In this week’s basketball coaching conversation, NBA player development coach Phil Beckner joins the Basketball Podcast to discuss Damian Lilliard, NBA shooting and player development.
Phil Beckner is currently a Player Development Consultant for numerous NBA players helping them to perform at their highest level both personally and professionally. Phil also works with several high performing teams, organizations, and businesses, all to help enhance skills and maximize results. In doing so, Phil helps create a blueprint for development improving strategies to ultimately enhance leadership skills.
Prior to that, he spent 2 years at Boise State where he served as an assistant and then associate head coach. While at Boise State, Phil was part of 2 consecutive 20-win seasons, 2 NIT appearances, and was instrumental in the development of 2018 NBA first round Draft pick Chandler Hutchison (#22 Chicago Bulls).
Phil has been a collegiate coach for 10 seasons, plus one year as an assistant coach at the professional level. Before arriving at Boise State, he spent one season at Nebraska, and one season on staff with the Oklahoma City Blue, the NBA D-League affiliate of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Prior to his stint at the professional ranks Phil was on staff at Weber State for seven seasons, where he was part of winning 3 conference championships, and playing both in the NIT and NCAA tournaments. A highly regarded player developer, he worked closely with NBA All-Star Damian Lillard during his time at Weber State.
“We just want to lead these guys [players] to be the best version of themselves both on and off the court. Whenever we do that, everyone ends up being successful.”
“Some of these guys I work with call me their trainer. My background is coaching, so I’ve put in offensive systems, I’ve put in defensive systems . . you get what coverages they’re facing, what other teams are trying to get them to do.”
“What used to be normal is now the exception . . people don’t do what used to be done . . footwork, basic ball handling, pivot series, simple moves, effective moves.”
“What can I do to be a better trainer? What can I do to become a better skill development coach? . . The number one thing I tell them to do is go coach a team . . The more you could coach and work for someone like another leader ahead of you, the more you’ll progress and the more you’ll advance in helping players develop.”
“Our way is not for everybody . . as we choose these guys [who we work with] . . they’ve got to be serious about their development and . . try to progress in an area that’s going to make them successful and it’s not just all about scoring . .”
“I study a lot of leadership and communication stuff for myself because I need to grow in these areas.”
“At the end of the day, we do a lot of stuff behind the scenes for our guys. And again, this is why we don’t work with everybody, because some people don’t want this stuff.”
“One issue a ton of college guys, a ton of pre-draft guys always have to hit is energy levels, body language and their presence . . we’ll send them clips of their body language or definitions of presence, definitions of energy levels so those guys grow in that.”
“Looking in the mirror, maybe one of the biggest areas I failed in as a younger coach . . was just demanding more, criticizing too much and not catching them doing something right.”
“We’re . . trying to build upon strengths, not just improve a weakness . . we have some player development philosophies and one of them is that you’ve got to be great at what you’re good at . . we want to accelerate progress in those areas to make them elite strengths, great strengths.”
“Going back to Dame [Damian Lillard] . . he’s not just the example for us, he’s the ultimate example . . the simple traits that make him successful . . that he’s willing to be held accountable for, those are traits any player at any level could have and it’s going to accelerate their progress, it’s going to accelerate their development.”
“High clarity equals high performance. If you know where you’re trying to get to, when you have to be there, how to get there, you’re probably going to get there pretty efficiently and pretty effectively.”
“What I’ve learned is . . it has to be a collaboration . . I’m still leading the way because you’re hiring me to help you, you’re allowing me to hold you accountable, but this has to be a collaboration . . it’s my job to think about it and see it, it’s your job to feel it.”
“Extending your range . . has to be guilt from the ground up . . we have four different progressions . . and I think too many times . . everyone wants something really, really fast and extending your range is not built fast.”
“Our template is called the Foundation Shooting Series . . it’s progressions based on the type of shot and the coach seeing the movements and motions and a player feeling the movements and motions . . we’re trying to get them to shoot the same shot, the same way from multiple distances.”
“Three things affect shooting the basketball the most . . the three things we say are speed, the next one is movement . . and then the third one is distance . . those three things affect shooting the most that we could work on and we could control.”
“I started using the word ‘intentional’ when it came to shooting . . it seems like every time I gave them one thing to do . . and we had the same cue, they accelerated their progress so much in that area that I could coach them on one or two other things and too much stuff wasn’t in their head.”
“For everyone to be on the same page with the plan to develop a player is absolutely vital to their success because it’s about them . . it’s already hard enough to be good . . it’s even harder to be great.”
“The work [certain players] put in . . the amount of detail, effort and concentration they put in daily is not for everyone. It really takes a lot of work. And it takes a lot of work to get results that will sustain that.”
“We are absolutely intentional explaining how much work you have to put in, the time frame, the commitment and the discipline and focus level you have to have rep to rep . . everyone loves the results, but not everyone loves the work.”
“So much of what we do can truly be done at every level . . the two skill traits that hold these kids back . . that I think coaches should do more: one, weak hand development, just hard pounds, finishing around the rim with their weak hand, basic passing with their left hand . .and then footwork stuff . . rips, pivots and jabs.”
“Mindset-wise . . the two biggest battles we’ve got to fight with guy: one, immaturity and, two, insecurity. Guys that are immature, it’s hard to coach them, it’s hard to get them better, it’s hard to get them to buy in. . . And then, insecure guys . . are afraid to make mistakes . . if you’re going hard, if you’re outside your comfort zone . . we’re going to applaud those mistakes.”
“Shooting the ball and decision making, I think those are going to be the separators in the next 5-10 years at all levels of basketball.”
Selected Links from the Podcast:
1:00 – Difference between a Coach and Trainer
3:00 – Training Sessions
5:00 – Player Selection Process
9:30 – Progress
12:00 – Normalize Damian Lillard’s Success
14:00 – Philosophies on Improving Shooting
16:00 – Communication
19:00 – Working on Shooting
20:30 – Extending Shooting Range
26:00 – Hard Last Dribble
30:00 – Providing Feedback
32:00 – Intentions
39:00 – Periodization
45:00 – Most Common Hurdles
49:00 – Player Development
51:00 – Incorporating Decision Making
52:00 – Conclusion
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