Multiple Teams · Coach Huber’s Blog #4: Offseason Skill Development

Coach Huber | April 7, 2015

The offseason is upon us. This gives us a chance to reflect and recharge. I am a firm believer that a player should take at least a week off after the end of a season to allow his body to recover from the strain of a long season. Once that is done, it’s time to get refocused on improvement. We had post season meetings with all of our players to discuss how their season went and how they can best maximize this offseason to reach their goals for next season. In this blog, I want to give some general guidelines for how a player can best maximize his offseason skill work (I am not going to address strength and conditioning).

1. Have a plan – it’s not enough to ‘be in the gym’. A lot of guys go to the gym but don’t get any better. You must have a plan. The mature player picks 2-3 tangible things that he wants to improve on in the offseason. He then tailors his workouts to the skills that he wants to improve.

2. Simpler is better – I was talking about ballhandling drills with someone the other day and my comments was ‘you know what being able to dribble four basketballs makes you good at? Dribbling four basketballs’. . . as we all know, no player will ever be asked to do that in a game. While it may look ‘cool’, it’s not applicable to the game. This is why I am always leery of props or drills that may be challenging but have not carryover. A friend was telling me a story about a Navy man in World War II who every day had to practice how they would drain excess water from his boat in case there was a leak or damage to the ship. He and the other soldiers hated this and found it incredibly monotonous. Well, one day their ship was hit. While some of the newer soldiers were in a panic, the soldiers who had done this daily for months calmly assessed the situation and used their training to fix the problem. Basketball is much the same way. If you want to be a good free throw shooter, shoot free throws. If you want to be a good post player, pick two moves to become great at, rather than practicing twelve that you will never master. If you want to be able to handle the ball against pressure, have someone guard you and handle the ball against them. The more closely your workouts mirror what you will do in a game, the more those workouts will improve the skills you want to develop.

3. Don’t forget about your strengths – some players become so consumed with improving their weaknesses that they neglect the skill set that got them to where they are. If you are a great shooter, continue to shoot so that you remain a great shooter. I believe workouts should be about 70% strengths, 30% weaknesses. So if you are putting in an hour of gym time, I would put about 40-45 minutes into my strengths and continuing to hone those skills (how do you think Ray Allen was such a good shooter for such a long time???? He shot a lot!). I would think take the remaining 15-20 minutes to work on the weaknesses of my game.

4. Be efficient – if you are working at game speed for the majority of your workout you should be able to get a GREAT workout in sixty minutes. If you are in the gym for three hours, you probably aren’t working hard enough. So much of getting your work to translate to games is doing it at game speed. We’ve all seen guys who are great shooters in warmups or on the practice floor when no one is around, but once the games start cannot make a shot. You have to develop your skills at game speed. Now, when you are learning a new skill, you may not start at game speed as it may take you some time to learn the skill. That is fine. But you haven’t mastered it until you are doing it at game speed. If you’re doing that, you should be able to get your work in efficiently.

5. Make mistakes – if you aren’t making mistakes in your workouts (losing the ball) then you aren’t working hard enough. Too many guys stay in their comfort zone and think they are getting better because they aren’t making mistakes. The smart player knows that unless he is pushing himself to the point of making mistakes that they aren’t maximizing their work. That’s how you get better.

I hope these thoughts are helpful to all the players starting their offseason work. Best of luck and I hope you reach your goals!