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 month of your off-season program to truly improve performance before school starts.