Bridging Leadership Lessons from the Workplace and Those Experiences Shaping Today's Youth and Tomorrow's Leaders
Make it Fun: Play U to 42
(Originally posted on Dec. 29, 2009, as Have Fun While You Practice - Part III. Revised on May 3, 2022.)
This is another installment in the Make it Fun series. When you enjoy what you do, it rarely seems like work. Keep your workouts balanced and include games to increase the enjoyment and to add competition. Previously, we introduced a game to work on Free Throws and another shooting game that you treat like a round of golf. This is a common shooting game that I call U-to-42 where you shoot from established spots on the court and you work on multiple aspects of your game - shooting, ball fakes, ripping the ball, pull-up jumpers, and lay-ups.
Setting Up the Game
Start with five shooting spots along the 3-point arc: each baseline corner, each wing, and the top of the key. At each location, you make 4 moves.
Scoring is straightforward forward
Each spot is worth a total of 8 points so after you shoot from each spot (20 shots and a total possibility of 40) you will then finish by shooting two free throws with each one being worth 1 pt. to give you a total possible score of 42.
Learning From the Game
Keeping track of your make and misses at each spot can help you identify areas of your game on which to focus. Are there certain locations where you shoot a higher percentage than others? Do you hit more pull-up jump shots when you go to the left versus the right? Are you more comfortable shooting catch and shoot 3-point shots than attacking the basket?
Set yourself personal goals and compete against yourself trying to improve each time. Build in rewards and punishments. Introduce the game to your friends and when you are together, it can be a fun way to compete while also getting up shots. When you are not together, you can shoot them a text: “38 in U to 42. Try to beat it.”
To help you get a feel for the game, you can add a chair to serve as a “defender” to help as you attack or have a partner play soft defense to contest shots and help with attacking angles and finishes.
You can always adapt the game to where you are at your current skill level. In this drill, if you are in 5th grade or below, avoid the 3-point shot. Move your spot in a couple of feet. Focus on your technique and not heaving the ball to the basket.
As you improve your score, you can add complexity at all the levels.
At the 3-point line you can introduce jab steps, or a dribble move to create space. I don’t recommend the step-back 3 point shot unless you are an elite level player. There are much easier and therefore, much higher percentage shooting options than the step back. Don’t get caught up in the hype videos. Play the percentages.
For the pull-up jumpers, you could add in a second dribble to set up the defender for step-back move or you introduce a shot fake with a step through when the defender goes by you. Maybe you introduce a secondary move after the first hard dribble to change direction and create more space. Use your creativity.
There are so many options available for you on attacking the basket. There are many variations of dribble attacks to get around or split defenders. Introduce double moves as you attack the rim to keep the defender guessing. YouTube is loaded with finishing videos that you can practice such as floaters, Donuts (Rondo), Pro Hops, Euro steps and countless others.
What I have always loved about basketball is the endless number of games you can play while you practice. You are limited only by your imagination. As the youngest of five kids with a significant age gap, I learned an entire world was open to me when I shot baskets. Imagining I was playing at Boston Garden with Larry Bird or taking Magic Johnson to the hole at the Forum. Playing in the NCAA Championship for the Indiana Hoosiers, somehow always winning 100 to 98 on a last second shot or free throws. That imagination helped instill a love for the game that will continue to grow Beyond Today.
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Tom Brown - a husband and a father who is simply trying to make a difference. Using my experience as a Manufacturing Executive to connect leadership from the boardroom to the hardwood to help teams grow and develop to make a difference in the lives of others.
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