Photos By Hillary Ehlen
I love basketball and those who know me are well aware of that. I dabbled in playing the game until my high school years when I decided to set it aside. While I will never ascribe to being the best player ever, I do believe to have as much knowledge of the game as anyone around. So when we came up with the idea of going through a workout at Fargo Basketball Academy, I immediately volunteered.
Over time, basketball has definitely become a staple in sports, it has branched out into other areas as the years have gone on, including women’s basketball becoming more prevalent in the sporting world with websites like WNBAcards.com and similar others in basketball, being looked at to pick up trading cards as well as collectibles for the avid supporter. I guess volunteering for the FBA is my way of being part of this rich basketball history.
FBA has been a staple in the Fargo-Moorhead area for some time. They use expert coaches and a proven system to create the next generation of great basketball players. Owner and director Josh Johnson, a former collegiate player and coach, has been manning the academy since 2017. He has put together a staff that knows the game inside and out. Since becoming the owner, Johnson has helped train some of the best high school basketball players in the area. Some of whom have gone on to collegiate careers.
The academy also has a great facility in south Fargo that serves as its home base. Rather than worrying about booking gym time at a local exercise facility, the FBA gym is always open. That accessibility has helped make FBA a hotspot for younger players looking to hone their skills.
But what does FBA focus on? And how do they create the next generation of ballers? I laced up my shoes and took to the gym with Josh to find out.
I’ve never been a stellar ball-handler, even when I was in my “prime”. So when Josh took out two balls for some ball-handling drills, I got a little nervous. One of the keys to FBA’s ball-handling fundamentals is being able to dribble well with both hands. Most players, especially youth, are dominant with one hand (usually the hand they shoot with). However, FBA makes a concerted effort, regardless of a player’s age, to train them to be good with both hands.
There were several variations of two-ball dribbles Josh put me through. From the traditional “two balls hitting at the same time” to alternating both basketballs, I was surprised at how much more comfortable I was with my left hand. When I was playing, my right hand was dominant in whatever I was doing. That is the issue FBA is attempting to correct with all of their players.
FBA creates multi-faceted players on the hardwood. That begins with ball-handling.
Then, out came the orange cones. I was anticipating some sort of cone work, but in all my time playing basketball, I have never done a drill like this. Josh staggered the cones, each one further from the basket. Starting with my head underneath the basket, I dribbled around the first cone, the one closest to the basket and finished with a lay-up. This was followed by the second cone and so on until I went around the fourth and final cone.
Josh then had me repeat that sequence two more times. Rather than finish with a lay-up, Josh had me finish through contact that he provided as well as with a reverse lay-up. After going through those three rounds, I was admittedly gassed. Josh kept pushing me to go harder and harder as the rounds went on. It was then that I realized that I was not in good basketball shape.
And then Josh dropped a bomb on me.
“Now, you’re going to do all 12 in a row without stopping,” he said.
Great. While I completed that challenge (and it was a challenge near the end), it made me realize the value of finishing and going hard on every rep. Oftentimes, basketball players do not get easy, wide-open lay-ups as I did. So, learning to finish through contact and finding different ways to finish (reverse lay-up) is vital to scoring and being versatile offensively.
Josh said FBA usually takes older kids through that sort of drill. It is also designed to give a player a flavor for cardiovascular conditioning. The cone drill proved to me that I was not the most well-conditioned hooper around.
We cooled down with shooting. First, Josh went through how they teach proper shooting form at FBA. The acronym is pretty familiar in the basketball community.
B – Balance – Having your feet squared up to the basket.
E – Elbow – Holding a 90-degree shot pocket as you elevate to shoot.
E – Eyes – Eyes on the basket and nothing else.
F – Follow Through – Finishing with a flick of the wrist.
We began by taking some shorter-range shots using the BEEF method. I have to say, my jumper is pretty solid and Josh agreed. So, we started moving away from the basket more and moving while shooting. Not only did this test endurance, but it also made sure my shot was staying technically proficient. Per the BEEF method, I thought I did a pretty good job.
Josh and the staff at FBA teach this to all of their players. It is instilling muscle memory in them that lays a solid shooting foundation. The mechanics are key to a player becoming a knockdown shooter.
All of these lessons are taught if you sign your child up for a course at Fargo Basketball Academy. Their knowledgable staff and great facility are a winning combination if your child wants to succeed on the hardwood.
Level 1: Just Starting
Level 2: Hoops for Fun
Level 3: Basketball Basics I
Level 4: Basketball Basics II
Level 5: Individual Skills and Fundamentals
Level 6: Advanced Strategy Concepts
Level 7: Varisty Enhancement
Level 1: Volleyball Beginners
Level 2: Volleyball Basics
Level 3: Volleyball Advanced Skills
Fargo Basketball Academy
5409 53rd Ave S, Fargo
For more information on courses and classes visit fargobasketball.com