Skill Development and Developing a Plan

Jeremy Esry

1st year Head Coach at North Central Missouri College

 8th year coaching overall.  Spent 7 years as an assistant on the NAIA and NJCAA level.  Has recruited and coached 7 All-Americans.  Esry coaches with Mokan on the AAU Summer Circuit. He has trained at every level, from 8 year olds all the way up to overseas players.  In the off season he works as a camp director for Midwest Elite Basketball. 

Always the optimist, I think today’s world is a great time to be a youth in athletics.  Growing up, I always thought that the pros were pros because they had some sort of God-given natural ability that allowed them to be the best players in the world.  We didn’t have the YouTube videos, Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook to expose us to what athletes go through from a skill development standpoint. We didn't see all the hard work that they put in to become an elite athlete.  Sure, we had Michael Jordan’s Playground and Come Fly with Me (two of the best VHS’s of all times) but we didn’t get to see that daily grind that they pros put in, we didn't even see the kid 2 towns away or what the local D2 team does for strength and conditioning.  Today we can check all of that stuff out plus more thanks to technology and social media and I believe it is a great source for player’s development. 


Now, let’s get this straight, not all workout videos on YouTube are legit.  Not all Instagram, Twitter or Facebook posts actually mean that the person claiming they put in work actually puts in the work.  However, I believe that a person can use those clips to learn and motivate themselves. At the end of the day, the results are going to speak for themselves. How hard did you push yourself? Are you going to expose someone or get exposed? 


For parents, I think getting their kids in the gym by themselves or with a coach is very key for an athlete’s development in the sport.  It also helps develop character and hardworking habits that hopefully translate over later in life when they are studying in college or have a job.   Development is the first thing that is going to lead to a kid getting recruited.  If they do not have the fundamental skills down, then they are going to get exposed.  I think there are a couple non-negotiable’s when it comes to coming up with a plan for skill development.

If they do not have the fundamental skills down, then they are going to get exposed.

Is the workout going to be purposeful? 

Too many times do workouts involve moves or drills that are not going to translate to what they are going to do on the court.  Always have a goal in mind on what particular aspect you want to focus on.  Think game situations at game speed first and foremost. 

You are going to get pushed? 

You can master a move or a drill and make it look really good on film, however if you are not going full game speed and being held accountable than the move is not going to work in a game when it really counts.  Every defenses sole objective is to stop you from doing what ever you are good at doing.  So it's great to master a move with no defense but you need to progress and use that move against the best competition you can find to simulate a real game situation.  Then, come game time, it's just another day at the office. 


Do the workouts build off of each other? 

If I am working a kid out 3 times a week I want to make sure that the retention is there.  We will go over and review or mix in moves and drills that we have done in the past so that the athlete can continue to master them.  

In closing, your workouts should be a sample sized portion of your game.  Tony Dungy, in his book "Quiet Stregnth", said, "Do what you do".  That's the confidence of any professional, they know they are simply doing what they've done countless times before.  Dungy also emphasizes the importance of executing FUNDAMENTALS at a rapid pace.  That's all high level athletes are doing, fast fundamentals.  It's a beautiful thing to watch.  Take the time to master what you're good at before expanding into other areas of your game.  Watch film and study players who are in the position in which you strive to be. It is widely believed that it takes a person 10,000 hours to be considered an expert in any given field.  Remember that until you have those quality hours logged you're still an amateur with plenty of work to do.  

Work hard and win the day!


Jeremy Esry


Head Coach,

North Central Missouri College

Esian henderson