Category Archives for Basketball

How to Deal with Reluctant Students and Refusal to Participate

Fear in children isn’t always expressed with wide-eyes and tears, particularly with older teens. In school, fear of failure at an activity or standing out in a bad way can manifest as refusals to participate.

When faced with a child or teenager’s refusal to participate, it can be tough, but these are children feeling fear. It’s up to you to role model bravery and provide safety.

Source of Fears
Not every child in a PE or After School Program is an expert in sports, so some may struggle to learn. For them, aiming at the net in basketball but throwing an air ball in front of everyone may feel humiliating.

From dribbling the ball right to remembering the rules, these children see nothing but opportunities to fail when playing basketball. So, they avoid it all together; they refuse to participate.

What Can You Do?
When someone is feeling fear, it’s like they are backed into a corner. Pushing them will only cause them to feel further penned in with no choice other than digging in deeper. It’s time to be creative and show them a way out of the corner.

1.Don’t Fight Them. They will seem angry and obstinate, but remember, they are scared. Don’t fuel the fires of their anger. Show them bravery by staying calm in the face of their adversity.

2.Acknowledge Their Choice. Give permission to skip the game. Tell them you understand they don’t want to play, so let’s do something else that’s less threatening and helps build self-esteem instead of tear it down.

3.Redirect the Energy. Introduce fun games and activities that focus on skill development, like Basketball Skillastics®. Pull from these to give them small challenges that they can win. Focus on the skill, not the game

Making it Fun for All
When you push someone out of their comfort zone, it helps to provide a bridge. That’s where skill development come into the picture. Not everyone will be able to play a game of basketball, but skill development is accessible to everyone.

One of the reasons Basketball Skillastics® works well with a diverse group is because its inclusive and allows a whole class to practice their skills in a fun way all at the same time. Also, you can float the room once everyone is occupied. Now, you can assess everyone’s skill level, provide more support for reluctant students, and allow skilled students to showcase their abilities.
Bridging the Gulf

Develop resources to bridge the gulf to reach and draw out fearful students; you have a real chance to help change their attitudes. We can get you started with Basketball Skillastics®, a resource designed so that all children can have fun learning basketball instead of missing out. Throughout November when you use the code bb2019, you’ll receive 10% off so that you can begin to use this resource right away. Purchase online or via Purchase Order to FAX (951) 279-3957 or email to Suzanne Blair at

5 Tips for Creating Basketball Lesson that Kids Love

It’s that time of year again! Gyms echo with the squeaks of sneakers as we kick off Basketball Season. During PE and after school this time of year, it’s all about basketball. It’s also the number one choice of recess activity; more basketballs are requested this time of year, and for good reason!

Everyone can play with a ball. But not everyone can or wants to play a sport.

Basketball for All
So, it’s tough to create lessons to teach basketball; how do you include students who are good at basketball and want to be challenged as well as students who have very little interest in the sport?

The solution is to focus on skill development. All students, no matter their ability, can have fun developing their skills in a non-threatening, non-competitive atmosphere.
Creating the Right Environment

By following the 5 tips below, you can make it easier to teach basketball fundamentals to diverse groups:

1.A Ball for Each. Get each student a ball, any ball. If it bounces and fits through a net, it’s great to use to teach basketball fundamentals. If you must share, follow a ratio of two students per ball.

2.Control the Bouncing. Kids love to bounce the ball! They can’t seem to help themselves, despite requests to stop, and it gets disruptive. So, remove temptation. Create a signal word or phrase like “stall the ball!” at which they put the ball between their feet when they hear it.

3.Delegate to Motivate and Engage. If you’re not comfortable demonstrating a fundamental, allow skilled students to take this role. They will love it!

4.Keep Them Moving! Downtime breeds distractions or misbehaving. Keep them actively engaged. Waiting in line? Practice dribbling or ball-handling. Waiting for a ball? Mirror the activity to learn the motions.

5.Play the Game Last. At the end of the lesson, avoid playing a game of basketball. Modify the game to highlight the skill learned in the session.

Resource for Skill Building
To modify the game or learn other skill development ideas so all children enjoy the sport, consult resources like Basketball Skillastics®. Motivated by the desire to create an all-inclusive and whole class learning environment, Basketball Skillastics was designed to practice skills in a fun way together.

For this month, let’s make the most of the sport by getting the most children involved through skill development. Celebrate the start of basketball season with a 10% discount on Basketball Skillastics® throughout November for After School and Physical Education Instructors with code bb2019. Online, or Purchase Order.

Making Free Throws Count

Think about how many games are won or lost on the free throw line. It happens at all levels – Elementary, Jr. High, High School, College and the Pros. Developing a consistent, reliable foul shot can change your success and your team’s success. With all the physical contact that happens during a game, it’s wonderful to take a shot with no one guarding you. You work hard to get to the free throw line, now just put it in!
Things to remember:
• Take deep breaths; relax your muscles. Take a moment to catch your breath. You rarely go to the line rested.
• Repetition is important. Create a habit every time you step up to the free throw line. For example, dribble twice before you take the shot. Do the same routine every time. It will be comforting.
• Use a consistent shooting technique; each shot must be the same motion. Stay balanced. Keep your elbow in. Fix your eyes on the target and follow through.
• Line up properly. Most indoor courts have a nail placed in the middle of the foul line. Line up your right foot with the nail if you’re right-handed, left foot if you’re left-handed.
• Think positively; you must believe in yourself and have the confidence that you will make the shot. Repetition equals confidence; confidence equals success. Practice, practice, practice.
1. Shoot at least 100 free throws a day.
2. Step up to the foul line and shoot two at a time. Step back off and the line for a split second. Then, shoot two more free throws.
3. Break up your shooting so you don’t get into a groove. Make 10 jump shots around the basket and then step up to the line and shoot 10 free throws. Repeat.
4. My Dad always told me to challenge myself when shooting free throws. If the ball swishes without touching the rim, it counts. If it touches the rim a little, but still goes in, it does not count. You don’t have to do this at first, but work toward this.
5. Keep a record of the shots you make each day.
Free throws are a very important part of the game. Practice shooting free throws so that you have the confidence to step up to that line during a crucial part of the game and put them in.

Learn from an NBA Star

Several years ago, I was looking at our sales database and I recognized the name, Kendal Gill. Kendall Gill was a journeyman that played many years in the NBA. I was intrigued that an NBA player would have purchased some of my products.

A couple weeks later I get this phone call and the man on the other line said: “Hi Sandy, I know who you are. Do you know who I am? My name is Kendall Gill.” He exclaimed, “I’ve been in the NBA for 12 years now and this summer I am dedicating my summer to learning how to handle the basketball better because I want to be able to hang with the younger guys.” He continued, “I purchased some of your DVD’s, and they helped me out a lot, but I was wondering if you could give me some one-on-one lessons.”

I thought to myself, this guy makes a lot of money, he’s in the NBA, yet he’s asking me, a woman, to help him handle the basketball better. But more importantly I thought, this guy is a winner. He was an established player in the NBA. For the most part he could have chosen to just go through the motions, but he wanted to get better and it didn’t matter that I was a woman. He believed that I could help him improve.”

It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting to play basketball or an NBA great like Kendall Gill, you can always learn more from coaches, parents and others who may have valuable knowledge to share.

Kendall Gill’s work ethic is something to admire.

Basketball Tips and Ideas – Focus on the Present

I remember the first time I performed at the halftime of a Boston Celtics game. What a thrill it was to perform on a court with so much history associated with it! When I started the dribbling routine of my performance, my mind started to wander – here I was standing on the Leprechaun, thinking about all the historical games that were started with a jump ball right here. I was thinking completely about something else other than thinking about what I was doing in front of 20,000 people at that moment! I made a slight mistake, which shocked me back into focusing on the present and then I finished the performance successfully.

Have you ever felt your mind wander during an important moment in a game? We’ve all experienced this at one time or another in our lives, and it’s easier said than done to “snap out of it” and get back to focusing on the task at hand. Below are 7 Keys to Staying Focused in the Present:

  1. Refocus – Become aware of the slip of attention, and then choose another focal point or direction of attention to turn your mind to.
  2. Use Task Goals – Concentrate on the specific challenges of the event. This may include technique or strategy points, executing plays, or simply being involved in the game.
  3. Keep it Simple – Do not become overly analytic in your desire to take an “active mind” approach to performance. Do not fill your mind up with so many thoughts.
  4. Plan for the Competition – Planning well in advance of the event involves working out where to focus at different parts of an event. By preparing mental plans in advance, you are free to carry out the plan during performance.
  5. Make Back up Plans – These are developed by preparing responses, or refocusing strategies, to use in adverse competitive situations. Of course, you can’t plan for all possible scenarios, but working out in advance how you would respond can facilitate an appropriate response being made when the “heat is on.”
  6. Practice Concentration – Here is a meditation exercise. Sit in a comfortable position. Take a note of the time on your watch. Close your eyes and focus on one thing (for instance your breathing). Pay attention to your breaths in and out. Do this for as long as you maintain this focus. Open your eyes when your focus moves and note the time on your watch. Continue to try to increase your focus time.
  7. Direct your attention – Dissociate the emotional content from the noise of the crowd. Know that the crowd is there, but don’t let it affect your feelings.

Some information in this tip comes from: Flow in Sports: The Keys to Optimal Experiences and Performances.

When Good Enough Isn’t Good Enough

Ever hear a teammate say during a basketball drill, “That’s good enough, we’ve done what the coach has asked us to do.” Or a classmate say, “That’s good enough, our teacher won’t look that closely at our project.” Maybe you’ve told yourself, “That’s good enough, Mom and Dad won’t notice that I didn’t clean under my bed.

If any of these examples hit home, you are not alone. We’ve all at some point in our lives, cut short a drill, asked a friend what the book was about instead of reading it ourselves or quickly “cleaned” our room so we could do something more exciting. When we do this it hurts no one but ourselves.

If you want to become the basketball player you know you are capable of becoming, good enough just isn’t good enough. What I mean is that if you cut corners and don’t demand 110% of yourself, the outcome will be less then your best.

I read the following poem in a newspaper and I truly believe in its message. I hope it helps you banish this dangerous phrase from your vocabulary

Good Enough Isn’t Good Enough

My child, beware of “good enough.”
It isn’t made of sterling stuff;
It’s something anyone can do;
It marks the many from the few.
The flaw which may escape the eye
And temporarily get by
Shall weaken underneath the strain
And wreck the ship, the car or plane.
With “good enough,” the car breaks down,
And one falls short of high renown.
My child, remember and be wise,
In “good enough,” the shirkers stop
In every factory and shop;
With “good enough,” the failures rest
And lose the one who gives the best.
Who stops at “good enough,” shall find
Success has left them far behind.
For this is true of you and your stuff —
Only the best is “good enough.”

If it is to be, it is up to me (The author of this poem was not cited, so if you know who composed it, please email me so I can give the proper credit.)


Confidence or Arrogance?

There is a distinct difference between confidence and arrogance out on the basketball court.  Confidence is defined as an athlete who is sure of his/her abilities and gets the job done.  She or he knows that basketball is a team game and praises his/her teammates – giving credit where credit is due.  Arrogance is defined as an athlete who is sure of his/her abilities, however taking it one step further.  He or she knows they’re good and makes sure everyone around them knows it too. They are never at fault if the ball is turned over, or the ref makes a call — it’s always someone else’s fault.

I found a poem, by Tom Krause that talks about arrogance and coming to the realization that no matter how good we are, we always have room for improvement.

Just Me
by Tom Krause

From the time I was little, I knew I was great
’cause the people would tell me, “You’ll make it – just wait.”
But they never did tell me how great I would be
If I ever played someone who was greater than me.

When I’m in the back yard, I’m king with the ball
To swish all those baskets is no sweat at all.
But all of a sudden there’s a defender in my face
Who doesn’t seem to realize that I’m king of this place.

So the pressure gets to me; I rush with the ball.
My passes to teammates could go through the wall.
My jumper’s not falling, my dribbles not sure.
My hand is not steady; my eye is not pure.

The fault is my teammates – they don’t understand.
The fault is my coaches – what a terrible plan.
The fault is the call by the blind referee.
But the fault is not mine; I’m the greatest, you see.

Then finally it hit me when I started to see
That the face in the mirror looked exactly like me.
It wasn’t my teammates who were dropping the ball,
and it wasn’t my coach shooting bricks at the wall.

That face in the mirror that was always so great
Had some room for improvement instead of just hate.
So I stopped blaming others and I started to grow.
My play got much better and it started to show.

And all of my teammates didn’t seem quite so bad.
I learned to depend on the good friends I had.
Now I like myself better since I started to see
That I was lousy being great – I’m much better being me.

A Spinsational Life

There are moments in life that are so significant, that the experience will remain clearly in your mind for the rest of your life.  I experienced this unforgettable  moment late last month.

My High School alma mater named its gym after me.  The  Sandy Spin Slade Gymnasium  dedication ceremony took place on January 27, 2017.  It had to be one of the most humbling experiences of my life.  To be recognized in this way in the company of family, friends, classmates, former teachers and members of the community was so remarkable.

It’s quite surreal to me to be honored like this, especially when all I’ve done is passionately pursue what I loved.  In my speech, I took a moment to reflect on what that new sign, which hangs  in the gym, truly represents for the students.  It signifies that life has no limitations, and every student has the same opportunities to pursue his/her passion.  It also symbolizes endless possibilities and taking chances in life.  This can be echoed at every school throughout this country.  Students have to believe that there are so many opportunities before them and if they work hard to pursue their passion, amazing things can happen.  If it can happen to a girl from a small, northwestern Wisconsin town, it can happen to any child!

I want to thank all of the people in Solon Springs, WI who created an evening that I will never forget.

I also want to thank all of you – for I gain my strength and inspiration from your tireless dedication in providing an environment where all children have a positive experience being physically active.  Your endless enthusiasm and passion that you display in my workshops, as well as the positive comments about Skillastics® you share mean more to me then you’ll ever know.

Definitely a Spinsational Life…

Starting the New Year off Right!

Happy New Year! It’s time for new beginnings. Everyone feels happy at the beginning of a new year. Our minds are full of positive thoughts for a wonderful and prosperous New Year.  Now is the perfect time to encourage your young athletes to set individual goals.

Ask them to take the time and answer these questions.

  1. What do you want to accomplish this year?
  2. Do you want to make the varsity?
  3. How many points do you want to average?
  4. How about steals or rebounds?
  5. How about setting a goal to jog at least three times a week?
  6. How about lifting weights?

There are endless possibilities for setting realistic goals. Have them write them down and display it in their room where they can see it often. It’s important that they keep that positive energy throughout the whole year and have a template to refer to when challenges appear.

Let’s all have a fantastic 2017!!!


Learn From Former NBA Star Kendall Gill

Many years ago I sold basketball books and videos on my website. One day back then I was looking at the names of the people who had purchased some of my products. One of the names I ran across was, Kendall Gill. I thought to myself, the only Kendall Gill I know plays in the NBA, and at the time he played for the Minnesota Timberwolves. So I thought that it was pretty cool that a pro player purchased a couple videos off my site.
A couple weeks later I get this phone call and the man on the other line said: “Hi Sandy, I know who you are. Do you know who I am? My name is Kendall Gill.” He said, “I’ve been in the NBA for 12 years and this summer I am dedicating my summer to learning how to handle the basketball better because I want to be able to hang with the younger guys.” He continued, “I purchased some of your tapes, and they helped me out a lot, but I was wondering if you could give me some one-on-one lessons.”
I thought to myself, “Wow, this guy makes a lot of money, he’s in the NBA, yet he’s asking me — a woman — to help him handle the basketball better.” But more importantly I thought, “This guy is a winner. He’s established in the NBA, for the most part he could just go through the motions, but he wants to get better and it doesn’t matter that I’m a woman, he feels that I can help him improve.”
It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting to play basketball or an NBA player like Kendall Gill, you can always learn more from coaches, parents and others who may be more skilled. Kendall Gill’s work ethic is definitely something to admire. If Kendall can learn how to handle the ball better, so can you.

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