Category: Conversations

Conversations are meant to be a supplement to the frequently asked questions section found in support. They are usually more in-depth and ranging in topic. I hope that there will eventually be enough of these that a search will provide you just about any answer you can think of while researching basketball goals. Each conversation is sourced from the online chat program with permission. Identities have been anonymized.

Tips From Kobe Bryant
Author Ryan Tate
Posted on March 26, 2013 in category Conversations

Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant is known for his five NBA championship rings and, more specifically, his amazing scoring ability. But did you know that Kobe has been on the NBA’s All-Defensive team 11 times in his 15-year career? Defense is one of Bryant’s strengths, so it pays to listen to him give tips on guarding your opponent. At the 2010 World Basketball Festival in New York, Bryant grabbed the microphone and instructed about 40 young players on how to properly execute defensive slides during a clinic at Rucker Park.

Here are three tips he wants young basketball players to remember:

Kobe Bryant


Stay Balanced

When watching the young players do defensive slides, Bryant noticed several of them leaning their torso in the direction they were moving.

“When you’re doing defensive slides and start leaning,” Bryant said, “now when your man changes direction, it takes too much time for you (to change direction) and slide.”

If you keep your torso centered while you’re moving your feet, you’re ready to go either direction your opponent might take you.

“Everybody needs to think about staying in the middle,” Bryant said. “Your top part shouldn’t be moving.”

Active Hands

Bryant told the story of playing summer basketball in the Philadelphia area. He would often get top defenders guarding him, yet some of them would do their defensive slides with their arms still and down below their waist.

“They thought it looked cool,” Bryant said. “It wasn’t cool when I was shooting the ball in their face.”

Bryant has become a lockdown defender in part because he never lets his opponent get comfortable. One of the best ways to do that is to keep good lower-body form when sliding, but also make sure your hands are a nuisance to the ball-handler.

“You have to keep your hands active, all the time,” Bryant said. “Up, down, side to side, jabbing at the ball.”

Wide Base

Many young players, when doing defensive slides, don’t have their feet wide enough apart, so they don’t get as low as they should.

“If you keep your feet further apart, you have a wider base so your man can’t change direction,” Bryant said. “I keep my wide base, and if you change direction, I’m still with you.”

Widening your base when doing defensive slides might be a little uncomfortable at first, but it is the best way to play lockdown defense.

Just ask Kobe Bryant–one of the best in the world at it.

“Keep your feet really wide apart,” Bryant insists, “even as you stride.”



7 Basketball Tips For Young Players
Author Ryan Tate
Posted on March 15, 2013 in category Conversations

Whatever your basketball level you can tremendously improve your game. This article will get you going in the right direction by explaining the most important skills to practice.

1. All Great Players Are Great Athletes

The most important thing you can do to improve your game is to become a good athlete. The stronger and faster you are, the better you will play. Achieve this goal through conditioning and weight training. Have a physical check-up by your doctor before you start training .Conditioning is easy. Start with 15 minutes of continuous motion, either jogging or, even better, running full court with the ball. Dribble, shoot, and rebound as usual; don’t stop moving for the time allotted. You do not need to move quickly. After a week or two of conditioning you will find a comfortable pace. Then, increase the time you spend in the activity according to your performance. Do this every day. Increase moving time about five minutes a week after the first two-four weeks.
Weight training is very helpful. However, there is some disagreement on what age a child can start. One theory says that a build up of muscle mass while bones are growing can limit growth. Some tall body builders disagree, and use themselves as an example to the contrary. Make sure you are well supervised and get advice if you weight train.Any physical education teacher and most coaches can show you how to do push ups, sit-ups, and other various strengthening exercises. Twenty minutes of instruction will reap great rewards. Remember that you always must underdo these exercises at first so that you can find your level. Underdoing means that you put out a minimum of effort. Do as few as possible, rather than exercise to exhaustion. (The “no pain, no gain” philosophy definitely doesn’t work for beginners. I question whether or not this approach works for athletes in good shape.) This approach prevents injury.
Don’t forget stretching. Stretching permits you to have a more full range of motion allowing you to twist and turn more readily. You will even run faster. Any physical education teacher or coach can give you tons of stretching exercises. Make sure to warm-up before stretching and always hold the position, never move back and forth.

2. You Can’t Shoot Properly Unless You Hold The Ball Correctly

The most difficult skills, including shooting, passing, catching, dribbling, and rebounding, involve holding the ball. There are many signs of faulty ball handling: dropping passes; spraining and jamming fingers; palming the ball; rebounding poorly, shooting poorly. I can’t overemphasize the importance of working on this skill daily.Here is how to practice holding the ball:
1. Make both hands into claws. Growl like a lion and move the claws forward like you are going to rip something apart.
2. Make sure your fingers are far apart.
3. Put the ball between the claws and hold the ball securely. Your only contact with the ball should be your finger ends, not the pads. The palm and other parts of the hand do not touch the ball. Overdoing the hold this way is most beneficial.
4. Hold the ball as long as possible at home while watching TV or listening to the radio. Before practice, hold the ball for a minute or two and at every other opportunity.

3. Use Your Wrists In Shooting, Passing, and Dribbling

The wrist skills, which include shooting, passing, and dribbling, involve the motion of the hand and wrist. Waving good-bye is an example of wrist motion that needs to be practiced. This rarely practiced motion reaps incredible benefits. Not only will you improve, but you will permanently improve.Here is how to practice:
1. While standing, put your arms straight up overhead, palms facing forward. Keep your elbows straight and do not move your arms throughout the exercise.
2. With your hands slightly clawed, flick your wrist backward and let it come forward without additional effort. Continue to flick your wrists backward. You are doing this correctly if your hand and wrist go back and forth like a wet noodle. Make sure to keep your hands in a slightly clawed position.
3. Continue doing this for one to two minutes. Initially this motion will be very difficult.
4. This first part of the exercise helps with shooting and passing. For help with dribbling, lower the arms to the side with the palms facing backward.
5. With elbows straight and arms stationary, flick the wrist forward and let it come back without effort. Continue doing this for one-two minutes. Make sure the hand is slightly clawed.

6. Do these exercises as often as possible. Make them part of your normal practice warm-up. The more difficult this exercise is to do, the more you need it. It may take one month or more to properly do these exercises .

4. Pivoting Is A Key To Many Other Skills

Many players and coaches underestimate the importance of pivoting. Every movement with the ball initially involves pivoting. Players routinely pivot to shoot or pass. What is not so obvious is that all moves, most fakes, and driving to the basket all depend on the ability to pivot. Poor pivoters do not have moves and cannot drive well to the basket.You must be able to pivot forward and backward using either foot. So each exercise must be repeated four times: left foot forward; left foot backward; right foot forward; right foot backward.The pivot foot is the foot that stays in place. Actually only one part of the foot, the ball of the foot, stays stationary. As you turn, the rest of the foot rotates about the ball of the foot. If you slide or change your pivot point after you have the ball, officials call a walking violation. Your team loses the ball.
Here is how to practice pivoting:
1. Start with the left foot as pivot foot. If you have a ball, hold it in the exaggerated claw position during this exercise.
2. Pivot forward 15 times like you are stomping on bugs as you go. As you find your balance, increase the rotation to a half turn.
3. Repeat rotating backward 15 times.
4. Switch pivot foot. Repeat forward 15 times.
5. Repeat backward 15 times. Have a bystander or friend watch for several things. You must keep your head up like you would in a game. Your pivot point must not change. Your pivot foot does not slide.

5. Defense Is Easy To Learn

Your stance for defense and dribbling is very similar. In both positions you need to be ready to run full speed in any direction. Tap dancing on your toes while in position helps you to practice tap dancing.
How to get in position:
1. In a standing position, move your feet to slightly greater than shoulder width apart.
2. Bend your knees, keeping your back straight and vertical, not bent, till you are down as far as you can go. Then come halfway up.
3. Move the arms slightly outward from the shoulders and move the forearms parallel to the ground.
4. The hands should be slightly clawed in what I call the “ready” position.
What to do in position:
5. Tap dance by quickly bringing the knees slightly up (one-two inches) and down one at a time.
6. Count to 20, one tap at a time.
7. Then sprint four steps forward. Tap and count to 20 again.
8. Pivot around and sprint four steps backwards. Face the original direction, and tap and count to 20 again.
9. Continue for five minutes, moving back and forth and then left and right.

6. Practice shooting from one foot, rather than from greater distances.

Unless you shoot with the proper technique, practicing from great distances distorts your shot. Improper practice makes your shot worse. So, practice from one foot while you develop your shot. Here is how to practice: Take 10 one foot shots from the right side of the basket, then 10 from the left, and then 10 from the center. Use the backboard from all three positions. You can repeat this many times.

7. Play full court rather than half court

Half-court street basketball is very different from full court ball. Here are some problems associated with half court ball:
• Half court does not have a transition from one basket to the other. Starting a play half court and starting one full court is very different.
• In half court games you do not need to run full speed for great distances. In full court games, you must perform out of breathe after sprinting down court three or four times.
• Players congregate closer to the basket in half court than in full court, yielding more three second violations.
• In half court you are so close to the basket that players readily go one-on-one, rather than play team ball.
• In half court you have a greater chance for injury: since players must make many direction changes in a small crowded area.

Become A Better Athlete
Author Ryan Tate
Posted on March 6, 2013 in category Conversations



  • Be willing to work hard. Can you define hard work? For a top level high school and college coach, here is what hard work means. Your attitude and demeanor on the court needs to be intense, focused, aggressive and no-nonsense. Your play should include taking charges, diving on the floor for lose balls, running the floor, constant “in your face” pressure on the ball when defending, strong attack moves to the hoop which are effective. Effective=ends with a basket.
  • Be powerful. Great players are not pushed around. They dictate the tempo, intensity, rhythm of the game. You decide where you want to go or not go on offensive, not your opponent. On defensive, you decide where your opponent goes. You disrupt his or her game. Learn to use your body to impose your WILL both offensively and defensively.
  • Be smart and understand the system. Every coach has a system and philosophy to be successful. You need to know what he or she wants. Some teams require a point guard to have no more than 3 turnovers a game. If you take too many risks on that team as a point guard you are going to sit down. Know what the coach values. Does he or she value conservative play? Does he or she want run and gun? See the big picture and learn how to play within this system.
  • Be strong, fast and quick. These are the separators between high school athletes who will go on to the college level. One of our alum campers playing in the NBA is an amazing athlete a premier shooter, but he is getting beat on defense because his foot speed is too slow to stop a player one-on-one and even though he is 6’7″ he is not strong enough in the post. We want him to do well and encourage him to work on his strength and speed, to get a program and change his game through elevating his quickness and strength. Be sure to meet with a physical therapist as well as a trainer because you need to know what you must do to prevent injury. Live in the weight room during the off-season.
  • Be humble and lead by example. Care for the team by being selfless and by not being concerned about your name in the paper. Do the little things well, serve others and you will be blessed.
  • Key Thoughts: God has given each of us natural abilities. A girl who is 6’3″ as a sophomore, really quick, long and strong may not have good skills but she will get letters from Division 1 programs. Coaches recruit body types. If you genetically do not have a Division 1 build, you have a much harder road. You have to rise above the multitude of athletes who all have the same dream. You have to find the separators: speed, strength, wisdom, leadership, shooting, passing, impeccable skills, and the WILL to work harder than your competition.
  • Be an outstanding student. Being a great student expands the ranges of schools you can attend and shows a coach you are committed to excellence and are organized and disciplined enough to handle college academics and playing ball. Unless you are a bona fide All-American, coaches are tired of taking “risks” on kids who are poor students. This is the first question every coach asks.
  • Be a great teammate. Every coach I have ever talked too looks to recruit players that are coachable and who get along with their teammates. No one wants a jerk. Be the teammate everyone loves to play with because you are unselfish, are committed to team goals, and raise the level of those around you. Don’t take for granted how important enthusiasm is. Being a great teammate can raise your stock tremendously! I have seen players lose a coach’s interest because of bad body language or acting like a jerk when they don’t agree with a foul call or when they come out of the game. Before college coaches ask me to evaluate a player’s athletic ability, they always ask, “Is he a good guy?” “Do you like working with him?”
  • If you can’t, don’t. Stick to what you do best and play to your strengths. Stop doing what you think coaches want to see. If you aren’t a great 3-point shooter, STOP SHOOTING 3’s! Coaches want players who know, understand, and accept their role. Nothing can lose a scholarship faster than trying to show off for a coach during a practice or a game. All you are doing is exposing your weaknesses.
  • Do the little things. Contrary to what most high school players think, it is NOT all about scoring. To play college basketball, you need to do the little things that make a big difference like: have good footwork, know how to set screens, box out, share the ball, communicate, play solid defense, dive for loose balls, work hard, and be a leader on and off the court. These things alone will separate you from 95 percent of the players who are your size and skill level. The little things can earn you a big scholarship!
  • Maximize your ability. You can’t control your height, and certainly some folks are born “more athletic” than others. But you can make sure you are as strong as you can be and in as good of basketball shape as is humanly possible. You should be on a year-round strength and conditioning program and work on your ball handling and shooting daily. College players do this stuff year round. Do you?
NBA All-Star Wrap Up
Author Ryan Tate
Posted on February 18, 2013 in category Conversations




Although the weekend’s focus should have been the major showdown of the Eastern and Western teams, Michael Jordan, who celebrated his 50th birthday Sunday, was the clear winner this weekend. His name was EVERYWHERE. From his Sports Illustrated cover, comparisons to LeBron and Kobe, parties he hosted and thousands of fans recapping his career with whoever will listen. Who could really focus on the All-Star game? Pro Dunk Hoops experienced first hand the effects of All-Star weekend since our headquarters are here in Houston, TX. Highways were backed up for miles and malls were packed to the ceiling with fans hoping to catch a celebrity or basketball player in passing. There was definitely no shortage of star power here this weekend. Every major basketball player and celebrity came to support the NBA and take advantage of the media coverage last weekend.


The Houston Galleria Mall that was forced to shut down early due to large crowds.


Musicians Jay-Z and Beyonce are served drinks by rapper, Drake.


Carmelo Anthony.

NBA All-Star Game 2013

Chris Paul earns the MVP award.


Bryant and James share a laugh.


Musicians (L-R) Ne-Yo, Alicia Keys and John Legend who all performed Sunday at the All-Star game.


Westbrook and Harden compete for the most outrageous outfit. Well done, Westbrook, well done.


The man of the weekend celebrates his 50th cover and his 50th birthday. How convenient.


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