The Book That Made The DVD

Below,is a description of the
book contents, followed by
text excerpts from different

(There are over 150 accompanying diagrams and photos)



By Ronn Wyckoff





Personal Pics

SECTION I (Preparing To Teach)

Chapter 1: Discipline/Fundamentals/Defense

Chapter 2: Building The Parent-Child Bond

Chapter 3: Being The Best You Can Be

Chapter 4: Becoming A Teaching-Coach


Skills To Cover Prior To First Game

Two-Hour Practice (Sample)

Varsity Handbook (Sample)

Letter: Varsity Boys Family Potluck

Manager’s Game Check List

My Philosophies

Pre-Game Acknowledgement

Rules To Learn And Know

SECTION II (Teaching Skills-This section contains over 150 photos and diagrams and follows the material presented in the DVDs)

Chapter 5: Explaining The Game/Team Interplay

Chapter 6: Teaching Balance and Control

Chapter 7: Teaching Passing

Chapter 8: Teaching Dribbling

Chapter 9: Teaching Shooting

Chapter 10: Teaching Rebounding/Tipping

Chapter 11: Teaching Movement Without The Ball: “Homework”

Chapter 12: Teaching Individual Moves With The Ball

Chapter 13: Teaching Individual Defense

Chapter 14: Teaching Position Specific Skills

SECTION III (Winding Down)

Chapter 15: In Conclusion

Chapter 16: The 4th Quarter





In the formative years of my coaching I searched for as much help as I could get and found it from some of the most talented people of that era. I believe that each person we interact with leaves a fingerprint on our life. Some leave such indelible prints that our lives are forever changed. I thank all the people who came through my life with some snippet of coaching, teaching, or living advice.

These talented “mentors” inspired me to want to be more than just a successful high school coach. I read what they wrote; took notes on what they had to say at coaching clinics; I participated as a coach in their camps; I even took my players and my small sons to listen to them speak, to attend the camps as players, and to watch their teams practice. None of these “mentors” knew my name or would remember me, but they influenced my early growth in becoming the teacher of the game into which I evolved.

All the coaches I ever coached for, with, and against each helped me to grow. Probably the most precious gift of learning, though, came from teaching and working with the hundreds of players all over the world, each of whom created a drama and carried a message for my growth throughout my career.

I am grateful for the blessing of Divine Guidance, which, more than anything, got me to where I am in my life, in the teaching of this game, and in the writing of this book.


As I sat down in the new year of 2005 to begin writing this book, I realized that the seeds for the material presented here were planted 30 years earlier on a coaching tour in Africa. Up to that time, I had been coaching school teams in California. In the summer of 1975 I became the National Basketball Coach for Rhodesia (which a year later was on its way to being renamed Zimbabwe).

Asked by the People-To-People Sports Committee, out of New York, to spend the summer leading a national program was like a dream come true for a high school coach. By the time I finished my tour there, I had coached boys and girls teams from grade school to national teams. I had trained the mens national team, set up programs, run national training camps for players and coaches, lectured, and otherwise done more than I had ever attempted in my career to that point. I left them with a syllabus for training, teaching and developing their national program. I had become the quintessential teaching-coach.

While the substance of this book has probably been ready for a decade, I wasn’t yet ready to embark on the commitment of time and discipline I knew it would take to do this the way I wanted to do it. Over half a century of basketball experiences, notes and memories needed to be waded through. I wanted to do justice to the premise I held in my mind that this should be simple, understandable and meaningful in reaching those coaches, parents and players who are ready in their lives and careers to receive what I most want to teach them.

It is my opinion, that in order to be the best we can be, in anything, we first need to find the purpose for being whatever it is we’re trying to be. Establishing that, we then need to be so focused as to be relentless in our pursuit of this purpose. My purpose now is to take this whole experience that has been uniquely mine and share it with coaches who would be teaching-coaches, parents who would like words and techniques to inspire and teach their children this game, and players who recognize there is a higher level they can reach if only someone will teach them how to get there.


The teaching of “Basketball On A Triangle” as a philosophy first came into my consciousness during my Rhodesia tour in 1975. Five years later, while consulting to the national basketball program in the island-nation of Barbados, I began to write about it and refer to it as my philosophy.

I had paid particular attention to the individual aspects of the triangle for years prior to this. I just hadn’t made the distinction as a philosophy.

To become the complete teaching-coach, or a complete player, one can’t ignore any aspect of development, lest one’s development be ‘incomplete’. If we don’t teach or play defense well, we’re only teaching or playing half the game. If we don’t teach offensive skills and rebounding correctly, how can we expect a player to play at his/her highest potential? We teaching-coaches have to be able to recognize even the smallest skill weakness and be able to break down the skill for the player to better understand and execute. Everything about successful teaching is about paying attention to the details! It’s the little things which are a part of discipline for both the teacher and player.

I believe that every player needs and deserves a teaching-coach in the early years. Each skill needs to be broken down into building blocks, where the level of difficulty can be raised as the individual grasps and possesses the skill before moving on. A coach can make a big mistake thinking that all players are capable of grasping the same lesson at the same pace as every other player. It doesn’t happen in the classroom so why would we assume the playing floor is somehow different? Skill teaching takes time and patience. Parents can be a big help here, reinforcing what the coach does and helping the child practice. I like to give a parent the words to use alongside the skills, to give them drills to practice each fundamental skill with, and teaching points to be able to reinforce. I want the parents to be able to encourage correct skill practice. (See Chapter 2, Building The Parent-Child Bond.)

The key to everything I’ve covered so far is the word ‘teaching’. If a player is to develop completely into their individual potential, as coaches we must teach every aspect of the game. We can’t expect players to do it on their own because they don’t know what they don’t know. We teaching-coaches have our own pyramids to build along the way too. We need to constantly challenge ourselves to increase our knowledge and abilities to understand the youth we work with and to teach them well in basketball and in life skills. So, we build together—coaches and players—on different, but parallel planes.


Sports are a great metaphor for life. The dynamic of how we deal with our participation in sports mirrors how we live our lives.

Supporting the child is a very important parenting choice. Whether they are just beginning to learn the game or they are already on a team, the child needs a parent’s unconditional support. It’s not just about basketball either. It should be across the board for any activity a child shows interest in. It may not even be something the child seems to have any natural affinity for. The child just needs to know they are okay, that they are being given the opportunity to explore and expand, and that the parent is supportive and interested in whatever the child is attempting.

While the parent is watching and supporting the child, the child is “watching” the parent. The child has an awareness that records every action and reaction, every word of encouragement or discouragement. All the while, the child is measuring whether they are okay or not okay in the parent’s eyes

It’s not just the parents, either. Every adult in a child’s life offers profound opportunities for modeling behavior. The child’s choices, now and throughout life, are being formed and influenced by the adult behavior they hear, see and perceive.

Being there for the child, being excited, encouraging and positive are all examples of supportive qualities.


From “the Power of Kabbalah”, by Yehuda Berg, comes the following wonderful wisdom: “In any athletic contest, the goal is to win. (From Little League to the pros, regardless of the sport.)  If you ask someone what they’re trying to accomplish, they will tell you it’s to win the game.

“So, can we really say that winning is the ultimate goal? What we really want from a game is risk, challenge—and even the possibility of losing. More than winning, it’s the test of our ability that makes it all worthwhile.

“The concept of losing against an opponent is what gives definition, existence, and meaning to the concept of winning.”

“Basketball On A Triangle” is a holistic approach to coaching and playing the game of basketball. It integrates the aspects of body (conditioning), mind (discipline) and spirit (will).

One of the most lasting points I carried away from the time I spent around Coach Wooden was that we don’t have control over how good or how well prepared the other team is, nor the skill level of their players. What we do control is how well we prepare. Remember: The will to win is not nearly as important as the will to prepare to win.”


I think I would counsel young coaches today to seek balance in their lives: Seek balance between all the different parts that make up who you are; Seek balance between the ego and the rest of your life. Choices in the beginning of a career can set the tone for everything done throughout that career. Remember: We’re about being and becoming, not just about what we do for a living.

The way you were coached may be all you know. Even if it was very successful, try to find your own style—one that suits you, feels comfortable for you, and reflects the person you are being or trying to become. As you grow in knowledge and experience, if it suits you—change!

First, we have to teach by example. It’s more important than the teaching of the subject matter, because if your players grow into outstanding men or women of character, that’s really the only subject that matters, isn’t it?

Second, it’s hard to teach something you can’t do yourself. How do you correct a player’s shooting technique if you are a terrible shooter yourself? Don’t let a lack keep you from getting started. Do understand your limitations though, and what you are going to do to overcome them. What you need to know can be learned through teaching it. If you start with some weak areas (and we all do) and don’t learn and progress, your continued coaching is probably not in the highest interest of either yourself or your players.


On Life: The right thing to do is to do the right thing.

On The game: The will to win is not nearly as important as the will

to prepare to win.

Winning doesn't just happen. You must set goals. You must prepare. You must be in condition and be disciplined. You must be fundamentally sound and you must play good defense. With these things in place, only then will you be able to perform at your peak. That takes the right attitude and a determined focus. (Focus keeps you on the line and your goal in sight. Attitude determines your speed along the line in reaching your goal.)

We win, regardless of the score, when you play at your peak and execute those things well which you have been taught to do. No more can be asked than that you give your best in both practices and games. If the other team scores more points, and we have given our best, we have not lost. We have no control over how good or how well prepared the other players and teams are. We do have control over how we play and how well we prepare to play. It is a great test of character to have given your best effort and have lost the game.


They may not say it, but every player, parent and coach new to basketball wants to know how it all works—how everything fits together.

The game moves so quickly, the transitions from offense to defense and back again can be a blur, and the interplay between the five members of a team can be an enigma.

If you’re the parent or coach of a child new to the game, please don’t assume that they understand the game. Take whatever time is necessary to ensure that each child understands the words that describe the game, the action and the rules. It will give them confidence to get started and keep their frustration level down. Remember that what one child may understand another may not.

So it is, that teaching is the basis for being able to understand and play the game. The coach must know and understand the game. He/She must be able to teach the individual skills and then the team game.


There are a lot of subtleties in the game of basketball that are as important to playing the game as are dribbling, passing and shooting.

Usually, as a player grows in the game, balance and body control become less of an issue. But, for the young player, these things are very important, for without their mastery, the game will not be played well. Again, these things need to be taught.

Coaches, think for a moment about every active part of the game—dribbling vs. defense, shooting, cutting, pivoting, rebounding, moving without the ball, and playing defense—they all require the player to have good balance and control over the body.

A child without good balance will not be able to have control while dribbling or moving around the floor.

...we started at the most basic fundamental, the stance, and progressed through building blocks. Each new move built on what was learned in the previous move, and each succeeding move became more difficult than the one before it. We drill each part separately until it’s learned. Then, we take all the parts and put them together in our balance and control sequence drill. This uses the full length of the floor, up and back, performing each move for a full length. Before you begin the full sequence, have each player complete a length doing a move; critique all the players; send them back doing the same move, if necessary. Have them do the next move the same way, until all the moves can be done successfully for a full length of the floor. Then have them do all the moves, one after the other, without stopping. For beginners, this should be done daily. For more experienced players, we will move quickly into a more advanced sequence drill. Coach’s note: Instead of running line drills for conditioning or punishment (?), why not do something that is meaningful to the game, like the sequence drill. Most coaches don’t have time to waste, yet they waste time whenever they run a drill just for the sake of conditioning or punishment when it doesn’t involve game activity, i.e., dribbling, movement without the ball or defense.

So then, here’s the whole sequence.

1. Begin with the 1-2 stop. Alternating the feet they stop on each time, have each player go up the floor in a stop-and-go action every 4-5 strides.

2. They come back doing the stutter-step, again every 4-5 strides.

3. Go back up the floor combining the stutter-step with the open-step, alternating to the left and right every 4-5 strides.

4. Come back again using the zig-zag pattern, changing directions every 4-5 strides.

5. The last trip up the floor will be using the jump-stop-and-pivot with change of direction we call the pivot- and-go.


From the beginning levels of basketball right up into the pros, what rankles coaches most are turnovers. These usually come as a result of a poorly thrown or poorly timed pass.

Teaching-coaches will spend the necessary time to teach and drill good passing in general and more specifically within their style of play. They will be rewarded with fewer turnovers.

There are more things to watch for, teach and correct with beginners. The more experienced player usually has the basics down. A good passer is made—taught and drilled. A good passer will have good eye-hand coordination and understand the mechanics of how to throw a ball.

There are four basic passes. These are:

1) Chest Pass—The most commonly used pass, from an inside player to an outside player; from an outside player to an inside player; and in passing around the perimeter.

2) Bounce Pass—This is an entry pass thrown from a perimeter player to an inside player or from one inside player to another inside player. Bounce passes are too slow to be used from the inside to the perimeter and around the perimeter. They are easily picked off, so teaching-coaches should always caution the use of this pass.

3) Overhead Pass—This pass can be used in any direction. The thing to watch for is that players have a tendency to bring the ball back over the head. When they do, it can be slapped away from behind.

4) Baseball Pass—This is the long ball pass, usually used in moving the ball up
court as in a fast break where a stronger pass is needed.


These days, it seems every young basketball player wants to be a fancy dribbler. All the jukes, fakes, between the legs and behind the back dribbling are exciting for the players, and appeal to their egos. Young players are exposed to these techniques from every level, from street play to the NBA, and by the dribbling antics of their peers. Today’s players, regardless of size or position played, just wait for the chance to show off their ball moves. Not so long ago, those moves would have bought bench time, and who would have thought a player at 6-9 or seven feet would even be able to handle the ball the way they do today.

...I counsel players as to what I expect with their ball handling skills within their position and within the context of what our offense is trying to establish. Too much; too fancy; too bad! Over-dribbling and/or too fancy, and a player will have bought bench time.

Teaching-coaches must not allow players to dictate the style of play. That’s a discipline call for the coach. If something is not effective, don’t allow it. Don’t sacrifice team discipline for any one player’s ego.

While every young player starting out probably envisions themself as the next basketball super hero, they need to start with good basics. The skill of dribbling requires control over the ball while moving the body in a purposeful way for the position being played. Perimeter players need more dribbling skills than inside players do. Point guards need more dribbling talent than the rest. Dribbling skills, like passing skills, will determine a lot about the position a player plays at and the amount of playing time a player receives.


Shooting, and hopefully making the shot to light up the scoreboard, is pretty much every player’s favorite part of the game.

A scorer is a specialist, just as rebounders, ball handlers, shot blockers, free throw shooters and great defenders are. Every player has a role to play within the system they are playing. Rarely would a coach be blessed to find one single player who can do everything well; however, lots of players can do several different things well. The designated shooters must be able to do more than score. Their teammates must be specialists at other things to bring balance to the team, but every player must be able to score when the opportunity presents itself.

In order to become accomplished at any level of scoring, a player needs a consistently effective shooting technique--one that would bring at least 50% positive results. This technique building needs to be started early in a player’s career. If not, it’ll become harder to break any bad habits with each season that goes by.

High scoring high school shooters don’t always become high scoring college players. High scoring college players don’t necessarily become prolific scorers in the pros. A player should not build all their playing hopes around being a top scorer. The whole game must be developed. Opportunities change at each level of play. Systems change. Coaches may want a player to be strong in a role other than scoring, for the good of the team. Playing time can change from one season to the next and from one level of play to the next. The higher one ascends up the ladder of competition, the better the other players are going to be.

I’ve found that every player likes to score, no matter what language is being spoken or which country I am in. When I coached internationally, it took a lot of convincing to get players and coaches to understand that there is much more to the game than just being a shooter and playing zone defense. I was usually somewhat able to mollify their offensive mentality by showing how all the other aspects of the game help to get a team the ball and stop the other team from scoring. Of course, for them, it still came back to shooting and scoring, so I emphasized good shooting techniques that would enable their teams to score more points. Hey—whatever works!


There are three areas that usually make the difference between losing or winning close games; Turnovers, free throws and rebounding. Turnovers and free throws have already been dealt with in previous chapters.

Rebounding is not so much about knocking bodies out of the way, as “crashing the boards” might suggest, as it is about learning to finesse into the best position to rebound.

Not every player has great size, height or leaping ability. Players with these attributes will please step forward. We’ll teach them to dominate the boards. The rest of us average-sized, medium-height, not-so-great leapers will have to make do with learning some very good techniques to be able to get our share of errant shots. Jumping is greatly over-emphasized. Positioning and proper boxing-out techniques are more important to good rebounding.

Good positioning is the key to good rebounding. If players are too far under the basket, the missed shots will go over their heads. Too far away from the basket and players in front will get to the ball first. Not all rebounds will fall within the area I will ascribe as being “a good place to begin”, but if a player is in a radius of 5 to 7 feet from the basket, that’s close enough. It’s probably safe to guesstimate that about half of all rebounds will be rebounded by players in this range.


In Chapter 6 we talked about how to get our bodies on balance and our movements under control. In this chapter, we’ll take these concepts into game action, covering moving without the ball (“homework”). We’ll cover getting open to receive a pass, receiving the pass and protecting the ball, and what the player who has just made the pass does.

The most fun part of the game is playing with the ball. However, from a teaching standpoint, we need to use building blocks to keep the progression moving in a logical direction. All players need to have control over their bodies and be able to move well without the ball. If they do this, they won’t spend so much time tripping, fumbling and stumbling when they attempt to play the game.

Moving without the ball occupies most of an offensive player’s time—about 80%, if everyone was able to handle the ball an equal amount of time. When the player with the ball is looking to a particular player to pass to, he/she will only have about 3-4 seconds to make a decision. After that, the ball handler must make a move or look for someone else to pass to. Players without the ball must be in continuous movement to occupy their defenders. Then when the timing is right, the player without the ball must make a move quickly and decisively to get open. In “RULES TO LEARN AND KNOW”, #9 says, “If you are standing still on offense, the defense is also standing still. Keep the defender occupied. Keep in movement with a purpose."

If you are a player without the ball, and keep in motion, you make your defender think more about you than about what’s happening with the ball. All the time you’re moving, you must know where the ball is and where your teammates are. This requires that you keep your head up, face in to the middle, and maintain vision over the entire floor action. This can give you an edge over your defender who is busy watching you with his/her back to the action. If your defender loses eye contact on you, that’s an opportunity for you to make your move. Be ready to capitalize on any defensive lapse, perhaps going behind the defender to the basket or breaking quickly toward the 3-point line, ready to receive a pass.


In Chapter 11, we talked about moving without the ball. When a player has made the effort to get open to receive a pass, or has pulled in an offensive rebound, they now have to look to pass, shoot or attack the basket.

In general, then, any player securing the ball outside of the key, on the offensive end of the floor, is a potential scorer; either by shooting from where they get the ball or by creating a better shot by attacking the basket.

Note: Here’s a hint as to how to make the reverse without looking at the dribble. In Chapter 9, I wrote about reversing the dribble while maintaining eye contact with the defender. To be successful in keeping the defender in sight, the dribbler must know where the ball is without looking for it. To do this, the dribbler should be in a wide, low stance that allows the dribbler to only need dribble somewhere between the hip and the knee. Practicing a dribble at a constant height during the reverse will bring confidence. As the dribbler makes the leg swing and dribble hand switch, if the ball is at the practiced height, the other hand need only flow across that line to pick up the ball and continue the dribble.

An advanced version of the reverse is seen used more today than the one I have just been describing. The former is for beginners and those who cannot successfully and consistently pull off the one-hand reverse, or same-hand reverse.

This latter type of reverse is faster, does not require getting as low to the floor during the reverse, and requires less loss of vision with the defender. It is also more difficult, requiring better athleticism and ball handling skill. As the dribbler goes into this reverse, it is done more in a running style, spinning around the defender with the ball in the same hand. Only at the end of the spin move is the ball switched to the other hand away from the defender. This one-hand reverse requires practice for constancy of dribble height. (More about this spin move in Chapter 14.)


We have to get the ball in order to play with the ball! Defense gets the ball! Period!

Defense is too important to just hope that players will get it. The coaches must teach it.

Defense is so integral to the overall success of a program it cannot be afforded a cursory inspection, like I was doing in the first few years. Once we teaching-coaches know how, it can then be taught easily enough, then drilled to perfection the same way we develop offenses—over and over and over, until it becomes UNCONSCIOUS COMPETENCE!

In my more than forty years of coaching, I have come to the following realizations about defense:

1. There is often a lot of generalization rather than specific teaching being done;

2. Many coaches believe zone defense is easier to teach than man defense;

3. Defensive skills are easier to teach than offensive skills (Just look at the number of chapters it’s taken in this book to cover the various offensive skills);

4. Creating a good defensive player is infinitely easier than creating a good offensive player;

5. A team can play good defense and win even when the offense is having an off game;

6. Defense has always created most of my offense.

Throughout my career, at all levels of coaching, from the playgrounds in the beginning to national teams, we won nearly three out of every four games we played. I had some high scoring teams, and on only few occasions was I blessed to have any superior offensive players. My highest scoring teams were my best defensive teams.

I have mentioned numerous times that I believe in teaching by building blocks. We teach defense from the ground up, starting with the placement of the feet. With the first stage, we show the foot placement and stance. We need good balance and to be able to move quickly while maintaining good balance.

Defense begins with the individual. Team defense is only as good as its weakest player, so I look for players who have the will and desire to become defensive specialists. I want players who will take pride in their defensive play because they are confident in their skills.

Coaches, do not expect your team to play good team zone defense if the individual players cannot execute good, basic man principles. In man defense we live by an individual’s ability to play on his or her offensive player, whether with or without the ball. So, don’t send your kids out to play five-on-five and expect them to be successful if they haven’t got the individual skills to stop the flash, fight over a screen, front a cutter or be able to play “help” defense.


There are lots of little details, that when paid attention to, can make a big difference in skill playing at any position.

Building a house requires a good foundation before beginning to build. It needs a plan and an adherence to the plan. The first skill we need in order to improve our play, is attitude—a positive attitude that fires a will and desire to work harder. A, “be the best I can be”, attitude. Oh, yes, attitude’s a skill. It needs working at and nourishing as much as any other playing skill. It may just be the most important life skill we can bring to this game. Without a good attitude, how can we build?

When I work with a player (or a coach), I can pretty much guarantee I will help them take their game to a higher level. We’ll do this through the application of detail work and a good attitude toward working hard to achieve the next level.

The ironic thing about improving one’s game is that most of the “details” we will be attending to are just good basketball fundamentals—all the things we’ve spent this whole book going into detail about. The reason for this is usually because somewhere in the player’s experience someone else didn’t pay attention to the details, and making sure the player got them and learned them correctly.

For coaches, it’s much the same thing. In order to be really good at teaching the game, one had to pay attention to the details as their career progressed. The teaching-coach needs to pay attention to all the finer points in every aspect of running their program, in developing their own attitudes, and in teaching skills to their players.

When I teach coaches, I teach details. When I teach players, I teach details. “Success is in the details!”

When a player or parent approaches me about taking a player on as a new student, I will evaluate their skill level in every aspect of his/her game. I also will evaluate their attitude. I will go to their games, if we’re in season, evaluating whether I can help this player. If I decide to work with them, I’ll set up a lesson protocol designed for what I feel that player needs to improve their game in their position. This program will contain all the position specific skill work necessary to take their play to a higher level.

Throughout this book, I’ve repeatedly asserted the necessity of having the right attitude for a player or a coach to be able to grow and the need for attention to details in order to build plateaus of development. If the reader has been paying attention, it should be recognized that I have made a great effort to detail the teaching of each skill. This same detail I transfer to any player or coach I tutor.


Basketball, like any other sport, activity, hobby, or life-endeavor, will be as meaningful for the teaching-coach, parent or player as the intentions and choices each individual brings to the game. We’ve covered a lot of material in the fifteen chapters leading up to this one.

There’s a world of information, literally, available about basketball. I highly recommend getting all the information one can, and borrowing anything for oneself that may benefit one’s personal or professional growth.

Chapter 16: THE 4TH QUARTER

My life has had its good periods and down periods. Life is about accumulating experiences and growing from them—from the choices both good for us and not so good for us. The results from the choices continue to bring growth and change—a continuing evolution to who we are and who we’re becoming.

I’ve been an athlete for as long as I can remember. However, the irony of my early competitive years was that I could play sports as well or better than most kids my age, but didn’t function well on a team. I lacked the understanding of the interplay of the team members. No one ever made the effort to explain to me or show me what I needed to understand, in order to be the complete athlete I could have been.

I achieved much more as a coach than as an athlete. Much of what I learned from teaching my players early in my career enabled me to excel during the few years of competition that remained for me. Finally, injuries, aging and the inability to train properly took their toll, but at least I had some satisfaction before it was all over. I had become my own teacher.

The lessons learned and the experiences gained have filled my life with memories and given fuel to my coaching career. It was during my time in Sweden that I first began to write. I began recording my thoughts about coaching and further developed my philosophy of coaching on a triangle.

Basketball On A Triangle