The Player Development Program (Spring 2017)

Over the years…

Basketball players have come from all over Connecticut (from Hartford to Norwich to New Canaan) to train throughout the spring with TFM and The Spring Player Development Program for the 3 month skills training season.

(Begins April 3rd).  

Program will be completely full for the 8th consecutive year.

Pre-Season MEETING – WED., MARCH 15th! (7 PM)

Should you come?? YES! Should your kids come?? YES!!

Everyone needs to learn the difference between what we do… and what “AAU” does!!

Guilford Community Center!

Wizards_Meeting (1)

Now keep reading.

Why has it spread this far by word of mouth?

Because EVERY player ALWAYS gets WAY BETTER!

Player/Parent experiences:

  • College coach at a showcase is very impressed with a player’s skill set and asks, what “AAU” program do you play for?  Player says, “I train with The Fundamental Man.” College coach laughs, and says, “Ok. That makes sense.”

  • “Maddie Z is starting now for the varsity basketball team as a freshmen.  I firmly believe it is all attributable to the time spent with you.  No other explanation.  Thank you!!”

  • “He LOVED your program!!!! Was his best basketball experience ever.”

“I tell everybody I talk to…

This is the program where the kids get better.”

What is so different about it? What is so unique? Why does it work?

Here’s why: The Program is a 3 month skills camp. 

The Spring is the “Off-Season

It is not the time to play more games.  This is the time to learn new skills and the time when players need to be improving. 

Skill sets matter more than anything.


Coach Walton Demonstrating a DrillIf you disagree, that’s ok.  You are wrong.

If you think winning the “AAU” tournament is important, that’s ok.  You are wrong. 

If you think a high school coach cares about your “AAU” record, that’s ok.  You are wrong. 

If you think that a player will be recruited for anything other than their individual skill sets, YOU ARE BIG TIME WRONG.  (unless they are enormous and/or super athletic).

Players get recruited for their skill sets. 

Sam and Coach Walton (2)

I have specialized in a training players for over a decade (many of whom have gone on to play in college.).  I have trained SOOOOOOOO many players! THOUSANDS!! 

I’ve spent much of my adult life improving basketball instruction:

  • teaching methods
  • curriculum
  • assessments
  • progressions/programming
  • and especially technique.  

These things matter.

They really, REALLY, matter.

Player Development Programming:

Have you ever started a new workout routine without a plan?  You start out with, “I’m just gonna go to the gym every day!… and that’s what I’m gonna do!” How successful was that? Was there lasting change?

Probably not, right?  Because you need a plan.  A REAL PLAN!  And you need to follow THE PLAN. A plan that is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely.  And you need a plan day to day, week to week, month to month, that gets you closer to your goal. 

You need to know:

  • What to do.

  • When to do it.

  • How to do it.

  • Why you are doing it. 

  • When the plan needs to be altered.

Well basketball is a lot more complicated than going to the gym.  Basketball is a game of fine motor skills.

There are things I know about TECHNIQUE and PLAYER DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMMING that most people do not.  (Sorry, it’s true). I have literally filled up FOUR computers with basketball related stuff. FOUR. (I know, I know… that’s insane, I know). 

Coach Walton with BallWhen you spend a ridiculous amount of your childhood and adult life committed to your passion, it means you get to learn A LOT of really, really, small, tiny details, that that are quite interesting, that ultimately add up to some really really BIG things!)
Coach Walton Pointing

**(I’ve learned some really, cool stuff along the way, like):

(Feel free to ignore this list and keep reading below)

  • The 3 variables of ball handling, optimal entry arc, optimal ball spin rotation, optimal bank shot parameters, optimal catch to shot release time, where to point your feet and what finger to release the ball off on a on a jumpshot, how to teach change of direction skills, and counteract the momentum of the defender to be most efficient with 1 dribble, inside pivot skills (if you are not an inside pivot player, you are not a basketball player), which foot to plant on certain crossovers vs. other, how to beat the rotating defender, how to deceive defenders in the post, how and when to finish opposite the defender (with either hand off of either foot on either side of the basket).

MOST IMPORTANTLY: What I have learned is how to TEACH through a process (a progression based system with great technical precision), and be able to monitor and communicate important feedback to players in order to help them better execute more advanced skills. 

TFM LOGOQuick FACT:  Did you know that there about as many skills in basketball as there are bones in the human body (somewhere between 206-211… though I have never met anyone with 211 bones).  

Don’t believe me, check them out here.

In basketball, (or any type of sports training), players will never succeed if the process is, “I’m just going to the gym today because I have practice,” or “I am going to go get up 500 shots today” because that is what most players do when they “practice.” They just go to the gym and shoot around, or do a few things without a plan.” (You can’t really get much better that way.  Why?… among many reasons, because basketball is a game of muscle memory, and there a definitive skill sets that advanced level players can perform… (Keep reading, I’ll get to that later).  Whenever there is a grey area with players about what they need to do, that means that there is room for them to do something that they are not supposed to do.  And everything needs to be taught in a palatable, progression based system – so that players learn technique first – along with rhythm, control and coordination – then become able to execute these new skill sets repeatedly at faster and faster speeds  with the confidence to implement them in games.  

Some of the specifics to start

Do you have any idea how many players have come to me over the years that love basketball, want to be great at basketball, etc., etc., AND DON’T EVEN KNOW HOW TO BE IN A UNIVERSAL ATHLETIC POSITION???  

Universal Athletic Position - Collage

Universal Athletic position - BaseballUniversal Athletic position - Tennis







This is the starting point for all players.  (You cannot be a great basketball player with your feet together and your hips high!)… But somehow, players have gotten all the way to high school, and aren’t comfortable with this position. (Yikes! – good luck being an athlete!).  Do you really know how many players have begun working out with me, and did NOT even have great control of their own body???  This is called “Kinesthetic Awareness” – the ability to understand where you body is in space.  

How can we expect players to have control, coordination, rhythm, and speed with the ball, if they are only good at running in a straight line and they do not have good control of their body and are not comfortable with this universal athletic position

Nearly 33% of the entire game of basketball is spent moving laterally and changing direction.  So footwork is the foundation of everything that we start with. 

What do Practices/Workouts look like???

 We actually bring TV’s into the gym every night to show players the exact skill sets, the techniques, and the game applications for each skill  (how and why they are applied). This is really cool!!!

Practices are skill workouts.  

Repetition based circuits. Every day. Every night.

Rep after rep after rep.

Players have a great time (in fact, players love the practice format) because they are learning and executing new skills, and they are getting a lot of additional support and attention to detail about the correct way to execute skills.    

  •  These are “player centered” practices. 
  • Every player has a ball in their hand 90% of practice, and they are going through that week’s skill set progression.
  • Players love this type of practice environment because they are always engaged.  
  • Always challenged, and always working on skills that transfer to game situations. 


Beyond technique, progressions, skill based learning for muscle memory and game applications, this is what separates TFM and The Wizards Player Development Program for players.

I don’t recruit players.  Many programs recruit the kids from me.  Unfortunately, this never serves the best interest of the player’s long term future.  Does it bother me? You bet it does.  I even get sad about it. Because I miss that kid.  And all of the long term progress that they could be making.  And because I invest in each player that I work with. As a person.  As a player. It is important that the kids that I work with go on to be successful people.

 (This isn’t a basketball program to me).

It is important that the players that I work with learn about themselves.  About the game.  About how to treat others. Most of our kids leave the program with amazing experiences, and super high GPA’s.  Our average GPA for the kids that make it through the program to the 17u level is in the mid to high 3’s, with many players being above 3.6, 3.7. 3.8, and some 3.9’s and going on to some amazing colleges to either play basketball or further their academic careers.

Some are aware that I have been offered college coaching positions.  Why don’t I take them?

I don’t want to for several reasons, but here’s one: I don’t want to recruit.  I just want to help players get better, and give younger players the tools that they need to more successful so that they have more opportunities when they get closer to going to going to college. 

Furthermore, the recruiting aspect of youth basketball is something that I am not interested in taking part in, either.  I realize that that by not recruiting, by not having tryouts – that it hurts the overall perceived value of the spring program (I mean, imagine if I recruited the best 12 year olds and put them together and taught them these skill sets!… I mean, “C’mon,” (says parent that doesn’t get it!!)… How come you are working with an 11 year old that didn’t even make the travel basketball team in their own town!?!? We would win all the time if we had this kid or that kid!… at every level!… if you just recruited certain players).

TFM LOGOYes… I am aware.  Very aware. And I don’t care about winning and losing during the spring player development season.  Never have. I am interested in seeing that kid that didn’t make the travel team make it next year.  Or even 2 years from now.  I am interested in working with the players that come back from their high school season or college season to get even better.  

I have to admit, honestly, that I did recruit 1 kid in all my years of doing this… And that was just because I liked him so much.

Charlie Zane - 2 balls

There are several reasons that I do not recruit players at the younger levels (or any level).


IMG_1747 (2)

I am at a point in my coaching career where it is far more important to me to be a “Coach of positive significance” than to stack teams to win games. 

  • “Coaches of positive significance” are those who value developing players for long-term success, instead of trading tomorrow’s development for today’s win.  
  • These are leaders who have reached a point in their coaching careers where they no longer measure success in wins and losses, nor in trophies or medals.  I realize that the players that I work with learn far more about how to be successful with this approach than any other.
  • Let’s say that I was focused on recruiting to win.  Then I would not have had the amazing opportunity to work with and help players like:

Little Matt Evans become a varsity player.  Workaholic “Johnny Boy” make the progress that he has made these past years.  And little Natalie, who is going to be a great player in high school someday.


DSC_8282 (2)If I had a son or daughter, they would not play “AAU.”


(They would just attend certain showcases events and showcase tournaments for recruiting purposes, and even then, very minimally).

  • I have seen MANY kids’ potential squandered in “AAU.” 
  • Players get injured a lot over doing it. (Playing 4 full games every weekend).
  • Not a single coach or advocate for youth sports advocates for sport specialization at such a young age. Burnout is high!
  • Most important: I have seen many more kids engage more with their own development and progress far beyond their “AAU” peer group using the “training” approach and following the “skill path” rather than the “game path.” 

Practice matters.  

Deliberate practice matters more.

Deliberate practice for muscle memory matters the most.

The “off-season” is not the “AAU” season.

 The “off-season” is the player development season.


(I thoroughly enjoyed reading these ridiculously long website pages… where do I sign up?!?!?).  



2017 - spring player development season - schedule

(Begins April 3rd!)

TFM Basketballs - TFM LOGO