Over the summer and during the off season you are going to be spending a lot of time as a basketball coach training your players. You will most likely do your basketball training in small groups and by player position. This is all pretty much normal and what the majority of coaches do. The question that I have though is this, how much time are you going to spend working on a player's strengths compared to their weaknesses? Whether you like it or not there is only so many hours designated to basketball workouts and helping your players develop. How you handle those hours can mean all the difference in developing those players, and also giving your team a chance to win during the season.
Basketball Training: Personal Experience
I played college basketball at a smaller division 1 school called Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va and also professionally in Europe for a little bit. Early in my playing career I was all about trying to become a complete offensive player. I wanted to be able be able to handle the ball, shoot it, score one on one, etc. but now that I look back at that I hurt myself in taking that approach.
The reason why is because I spent so much time working on all of my weaknesses that I forgot to work on my shooting, which was my biggest strength. I became average to good at a lot of things instead of being really great at a couple of things. My junior season of college I made over one hundred 3 pointers and was the 19th ranked shooter in the country coming into my senior season. However during the off season I got caught up with working on my weaknesses and got away from my shooting, and I didn't shoot it nearly as well my senior year.
Today I see the same thing with a lot of younger players that I watch play. They are unsure of what they should be working on so they spend their time just working on a little bit of everything. This leaves them in a situation where they don't really fill a role on a team and as the competition gets higher they will not be able to play. When if they would just spend time concentrating on the things that would allow them to fill a role on a team they would be much better off. It may be hard to get your players to buy into this, but unless they are the next Lebron James or Kevin Durant they are going to find it very hard to score anyway they want. As a coach you need to be able to show your players the benefits of this and also how to work on mastering their role.
Basketball Training: Examples
A really good coach that I have heard speak on multiple occasions is Charlton Young or CY to must of his friends and coaching colleagues. He is now an assistant men's basketball coach at Florida State university, but before he was an assistant men's basketball coach at Georgia Tech and one of the players that played while he was there was Anthony Morrow. At a coaching clinic I heard Coach Young tell the story of how he talked Anthony Morrow into working on his game and only looking to score with a maximum of 2 dribbles when he caught the ball. They trained all off season to work on catching and shooting or putting the ball down and only scoring with 2 dribbles or less. Doing this helped to sky rocket Anthony Morrow's game and eventually allowed him to make it to the NBA. All because he mastered a couple areas of the game and filled the role of being a great knock down shooter.
That is just one story and one player, but if you look at the players who are playing at a high level, you will see that all of them are there to fill a specific role (with the exception of some of the superstars who fill multiple roles and can take over as needed). One of my basketball coaches in college was Dale Layer, and would use the analogy of playing cards. He would say that you want to play your "Aces" when you are in the game, not your low cards.
Basketball Training: Time for Weaknesses
After reading all this you probably would think that there would be no time for working on a players weaknesses. However there does need to be some time designated for developing a players weaknesses, and depending on the time of the year you can allot even more time. If you have a player that can shoot lights out but dribbles the ball off of their foot every time they put it down, you need to spend some time doing some basketball dribbling drills and working on this weakness. If not then the defense will just run them off of the line every time that they catch the ball. The ball handling is a sub category though, and you need to make sure that you are still spending the majority of your time working on their strength, which is shooting.
If you are training and there is 2-3 months before the season starts you can designate more time to working on a players weaknesses, but as the season gets closer you should be working on what role they are going to fill on the team. It doesn't always have to be an offensive role either. If you have a player that is simply going to screen, rebound, and play defense then train them to be the best at doing those things. Once again you should teach them to be able to knock down an open 12 footer, but you shouldn't be spending all your time teaching them to be Hakeem Olajuwon on the block.
Take full advantage of your basketball training time and work on the skills for your players that are going to help them in the long run, and also help your team to win games.