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basketball_icon-orangeCovid-19 and NTL

posted May 2, 2021

Hope is in the air. As vaccinations are in arms of more people and infections rates decline, basketball, both indoors and out is being played more and more with a greater sense of security and safety. At NTL, we have always put players’ safety first. That used to mean don’t hurt the people you are playing with (they gotta go to work the next day! They’ve got families!) but these days it has meant let’s be super-careful not to pass the Covid virus around.
In April, in Boston, NYC, and SF, we continued what we had started in NYC in the fall: small group Outdoor Workout and Skills Clinics. No defense, no scrimmaging. All skills, all the time. As more people are vaccinated, we are inching closer to being able to work on skills while guarding one another.
Later this month, we expect to add clinics for vaccinated players only; that include game play in our NTL locations. We also have scheduled two NTL Weekend Camps, once again for vaccinated players only: Santa Barbara, October 15-17 and Sheffield, MA, November 5-7. Additionally, we are hoping that gyms will be available and indoor basketball, in one form or another will be safe to play and will be played, NTL style, come September. Hang in there: Hoops is in the Air!

posted January 6, 2021

As of March 15, 2020, the day the music of basketballs bouncing off floors and swishing through nets at NTL practices died, NTL Weekly Practice Programs in Boston, NYC, and SF, and the various Weekend Camps, and Boston’s Play Forever League (PFL) have been on hold. Basketball games and drills with defense require players to be in close proximity to one another. Couple that with playing indoors where there’s likely lack of ventilation and you have a situation that’s decidedly unhealthy. Starting in mid-summer, we ran one-on-one individual outdoor workout sessions with players in Boston and NYC. We did close to 150 of those workouts. In NYC, we ran small group, no defense, no scrimmaging outdoor skills and drills sessions for 14 weeks. All the individual and small group sessions will start up again (in SF, too) as soon as the weather allows and as soon as the infection rates subside. (Check the NTL website for updates.)

When we will play indoors again for our clinics and camps and league depends on gym availability and gym availability and safe practicing and playing depend on how successfully vaccinations and safety measures drive down infection rates. Low community and national infection rates along with availability of rapid, on-the-spot testing should allow us to begin our programs again. The earliest we can realistically hope to get in gyms is this summer. We have booked gyms and hotels in the hope of running camps beginning this spring. Likely that we could only run spring camps if we tested and created a bubble situation. More on this and all the NTL basketball that is to come will be updated here and via email to players. Please do what you know you need to do to keep yourself and those around you healthy and safe. And get a ball in your hands at least a few times a week, some dribbles, some shots, some running around. You’ll be better than ever!

basketball_icon-orangeFilm Sessions, à la, Never Too Late Basketball Camps: Practice Like a Pro

posted December 14, 2018

Other than the fact that the players who come to the Never Too Late Basketball Camps aren’t pros, never were, never will be and never anything in between, we still treat them as if they were. Um, do we pay them? No, they pay us! Do they arrive with an entourage? Only if you count all the campers as each other’s “posse”. Do they come to each practice session ready to improve skills, expand their knowledge of the game? Seriously do. One of the goals of the camp is to provide a genuine basketball experience. A piece of that experience, a pro’s routine (and for them a daily routine) is to practice like a pro, and to practice intentionally. One of the ways we do this is to film the “controlled scrimmages” that take place Saturday morning and Saturday afternoon and then have players sit with their coaches in film sessions to review what went wrong, what went right, what each player and each “team” can do better next time. Rasheed Wallace when aggrieved by a foul call and when the fouled player then missed a free throw used to say “ball don’t lie”. As we know, film don’t lie either. We watch for proper spacing, timing of cuts, angle of cuts, delivery of passes, readiness to shoot, defensive positioning. Are players running hard? That’s a good one! We began these film sessions with this past year’s camps to great acclaim and, as coaches, look forward to getting back in the film room with players once again at the 2019 Never Too Late Basketball Weekend Camps.

basketball_icon-orangePlay Forever League (PFL) Boston: Ready, Set, Game!

posted August 30, 2017

Saturday morning basketball. You wake up, throw on some shorts and sweats (you slept in your Adidas socks and PFL jersey so that’s all-set), grab your sneaks, get in the car or ride your bike and through the haze of early morning traffic head on over to the PFL Garden, the Nineteenth Wonder of the World. Into the parking lot and enter through Door #9; there’s the gym. That’s the sound of the ball on the floor. You are where you belong.

You say “hi” to Charlie, Josh, David Hartjes, Derek (wow, he’s here early), Mariah and Maria. Kashawn is hitting 3s from half court with his girl friend guarding him. You pick up a ball and do a little ball handling, maybe the Steph Curry warmup, take a few 8 footers for form, back it up a little, then a little more, then a little more. Feels good. You are ready. Of course you are. Someone tells you your jersey is on backward. Whatever. Horn goes off. Ref throws the ball up, clock starts counting down. Another Saturday morning, another game of basketball. You move, you run, you breathe. You are reminded what it feels like to be alive. You play a little defense, some coy move where you pretend you are not paying attention and you slip into the passing lane (“where do you live?” “in the passing lane!”), tip the ball away, one dribble, glance behind, easy layup. You make the layup; not everyone in this league makes layups. You were cool the whole way. Everyone in the gym noticed.

You move the ball, Steve says ball movement is good and wears down the defense, in this league THAT DON’T TAKE LONG. Sometimes, because Bird would do it, you stop and hit the transition 3. You prefer the right wing but would never admit it. It is a game of baskets and whistles and stops, subs in, subs out and occasionally picking someone off the floor. More baskets. You win. You lose. You sweat. You smile. Game’s end you look at the stat sheet just a little too long; in fact, you take it home with you. You are one of those.

You are one of the people and players who make Saturdays at PFL a very good place to be.

Fall/Winter Season kicks off with Draft Day, Saturday, Sept 23. Games start the following week, Sept 30. You know the story: league has been selling out for years now, Wait List and all that. Get yourself signed up to play PFL ball and then tell your friends to get going. There are basketball stories ready to create and be told, and told again for years to come.

Play Better/Play Forever.

basketball_icon-orangeShooting stars at the recent NTL Weekend Camp in Santa Barbara, CA (April 2017)!

posted May 8, 2017

Shooting Star #1: At every NTL Weekend Camp we do lots of shooting: form shooting, catch-and-shoot shooting, shooting off the dribble, etc. One drill we use at every camp to measure players as they move through the weekend and camp-to-camp for returning players is a drill called the 80 Shot Drill. I got this drill from Bill Musselman who was the first head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves when they entered the NBA as an expansion team. Players partner up and shoot in a somewhat relaxed fashion – somewhere between a free throw and game shot – 20 shots from each of 4 spotsL both elbows and both mid-baselines. (Tom Thibodeau, then Musselman’s righthand man, would walk around and chart on a clipboard each player’s score. Musselsman would have goals set for each player.) They count their score and report the score in. We chart them. Notable this past weekend was Kevin Ng, Alamo, CA. Kevin has been to camp several times and by his own admission had a funny (weird) looking shot. In his one-on-one video sessions with our shooting instructor, Fred Hodson, Jonesboro, IN, he re-structured his shot. The result? Our highest score ever in the 80 Shot Drill at camp: 68/80.

Shooting Star #2: On Sunday mornings at our weekend camps, we conclude with a series of skills contests, one of which is the NTL Three-Point Shooting Contest, styled after the NBA Three-Point Contest, money-ball and everything. This past weekend we had a long standing record of 21 points (out of a possible 30) tied by Henry Jai, Moraga, CA. Henry is an all-time NTL camps’ recruiter, always bringing 3, 4, or 5 of his friends to camp. He wants them to be better shooters too! Exciting morning of shooting at the NTL Santa Barbara Weekend Camp!

basketball_icon-orangenote from a player 3 days after he attended the NTL Weekend Camp in Sheffield, MA (November 2016)!

posted November 9, 2016

Ok so I usually wait a couple of months to report progress, since progress takes time, right?

Each year, I’ve said that I can tell I’m incorporating new tips and experiencing increased confidence in shorter and shorter intervals after camp weekend. Year one: maybe 6 months out, I noticed a difference. Year two: maybe 4 months. Last year, at year 4: I recall noticing within 2 months or less.

Today is my first practice after camp. I’ve been here 30min. Did some dribbling for 10min, balanced one hand shots for warm up, then shot for 20+ minutes. Variable distances, rarely standstill- usually ball spin and pivot right or left shots, sometimes shooting off the dribble. Beyond 3pt too. Focused on just one thing- elbow hinged closer to my torso, wrist more cocked and loaded than before, with arm flailing out more and having to spend some time bringing the ball back closer to me to load before shooting. I actually ran around the court with my right arm/wrist cocked in that position on purpose just for exaggeration and muscle memory, forcing my left hand to to all the ball handling and actively bringing the ball to my right hand for any shots- like I had a permanent contracture in my arm, just to force myself to get used to it.

I’m not one to exaggerate at all. Must have been roughly 150-200 shots. Without trying to avoid consecutive misses, I recognize that I hit so many it really struck me that I missed 3 in a row once and only once. Felt like I hit 90% of my shots though probably realistically was only 75%. But that reflects the confidence and high I had. I did the drill where you spin the ball out to the elbow from near the basket, run and catch, pivot 180 degrees and shoot, 10x from each side. I think I only missed once from each side.

Incredible stuff guys. Thanks a million as always. No doubt they’ll be down days and peaks and valleys in the learning process. But fun stuff already. Haven’t even started practicing those two ball drills Mike showed us, which are exciting and fun to think about!

Mark Su, 42, Newburyport, MA

basketball_icon-orangeNTL Weekly Practice Programs Return to San Francisco!

posted April 21, 2016

Beginning Sunday, April 24, 2016 we will once again (after being away for ten whole years) be running our Weekly Practice Programs in San Francisco. A 9am “Beautiful Basics Clinic” will be followed at 10:30am by “Intermediate/Advanced Skills & Scrimmage”. Coached by Christian Manoli, recent star big guard at Carnegie-Mellon University where he led his team in scoring, rebounding and assists his senior year, players will drill the fundamentals of the game, get feedback from coaches on areas of strength and strategies for practice and improvement and finish each session with a “controlled scrimmage” in which coaches will guide players to implement the things they had been working on in the drills. We hope to continue year-round and add a weekend night session this fall. Anyone have any idea why basketball seems insanely popular in the Bay Area right now???

basketball_icon-orangeVideotaped Shooting Instruction at Boston NTL

posted December 9, 2015

Beginning in January 2016, we will offer a videotaped shooting clinic in Boston, the same videotaped shooting instruction we provide at all the NTL Weekend Camps. In amazing detail and in super-slo-mo, we will review weekly and with each player: footwork and position, body and head angle, release point, elbow alignment (or mis-alignment!), follow-through and much, much more! Come watch your shot get better!

basketball_icon-orangePlay Forever League (Boston) Spring Season Awards

posted May 21, 2015

Play Forever League (PFL) Boston just wrapped up its spring season with a raucous banquet at The Summer Shack in Cambridge last night. Players voted earlier in the week for awards in 5 categories: MVP, MIP, PFL Award, Top Team Offensive Players, Top Team Defensive Players. Also presented with trophies were winners in the three skills competitions held on the last Saturday (Championship Saturday) of the season: Skills Course, Fastest PFL Human Being, 3 Point Shooting contest (NBA style).

MVP: Evan “The Pope” Pepe (Eastie Erasers)

MIP: Edison Tam (Cambridge Crush)

PFL Award: Nick Mildwoff (Eastie Erasers)

Championship Game MVP: Akira Motomura (Weston Wallabies)

Top Team Offensive Players

Aaron Myran (Belmont Braveheart)
Bill Carruthers (Weston Wallabies)
Mike Pelaggi (Medford Mud Swans)
Andy Lee (Arlington Acrobats)
Brad Schutzer (Somerville Sugar Bears)

Top Team Defensive Players

Juan Estrella (Weston Wallabies)
Tim “Chief” Wright (Lexington Legends)
Mike Dennis (Billerica Jay Hawks)
Mike Earley (Weston Wallabies)
Kate McKenna (Medford Mud Swans)

Skills Course: Edison Tam

Fastest PFL Human Being: Juan Estrella

PFL Three Point Contest: Bill Carruthers

basketball_icon-orangeplayer Feedback from NTL Santa Barbara Weekend Camp, May 1-3, 2015

posted May 9, 2015

First game of the company league just finished. Dude, I am a basketball player!

I knew where to go on the court, I knew what I wanted to do without the ball, I knew what I wanted to do with the ball. Incredible! I did your drop step and I was so wide open I scared myself.

My shot was terrible, I need to practice and get into a rhythm, but I felt great out there. Thanks!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Many thanks to you and the NTL coaching staff for another great camp – I really had a good time in Santa Barbara and I am looking forward to Portland. It’s great to be healthy and have the opportunity to learn/play with so many great guys. My apologies for cutting out of the lunch early yesterday, too.

Please convey my gratitude to the rest of the NTL staff.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

What we lacked in skill and athleticism, we made up for it with effort, enthusiasm, and teamwork.

Thanks guys for making it another great camp.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Thanks to all the coaches and Team Koval teammates for making this year’s camp great!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Just a reminder about sending me my shooting video. I was floored when
Fred [Shooting Coach] showed me what I am actually doing. It’s clear that I am favoring a couple of areas ( Ankle and lower back)
where I have had prior injuries and my base is too narrow.
I need to rebuild my shot from the ground up but, I am excited about the challenge.
Thanks again for putting on a great camp. NTL forever.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Thanks, Steve, for a great first camp.

Kudos to all the staff!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I had the time of my life. I want to thank you , Fred, Keith, Mike and Kyle ( Jason and the Trainer ) for the best weekend. I still cannot move but next year I will be able to prepare better.
Thank you

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

basketball_icon-orangeThe Free Throw Project

posted December 22, 2014.

We see a problem. We design a solution.

I am, we are all, concerned about the FT% in PFL Boston. League aggregate: 331/691 = 47.6%. Plenty of good players; plenty of bad free throw shooters.

Sort of embarrassing, right?

One team is 30/92 = 32.6% The Celts traded Rondo and he was shooting better than that (12/36 = 33.3%) We cannot and will not trade this entire PFL team.

Here’s the idea: make The PFL Garden available for an hour a couple of times a week for players to come in and shoot a hundred FTs. (If you want some guidance from a guy who can make 95/100 any time of day, that guy will be there and available.)

We’ll partner you up with someone and you’ll shoot 10 FTs and switch with your partner who will shoot 10 and you’ll each do that 10 times. That’s 100. We chart it. We do a Before; we do an After.

$5 gets you in the gym (covers the cost of the gym – nickel a FT – and the coach who is there and investing in the idea of the Free Throw Project) and gets you a ball and a hoop. You’ll get better. We’ll all get better. You are part of The Project.

Takes 20 minutes. 6 hoops x 2 players. We can get 36 players through in an hour.

Mix and match: Sundays, Noon-1pm; Mondays, 10-11pm

Here’s the catch: you gotta think you can do this at least 10 times (10 x 100 FTs) between now and the end of Spring PFL (mid-May). To get better you need repetition and practice. (PRACTICE!) To practice you need a hoop. We want to track players progress, chart the improvement. Here’s the other catch: we need 20 players involved to make it worth the while. I want to see if we can improve the FT shooting of PFL as a whole. I know we can do it. (Do it 2x/wk!!!)

The Free Throw Project. Be part of history.

You game?

Steve B
NTL/PFL

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