Basketball Workouts: What You Need to Know as a Coach

Basketball Workouts


Take your basketball workouts to the next level with your team. With all of these keys, you can maximize your time in the gym and learn how to better develop your team, which will lead to more wins.


Individual Basketball Workout Keys


Individual Basketball Workout Keys

Dale Layer contributed to this portion of the article.


Professional Basketball Instruction

The value of individual work-outs to isolate and improve individual basketball-related skills is undisputed. Having a clear workout plan designed by an expert is imperative, but not as many players buy into it. When your car breaks down, do you: A) fix it yourself, B) ask a friend for help, or C) take it to a trained mechanic?

Most would choose C, but for basketball work-outs, many players have their own ideas or lean on advice from friends or others with limited knowledge of the game but are clearly not trained professionals. But to get the most out of each workout, a trained and experienced basketball coach can provide the best insight and expertise to foster dramatic skill improvement.


Exaggerations and Manipulations

Exaggerating or manipulating situations and/or equipment can enhance each workout. Stressing to do things faster, harder, or against resistance should be present in each work-out. Using heavy training basketballs can help with ball-handling.

Using two defenders to make it harder to dribble the ball up the floor or simulate trapping situations can be effective as well. Using two balls for ball-handling basketball drills is a good manipulation for coordination and concentration, but it limits the speed of executing these basketball drills.

Timing certain drills to make the player execute them faster each time can encourage players to do more reps in a certain time period. Physical contact from defenders with hands, bodies, or pads can better simulate game situations.

Dribbling around chairs or cones is good, but actual defenders who can bump and/or react are much more game-like. Working twice as long on a weak hand compared to a strong hand can produce greater benefits. Always strive to turn a weakness into a strength.



Working Harder and Faster is Key

Only working out at the highest intensity and pace can produce the desired results. Working through fatigue and when tired, can give a player an edge in skill and toughness. If work-outs are easy, and without a challenge, improvement is minimal.

High competitiveness, high intensity, fatigue, and personal challenge are all good ingredients to put in any workout blender. Always strive to do more, do it harder, and do it faster!!



Taking Your Basketball Workout to the Next Level


Taking Your Basketball Workout to the Next Level


Great basketball players and teams not only work hard, but they also work smart. They maximize their gym time. Here are a few keys that will help take your basketball workout to the next level and help you maximize your gym time.


Basketball Workout Intensity

One of the keys to skill development is the intensity of the basketball drills that you are doing. A coach has a duty to push players to their limits and require each technique and action to be done at game speed. Obviously, when learning a new skill, players need to grasp the concept before increasing speed, but once they feel confident with the skill, everything must be done at a high level of intensity. The pressure of cutting full speed, getting shoulders square to the rim, balanced feet, and being able to knock down a jump shot in a game can and should be mimicked in daily workouts. Remember – quality over quantity.



Relationships With Your Basketball Players

Another way to improve skill development is by building relationships with your players. The old cliché that no one cares how much you know until they know how much you care is very true. Our Head Coach, Steve Payne, talks all the time about leading our league in minutes spent with our players off the court. Mike Dunlap of the Charlotte Bobcats talks about learning each of your kid’s stories. Your players will work hard and trust what you tell them if you spend time with them outside of basketball.


Use Offensive Breakdowns in Your Basketball Workouts

One thing we like to do at Tennessee Tech is to contour our basketball training to our offense. For example, we rarely allow our posts to use a post move with more than one dribble, so we do not practice it. We want our guards to create a shot for a teammate, so instead of attacking off a ball screen and shooting a 3FG, we take two hard dribbles to the paint and kick out for a penetrate and pitch 3FG. This trains your players to stay within your team’s offense and gives them the confidence to score and be an effective player in your system.



Variety in Your Basketball Workouts

One final way to help improve basketball skill development is to use a variety of drills and challenge your players. Sometimes we as coaches get comfortable with what we teach, and that’s all we do. In today’s society, a player’s mind needs to be stimulated more frequently. If your player becomes bored with the workouts, their intensity will weaken. It’s our job as basketball coaches to keep their minds fresh and hungry to learn.



Taking Your Basketball Workout to the Next Level Conclusion

These are just a few ways to help you with taking your basketball workout to the next level. While all these drills and tips are great, at the end of the day, it is up to you to find a system that best fits your players and team. So as you apply these different tips, be willing to experiment and find what best fits your basketball program.

I hope this skill development basketball coaching article helps in some way. If you have any questions, please feel free to comment below, and we will do our best to answer them.



The Dynamic of a Basketball Workout


The Dynamic of a Basketball Workout


The dynamic of a good basketball workout is something that every trainer should know because it is the foundation for skill development. If the workout is not done the right way, it will cause the basketball player’s skill development to be stunted.

For example, if every workout is the same thing repeatedly, the player will master the different basketball drills and will not be challenged anymore; this will stunt their skill development growth.

Several key ingredients should go into a good basketball workout, and whether you have been a basketball trainer for 20 plus years or are just beginning as one, these simple guidelines are worth a read.


Balanced Basketball Workouts

Basketball players who have fun working out and enjoy being in the gym will improve at a higher rate than a player who sees working out as a chore. That is why you need to find the right balance with your drills and mix in a fun drill every now and then. They are still going to be getting better, but it will help keep them interested and motivated to work hard.

Different players are going to have drills that they enjoy more than others. For example, a shooter might like a basketball shooting drill where you have to make a certain number of shots within the time limit, and a ball handler might like a challenging tennis ball basketball dribbling drill. Whatever you do, keep it interesting and make it exciting to help keep the player motivated.

On the other hand, though, you need to make sure that the players are being challenged and doing drills to make them better. It is your job as the basketball trainer to get the best out of each player. Pick drills that are going to challenge them and make them better players.


New Material for Basketball Workouts

Adding new basketball drills to your workouts consistently is a great way to help keep your players motivated and challenged. Doing the same thing repeatedly will result in either the players mastering the basketball drill and then not getting any better or the player losing interest because they are bored. There are tons of different basketball drill variations, so make sure that you are switching up your drills and adding new content to keep your players interested and challenged for every workout.

Personalized Basketball Workouts

Not every basketball player is the same, which means that they shouldn’t all be doing the same workout. I understand if you have a large group of players, and it is hard to personalize each player’s workout. However, when in a small group, you need to make sure that you design the basketball workout according to a player’s specific needs. This is how the player is really going to grow and develop.


Teach During the Basketball Workout

You must work on a player’s basketball IQ along with their physical skills. Teach them why they are doing something a certain way and help them understand the benefits of it. This will help the skill translate better into a real game because they will understand why they are doing it. Help them to grow in their overall knowledge of the game and become smarter basketball players.



Individual Basketball Workouts Mid Season


Individual Basketball Workouts Mid Season

Chris Capko contributed to this portion of the article.


This time of the year, everyone and every basketball team are in the midst of the most important part of their season; conference play. As the year goes on, basketball practices become shorter to preserve players’ health, and practices become more scout specific. They pertain more to that specific team than anything else. Practices might last an-hour-and-a-half, depending on the head coach’s philosophy.


Basketball Skill Development Philosophy

What is your philosophy in terms of basketball skill instruction for this time of the year? Are you getting a lot of shots up still with your guys? Are you incorporating individual instruction into your practices, or are you relying on the work ethic of your guys? At FIU, we still do about 10 minutes of individual basketball instruction a day (up to that position coach’s discretion) and an additional 10 minutes of just shooting.

After that, all of the assistant coaches meet with different guys for additional individual work to make sure that they are still working on their game. Here are some of my beliefs as to how I approach the extra basketball skill development time with my guys.


Dynamic of a Basketball Workout

The intensity of the basketball workouts depends on the player. How much he plays per game and what time of the day we work out. If I am working out a freshman who is not playing as much at 8 am, we will get a full intensity workout in. If I am working out a senior who has had a full day of classes an hour before practice, we will definitely scale back the intensity but focus on many of the same things. Here are some things I touch on with every player I work out this time of the year. I rarely ever exceed 30 minutes.

  • Form Shooting: 50 makes with just one hand from different spots, 50 form shooting makes with both hands from different spots, and 50 form jump shots from just outside the paint. Makes may vary depending on time and player. The form must always be perfect, or the make doesn’t count.
  • Touch Shots Around the Rim: Bigs and guards will both perform the Mikan Drill and floater or hook specific shots.
  • Ball Handling: I personally try to break up the monotony and do something a little different every day. One ball basketball dribbling drills, two ball basketball dribbling drills, using a coach, cones, etc., both bigs and guards will do this.
  • Game-Specific Shots and Moves: I will usually end the workout with a look or game-specific shot that they will get during the course of a game.



Individual Basketball Workouts Mid Season Conclusion

None of this totally requires the players to exert a ton of energy, and they still get the basic fundamental practice that will serve them every day. What I have learned over the years is that when a player gets hit with the demands that come with playing college basketball and competing in school, they start to practice less once the actual practice is over. Some players might only get 20 makes in practice and do that 3 times a week. That is not enough.

Encourage your basketball players to get in the gym, and don’t be afraid to get in the gym with them as well. If they are on your team, they are probably worth your time to improve. Invest time in the kids, and hopefully, it pays dividends for you and your team.



Attacking the Offseason in Basketball


Attacking the Off Season in Basketball

Chris Capko contributed to this portion of the article.


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!





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