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Flea Training & Heretical Basketball

Fleas are capable of jumping extremely high. In fact, the average flea can jump between 8–10 inches high, which is just about 100 times its height. That’s like a 5-foot-tall person jumping from the ground to the top of the Washington Monument. Yikes.

Fleas can be trained, however.

If you were to place a group of fleas in a jar with the lid off, their superior jumping ability would easily allow them to escape from the confines of the jar.

Now, close the lid and walk away for three days.

The fleas will keep jumping at their maximum height despite the lid. Bang. Bang. Bang. For two straight days they fight against the lid, hurling their bodies against the barrier. But, then, on the third day, they quit. They learn that they can only jump so high, and so that is what they do. They now jump only as high as the lid allows them, continuing to jump, but never hitting the lid again.

At this point, you can remove the lid and the fleas won’t jump out. In fact, they’ll never jump out and will eventually starve to death in that jar. Sorry, fleas.

But what happens if you take those fleas out of the jar? Amazingly, they still will not ever jump higher than the limit set by their experience within the jar. A flea that once jumped 10 inches will now only jump 4 or 5.

What’s even more incredible is that the offspring of those fleas will simply follow the example of their parents and limit their own jumping to 4 or 5 inches. What was once the most exceptional jumper in the animal kingdom has now and for all its future generations been made mediocre.

For decades now, coaches have been trained in jars.

Who controls the lids?

Every time an AD stands in the way of progress, he holds the lid. Every parent that second guesses a coach into complacency holds the lid. Every peer telling you that it can’t be done holds the lid. The list continues, but you get the idea.

Eventually, coaches who started out on a mission to change the game have hit their heads on the lid so often, they learn exactly how high they can jump. When they take a new job, they continue to jump only that high. When assistants have new ideas, they are quickly shown that a coach can only jump so high. And the cycle continues until exceptional coaches are made mediocre.

If what your players’ parents say is affecting your coaching, you are a trained flea. If your ideas are clouded by tradition, you are a trained flea. If you don’t like the culture of your team but are afraid to change it, you are a trained flea. You were created to jump so much higher than you are, but you are afraid to hit your head on the top of the jar. Jumping low may prevent you from getting hurt in the short term; but remember, eventually all the fleas left in the jar die.

Basketball has not reached its pinnacle yet. There are things yet to be seen – creative, team- driven things that would put contemporary basketball to shame. Heretical things.

A heretic is anyone who does not conform to an established attitude, doctrine, or principle. A heretic is a flea willing to continue to test the lid’s strength over and over until it can eventually jump out of its jar.

I think the Read & React is heretical. There is nothing else like it, but still it can only be remarkable in the hands of coaches who are willing to be heretical as well. That is the purpose of this site: to lead the Read & React Tribe out of the jar, to convince you that you are jumping too low, and to show you how to be heretical.

Our goal is to change the game, one layer at a time. But only heretics generate change. It’s time to get heretical.


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about rick torbett

Rick Torbett has taught thousands of coaches to win more games through his innovative approach to the game. He has created powerful training for coaches at any level so they can coach their best and win more games.

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Read & React 5-Player Coordination Drills

Enter your email address to get an inside look at teaching the Read & React Offense with the drills in this free video.