While a parade marched down the streets of Crothersville for the Red, White and Blue festival, these athletes honed their craft inside the school’s gymnasium.
Jason Otter, a respected basketball trainer internationally, brought his team to help take a group of athletes to the next level on the hardwood.
This past weekend, Otter Basketball Camp put on two five-hour sessions in the community.
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The athletes focused on several skills Saturday — with and without a ball in hand.
“The whole thing is built around building a foundation and having efficiency,” Otter said. “What we will do is start by talking about footwork patterns, and getting into a solid athletic stance. We will then teach them how to reroute movements tracks. We look at rhythmic progressions.”
The players, about 20 on the floor, started with jump ropes and slowly implemented ball handling drills.
Otter, a Michigan native, played at Austin Peay State University before going pro and playing in Australia.
For Otter, his camps offer serious players a system for achievement.
“You’re always trying to inspire kids to work hard,” Otter said. “I think a lot of kids might have been intimidated when we came in. A lot of kids showed their commitment to getting better.
“The idea is to see how many you can inspire to get better on a daily basis. Almost every kid raised their hand when we asked if they want to play in college. It’s easy to talk about it, but you need to put the work in.”
The camps, which are in their 20th year, travel across the country from the start of June to the first week of September.
At Crothersville, there were athletes who drove from as far as Texas and Tennessee to train with Otter.
Otter said he wants to see his camps transcend sport.
“With our kids that have a serious passion — I don’t see kids giving up the fundamentals very often if they want to get better,” he said.
“We don’t see kids burn out because they love it and have a passion. I’m a big believer in finding a passion at a young age and pursuing it. We’ve had a lot of success with our camps. They learn how to work hard mentally and physically. We want to see the discipline resonate to other aspects of life including the classroom.”
Kevin Hensley, varsity girls basketball coach at Crothersville, got in contact with Otter about hosting a camp.
Hensley’s daughter, Piper, a starting guard, has worked with Otter in the past.
“It’s a tremendous experience for the ones that took advantage of the opportunity,” coach Hensley said. “Jason, to me, is one of the best trainers in the country. He has a different way of teaching, that most high school coaches aren’t on. I’ve learned a lot from him myself by watching. It amazes me how many parents will travel so far to work with him.”
On Sunday, Otter taught a specialized shooting camp.
“Most kids step in and think they’re doing good work,” Otter said. “A lot of times you see them reinforcing bad habits.
“We try to teach kids how to teach themselves, because you can’t change your shot in five hours. You have to have the breakdown check points and have more discipline. A lot of times you see kids take a lot of shots but they’re undisciplined shots.”
Around 10 members from the Tigers’ girls basketball team attended the camp.
In the offseason, the Tigers have beaten the likes of Richmond, Silver Creek and Paoli in summer ball play.
With high expectations for the 2016-17 season, Hensley said he thinks the camp also will help teach the intangibles.
“I know that it’s going to help them further their ability,” Hensley said.