Coach John Saintignon is a former division-I assistant coach from Oregon State University, a former high school head coach from the state of Arizona and one of the all-time leading scorers at USC. Coach Saintignon also currently coaches and trains professional players overseas and will lead the Coach’s Corner series on Arizona Preps.
As you all are well aware of, there are many coaches out there who say that they are trainers, shooting coaches, etc. I believe firmly in player development, as it was instrumental to my success in being able to lead the country in scoring when I was an NCAA player and to continue playing as a professional player.
I was fortunate to have met an incredible coach, Mr. Whitsitt, who took an interest in me when I was at Coach John Wooden's Basketball Camp as a counselor. He and his two sons, Novian and Damon, who played at Stanford University, used to do shooting demonstrations at the various basketball camps during the 80's when we were in college. One of his sons was unable to perform, so they asked Coach Wooden who would be willing to step in, and I was selected and had a great time following his lead in front of 300 basketball campers. This led to Coach Whitsitt asking me if I wanted to train along with his sons and others that would come from UCLA and other places. Of course, I would!
This was a serious commitment to the craft. Coach Whitsitt's workouts were at 5:30AM - come rain or shine, 7 days a week. The skill training was completely different, as this was the first time that I was being challenged to not only make the baskets, but make them going full speed and with an additional mental focus - making baskets consecutive. This was amazing to me as it required laser focus, because others depended on this as well, to complete the workout. It was training with a purpose, full speed, pressure, focus - things I was going to need to compete especially during games. This training was increased with exponential growth and expectations, as additional barriers were added, like weights to my arms for shooting and then the ultimate, making consecutive baskets, ALL NET. Yes, no touching the rim at all or it didn't count.
I remembered this very well as I told this story the other day while at the UCLA game, as one of the UCLA players came in to workout with us and was an incredible athlete. He could jump super high on his jump shot, but couldn't make baskets all net or consecutive.
To be the best, I tell players you have to DECIDE first, which by definition means to cut off. Literally, to cut off any other distractions. I was in that gym at 5:30AM - come rain or shine, late night or not. I went from scoring 20 ppg my freshman season, to 25 ppg in the 2nd season, to 31.2 PPG and leading the NCAA in scoring.
I do a workout for my players the same way all over the world. I usually don't include the aspect of all net, until I find those that can do that, but my workout consists of footwork, separation skills with the ultimate result of putting the ball in the basket. Not sitting in the corner and just shooting shots. My goals change, but when they do, it's exponential for the athlete. They leave knowing that they had to operate at full speed, at game speed, and with the added pressure of having to make baskets before moving on. Of course, with the same focus that is needed at the end of a game when the game is on the line.
This is a clip on You Tube showing me working with one of our players when I coached in the Pac-10 at Oregon State University. It's not complete, so if you need DVD, contact me and we can make arrangements.
I work very hard on proving to the players that it's Performance versus Potential. This is the key to their getting results. The bottom line in all of this is that the player can put the ball in the basket, under pressure and with stress. Your players will love you for that, as the success comes down the line after they know why they were working so hard and proving to themselves that they were worthy of that success.