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A hot topic with Player Development coaches everywhere is if you teach permanent pivot foot or not.To be honest I never thought about it until I worked The Snow Valley Camp in Santa Barbara in 1999. It was the first night after working a 17 hour day, the coaches retreated to a dorm room to watch film on players. The first player they broke down was Michael Jordan and his footwork. A JUCO coach named Mike Mohler sat me down and walked me through MJ's footwork package.
At this point I was 24 and knew almost nothing about footwork. He asked me what I noticed about MJ's footwork. Nothing really came to mind. He told me something that had a huge impact on my teaching for the rest of my career.
"He always operates off of his right foot"
At first it sounded like a foreign language to me. Every time he caught the ball on the perimeter he had his right foot free. All of his jabs, face ups, drives came with his left foot on the ground and the right foot doing all of the work. After watching 2.5 hours of MJ footage I asked Mike if this was something that just Michael did or was this something that a lot of players did. Mike rifled off most of the top wing players in the NBA.
19 Years Later.......
I think in everything that we teach there needs to be a why. You can't do things fly by night and make things up as you go along. Here is why I think that playing with a permanent pivot foot is important.
Habit- I want every wing player that I work with to catch on a 1-2 step. Righties catching on a left/right, Lefties catching on a right left. They should know what their feet are doing at all times. Developing rep after rep where they do the same things over and over develops a consistency in their game that is paramount for them. Players that are flakey and do different things every time they catch it are mostly erratic in my eyes, yes there are situations that come up where things aren't perfect and you end up doing something different but 95% of the time should be consistent
Simplicity-Less is definitely more. Think of when a player catches the ball they check an inventory. I don't want them think of 10 different things when they have the ball in their hands. On the catch it should be the same thing, front foot should always be their free foot to drive, jab, etc. The best players in our game are simple, they catch the ball make a simple move on a jab, a fake, or a drive and they play off the defender's reaction.
Confidence- When you take the BS out a player's game where you streamline it to 3-4 things instead of 28 they start to develop a consistent game. Once a player starts to build on their consistency and simplify things here is where the real development starts. When you simplify their game and explain "The Why" in what they are doing their confidence will sky rocket. I develop a systematic approach when teaching a player the importance of playing with a permanent pivot foot.
Off The Dribble- In the mid range game when playing off the dribble teaching simplicity is the key. First off driving off their front foot is the first step. The second is making sure they don't split their feet and travel which is one of the top problems with any young wing player. Simplifying their feet is the key here. It doesn't matter about righty/lefty the last foot to hit the ground going right is their right foot, when going left it is their left foot. Going 1 or 2 dribbles the rules stay the same, again simplicity is the key.
Greatness- MJ, Kobe, LeBron, Durant, Scottie Pippen,Paul Pierce the list goes on and on for permanent pivot foot guys. Explaining to your players not only the importance of playing with a permanent pivot foot but also who uses it makes the selling a little bit easier. So many dominant players used this approach in their daily routine. Take the time to go to YouTube and break their games down it was fun to watch.
The One Instance- The only situation on the perimeter where permanent pivot where it is is doesn't apply is coming off pin downs/screens. In this situation players want to catch on their inside foot for good rhythm purposes. For balance inside foot works going of pin downs, but in every other situation I want to stress routine and habit.
Like anything else in basketball footwork is subjective Permanent pivot foot is something that I fell in love with and want to teach. You can teach whatever you want as long as you are consistent and know what you want to do inside and out. Make sure your players alway know "The Why" In everything that you teach. I think I mentioned "The Why" 48 times in this Blog, I bet I can ballpark the Title of my Blog for Next Week!!
This is something that I like to tech and works for me. It's not the only way to teach it so if you teach your players to play with two pivot feet that's fantastic. Make sure you have systematic approach in teaching it and your players understand "The Why"