I realize the landscape of youth and high school basketball has changed drastically over the past 20 years and that players don’t really have a true ‘off-season’ anymore. While my prescriptions for each have been severely modified over the last decade, I still choose to divide the calendar year into 3 phases based on the typical high school season in the United States:
- Off-season: April to August
- Pre-season: September and October
- In-season: November to March
In order to maximize workouts during any of these seasons, players need these 5 P.I.E.C.E.’s:
- Purposeful – The workout must address the movement patterns and specific skills that are actually used when playing. Dribbling 3 basketballs with your eyes closed and standing on one leg is great for YouTube views and is very difficult to do… but it serves absolutely no purpose.
- Intense – The workout must be done with game-like intensity. You must intentionally leave your comfort zone (physically and/or mentally). Casually shooting with no defender for a couple of hours each day will do very little to improve your in-game shooting.
- Effective – The workout must produce tangible results. It must be progressive and cause an improvement in the desired effect (if you do a vertical jump program all summer but don’t jump any higher when school starts… the program was obviously not effective). Sweating does not mean a workout was effective. Sweating is not an objective; it is a physiological by-product. Slapping on a weighted vest and dribbling a bowling ball up a hill for 2 hours is exhausting… and will certainly make you sweat… but it will do nothing to make you a better basketball player.
- Challenging – The workout must push you beyond your current limits. It must be difficult. It must force you to make mistakes. If you do a 30-minute ball-handling workout and never lose the ball… you didn’t get any better. All you did was something you were currently capable of doing. If you can currently make “x” number of elbow jump shots in 60 seconds; then you need to challenge yourself to make 1 or 2 more.
- Efficient – The workout must eliminate time fillers. More is not better when it comes to working out. Better is better. You are much better off doing a 45-minute workout that is purposeful, intense, effective and challenging… than going through the motions for 3 hours. Get in, put in quality work, and get out!
I encourage you to make sure you use these 5 P.I.E.C.E.’s in the final months of your off-season program to truly improve performance before school starts.