This basketball coaching article was written by USC Trojans basketball coach Chris Capko.
At the amateur basketball level, all of us have finished our season and are moving on into our offseason. This is a significant part of the year. Even though your record is not currently on the line, the strides and gains made now will have an important impact on your record when the basketball season does come.
Setting Player Goals
How do you approach the offseason? The very first thing that we do is have an individual meeting with each player in our program. In this meeting, we discuss the previous year, the players’ goals for the upcoming season, and how we will attack these goals in the offseason.
We like hearing our players’ goals. This allows us to remind them of what they are working for during the offseason. For example, one player might say, “Coach, I want to average 20 points per game and be first-team all-conference this upcoming season.” Which is great!
This communication allows us to remind them of this goal every day in the offseason and help make sure that they are putting in the work required to meet that goal. We understand that all of these goals might not be realistic, and with some guys, we try to reach a happy medium. At the very least, though, we are re-enforcing daily that “YOU” are the one who wants this specific goal to happen, so what are “YOU” doing about it?
Off Court Development
The next part of us attacking the offseason happens in the weight room. In my experience, most basketball players do not embrace the weight room, especially at a young age, although most could benefit from an additional 10 to 15 pounds of muscle.
You will hear excuses such as “It messes up my shot” or “I don’t want to get too big.” Those are just excuses, though, and unless you are blessed with great size and athleticism, it’s a must. This extends to conditioning as well. You will rarely find a good basketball team that is not also in great shape. Why wait until the season to begin this? There are several different methods in attaining this, but the concept is all the same.
Working on Player Weaknesses
At USC, how we work our guys in the off-season will be different than how we work them during the season. During the season, our players will only get shots or work on facets of their game that coincide with what they will do for us in our system. If you can’t dribble, we’re not going to work on pick-and-roll shots. If you’re a big man and can’t score facing up, then we’re not working on that, and so on.
In the offseason, though, we will work on multiple basketball skill development areas with all of our players. We will work on ball handling with every player on the roster, and we will also get into breaking down every player’s shot. It starts with form shooting, and then we move out to a more realistic spot, and we help develop a consistent shot for that player.
Our players will do triple threat moves, the Mikan drill, and different rebounding basketball drills regardless of position. We will also have our guys play in 1-on-1, 2-on-2, and 3-on-3 situations with a structured set of rules such as a two-dribble limit to help with different facets of the game. This also makes it more game realistic.
Playing Pick Up Basketball
I have talked to several different basketball coaches about their players playing pickup in the off-season, and I have heard many different opinions on this topic. Because of our location, we have gotten lucky, and we almost always have current and former professional basketball players around and current and former college basketball players.
These guys know how to play the right way, and it really helps with the quality of the games that are being played. Be open to having the good players in your area around your gym, and always be willing to have your former players come back to help the current ones out. All of the basketball drills that the kids do are great, but they are intended to be applied in a game setting. Playing pick-up basketball allows them to work on all the things that they have been working on.
Attacking the Offseason in Basketball Conclusion
The off-season in basketball is such an important time for players. We all need breaks from time to time, but once you have gotten past that, attack this time of the year with your basketball team. The regular season will bring a wide variety of challenges, but the more prepared your players are going into the season, the better chance of success you will have. Attack this off-season!