The following article comes from Texas A&M men’s basketball Special Assistant, Mitch Cole.
*Most of you already have a plan and have begun the pre-practice season, but below are some areas in which coaches can prepare players both physically and mentally for the start of practice:
- PRE-TEST MEASUREMENTS/ POST TEST GOALS
- Testing each athlete’s Speed, Quickness, Agility, Strength, Power, and Conditioning level before starting is a necessary part of finding each player’s area of needed improvement. Our Strength Coach Darby Rich does a fantastic job of charting each player’s progress in the off-season and during their years here. It’s amazing to see his “before and after” pictures and the progressive improvement in our players max tests during their 4 years at Texas A&M! Quantitative improvement is one of those “small victories” that you can rack up with your players and team before the season begins.
- COMPETITIVE ACTIVITY (INDIVIDUAL)
- Coach Rich has also structured a “SUPERMAN” competition where he would set up 8-10 different competitions and have the players compete for Strength and Conditioning SUPREMACY! One player may be strong in the bench press, but another guy may be superior on the track or a different event. With 8-10 events, guys with different body types still have a chance! Another idea is to give a T-shirt during conditioning for Effort, Enthusiasm, or Improvement as recognition for a job well done AFTER EACH WEEK.
- COMPETITIVE ACTIVITY (TEAM)
- During the summer months and even this fall, consider breaking the team into groups and having competitions that accomplish Strength and Conditioning GOALS, but also those that bring out the competitive drive in the players. Have the captains pick teams and set up lively competitions such as:
- Flipping tires across a field (alternate players after each flip). Pick 4 teams of 3-4 players.
- Pushing sleds (changing players out every 15-20 seconds or 20 yards while racing the other groups).
- Pull-up or push-up team competitions. (EX. Go until failure, then next player up, first team to 200 reps)
- Anything that will generate enthusiasm and competitiveness in the weight room or on the track is a good thing! For some players, a bit of spirited competition might be just the thing to help them push beyond what they think they can do!
- SHOOTING GOALS (Quality/ Quantity)
- Sit down with each player and come up with a Rep Shooting Goal that you agree upon together. Most players talk a good game, but rarely achieve the amount of reps they commit to. Break it down into a manageable, daily goal and see where they land each week. Sometimes if a kid has poor form, it’s better to get quality reps, done CORRECTLY, rather than hundreds of reps with bad form. Challenge your guys to create shooting groups that meet at certain times and rep shoot for at least 40 minutes a day.
- TEAM BONDING/RETREAT
- Find time to spend as a team in a different setting than the gym, track or weight room. Consider having a theme where the players get to know one another on a personal level with meaningful discussion. Talk about vision, goals, objectives, and most importantly, identify your leaders. If appropriate, have them address the team and articulate what the program means to them. Get a consensus from the team on what they would like to accomplish this season. This could be the jumpstart your team needs!
- OUTSIDE SPEAKERS/MOTIVATION
- If you look closely, there are dozens of influential speakers all around you. Local businessmen, successful alumni, leaders in the community and coaches from other sports can speak into our kids’ lives and inspire them! Early on its good to have other voices that will reinforce what you have said or will be saying all year. It’s probably a good idea to try to “save your own voice” for when practice and games arrive. Remember, it’s a long season!
- COMMUNITY SERVICE/OUTREACH
- Sometimes the team needs to get outside of themselves and simply think of others. Before your season gets really busy, now may be the time to get the team together and serve in the community. Instead of doing it for marketing purposes to promote the program, teach the guys some life lessons through serving and see if they begin to appreciate the opportunities they have as student-athletes who get the privilege of putting on the uniform!
Good luck this season!