Written by Sidy Sall

My name is Sidy Sall and I am originally from Senegal, West Africa. My basketball journey has been very broad from High school in Senegal (Seed Academy), to college in America (Christian Brothers University), to a Professional basketball player in three different countries (Bolivia, Morocco, and Bahrain).

Now I am passing forward the experience I acquire through my journey to the next generation by being a personal player’s skill development coach.

I am currently working with the NBA Academy Africa, the Memphis Grizzlies’ youth basketball program, and Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee.

In Senegal, our coaches had a different perspective of the game. Due to the lack of resources such as weight rooms, they focused more on the fundamentals skills which are the reason why I was a 6’5-point guard coming out of high school.

With that being said skill development is very important for our youth nowadays because they are called to play in high-level leagues such as the NBA and in overseas, for example, Europe where everyone is fundamentally well trained.

The game has evolved to a shooters game, which is scary and challenging at the same time.

Why is it Scary

It is scary because I think the kids don’t understand the fact that in order to be a great shooter you have to have a high basketball IQ. You have to be able to create space with the ball and without the ball. You have to be a decent/good ball-handler, be able to read the game, be able to move without the ball and find the open spot, and understand that having a good balance at all moment is a must (for example Steph curry, Kevin Durant, etc.) due to all these reasons, we need more skill development coaches that understand the game and that can communicate the right message to the players.

The Challenge

Getting the player to buy in and believe in the process. What I mean by that is, they don’t want to spend time doing fundamental skill training because it can be boring. They don’t understand that in order to be a good shooter it requires a lot of hours of repetition in the gym with the right drills that help with shooting mechanism. So, as a personal trainer, we have to constantly come up with fun drills that not only will get them excited to come in the gym but will help develop their fundamental skills.


After having the opportunity to play in all three-different levels and on a global scale, I can honestly say having discipline is the major factor to be successful through all three levels.

High School

In high school, the most important focus should be on fundamentals, giving the kids enough tool to take with them to college.

College

In college, the focus should be on helping the players to know how to use the various skills they acquire and understand when to use them. Being able to balance both social life and athlete life, and most importantly knowing how to prioritize.

Professional
  1. Specialty: Focus on what you are good at and be the best in that area. Of course, you don’t limit yourself to that area, because as a player you always want to improve in the other areas as well but the focus should be on your specialty.
  2. Decision Making: At this point, you are playing against elite players such as yourself, so decision making become major at the point of your career. Another skill that goes along with this area is pace. At this stage knowing how to change paces, how to use your body to get to your spots will make you more valuable and will simplify your game.
  3. Knowing this is a Business: Last but not least, at this point, you have to understand the fact that there are millions of other players that want your job. With that being said you have to do everything it requires to keep your job.  the players have to be able to balance both the on-court and off-court responsibilities.

Being a skill development coach is being a mentor, because you have so much to cover constantly both on and off the court. As much as the players are required to have discipline in order to be successful through their training, it requires more discipline from the skill-development coach to prepare the player.

As I mentioned before a skill development coach is a role model and a mentor to the player.

Personal Player Development Coach

Rhodes University Volunteer Assistant Coach

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