Mike MacKay of Canada basketball has a neat acronym that he uses to teach four of the most important basketball skills. The acronym is PVAD, which stands for Position, Vision, Anticipation, and Decision-Making. Every level of the acronym is essential to the other, position impacts vision, vision impacts anticipation, and anticipation impacts decision making. All of these skills are an essential part of player development because of the visual nature of basketball.
On every possession in every game, players are always going through this PVAD loop. Players put themselves in position, see what is occurring, anticipate what may occur next, and then make a decision. The complexity of basketball is then found in 10 players doing this all at once. Let’s go ahead and see this PVAD acronym in action when it comes to attacking off a ball screen and dealing with the second level defender.
As you can see in the drill above, it is possible to add this PVAD loop to the drills that you do as part of your player development curriculum. Our player goes through the PVAD loop by doing all of the following:
- Position: As the player comes off the ball screen, he must either open his shoulders to the rim or place his chin on his shoulder in order to be in a position to see the next defender. The stance that the ball handler takes in this segment is determined by the on-ball defender and show defender on the pick and roll (one reason why training 1 on 1 lacks the complexity of the game).
- Vision: The player can only see as well as their position allows them to. Again, in a complex action like the ball screen, the player has to see more than just the second level defender. The player has to be able to feel where their man is, see the screeners defender, and see the second level defender (me in this drill) as well. What the player sees impacts what the player chooses to do. This seeing-and-doing concept is referred to as perception-action coupling, and it is vital that it is included in our player development sessions.
- Anticipation: Anticipation creates faster players. When our player comes off the ball screen in a position that allows him to see where I am, he can then anticipate what may occur, enabling him to attack fast to open space.
- Decision-Making: This is the final stage of the loop. Once the player has anticipated what may occur as a result of what he sees, he then makes a decision as to what skill to use in order to make an effective play. It is for this reason that incorporating decision making is vital to player development. Skills must be taught and learned in context, and this is one way (certainly not the only way) of doing so.
This PVAD loop is constantly occurring in the game of basketball. To train players through isolating skills and repeating the same variation of a skill rep after rep is insufficient. Now, please note that the above drill is far from perfect. I am still working through the best way to train players and incorporate decision making and complexity into my sessions. Anytime a player engages in a practice session, there is a trade-off. Choosing to work on one skill or do one particular drill comes at the expense of time and the rejection of a different drill. For that reason, what you do and how you do it in your sessions becomes of the utmost importance.
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