Reaching for the ball is a foul. Do you understand that? Not “reach- ing for the ball and hitting someone’s arm.” Just “reaching.” Period. The end.
If you reach for a ball to steal a dribble, or to hit it out of a player’s hand, it is a foul. It does not matter in the least whether or not you touch the man. Touching has nothing to do with it. Referees call fouls for reaching because when you reach, it looks like you are fouling.
If you really do understand this, you will never reach again, or at least if you do and you get called for a foul, you won’t walk around the court mumbling that you never touched the man.
Remember, touching the man has nothing to do with it. If you reach for the ball, expect a whistle. Nine out of ten times a whistle will blow, and the referee will not even bother looking to see if you made contact or not. Referees understand the game of basketball well enough to know that coaches teach players not to reach. If you reach, the referee knows he can call a foul without even worrying about the coach getting on him because all he has to say in retort is, “Sit down, Coach, your player reached.” He won’t even say that you hit him or you slapped him or killed him or took his arm off. He doesn’t have to. Coaches and referees understand that reaching is going to be called. So players may as well realize it and just consider reaching a violation all by itself.
Although guys in striped shirts often seem as though they must be from some other planet because they call things on you that you don’t even come vaguely close to doing, referees are actually human beings subject to the same motivations and inclinations as players and coaches. Referees attempt to “call ’em as they see ’em.” They make the easy calls correctly because even a referee intent on cheating wouldn’t want to demonstrate that openly, and they have difficulty with the hard calls.
When the game is close near the end, they get nervous just like players, and they are likely to blow their whistles quickly at anything that doesn’t look quite right. When they are getting a lot of criticism, they are likely to get angry and want to get back at those who are criticizing them, and they may also question themselves. “Was he right or was I?” If they make a call that they realize is probably wrong, they will have a tendency to want to make up for it by watching the other team a bit more closely—not to cheat, but to make sure they don’t let anything slide on that side.
Above all, and despite the fact that coaches, players and particularly fans use referees as scapegoats and blame them for everything, 95% of the referees do their very best to be fair, maybe even more than that. Not very often does a referee come to a game with the purpose of cheating for a particular team. Most players finish their whole careers without ever having had a referee with that intention. Some may be a bit more swayed by fans and circumstances than others, but they don’t come to cheat. They would all like to leave knowing that no one hates them and that everyone feels the game was refereed fairly.
In view of all this, it is appalling that players go through game after game, season after season, complaining to referees. Don’t you understand that the more you complain, the greater is the referee’s tendency to notice the violations you commit? That should be clear. The more you play with matches, the better your chance of getting burned. The more you come to the referee’s attention, the better your chance of hearing the whistle blow.
If you are in the habit of questioning the referee’s calls, he is certainly going to want to show you that he knows what he is doing.
The result will be that every time you even begin to shuffle your feet or begin to make contact with someone, he is going to blow that whistle. On the other hand, if you are a gentleman, if you are in the habit of saying nothing and giving the impression that you are a hard worker, all business and a good solid basketball player, he will not be looking to call anything on you, and he may avoid calling something if he can. Because of human nature, intelligence should tell you that it will pay to act like a good sport, to give the referee a good impression of you and to run and get the ball for the referee if it rolls away and so on. Call them “brownie points” if you like, but why not?
Some day in a big game—when there is a play where it isn’t quite clear “Is it a foot shuffle or isn’t it? Is it a charge or a block?”—you will get the break if you have acted as an athlete should. And the call will go against you if you have been a complainer or a hot head. You can call that cheating if you like, but that is simply human nature. You would be wise to take advantage of it.
From Dick’s book Stuff
Looking quick, like a guy with lightning speed, is often more a mat- ter of using the defender’s quickness against him rather than having lightning-quick feet of your own.
You can have great quickness, but if your habit is to fake out your man and, instead of taking advantage of him, fake again and let him recover, then even though you are quick, you don’t particularly look quick because you don’t get anything done. It is better to dribble downcourt and give your defender the impression that you are about to switch hands and direction. Then, when he thinks he is cleverly anticipating your move and darts out to get the steal, you fly on by him to the basket leaving him leaning the wrong way.
A lot of players use too many fakes, or they make their fakes from too far away from the defender. These fakes are not effective. You want to learn to move up near the man guarding you and to control the ball well enough that he can’t take it from you. If you can let a defender stay close to you without fear of losing the ball, every slight nod and lean of yours will force a quick reaction on his part that you can take advantage of, if you are ready.
Of course, it is not easy to learn to control a ball so well that a quick player cannot get to it, but if you practice, and if you are conscious of the fact that it is possible, you can use the man’s quickness against him. You can control the shifting of his weight and keep dictating the action so that you, not he, looks quick.
You will always look quicker than a man you maneuver into leaning the wrong way at just the moment you decide to go the other way. It is easier said than done, but there are good players who do it. So can you.
From Dick’s book Stuff
Don’t just go out there and play your same old way. You aren’t as good as you could be. The only way to be as good as you can be is to question yourself constantly.
“Am I ready to help, to stop a layup, to touch a pass, to hit a dribble in the three-second lane? Am I often the first player down the court on offense? The first back on defense? Have I really tried for each offensive rebound, or am I often bailing out too soon? Am I blocking out for defensive rebounds? Am I on my way to the ball on each defensive rebound, or am I often standing and watching my teammates get it? Am I aware of the clock? Should I tell a teammate it is time to go for the backdoor? Can I draw a charge against one of their awkward big men who has to push himself to get back to cover our break? Should I tell the referee first, instead of getting knocked over for nothing?”
There is no end to the questions you should be asking yourself as you play. There is so much a player can do that never gets done. You can’t afford to just go out there and play if you really want to improve.
From Dick’s book Stuff
A double-team is not something an individual player can pull off effectively just by leaving his man and rushing the ball. The double- teamers must know what they are trying to accomplish, and the three other defenders must be prepared to react accordingly.
Beating Double Teams
It is merely a matter of how you think. If, at the moment you see a double-team form, you think, Oh no, a double-team, you are likely to panic and throw a lob pass somewhere that someone can intercept. Your thinking should be, Oh, here’s a 4-on-3 opportunity.
From Dick’s book Stuff