benefits and tips of 3 on 3 basketball

Five Benefits of Playing 3-on-3 Basketball

Twenty to thirty years ago, 3-on-3 basketball was extremely popular in the United States. I remember growing up and playing in multiple 3-on-3 basketball tournaments every year like Gus Macker and others, and they were always a ton of fun.

But then some time in the past 15 years or so, the popularity of 3-on-3 basketball began to decline, most likely due to the rise in popularity of AAU, which is the standard 5-on-5 basketball.

youth basketball 3 on 3 league charlotte ncHowever, in the last few years, 3-on-3 basketball has been making a bit of a comeback, especially with the support of USA Basketball and the Jr. NBA.

USA Basketball has been pushing 3-on-3 in part because in 2020 it’s going to be an official sport at the Olympics in Tokyo.

The Jr. NBA has even started youth 3-on-3 basketball leagues around the country that culminate with a national championship.

This year there will be Jr. NBA 3-on-3 leagues in Atlanta (GA), Walnut Creek (CA), New York, Salt Lake City (UT), Aurora (IL), Westfield (IN), Vancouver (WA), Oklahoma City (OK), Whippany (NJ), and we are hosting the 3-on-3 basketball league in Charlotte, NC!

Our Charlotte Jr. NBA 3-on-3 League will be held on Friday evenings from January 5th to February 9th at Carolina Courts Indian Trail and is for boys and girls from U10 to U13. You can find more information here!

Anyway, with 3-on-3 making a comeback in youth basketball, I thought it’d be a good idea to write a blog about some of the benefits of 3-on-3 basketball for young players.

It played a huge role in my development as a basketball player from youth to the pros, so I wanted to express the importance of 3-on-3 in this post.



Footwork Pivot Basketball Drill

This month’s youth basketball drill is the “footwork-line-pivot” drill. I got this drill from Coach Don Showalter of USA Basketball, and I first implemented it at the USA Basketball Youth Charlotte Boys Regional Camp that I directed back in August.

At that basketball camp, we did it very effectively with 100 kids in lines of 5-6 spread out along the sideline so it clearly works with large groups, or as seen in the video above from a basketball clinic I did with our PSB club team players in September, you can also do the drill using the free throw lines and elbows if you have a smaller group.

In this case, we had about 50-60 kids, and we used all 6 baskets and used both lane lines at each basket, so 12 lines total.

How to do the “Footwork-Line-Pivot” Drill:

#1 Players line up on the baseline and free throw lane line facing the elbow.

#2 Players dribble up the elbow with their outside hand and jump stop to triple threat at the elbow.

#3 Before the drill, the coach tells the players which kind of pivot they should do – left foot forward, left foot reverse, right foot forward, or right foot reverse – and players do that pivot at the elbow.

#4 Again before the drill, the coach tells the players which kind of pass they should do2-hand bounce, 2-hand chest, 1-hand side chest, or 1-hand side bounce – and players make that pass after the pivot.

Those are the basics of the drill, which sounds simple but for youth basketball players, the drill can get tricky because they have to focus on doing multiple things and following multiple instructions.

For example, dribble with outside hand, jump stop, triple threat, correct pivot, correct pass, etc.

Why this Basketball Drill is so Beneficial:

#1 It keeps players moving. Not a lot of standing around!

#2 Players work on dribbling, jump stops, triple threat, pivoting, passing, and following instructions.

#3 Doing multiple things at once or very quickly one right after the other.

When I first started doing this drill not all that long ago, I was amazed at how many players, especially older kids, struggled to pivot with either foot, specifically on reverse pivots!

There are also some good ways to make this drill even harder if you have a more advanced group or make a game out of it if you want to add in some competition simply by adding in a 2nd ball. But more video and explanation of this in an upcoming drill of the month.

Stay tuned!


learning to compete in basketball

Life Lessons in Basketball: Learning to Compete

When Pro Skills Basketball was first founded, Logan and I wanted to come up with an easy way for kids, parents and coaches to remember the values and skills we thought were most important for young players to learn.

From that, we developed the acronym F.O.C.U.S., which originally stood for Fun, Overcome, Concentration, Unity, and Sacrifice.

However, after being immersed in the youth basketball world for a few years year-round, full-time, we realized that perhaps the number one skill we were having to teach kids was toughness, and specifically, toughness in terms of competing and competition. Because of that, we decided to change the C in F.O.C.U.S. from “Concentrate” to “Compete”.

With that said, I realized that we never wrote a replacement blog post on this new skill of “Compete” in our F.O.C.U.S. acronym, so this is what I wanted to address in this blog post.

Don’t get me wrong though, it’s not like we necessarily think that “Competing” is more important that “Concentrating”, which you can read about what we mean by that in our previous blog post. It’s just that over the past 6 years, we’ve found ourselves constantly trying to figure out how to help our kids be more competitive, how to help them understand that they need to compete as hard as they can in everything they do, on or off the court.



Basketball Athleticism Interview with Jeremy Martin from the Ultimate Athlete

Basketball is truly one of the most difficult games to master. Players need to possess an incredible amount of mental toughness, physical toughness, athleticism and very specialized fundamentals.

That’s why you always hear stories about guys getting up shots at 6 am, then heading to the weight room in the afternoon and then back on the court for games in the evening.

Not only that, but the importance of REST and RECOVERY is crucial in such a physically demanding sport. Working hard is not enough. Players must work hard and work smart.

The details of working hard and working smart are still being figured out. We see players doing so many different drills and exercises, all in the hopes of becoming more explosive.

We sat down with the Founder of Charlotte’s Ultimate Athlete, Jeremy Martin, to ask him some questions of how basketball players should think about becoming a better athlete by enhancing their basketball athleticism.

Logan Kosmalski (LK): Jeremy, thanks for agreeing to answer some questions for us. Great to have you!

Jeremy Martin (JM): Thanks for allowing me to be here.

LK: What are some misconceptions that you think a lot of high school basketball players have concerning strength development and sports performance training?

jeremy martin ultimate athleteJM: That’s a great question, Logan. First off, let’s talk about strength training. This is such a broad topic and varies based on the athlete and his or her goals.

When most people think of strength training, they typically picture a guy lifting heavy on the bench or squat.

People probably don’t look at strength training as someone doing shoulder prehab exercises for the rotator cuff, core strength, or hip unilateral activities in the open chain.

Well, guess what?

These are 3 different forms of strength training that are extremely beneficial for any athlete — especially a basketball player.

When I look at strength training, I first think about the athletes’ muscle imbalances. And yes, every athlete has them! In every sport, there are certain movement patterns done repeatedly and because of this, certain muscles are over-utilized and some are under-utilized.

There are certain length-tension relationships with every muscle and it is my goal to make sure all my athletes fall into this category…and the only way to get there is through strength training.

Basketball Athleticism Training

LK: What are some new trends in sports performance training for basketball that you like? Some that you don’t like?

JM: I like some of the sport-specific stuff that I have seen recently. Anytime we can have the athlete understand the drill/movement pattern better by putting them in their natural environment (possibly with a ball in their hand) or simply relating the drill to what they do on the court is important.

I always like to think about a concept from the athlete’s perspective and make sure they fully understand why we are doing something and how it will help them become a better player on the court.

I think Alan Stein does a great job with this concept. He takes fundamental sports performance drills with a speed ladder or micro-hurdles, adds a basketball to it, and immediately the players feel like it is more of a “basketball drill” and gets a lot of productivity out of his players. I do think that every player has certain limitations and there is always an area that needs special attention.

Doing some of the fancy stuff that looks cool on YouTube or Instagram is great, but sometimes you need to ask yourself, “is this drill making me better?Is it increasing my vertical jump or helping me run faster? Or is it just a good complementary tool that allows me to show off my vertical or how fast I run?

For example, let’s take the vertimax machine. It’s very popular in jumping-based sports like basketball or volleyball. For those of you that are unfamiliar, the concept is to do a variety of high-level plyometric (jumping) activities under tension of bands.

Obviously, basketball players jump a lot in their sport so the concept of the vertimax is to do more jumping. The vertimax can be a great complement and supplementary machine to a sports performance program – but to truly become more powerful and explosive, you first need to know what power is.

Power is the combination of force and velocity. The vertimax provides velocity, but guess what? Basketball players are already doing plenty of that during their practices, games, and private training.

Have you ever asked yourself how much jumping you do in each week…from the lay-up line to the practice to the game? Well trust me – it’s a lot! Now ask yourself this question, “how many drills in each training week do you do to work on the force or force production part of the equation?” I’ll bet it is not enough.

Adding drills that are power-oriented that require triple joint extension (discussed further in later blogs) will be critical in completing the equation of power = force x velocity. The vertimax alone will not warrant the long-term change to vertical jump and/or overall power output.

LK: Every basketball player wants to increase their vertical. What is the very first piece of how to improve athleticism for basketballadvice you have for a high school player that comes to you and says “I want to jump higher”?

JM: How much relative body strength do you have? A lot of high school basketball players haven’t even developed fundamental body weight strength for their size and therefore remain grounded until that changes.

If you struggle doing pull-ups, push-ups or core work for high reps, then the chances are you probably do not have very good relative body strength and it’s almost impossible to have a big vertical jump.

The athletes that I have worked with who have a big leap
all have one thing in common. They all have good relative body strength on the drills I discussed. Let me ask you this question: how many pull-ups and push-ups do you think LeBron James can do?

Once the relative body strength is established, we can now start talking about force production and more importantly, ground reaction force. Ground reaction force is essentially what the athlete is doing during a vertical jump.

Think it about it…the athlete is providing force into the ground and quickly extending at the hip, knee, and ankle. This is also called ‘triple joint extension’ and needs to be trained using high-load speed strength activities and low-load speed-strength activities that will definitely increase the vertical and make our players more explosive on the court.

We spend a lot of time with our basketball players doing an explosive strength drill that requires triple-extension like a hang clean, front squat or Olympic style pull and quickly add a powerful plyometric activity right after it. This concept uses high-load and low-load speed strength inside of the same workout to get maximum power output. Trust me, before you know it, your jumping can go to a completely different level.

LK: At your gym, it seems like every day is a full body workout. Do you buy the old notion of “chest days”, “leg days”, “back days”, etc.?

JM: First off, you will never see a ‘chest day’ at ULTIMATE ATHLETE. We are athletes who are strength training to help us in a sport – not a bodybuilder simply trying to look good at their local figure competition.

I say this jokingly, but it is amazing to me how many athletes and training programs follow more of a bodybuilding routine over a sports performance program that willbasketball athleticism training help you increase your performance. Isn’t that the goal? To become a better athlete?

So yes, we do NOT follow or believe in the notion of training one body part per day. In sports, it is rarely ever an isolated movement.

Most of the time the athlete is using the entire kinetic chain and multiple muscles at one time to perform the desired skill or movement. Wouldn’t it make sense to train the same way?

Even though our strength workouts will always have a specific focus, we want to have our athletes on their feet as much as possible in an environment that is very similar to what they experience on the court.

Each workout needs to complement what we are doing with our speed and agility program and what will warrant the best results in the drills we test like the Vertical Jump and Broad Jump.

How to Improve Athleticism for Basketball

JM: I will talk more about power and explosive drills that we use at the training center in later blogs that require some equipment and technique, but for this blog, I want to give the readers’ three drills that do not require a lot of equipment, detailed technique, or space.LK: If you could advise basketball players to only do three exercises to develop explosiveness, what are they and how often should they do them?

1. Seated Box Jump: To do this, you need a small box to sit on and a taller box to jump on.
Start by sitting on the small box, bring the feet slightly off the ground and then explode
onto the taller box. I would recommend doing 4 sets of 6-8 repetitions.

2. Floor Bridge: To perform this exercise all you need is the box that you used for the
vertical jump. Place the box on its side (preferably 20’ height). Place the heels on the
box while you are lying flat on the floor and drive through the heels to extend the hips.
This drill is working your hamstrings and glutes which are big prime movers for jumping
and power activities. I would recommend doing 4 sets of 10-12 repetitions.

3. Pull-ups: Find a bar, start from a dead hang and pull yourself up. If you cannot perform
from a dead hang, use your feet from the ground ‘to assist’ you to jump up and thenbasketball athleticism
control the downward portion creating more ‘time under tension’ during the eccentric portion of the drill. This bodyweight drill is by far the best for developing relative body strength and overall upper body strength in general. If you can perform from a dead hang, I would recommend doing 4 sets of 5 repetitions to start and increase a rep each week until failure.

These are 3 simple drills any player could easily do in 20 minutes 3x per week.

Thanks, Jeremy!

If you’re interested in learning more or setting up a free evaluation at Ultimate Athlete, contact Jeremy Martin at 704.577.1402, or visit


4 Most Impactful Questions to Ask When Deciding to Transfer Schools for Sports

So, I’m going to be honest.

I FULLY expected to sit down and write a blog post about high school student-athletes and the current trend of transferring schools at what seems like an astronomical rate and portray it in a negative light.

As someone that went to a large public school for 3 years (middle school in my area of Texas is 7th through 9th grade) and didn’t always see eye-to-eye with my coaches and didn’t appreciate the overwhelming emphasis put on football at my school, I completely understand those frustrations. Hey, I even transferred in college.

But, after returning to North Carolina from my college and professional careers, it was obvious that something had changed. To see kids leaving schools mid-season or going to 3 high schools in 3 years all in the name of chasing a scholarship, I was both taken aback and basketball transfer

So, I was prepared to question what was going on and express my skepticism. But after doing some research on the topic, it appears that there are no EASY answers and no quick judgments can be passed.

But, based on the number of state governing body rules (examples found here, here, here, here and here. Plus the fact that lawyers are needed to help navigate the rule books! Lawyers! In high school sports!) and the HIGH rate with which kids leave schools now, I would argue that we have lost our way concerning what is in the best interest of high school kids trying to play collegiate team sports.