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How To Become a Basketball Referee

Ready To Put On The Stripes? Here's What You Need To Know

Becoming a basketball referee isn't for everyone.  You'll be dealing with coaches who complain about every call, and parents who know nothing about basketball telling you how to do your job.  Yep, being a basketball referee isn't easy, but it can be a rewarding career if you have the confidence in your abilities to call a game effectively.

Just how rewarding?  Well, if you go all the way to the NBA, you'll be earning 150k from the get-go, and that can go to upwards of 550k! With that kind of earnings potential you may be saying "Where do I sign up?" Not so fast my friend, as you won't be starting in the best basketball league in the world.  No, you will likely start officiating in youth leagues and begin to work your way up. In these youth leagues you can expect to make $20-$30 per game for the opportunity to get berated by Little Jimmy's alcoholic father.  Yeah, not so glamorous.

If you're still reading this I assume I haven't scared you off and you are still set on learning more about a career as a basketball ref.  For you brave souls I've put together some tips on how to get started, good luck!

1. Join NASO

The NASO, while not as prestigious as NASA, is a big deal for referees of all sports. NASO stands for National Association of Sports Officials.  They are the premiere organization for officials all around the USA. You'll find some great information on how to get started as a basketball official from NASO here.

From there you should look for local or statewide officiating organizations.  For example, I live in Ohio, so if I was looking to become a referee I'd also join the OHSAA. Having the support of the local organization will help you as you begin your basketball officiating journey.

2. Complete The Required Training 

Every state is different so you'll want to look up your state's requirements for becoming an official.  Again, using Ohio as an example, you'll want to go this OHSAA page and start the process of taking the course to become an official. I'd recommend looking a for a similar page from your state's high school athletics association.  

Starting with youth sports? If so, we'd recommend checking out the National Association of Youth Sports officials page.  This page will show you how to become a member and what training is required to become NAYS certified.

Many courses are web-based so you can do them from home.  At the end there is usually a test that you'll have to pass with a certain percentage of answers correct to qualify.

3. Start To Officiate

Find your local youth basketball league and look to see if they need officials. Likely, they will as it is hard to find good referees at this level. 

If you want to go straight to the high school level, that may be an option depending on your location.  Just expect to officiate freshman games to get your start.  You won't get to officiate varsity level games until you've shown an ability to effectively manage games at the lower levels.  For this you'll reach out to your local officials association to get started. 

Be sure to train yourself both mentally and physical.  I'd strongly recommend a basic cardio fitness program so that you can get up and down the court without getting winded.  This way you can focus on making calls rather than trying to catch your breath.  If you have time add a bit of basic strength training as well to help prevent injury.

While most will skip this, I'd also recommend that for those looking to officiate to consider practicing regular mindfulness training.  This could be as simple as doing 10 minutes of mindfulness meditation per day or some yoga.  Either way, it will help you to stay in the moment and not get too emotional when things get heated in a game situation.

4. Learn Your League Rules

Not every league as the same rules.  This is especially true for local youth basketball games.  For instance, when I coached 5th grade youth basketball they had several special rules.  

For instance, you could not full court press until 2 minutes left in the game, and only if you were down 10 or more points.  Each team got one timeout per half. Only man-to-man defense was allowed (no zones).  As you can see, even for an official at these youth levels you needed to do some studying to make sure you knew each of these unique rules.

Unfortunately, most of the officials in the league did not abide by these. Hey, that just means there's more room for potential quality refs like yourself!

5. Realize You Won't Be Perfect

Perfection is one of those things that we all want but can't have.  And there are few professions where this is more obvious than basketball officiating.  No matter how good you are you'll always have a call or two that you miss during a game. Heck, those NBA refs that make all that money miss plenty of calls.

The point here is to not put too high of expectations on yourself.  You're doing your best, and you will have to remember that even when a coach and half the fans are screaming in your ear about how much you suck; not an easy task.

Fall back on your training and experience.  Learn from your mistakes and keep your head up when things aren't going well.  The more you remind yourself that not being perfect is okay and the less validation you need from others, the better. At the end of the day, you have the whistle and control of the situation.

6. Get Ready For Parents and Coaches

Coaches want to win games.  There's no doubt about that.  And for good reason, their jobs are often on the line.  You'll certainly run into your fair share of hot-headed coaches who will curse you and belittle your abilities as an official.  While you may want to chuck this coach off of a cliff you must stay objective.  Don't be afraid to set the tone with a technical foul if things start to get out of hand. You deserve respect, just like every other human being.  

While coaches may be bad, parents are worse.  Because unlike coaches, parents most likely have limited to no experience with the game of basketball no matter what they tell themselves.  On top of this, some parents' priorities are off and they are living through their kids, a sad situation to be sure.  Again, stay objective.  You can't punish a team for their fans. You should not be afraid to through a fan/parent out if they threaten or try to harm you or are using language that is not appropriate in a high school or lesser league.  

7. Move Up, Make More Money

While it can be said that good basketball officials make themselves invisible. They don't interfere with the flow of the game and allow for players to play without tolerating excessive contact.

Once you've shown yourself worthy, you'll have the opportunity to move up. Whether that's to high school varsity, or you get into doing collegiate games your task will become even tougher.  As the players get bigger, faster, and more skilled, making the correct call will become more difficult.  

Each step up will likely require more ref training to make sure you're up to the task. Be prepared to take tests with required minimum scores to qualify.

With the greater responsibility comes greater pay.  For division I refs you can expect to earn $1000-$3000 per game.  With upwards of 75 games officiated in a season, you can be topping six figures pretty easily.

8. Stay Sharp

Officiating is like learning a language, you've got to use what you've learned or you'll lose it.  That means you need to referee games regularly to keep your skills sharp and to improve over time.  Don't expect to keep your same level of skill if you've not worked in a year.  

To keep your skills honed, take every opportunity to officiate basketball games. Even if you are used to reffing high school games, don't be afraid to take on some youth league or even summer camp opportunities.  Doing so will keep you on your game and give you a leg up on your officiating competition.

Conclusion

It's safe to say that officiating isn't for everyone.  You've got to love the game of basketball and have a demeanor that doesn't rattle easily.  If you can keep your nerve and stay objective, you can move your way up to a pretty lucrative career.  

Whether part-time or full-time, officiating basketball games can be rewarding. You get to travel a lot and you'll always be right in the action.  Follow the steps I've outlined above and you'll be well on your way to becoming a quality basketball official.

10 Best Basketball Shoes Under $100 for 2019

 

It’s not the best feeling: you hustled for an hour across a full court, only to miss the game-winning shot.

Your teammates can’t help but put all the blame on you—and that jackass from the other team is too busy celebrating to even notice you.

And to top it all off, you suddenly notice a gaping hole just opened up on the side of your shoe.

And while there’s definitely more to the game of basketball than just your shoes, there’s nothing better than the feeling of a high-quality pair of basketball sneakers to boost your confidence—and your game.

But just because you want a decent pair of shoes, doesn’t mean you have to go broke. You can even stay within a reasonable budget.  To prove my point, here’s a list of the top 10 basketball shoes under $100.

 

1. Nike Men’s Air Versatile II

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Stay agile and cushioned with Nike’s Air Versitile II for men. This pair packs all the essentials for a great, affordable price.

Let’s start with the design. Sleek: that’s what you’re getting as the interlocking black and white patterns form a support system for your feet.

Made with textile and synthetic materials, the focus was placed on ensuring you are padded and protected on the court.

An Air-Sole beneath the heel will help provide comfort and security when coming down from a big jump shot. Additionally, the unit is visible near the rear of the shoe, adding a great design element.

You’ll also get added security with the fly wire cables installed across the sides, providing much-needed lockdown. The heel package is incredibly plush, essentially “hugging” your foot for added comfort.

Simply put, the quality of the shoes at this price makes it a fantastic choice. Buy Here

 

2. Under Armour Men’s NXT TB

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This is the pair of sneakers you show off to your friends (and enemies) on the court—and fool them into thinking you spent a fortune.

The NXT TB for men by Under Armour is something to marvel at. Aesthetically, it has that edgy, gritty design that’s an instant eye-catcher.

A series of gridded, hash-patterns appear across the backend and blend softly into the side. Made of textile and synthetic materials, the upper’s mesh is coated with TPU yarn, all embroidered to offer maximum structuring.

The medial quarter panel is made of a modeled, articulated material that will ensure additional support for when it matters the most.

Stay loose and breathable with a light, mesh tongue that ensures necessary ventilation. A speed-lacing system using a webbed loop will have you ready to ball out in no time. Buy Here

 

3. ANTA Klay Thompson KT3 Playoffs Low

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This pair by ANTA is another visual stunner that betrays its price. The Klay Thompson KT3 Playoffs Low for men provides a combination of incredible looks with technical design precision.

Let’s start at the top: the upper is comprised of a mesh material that will offer incredible levels of breathability. In fact, nearly the entire upper and sides are made up of the mesh, ensuring a feeling of freedom.

This, however, doesn’t detract from the stability and traction beneath your feet. The outsole is made of EVA, rubber, and TPU to maximize that feeling of security you need to feel confident on the court.

If your town’s summers tend to get particularly hot, these low-cut sneakers are ideal. Add to this ANTA’s EVE system foam pads across the shoe’s rear, and it’ll feel like floating compared to your old pair. Buy Here

 

4. Nike Men’s Air Precision

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The name says it all: the Air Precision for men by Nike is an incredibly affordable pair without skimping on the quality.

Do not let stable sneakers wear you down on the court. The Air Precision creates a system that is lightweight yet supportive. You’ll also get that locked-in feel without the weight of other models.

The upper is comprised of a light mesh for maximum ventilation. A skin overlay helps keep your mid-foot securely in place.

Foam pads located in precise spots will give you that walking-on-air feeling—you know, the one that makes you feel capable of jumping higher than Jordan.

In addition, you’re getting a half-length bootie that meets the perfect balance point between high and low.

Top it all off with a Herringbone pattern on the rubber to keep you stable and full of traction. Buy Here

 

5. Nike Men’s Kyrie 3

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Kyrie is known for a lot of crazy things: crazy handle, finishes, and crazy beliefs—like thinking the earth is flat!

But sometimes, crazy is just too cutting-edge for us to understand, and this is certainly the case with how he handles the rock.

And so the Nike Men’s Kyrie 3 was created with this philosophy in mind, accommodating quick feet and a lightning-fast roar towards the hoop. The sneakers’ zonal support system provides all the stability you need while keeping you lightweight.

With the inclusion of hyperfuse construction, you’ll feel securely in place without compromising on breathability. Furthermore, the mid-sole is comprised of foam that can offer much-needed protection without all the bulk or weight.

And lastly, to accommodate a flagrant playing style, curvature designs on the outside will provide great support for lateral movements. Buy Here

 

6. Adidas Men’s Dame 4

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The Dame 4 by Adidas has remained a classic in the industry and the fourth iteration is no exception.

First, the design has been updated to be more modern and trim. The textile upper provides an eye-catching support system that’s also breathable.

The midsole incorporates the trademarked “boost” cushioning so that quick movements are both supported and enabled. Additional security is ensured through a lacing system that keeps the entire package locked down.

Between the neoprene collar, snug bootee design, and tread pattern across the outsole, you’ll find yourself capable of almost any movement without fear of consequence.

But let’s not forget about style. The tread pattern reflects the passage of time and this latest model has been updated to stay modern and fresh. Collectively, it all comes together with the grace and dependability you can expect from Adidas. Buy Here

 

7. Jordan Men’s Fly Unlimited

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He’s the man known for landing last-second game winning shots and jumping as high as the sky. So naturally, if it’s a pair of sneakers inspired by him, or even designed for him, then you know it must be legendary.

The legend of Michael Jordan is reflected with great accuracy in the Fly Unlimited by Nike. Don’t be limited by heavy, bulky shoes that claim to provide excellent stability while bogging you down.

Instead, the Fly Unlimited utilizes a very lightweight upper kept grounded by a full-bootie. The inclusion of a wraparound strap helps keep things secure without over-cluttering.

Keep it all together with the incredible Flight Web lacing system that puts it all into place no matter the tension on the court.

Not to get to “science-y”, but an injected Phylon midsole will also aid lateral movements—there’s nothing this pair can’t do. Stay unlimited with the Jordan Fly Unlimited by Nike. Buy Here

Check out these Jordan Basketball Shorts

8. Nike Men’s Air Max Infuriate

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It’s exactly how you want your opponents to feel after a brutal game of hoops—infuriated.

The Nike Men’s Air Max Infuriate will boost your performance and leave others in the dust.

Stay light and lean without compromising on stability. This pair utilizes a breathable mesh upper with a Full Max Air 180 cushion beneath the heel for extreme support.

Keep rigid with flywire cables that create a nurturing cage for the entire foot.

Extending the full length across the midsole is Phylon foam for extended stability when it matters the most. Indeed, you might find the competition utterly infuriated thanks to this extra edge.

The outsole is made of rubber with a herringbone pattern designed uniquely to maximize traction. All your landings and takeoffs will stay precise and efficient with these sneakers as your backup. Buy Here

 

9. Jordan Men’s Jordan B.Fly

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Play hard, play great, and don’t compromise on the style. Be fly with the Jordan B.Fly for men. Nike has served up something quite special here, managing to create excellent design with an undeniable fashion statement—and all for a great price.

Stand back in awe as the interlacing design pattern across the upper and midsole encompasses the majority of the sneaker. The trademark Nike Jordan logo is emblazoned across the side.

But let’s talk specs: this is the lightest Jordan model of them all and caters specifically for those who want maximum weightlessness on the court.

Remember that intricate pattern? Well, it’s not just a fashion statement: it also provides a tough, woven system to keep your foot securely contained while remaining flexible.

Additionally, you’ll get incredible layers of support down below thanks to a Nike Zoom Air unit placed conveniently beneath the forefoot.

The inclusion of a shank plate will keep the mid-foot stabilized and create necessary torsional stiffness. With the price, the style, and the comfort—it’s almost too good to be true. Buy Here

 

10. Adidas Men’s Cloudfoam Executor

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It might sound like a contradiction, but this pair of sneakers by Adidas lives up to the name.

The Cloudfoam Executor will keep you feeling light as air yet lethal as an executor on the court. This pair provides excellent comfort and support.

Aesthetically, you’ll enjoy the 3-Stripes style that’s screen-printed for a truly polished looked.

With an upper comprised of a two-tone mesh, breathability is maximized without compromising on the stability. But the name mentions “Cloudfoam”, and that’s a key feature embedded into the midsole that will make landings feel like falling on a bed of clouds.

In addition, Cloudfoam is placed in the sockliner, providing even more of that soft, supporting structure.

But who says clouds can’t handle some pressure? The sneakers’ rubber outsoles offer incredible traction for any move on the court. Buy Here

5 Basketball Training Tips

Training and conditioning is just as important as working on your shot in basketball.  The truth is that if you are not in shape you won’t have the physical capacity to use your skills to the highest degree.  Think about it; if you are out of breath are you as likely to make a three pointer or will it end up hitting the front of the rim?

1. Treat Your Body Right

Basketball training today looks a lot different than it did in the past.  I mean just take a look at a couple things related to Larry Bird’s living habits.  The dude literally put together his mother’s driveway even though he was a multimillionaire.  Not only that, but he injured his back in the process which effectively ended his career.  Can you image Lebron James building an driveway on his free time?

Now we are not saying that you shouldn’t be willing to do manual labor, but we are saying that you should make sure you are physically prepared to do any demanding task.

2. Nutrition Matters, A Lot

Larry Legend also had some poor eating habits during his playing career.

These days the best players in the world take care of their body in a way that past generations didn’t even consider.  Take a look at Lebron’s diet.  This guy takes inventory on everything that goes into his body, and for good reason.  Food is the fuel of the body.  If you are putting in a bunch of processed pizza pockets than you can be sure your body will not perform optimally.

For basketball players make sure you are getting a good deal of healthy fats, which can come from things like coconut oil, avocados, and nuts.  Do not eat too many carbs, and make sure to get plenty of healthy fruits and vegetables which have important vitamins and minerals to keep you feeling your best.

3. Focus On Functional Strength

In the old days guys would hit the bench press and just do rep after rep thinking this was going to prepare them for game time.

But if you want to be the best basketball player possible you need to work on strengthening the muscles most utilized in basketball.  This means your focus should be on building a solid core, meaning your abs, back, and hips.  Quads and hamstrings should be strengthen threw quick and explosive movement exercises like those in the Vert Shock Program.

Exercises that involved jumping and other types of interval training are always good for basketball players.

4. Meditate

Meditation has so many great properties that enhance athletic performance.  Mindfulness meditation helps to decrease anxiety allowing basketball players to focus in on the present moment.  This is incredibly powerful when you are in a late game situation and you are expected to rise up to the occasion.  If you have yourself mentally prepared for the moment then the moment won’t overwhelm you.

5. Have a Method to Your Practice

I see too many players when they practice not have any rhyme or reason for what they do.  They willy nilly take shots and slowly get their rebound and shot again, and again and again.

Have a plan for each practice session.  If you are working on dribbling make sure to have 5 or so drills that you can do at full speed.  If you notice you are a weaker shooter from a certain spot on the court then work on it!  If you need to work on passing and vision, then work on not telegraphing your passes.

Is The Vert Shock Program a Scam?

Want to Dunk?

Alright guys, one of the most popular things I get asked about is how to improve your vertical jump in the hopes of being able to dunk.  The truth is that we all want to be like our NBA heroes who seem to defy gravity as they levitate through the air with ease.  Don’t you want to do that?  Well, I know I do.

While you may want to dunk, not all of us can or will.  There are several players in the NBA who can’t dunk right now, so dunking is not a must have skill to play at the highest level.  At the same time having as high of a vertical jump as you possibly can help your game tremendously as you’ll be able to get more shots off over the extended arms of defenders.

How to Improve Your Vertical: Vert Shock?

Whether you can touch the rim and want to take your vertical to the next level so you can dunk, or if you just want a better vertical to improve your game the answer may lie in the Vert Shock Program.

Vert Shock is a vertical jumping program that was created by Adam Folker, a former division I collegiate basketball player who now plays professional basketball overseas.  The focus of the Vert Shock program is to use plyometric workouts at 100% explosive effort to build your fast twitch muscles fibers and optimize your central nervous system for jumping.

What is nice about the workouts in Vert Shock is that they can be done within the comfort of your home and do not require you go to a gym.  What is most important is that you do the workouts faithfully and totally commit to the 8 week long program.

There are plenty of testimonials on YouTube that show the positive results that users of the Vert Shock program have achieved.  While I’m always a bit weary of testimonials in general, I think you’ll find that the majority of these testimonials for Vert Shock appear authentic.

Here is one in particular that I feel is genuine.

You can definitely tell it is the same guy.  While there is no way to be 100% sure he wasn’t dogging it on the first part of video it does look like he was giving full effort.

Vert Shock Explained

Vert Shock Exercise Video

As I mentioned previously, Vert Shock was created by Adam Folker as a way for anyone to improve their vertical jumping ability by up to 9 to 15 inches. Within the program there are three main sections: Pre-Shock, Shock, and Post-Shock. Each of these phases has a specific goal and purpose all of which are designed to help you reach your vertical jumping goals.

There are also some valuable bonus materials that Adam includes in your Vert Shock purchase, which include articles on things that can hurt your vertical, as well as an advanced vertical training workout sheet that can be used after you complete the 8-week Vert Shock program.  FYI, the advanced vertical training workout does require gym equipment and you’ll likely need to go to the gym to perform the exercises.  For most the core Vert Shock program will suffice.

Phase 1: Pre-Shock

Vert Shock’s Pre-Shock Interface

The Pre-Shock phase of Vert Shock really gets things going as you’ll be doing many of the exercises that you’ll get familiar with over the 8-week period.  The goal of Pre-Shock is to begin building your fast-twitch muscle fibers while minimizing the risk of injury while your body adapts to the volume of jumping and explosive movements.

Another goal of the Pre-Shock phase is to build your core, which if yours has been neglected will be an important factor in creating a higher vertical jump.  You will be working out six of seven days during the Pre-Shock phase of Vert Shock.

After this week you may find that you have added a couple inches to your vertical, which is pretty damn cool for just one week of work.

Phase 2: Shock

Welcome to the bulk of the Vert Shock program.  The Shock phase consists of 6 weeks of workouts that follow a consistent format.  Generally you’ll have 4 to 5 days of working out and 2 to 3 days of recovery and rest.  To see optimum results you should follow the program specifically and do not workout on your recovery days.  Sore and fatigued muscles require rest so that they can rebuild and become stronger.

We have found that the main focus of the plyometric exercises is to do each one with maximum explosiveness.  Go 100% each time.  This is why the Vert Shock program gives you ample rest between sets.  They want you to be fully recovered so you can give the next set everything you got.

At the beginning, 4th week, and 8th week you will do a vertical test to see your results.  We recommend not testing it more than this or you may become discouraged if you don’t see the results that you are hoping for immediately.

Phase 3: Post-Shock

The final phase of the Vert Shock program is the Post-Shock phase.  This phase is pretty freaking intense as you will work out 6 of 7 days during the 1 week phase period.  By this point you should be much stronger in your core and lower body after having completed 7 weeks of Vert Shock.

Post-Shock will max you out so that once you get a chance to recover you will see the maximum amount of increase in your vertical possible.

Extra Features in Vert Shock

Vert Shock Bonuses

As part of the Vert Shock program you get a maintenance program that you do once a week after you have finished the Vert Shock program.  This maintenance program will help you keep your vertical jumping gains over the long-term so that you don’t lose what you worked hard to get.

You’ll also get short articles or “ebooks” on things that hurt your vertical jump, five secrets to jumping higher, and a nutrition tips sheet.  Nutrition in particular is an often overlooked factor in maximizing athletic performance, but it should be in the forefront of your mind as you progress through Vert Shock.

Probably the most valuable extra included in the Vert Shock program is the Complex Training Techniques “Ebook”.  This workout program offers vertical training technique using weights, and is best utilized after you’ve completed the 8 week Vert Shock course.  Having these complex training techniques allow you to go even further with your vertical training once you are done with the Vert Shock program.

Vert Shock Summary

Overall, Vert Shock is a valuable tool for anyone looking to increase their vertical.  The exercises and workouts are logically setup and work the muscle groups most needed in maximizing your jumping power.

Is Vert Shock a Scam?

While Vert Shock makes some bold marketing claims, it is not a scam.

Being that this is the question asked in the title of this article we feel we should address this thoroughly.  Vert Shock is not a scam.  It is a legit plyometric program that is designed to enhance your jumping.  If you do the program with maximum effort you will no doubt see improvements in your vertical jump.

That being said some of Vert Shock’s marketing and claims in their advertisements may be a bit over the top.  Not everyone who uses Vert Shock will be able to dunk.  The truth is that we all have different athletic limits and abilities.  For example, two people could both have a 20 inch vertical at the beginning of the program.  At the end one of Vert Shock, one participant’s vertical may have grown 15 inches and they can now jump 35 inches in the air.  On the flip side, the other participant may only gain 5 inches and now has a 25 inch vertical.  The first participant can now dunk, while the second participant can only touch the rim.

Our point here is that genetics matter.  Work hard and you will certainly see improvement, but don’t expect to be doing 360 jams and you’ll be less likely to be disappointed.  By increasing your vertical you will increase your performance on the court, period.  You’ll be more explosive and a better finisher when driving to the hoop, dunking or not.

How Much Does Vert Shock Cost?

The original price of Vert Shock was $200, which we feel is a bit expensive.  Thankfully, this price has been dropped to the much more reasonable $67.  At this price almost anyone who wants a quality program to improve their vertical jumping can afford to get Vert Shock.

What We Like About Vert Shock

  1. We really like that each of the workouts can done in your own home with just a couple pieces of gym equipment like step boxes, a foam roller, and a medicine ball.
  2. At $67, the Vert Shock program is a good value considering how much your vertical will improve.
  3. The videos of the exercise videos are in high-definition and crystal clear.
  4. The work load and time required for the Vert Shock program is reasonable.

What We Don’t Like

  1. Marketing is a little misleading, not everyone who takes the program will be able to dunk afterward (and that’s okay).
  2. Should offer more extensive advice on nutrition to give more guidance.

Final Word

We don’t have many bad things to say about Vert Shock.  We understand the concerns about it being a scam, but thankfully those are unfounded.  If you are on the fence about purchasing the program and want to increase your vertical, we say go for it.  You’ll no doubt improve your game.  And for those who can touch the rim, but can’t dunk, the Vert Shock program will more than likely get you dunking in 8 weeks.

Three Basketball Training Products Worth the Money

How to Know What to Buy

Back in the day, players like Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Dr. J, and others didn’t have any special training or tools to use.  They simply played the game constantly and had a never ending desire to improve.  However, today there are so many basketball and basketball training products that we’ve lost count.  The truth is, that many of these training products are a waste of money and you’d be better off doing drills with a basketball and a home hoop.

Just because most of these products stink doesn’t mean they are all worthless. In this post we are going to present to you three basketball training products that you should feel confident about dropping a few dollar bills on.  Every single one of these products significantly improves or helps to improve a specific basketball skill.

1. POWERHANDZ

We have already done an in depth review of the POWERHANDZ basketball training gloves on our parent site BestOutdoorBasketball.net.  Be sure to check it out if you are interested in picking a pair up because I discuss a lot of the details related to the gloves and how they helped me be a more proficient ball handler.

The basic idea of the POWERHANDZ gloves is to minimize the amount of grip you can get on the ball making dribbling more difficult.  There are also small weights on the outside of the glove that make the muscles that are used during dribbling work a bit harder.

Having personally used and tested this product I can say that
without a doubt these gloves work!  After using POWERHANDZ a few times you’ll notice that you can dribble the basketball harder and control it with greater ease.

2. Elevation Training Mask

While our second pick is not specifically a basketball training, it is certainly one to consider if you are conditioning for the upcoming season.  The Elevation Training Mask works by limiting the amount of oxygen you breath in making it feel similar to being in a high elevation environment.  By training with lower oxygen levels, your body adjusts and stamina is improved, so when you have access to the typical oxygen environment you will be able to non-stop while your opponents are bent over gasping for air.

In my opinion, strength and stamina are just as important as skill when it comes to basketball.  Using this mask will help you get the most out of your skill set.

3. Home Basketball Shot Trainer

Obviously shooting is one of the single most important skills for basketball.  There have been many basketball players who have made it to the NBA on their shooting alone (here’s looking at you Steve Kerr).  Every team needs a shooter, why not be yours.

To become a great shooter not only do you need to develop proper mechanics, but you have to repeat those mechanics over and over by shooting every day you can.  The Airborne Athletics Ic3 Home Basketball Shot Trainer is the best shooting trainer for a recreational home basketball hoop that we have found.

This home basketball training has a large net that captures both made and missed shots and then feeds the ball through a shoot
and then on a track that rolls the ball back to where you shot the ball from.  This allows you to get a greater volume of shots without having to be constantly chasing down rebounds, which can be a real pain in the ass when shooting by yourself.

Review of the SKLZ Dribble Stick Trainer

As you know, here at BestBasketballHoops we most often take a look at different basketball hoops to determine which ones are the best.  But that’s not all we do.  We also strive to review and test basketball training products that can help you build your skills as a basketball player.

Today, we are going to take a closer look at the SKLZ Dribble Stick.  This is a basketball training accessory that focuses specifically on improving your handles.  It does so by having tracks where sticks can be placed that impede where you can dribble the ball, similar to how it is to play against a defender.

Having these sticks in your way teaches you to protect the basketball as you dribble and to recognize where not to put the basketball during your dribble.  We noted that the SKLZ Dribble Stick does a great job of this and after using it for a short period of time you’ll notice yourself become more aware of where to dribble the basketball and how to properly make a crossover dribble that is difficult to steal.

Our favorite lesson that the Dribble Stick teaches is to dribble the ball low.  The lower your dribble the harder it is for your opponent to steal it.  The SKLZ Dribble Stick can teach you this by putting the sticks low of the track, but high enough to where you can still dribble the ball below the stick.  Also, make sure to dribble the basketball with force to help train your body and mind to play hard and fast when in a game situation.

There is also a place on the top of the SKLZ Dribble Stick platform to place your basketball.  Which is helpful when using the Dribble Stick for its other purpose: conditioning.  The sticks can easily be used as a tool to jump over to improve you vertical leaping abilities.  This allows you to do several different conditioning drills within a small space.  The SKLZ Dribble Stick is a pretty dang versatile piece of training equipment.

Each SKLZ Dribble Stick comes with four sticks that can be placed on the tracks of the center platform.  This gives you flexibility in where you want to place each stick to give your training sessions more variety.

Because of the focus on dribbling fundamentals, we recommend the SKLZ Dribble Stick most for young basketball players who are looking to improve and learn the game.

So, now you know what we like about the SKLZ Dribble Stick.  But there are things about the Dribble Stick that we think could be improved.  First, the actual sticks don’t seem to be made in a way that will likely last for years.  You may only get a year out of the sticks with regular use.

On top of the build quality, the actual dribbling skills that the Dribble Sticks focuses on is limited.  You can’t really practice dribbling in transition and it won’t improve your vision.  We do suggest that when using the SKLZ Dribble Stick that you focus on keeping your eyes up so that you aren’t looking down at the ball and the obstacles which won’t help you when it comes to playing in a game.

 What We Like About the SKLZ Dribble Stick

  • Allows you to work on dribbling skills in a small space
  • Mimics where a defender is likely to try a steal the basketball
  • Has a place to put basketball on the center platform
  • Can be used for conditioning

What Would Make The Dribble Stick Better

  • Better quality sticks
  • Price is a bit high for what you get
  • Limited ways in which you can use the Dribble Stick to practice your handle

Russell Westbrook’s Crazy Jam Defeats Rockets

It is no secret that Russell Westbrook has had to carry more of the load for the Oklahoma City Thunder this year.  With Kevin Durant making the infamous move to the Golden State Warriors, the Thunder are dependent on Westbrook to score more and take the undisputed lead role for the team.  Without Durant, it is hard to imagine Oklahoma City as anything more than a high seeded playoff team who will likely hit the showers after the first round comes to an end.

Still, that doesn’t mean that Westbrook doesn’t have some impressive tricks up his sleeve.  A prime example of what Westbrook is capable of happened last night against the Houston Rockets.  With the Thunder up three, the inbound pass went to Westbrook, and Westbrook went to work.  He drove to the lane and with a Rockets defender down low, Westbrook rose up and move the ball into his left hand as he seemingly hung in the air for about 14 minutes.  This all culminated in a Westbrook slam that is one of the year’s best so far.

We gotta say that we love the crazy animal that is Russell Westbrook.  That guy is a monster and goes all in every game. Seriously, just take a look at this guy’s face after he sticks the dagger in the Rockets.  That is the face of a madman. This dude would take a game versus a high school team like it was for the NBA championship.

So, here’s to Russell Westbrook.  Your best teammate abandoned you and yet you go in and play your heart out.  Nothing you can do but tip your hat and ask young hoopers around the country to play as hard as Russell.

If you haven’t seen the 1,543,432 replays of this dunk on Sports Center, well you are in look because we have posted it below.

Basketball is Important, But Not Life

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Let’s get one thing straight.  I love the game of basketball.  I always have.  Since my childhood years I was drawn to the skill of shooting, and my desire to become the best basketball player I could be quickly developed into a raging fire.  As a youngster I practiced everyday, working on shooting, dribbling, passing, etc.  My sole love in life was the game.

And this was a mistake.

To often in our modern culture we expect ourselves and our children to give up everything for a single goal.  Children are expected to stop playing other sports so they can focus on only one.  In the past, kids participated many sports and other activities, I feel they benefited greatly from these varying experiences.  Basically, they were allowed to be kids.

Because my priorities were singularly focused on basketball, I became obsessed with it, and nothing short of excellence on the court was good enough.  As you can imagine this led to fairly unhappy life because I didn’t have any other way to value myself other than the basketball court.

It is funny, as a child and teenager I always dreamed of making a last second shot to win a game.  But the few times I was in this position I failed.  I didn’t have the confidence, I was anxious, and I had put all my perceived value in making the shot, which put an undue load of pressure on my shoulders.

Fast forward to being 30 years old and playing in my town’s adult recreation league.  In the very first game of the season I accomplished a goal that I desperately desired all those years ago: I made a game winning three.  And not just any game winning three, but a game winning three in double overtime.

And then a funnier thing happened.  Halfway through the season with my team down 2 points with under 10 seconds to go I made another game winning three.  Two game winners in a season!  My younger self only dreamed of such glory.

Both of these shots were pure as the driven snow.  Perfect release, no concern for failure, and neither bothered to touch the rim as they went through the hoop.  So what changed?  Why was I now able to make these clutch shots when as a teen I faltered?

It all comes down to priorities.  While my teen self was singularly focused on the game of basketball, at 30 years old this just was not the case any longer.  I had a home, a wife who was pregnant with our first born, and a successful business.  What I valued had changed, and because I didn’t put basketball on some sort of pedestal I was able to breakthrough.

The lesson here is that if you want to succeed in basketball you need to have other interests and ways to build self-confidence off the court.  Try not to tie your personal worth to how you perform.  It will only make you unhappy.  Instead, work hard at the game, enjoy the experience, and don’t put so much pressure on yourself.  Only when you have this figured out will you be able to breakthrough in a game when it matters the most.

You can’t force your light to shine, you have to let it happen.

The Role of the Basketball Parent

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As a school psychologist and a former youth basketball player, one of the most fascinating and frustrating aspects of youth sports is the intersection of parenting and coaching.  Many parents today have a difficult time understanding their role as parents of a youth athlete and the coach’s role of coaching the child.  What often happens in this situation is a parent damages their relationship with their child, and tears down the passion the child once had for the sport.

The reason I am fascinated by this topic is that my own father also struggled to understand the role the parent for youth athletes.  Often I’d find myself being torn down because of a lackluster basketball game, and inappropriately being put on a pedestal when I played well.   What resulted was me losing passion for the game, working less at it, and growing apart in my relationship with my father.

If you want to see an example of parents who have lost all sight of their role, I encourage you to watch the documentary Trophy Kids.   In fact, this program should be required watching for every parent who has a child playing sports.

So, here’s a message to all parents with youth athletes.  You are not their coach! It is not your place to tell them whatCa6Q9F4UkAEdFJp they did wrong, and what they did right.  It is also not your place to scream at coaches, refs, and other players during games.It is sickening to watch those of you guilty of this destroy your child’s confidence and destroy your relationship with them for the sake of your own selfish hopes and dreams.

Okay, now that we’ve got that out of the way, what should parents do for their children who play sports?  It is simple really.  What parents need to do for their children is to guide them.  If your child has a conflict offer them options and allow them to figure out how to solve their problem given the options they have.  If your child has a good or bad game, do not offer your judgement of the performance.  That is the coach’s role.  Instead, offer a level headed and supportive approach no matter what happened on the court.

By being the appropriate, supportive parent to your young athlete, they will be able to have ownership and develop their love for the game without it being forced upon them.  This is critical since ownership is one of the biggest motivators for the human psyche.

Giving your child the right parental support will lead to better outcomes in sports.  Allowing the coaches to coach, and allowing your child to evaluate their own performance will make them better players and more importantly better adults in the future.

3 Ways to Improve Your Rebounding

While points is the most overrated statistic in basketball, rebounding is one of the most underrated.  Having a beast on the boards allows teams to minimize second and third scoring opportunities for opponents, and allow your team to get more possessions.  Rebounding on the surface appears to be a simple activity, jump up and grab the ball!  But the truth is that rebounding takes a lot of strength, skill, and intelligence.  Here are three great ways to improve your rebounding.

1. Predict Where the Ball Is Going

rodman-reboundWhen a shot is missed where it will land depends on where it hits the rim.  For example, if an opponent misses a shot taken on the right side of the court, the rebound is more likely to fall somewhere on the left side than the right side.  The best rebounders understand this principle and will position themselves where they think the rebound will go based on how the shot looks while it is in mid-air.

While this skill may seem simple it is very difficult to master.  But if you can master it you will find yourself in position for many rebounds.  To see this in action make sure to see some old rebounding clips from Dennis Rodman.  The Worm was the absolute best at predicting where the ball was going to go off the rim.

2. Learn to Box Out

boxing-out-300x244Ah, the fundamentals; often overlooked but they should never be forgotten.  If you find yourself at a high school basketball game there is always at least one parent, fan, or coach who seems to be yelling to his team to “box out” on every rebound.  Well, maybe they are on to something.  Boxing out simply keeps your opponent from being able to get the basketball on misses.  To box out, simply get in a defensive stance with your back facing the player you are going to box out.  Next, push them out from the hoop by using your lower body to push them away from the hoop.

3. Build Lower Body Strength

To box out properly and keep your opponent from beating you to the ball, it is important to build lower body strength.  Weaker players may have the technique to box out but struggle to keep their opponent behind them during the box out.  Building your lower body strength will help in other areas of basketball as well.  A few workouts that are good to build lower body strength include squats, lunges, and jump rope.  Put together a basketball ready body and your rebounding success will follow.

Also check: San Diego Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

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