Between The Lines

On the surface, it may seem that these teachings are “just” about the game of basketball.  However, if you pay close attention and make a conscious effort to apply these ideas to your game, you will quickly come to realize that the habits, mindsets, and approaches that make you successful on the court are generally the same ones that make you a success in anything else you choose to do in life.  These principles are applicable in many pursuits, whether it be competing in a sport, playing an instrument, being a doctor, running a business, or raising a family.  There is a depth to these teachings that goes beyond “just basketball.”  Try them for yourself and you’ll see.

For instance, take the very title of this website.  Sure, “Keys to the Gym” is, in and of itself, a catchy title to a website.  But as any dedicated basketball player knows, the phrase “keys to the gym” has a deeper meaning.  Dedicated players know that to be given the keys to a gym means to be given carte blanche access to “The Lab” — a place you can go to get better, to dream, and to experience some of the best kinds of moments the game has to offer.  It means having complete freedom to work on your game whenever and in whatever way you think is best — alone, with a rebounder, or with friends and teammates.  To a true gym rat, it’s the greatest gift one can be given in his or her basketball life.
And often, the best time to get in the gym and work on your game is early in the morning or late at night when no one else is using the gym and when the competition is still in bed sleeping, on the couch watching TV, or out on the town partying.  Dick used to call that “gettin’ ahead time.”  It’s a sacred time when dreams are born and real players are made.  And sure, you could find an outdoor court somewhere to put in your “gettin’ ahead time,” but there’s something magical about the focused, productive work you can do in an empty gymnasium, with the bleachers pushed back, the lights down low, and the rhythmic echoes of your sneakers squeaking and the ball bouncing.

And while not every great player in the history of basketball has been blessed with his or her own set of keys to the gym, you’d be hard pressed to meet a highly-skilled player who doesn’t at least know the name of the janitor or custodian who takes care of the gym he or she practices and plays in.  Anyone who spends a lot of time in the gym working on their game at odd hours of the day and night has a lot of interactions with the janitor.  And anyone who has met a lot of janitors knows that they are usually some of the best human beings you could ever hope to meet.

J-Dub, resident janitor of The Keys to the Gym blog

And, most importantly, they’ve always got the keys to the gym!

So meet J-Dub.  The resident janitor of the Keys to the Gym blog and your personal guide while you’re here.  He’s a humble, unassuming fella with a mystical swag and a lot of wisdom.  Most importantly, he’s the guy with the Keys to the Gym, which, in this case, represents all of the ideas, information, and inspiration about basketball and life that can be found on this site.

And remember how we said this site is about going deeper and reading between the lines?  Well, J-Dub is a nod to another great teacher-coach in this lineage of teachings — the great John Wooden.

J-Dub is handing you the Keys to the Gym.  May you use them to get better, to dream, to be your best, and to experience the best of what The Game has to offer.

9 comments on “Between The Lines

  1. I read “Stuff: Good Players Should Know” when I was in my early teens…love that book! The gym rat days of my life are some of the best if not the best. My dad was a high school coach(but not my coach) so I always had the keys to a gym but even when I didn’t, my teammates and I could always find a window to crawl through at some other gym. One of our greatest coups was when we replaced a giant padlock on the backdoor to our high school gym with one of our own locks. Carte blanche (sp?) access to the gym was an amazing thing!! The other story I like to tell is when we crawled through a window of that same gym at about 1am to work on our games and play 3 on 3. We were right in the middle of inventing a 2-ball 3-man figure-8 drill, screaming and yelling with excitement about it, when a county sheriff’s officer walked in. It ruined our night but no jail time cause he knew we weren’t in there to do any harm. That was a pretty sweet night! Bottom line is this: working hard on the game we love is a rush to those who love it from deep within. Where that passion comes from varies, but I’m 43 years old now and I still love getting my exercise in a gym, by myself, running up and down the court pulling 3’s, or making 1 on 1 moves, or shooting for a free throw streak, or trying to perfect shooting off-handed 3’s….the list goes on and on. It’s beautiful. Those sounds you mentioned, the bounce of the ball, the swish, the creaking of the floor or ceiling…beautiful. Funny thing though, our janitor, which was actually a campus caretaker, was always trying to run us out of the gym. Kinda like a bugs bunny/road runner perpetual dual, like Tom & Jerry, Pink Panther and Cato…we think he enjoyed the power of running us off, but we always came back.

    I’m hoping to attend Rocklin, CA camp as a coach observer July 2-6 if all 20 spots aren’t full yet. Will be calling about it tomorrow. Coach DeVenzio’s book was a big part of my development as a player all those years ago and helped spur me on to a hoops scholarship. These days I’m a coach and a private instructor and would love to add some ideas to my basketball teaching base.

    • I am happy to know you enjoyed the privilege of having a key to the gym, it is special. And what a story with the sherif. I once had a security guard find me in a gym I was not supposed to be in, but that is less intense then the sherif! I hope there is room in the Rocklin, CA session for you. Thank you for sharing this!

  2. I attended PGC during the summer of 2011 with two of my players, one male and one female (at the time I was coaching high school boys and girls, since I have changed schools and am now only coaching girls). I had been to five Nike and other coaching clinics in my first six years of coaching and had gained a lot to add into my practices. PGC, however, completely changed my entire practice, along with the way I coach in general. I use so much of what I learned in the classroom and gym sessions during my practices. And, even though it is expensive (but definitely worth the price) I sent 3 young ladies, 2 young men, and my two assistants to PGC during the 2012 summer. Now that I have switched schools I have been spreading my love for PGC and have parents of both my young ladies and of the boys program interested and excited about the potential of sending their children during the 2013 summer. I am thankful that I was hired in time to get on of my new players to go before time ran out this past summer. I am also thankful that you have this site for my players that may not be able to attend for themselves, but can come here and check out the crazy jargon that I am throwing out at them. (One of my girls saw my shirt from PGC and said “Does your shirt say ‘We don’t play in your toilet?” I said, “Yes, so don’t P on our court.” Anyhow, thank you for your Sheepdog Mentality in keeping up with this.

  3. Hello everyone. I coach sophomore basketball at a small private school in Illinois. Our team consist of 20 players and 2 coaches. In an effort to keep practices competitive and intense I comtempating charting and posting some stats from practice. With only two coaches and no managers this becomes a little tougher. One of the better ones I could think of was “diving on loose balls”. Do you have any other suggestions?


    • I think this is a great way to emphasize the intangibles, KTTG is full of clips that could help you build up this list. One that comes to top of mind is “increasing your activity level”. The tendency to droop is so easy and so common, learning to increase your activity level after mistakes is an easy quick way to be special and does amazing things for a team’s chemistry.

  4. Steve,

    Coach DV talks about these types of things in on of his books (Runnin’ the Show, I believe). You said you have 20 players, are they all on the court at the same time? If you have 10 on the floor and 10 standing around on the side doing nothing, those 10 on the side are doing nothing to help the team improve. Have your players stat while they are out. I do not have mine stat, mainly because I have not set up the stat sheets of the things I would like, but I do try to make sure they are communicating (SCHAPE-ing) from the sideline. Use all your players all the time in practice. 80% of your time needs to go toward 20% of your players, but it takes 100% of your players for your team to be as good as they can be.

    I hope this is helpful. Also, I am in no way a part of KTTG or PGC, but I am a believer in what is taught and emphasized through both.


    • Hi there, glad you like it. What brings you to KTTG? What do you like best? Anything we can do better? It’s all about you…really, we only do this to share cool stuff with people like you so we love hearing feedback!

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