsletter so that I can get new ideas, drills and information to implement into my workouts.”
Shooting Coach, Detroit Pistons