There is a lot of miscommunication on certain terminology.

The biggest one that comes to mind is the term “going 100%” and what I think a lot of coaches and trainers mean by “going game speed”.  


Going 100% means to give your full effort.

Sprint as hard as you can, defensive slide as fast as you can, jump as high as you can, and so forth.  And I’m sure there are times and places to do these acts, but its misleading athletes, especially younger ones, when you’re meaning to tell them to go game speed. 

Going game speed means to do drills and certain actions at the same speed that you would do them in a game. Going game speed on slides, going game speed screens, game speed on certain plays, etc. 

If this is what you mean when talking to athletes it’s important to describe to them what game speed is and how they can do it. I believe telling athletes to go 100% could negatively impact the way they play the game of basketball. 

I think it´s especially damaging to kids who have not yet learned how to play the game with pace and change speeds throughout the game. 

Why it’s important to do everything game speed

One of the most underrated skills is when someone has the ability to change speeds. People who mastered this skill are some of the best basketball players in the world. 

To the untrained eye a player could be really good at changing speeds but the viewer would have no idea why. They may just seem really quick, or really fast, or just get to spots on the floor and you´re wondering why. 

“They seem so slow. How do they always get so open?”

The answer to this question would be that they are ELITE at changing speeds. Whether it be going from fast to slow, or slow to fast. 

A great example would be Luka Doncic. 

People get confused because he seems slow compared to those guys but he gets by them with ease. Another player would be Chris Paul, and though he is extremely quick, his ability to change pace is second to none. 

When players learn how to play with pace the game begins to slow down. Once, the game slows down you’re able to think the game at a much higher level. This is one of the most important benefits of playing slow. It helps you become a smarter player. 

Trainers and coaches, it´s important to implement these into your practices and training. Exaggerating how important it is to go from slow to fast and fast to slow at random times. This will keep defenses off balance. 

You can implement these into training by adding ques for players to change speeds. So if they are coming off of a ball screen, or any screen really, add a cue for them to start going faster. Then another to slow them down to a stop. Have them change directions. And have them go again. 

When making it a conscious effort to change speed, it will help them subconsciously do it in games. 

How 100% Hurts a Players Ability 

Some of the positives that I mentioned earlier are also reasons by playing “100%” is detrimental. 

When players do anything 100% they lose their ability to do other things well. So if they are playing 100% and going through everything at 100% then they can’t possibly be thinking the game to the best of their ability. 

They also begin to play too fast. Playing fast all the time is easy to guard and its tiring. It’s good to sprint back on defense at 100% and its good to run in transition at 100% but when playing in the halfcourt you should almost never play at “100%”. 

If you’re always going at the same speed no matter how fast you’re going, you become easy to guard. I know you’re going left to right at the same speed, I can just stay on your back.

Telling people to go at 100% with everything that they do gives players the wrong idea. Especially younger players who haven’t learned how to play with pace. You’re telling them to dribble off the ball screen at 100% they think they need to spring off of it as fast as possible and make a decision quickly. 

That’s not what we want from players and its not helpful for younger players to keep hearing it with everything that they are doing. 

At the end of the day, should I go at my 100%?

Over the duration of a basketball game a player is rarely going at “100%”. And though I think there are times and places where going 100% should be emphasized, I don’t think it is important to stress outside of transition or conditioning. 

And though I believe that many coaches just misuse the words and really mean go game speed, it’s something that we need to communicate with our players. Changing pace/speed is critical for a player´s success. So tell your players to go Game Speed and not 100%, unless you truly mean 100%. 

This is extremely important for youth players because they often get misled. And you can’t blame them for not knowing better. 

We´ll talk in a couple of days but for now...