View Full Version : At It Again: Z On the Catch,

01-24-2009, 05:35 PM
Seems no one disputes that when Z gets in an athletic stance and receives the ball, the outcomes are not what anyone would hope for him. Some have suggested that he work harder. I have suggested that they try hitting him when he is in a more upright stance, and that the problem he has in that stance is not one that basketball coaching, or reps, or strength/agility training is likely to improve (if it were otherwise, it would have, I think it fair to assume). But, today, in the short time I watched during the beginning of the second half, something caught my eye and clicked. Now, only a hypothesis, but I think that there is something here.

1. When Z takes an athletic stance and wants the ball, he always raises his arm as one would expect, calling for the ball high.

2. He has never looked comfortable, ready for action in that position. There might well be a number of reasons for this, but I believe that I have identified one that could well be easy to improve upon and that might well have dramatic results.

3. It is the way Z goes about lifting his arm, how he holds it, and what happens to the rest of him because of it. In a word, the arm is stiff, rigid, as is the rest of him (more on that later). For now, the rigidity in the arm and shoulder.

4. If you take an athletic stance, straighten your arm and tighten up through your arm into your shoulder and lift your arm, particularly if the rest of your is tightened to create a "STRONG" stance, as you lift higher and then hold your hand high, your weight is thrown back onto your heals. If you hold your arm high with that kind of stiffness, that is where your weight will stay.

5. The problems that this creates are substantial:

a. with your weight back on your heels, you will have to devote a fair amount of attention mush better devoted to other things on maintaining your balance and concerning yourself how you will move even to receive the pass you are asking for (try moving to catch a simple toss from that position and you will see the difficulty; you don't need anybody totoss the ball, just take the position and imagine the toss and try to move);

b. catching the ball itself will become, as a consequence, much more of an adventure, especially if the ball is thrown anywhere but high and right at the hand;

c. before you can move in any direction you will first have to shift your weight to the balls of your feet which will be no easy feat because the stiffness in your arm will be manifest through your chest and back and well it will be extremely difficult.
1. In addition to making the catch itself much more difficult, the adjustment to the ball will not often leave you in a position of rhythm and feeling in control, being able to move easily and well in the direction or speed that you might otherwise chose.
2. Any decision you make will often have to be much more deliberate, slow, and less reliable than you would like (notice Z misses an easy shoot looking somewhat awkward and is quick to the glass for a tap in; dramatic change in him in a milisecond);

d. holding that position is extremely tiring.

e. Perhaps most importantly, athletes, real ones, not couch potatoes like me, can sense all of this in a moment's glance. Might explain an awful lot about my favorite subject--the issue of the dirth of passes going Z's way. Indeed, I made this observation when I saw several instances when threes were shot and Z was in this position very near the rim. It occurred to me in that moment that the shooter was not necessarily being selfish; he just might have seen someone holding himself in a manner which to the passer made success on a pass unlikely. It certainly presents as a less then inviting target.

There are easy ways to extend and lift the arm with minimal tension, maintaining some flexion. Softness in the arm and hand and shoulder are good things for a whole variety of reasons, including enhanciing one's ability to make difficult catches easily. It also will enhance softness through the shoulders and ribs, although they probably should be addressed separately. Of course, the hand will be less high, but if more height is called for, the passer can make that judgment. With his weight better distributed, and his body more supple and ready for action, Z will go get it as they athlete he often shows.

No kidding, all Z needs to think is "paint the fence," the upward stroke, and modify it a bit, and I think that this posting up issue will improve dramatically. If he wanted to go all out, he might want to work with a Feldenkrais practitioner with a little knowledge of the game; tell him that there is one who would pay for the privilege. ;)

01-24-2009, 05:37 PM
I agree with a lot you have there. Catching is one of Brian's hardships, he's a fumble fingers when he is on the recieving end at times, even on rebounds. If he can work on and improve in that area he would be a serious offensive threat.

01-24-2009, 05:57 PM
I'm surprised there's not an algebraic formula in there somewhere.

01-24-2009, 08:07 PM
I gues is what you are try to say is "try not to hit him in the hands"???

01-24-2009, 08:36 PM
I gues is what you are try to say is "try not to hit him in the hands"???

Nope, trying to say how he might improve as a post-up receiver which is only one aspect of the game. I still think Z is under utilized. In this last game, in what little I watched of the first team, about 10 minutes in the second half, there were at least three very open passing lanes with Z in deep and only one defender in the area, at his back. Even if his reception stance might be less than ideal (we are talking a hypothesis here), I think that he should have gotten the ball on each of those occasions. I'm reasonably certain that he would have finished; 6 or more additional points from Zoubek off good feeds would have helped this team more than the threes the guys hit, imo.

Nothing wrong with Z's "hands." He actually has excellent feel for the ball, only not so much when he is trying to seal off defenders in the classic style that K seems to demand be utilized (I have explained that there are options). No one could shoot as well as he does from the foul line, and tap in baskets as well as he does without having "good hands." His ability to catch in a more mobile position, that is, a more upright position, is excellent, especially if on the move.

01-24-2009, 08:53 PM
What the heck, in for a nickle, in for a dime. The common wisdom now is that weight lifting enhances basketball performance and in many respects it does. However, I think that there is more than a little truth to the now completely discarded notion that weight lifting actually can impair performance in the sport, especially certain skill aspects of it.

I would not be surprised if Zoub's weight lifting make lifting his arm a much more arduous task than it should be and thus contribute to why he is so rigid in his arm and shoulder when doing it. I dare not talk about shoulder blades again, and how if they are restricted the clavical can become frozen, the upper ribs rigid, all of which would make the simple task of lifting one's arm a real production.

I didn't mention neck and deltoid issues, and how if ease of head movement is restricted that can dramatically effect many other functions both proximal (ie shoulder and upper arm movement) and more distant, as far away as footwork (the great debate about whether the head needs to stay still or move in the golf swing, and if it should move, it can tilt left and right, down or up, and move forward or back, each of which in their various combinations will have dramatic consequences on movement throughout the body).

"But, alas, Greybeard, I fear you have gone too far; the masses will abandon you," one inner voice says; one of the many others (you have noticed, haven't you) answers, "Greybeard, we came into this world as men, we ain't going out as mice." Say goodnight now, the wise voice chimes in." Goodnight now.

01-24-2009, 09:00 PM
I'm certainly no body positioning expert, but Zoubek got in front of his man a great deal today. In the first half I felt kind of bad for him because as good as he was playing, the other four guys were just passing around the outside despite Zoubek having excellent position down low. Of course, the offense was doing just fine without the need to go down low, but I empathized with Zoubs as I watched him switch from one block to the other, ready to receive the ball today. He also had that great pass to Henderson on the assist. It's been a while since the positioning has been that good from our big man. Maybe Wojo knows what he's doing? ;)