This article was written by Basketball HQ co-founder Kyle Ohman.
During the season, you spend a lot of time in practice working on basketball plays, building team chemistry, and primarily working on team-focused skills, as it should be. During the offseason, though, it is all about personal development. As a player, you finally have the time to get in the gym and spend the needed hours working on developing your game.
However, all hours spent in the gym are not equal; this may actually be one of the biggest understatements you have ever heard. I just want to get something clear, though, and really make sure that as a player, you understand this, GOING TO THE GYM DOES NOT AUTOMATICALLY MEAN YOU ARE GOING TO BECOME A BETTER PLAYER.
I have seen too many kids who go to the gym for hours a day and not get any better while they are there. They choose to spend their time in the gym, putting up half speed undisciplined shots, hang with their friends on the side, or playing pick-up games that promote more bad habits than good. As a player, it is up to you to create good habits that will allow you to progress and accomplish your goals.
My challenge to you is simple, don’t be that player this summer! Spend your gym time wisely and come back in the fall, ready for the best season of your life. Here are some keys to dominating this summer as a basketball player.
Basketball Training During the Summer
Work Smart: I was fortunate enough to play division one basketball and professionally in Spain during my career, and when I was younger, I spent a lot of time in the gym working hard to get better. However, I didn’t really know what I was doing when I got to the gym until I got to college. I would spend time in the gym working hard, but not really working smart.
That is one of the primary reasons that I helped to found this website. I wanted coaches and players to have all of the information that I didn’t have. And before you think this is just a shameless plug for Basketball HQ, I don’t care if you use our videos and plans, another plan, or have a coach/parent that you trust; just make sure that you are maximizing your gym time by working smart.
The analogy that I like to use is if I asked you to dig a two-foot deep hole in the backyard and gave you a shovel, it wouldn’t be a big deal, but if you only had a teaspoon, it would take you a lot longer to get the same job done. Learning the correct way to do a move, having the right basketball drills, etc. is like having the shovel. You can get so much more done if you have the right tools, so work SMART this summer as well as hard.
Basketball Game Plan: One of the best ways to make sure that you don’t waste time in the gym is to come into your workouts with a game plan. Spend 10 minutes in the morning or before you go to the gym and write out what you will work on. Budget out how much time you will spend on basketball shooting drills, finishing moves, ball handling, etc.
Doing this will help keep you on task and give you something to aim for. Make sure that your workout plan is realistic, though, and that you will be able to accomplish it. Writing down “make 3,000 shots” sounds awesome, but is it something that you really can accomplish? Give yourself goals that are going to push you but are still realistic.
You can set up goals for an entire summer as well. It could be focusing on becoming a better shooter and working towards a total number of shots that you will shoot/make before the season starts, a commitment to a certain amount of ball-handling a day, etc. Once you make your goals, set it as a reminder on your phone or place the piece of paper somewhere that you will see it every day. This will help to hold you accountable.
Basketball Strengths and Weaknesses: During the season, you are pretty much committed to your role on the team; you may work your way into more minutes, more shots, etc., but there isn’t a ton of time to work on individual skill development. This is not the case during the offseason, though. During the offseason, you have the time to really develop your game and focus on turning weaknesses into strengths.
One of the best examples of this is Michael Jordan. Coming out of college, people said that he wasn’t a good enough jump shooter. So he spent hours and hours in the gym working on his shot, and ultimately he became the most clutch shooter of all time. It may not be enjoyable at first to spend time working on your weaknesses, but it will be worth it as you begin to turn them into strengths. Don’t shy away from your weaknesses this summer; face them head-on!
Like-Minded Basketball Partners: A great way to make sure that you are getting after it in the gym is to have other like-minded players who will challenge you every day. On the other hand, if you hang out with players that want to waste time in the gym, it can be hard to stay motivated as the summer goes on. Find workout partners with the same goals as you and are willing to put in the work.
Not only will they help you to stay focused and challenge you to work hard on days when you aren’t quite feeling it. They will help push you to get better through natural competition during different competition drills and playing. A great workout partner can be a real game-changer. Find like-minded partners that will push you this summer. And if they are also your teammates, that is a huge plus.
Playing Basketball During the Summer
Basketball Pick Up Games: Playing games during the summer can be a great way to improve your skills and allow you to work on the moves you have been practicing when you train. It is important to make sure that you are playing in the right kind of games, though. As mentioned previously, all gym time is not equal, and that goes for playing pick up as well.
You need to find places to play where people are playing at a high level and are playing the right way. If you can’t find a great place to play, then just workout and train, but finding a good group of people to play with regularly can add a lot of value to your game. It will allow you to use the moves you have been practicing in your workouts against live competition.
While you are waiting on the sideline to play, don’t waste your time either. Instead, take advantage of the sideline and work on different stationary ball handling basketball drills. This time on the sideline will add up, and before you know it, you will be handling the basketball at a much higher level.
AAU Basketball (High School/Middle School): During the summer, AAU basketball is in full swing, and it allows players to play against some of the best competition around the country and help them get exposure in front of college coaches. This is a great chance to really improve your game, and you must maximize this time.
A couple of words of caution to any player that plays AAU, though. Make sure that you continue to learn how to play the right way and don’t try to force your game. Don’t fall into the trap that college coaches only evaluate you on the number of points you score.
This is simply not true; play your game and do all of the little things that go along with being a great player. Here is a great overview of what college coaches are looking for: Anatomy of a College Basketball Scholarship.
Basketball Camps: Basketball camps in the summer are a great chance to gain exposure, learn, and develop your game. If you can get to a couple of camps this summer and really learn from some great coaches, you will help set yourself up for success. The key is to learn as much as possible at the camp, and then from there, spend the following weeks and months mastering the skills you were taught at the camp. Go into every camp with an eagerness to learn.
One on One Basketball: Playing one on one offers a great opportunity to practice all of the moves you have been working on in your workouts. It also teaches you to compete because there is no hiding in one on one. You either step up or get exposed. It is also great because it allows you to work on both offense and defense.
Make sure that you set up realistic games of one on one. Give yourself a dribble limit, reset after defensive rebounds, play out of the triple threat, etc. Remember that you are really preparing for real game situations, which means taking into account help defenders. Most of the time, you will not be able to score with a large number of dribbles. Learn to be efficient with your scoring moves.
Physical Development During the Summer
Weight Room: During the off-season, you should be living in the weight room. Find a plan specifically for what you want to work on, gaining muscle, improving quickness/speed, vertical, etc. and then get after it. If you are inexperienced in the gym, make sure you find someone to show you the correct form before performing the different lifts and exercises. And if you don’t have access to a weight room, don’t use that as an excuse. There are plenty of bodyweight exercises and other workouts that you can do on your own.
Basketball Conditioning: It doesn’t matter how skilled you are if you aren’t in good enough shape to execute the moves. So you must be maintaining your level of conditioning during the offseason. A great way to maximize your conditioning time is to do basketball drills with a conditioning aspect. Whether it is a full-court ball-handling drill or a shooting drill that requires you to sprint if you miss a shot, you can find drills that also help to condition you.
Make sure that you are executing moves the correct way as you get tired, though. Don’t allow yourself to practice poor shooting mechanics as you get tired or get out of athletic stance when doing different ball handling drills.
Keys for Dominating the Summer as a Basketball Player Conclusion
The offseason in basketball is really what allows you to set yourself apart from everyone else. You have all of the time that you need to get in the gym and develop your game. It takes a high level of commitment, though. So I ask you this question, are you ready to dominate this summer?