Have you seen the new MTV show, Catfish?
If you haven’t, I think you should check it out. It’s a show that will make you think. It’s about people who meet each other online and then meet for the first time in person. The term ‘catfish,’ defines a person who creates a fake profile based on someone else’s information (basically they pretend to be someone they’re not).
My question to you is: are you pretending to be a player that you’re really not?
A couple years ago I was working with a player who told me he was a three point shooter. I’m not sure of his shooting percentage (in games), but I could tell from the first time that I worked with him that he wasn’t a “3-point shooter.” The fact that you can make 3’s doesn’t mean you’re a 3-point shooter. You need to be able to make them consistently in games.
Are you a defensive stopper?
So who are you as a player? Don’t lie. It’s important to be honest with yourself so that you can play to your strength(s). This doesn’t mean that you can’t transform yourself into a different player; it means that while you’re working on tranforming yourself as a player you still play to your strength(s).
I’ve worked will all types of players from true point guards to shooting guards, post players to big men who play on the wing. The important thing is to realize where your strength are and to play to them. At the same time you’re playing to those strengths you can be working on transforming your game during practice.
The other thing that this will do is force you to do some critical thinking about where you are as a player and where you want to go.
Here is a great exercise you can do as a player. Write down your current position as a player (as defined by your coach). Next, write down the position you hope to play at the next level (next level may be varsity, AAU, d-3 college, or d-1 college). Underneath each position I want you to write the 5 most important skills and qualities needed at each of those levels (where you currently are and where you want to go). Then I want you to add 5 more sub skill-sets below each. An example is below:
High School (Back-up) Point Guard:
- Know all of the teams plays
- You never know when you may have to play more and therefore you need to know everything your team runs as good, or better than your starting point guard.
- Play ‘mistake’ free
- Turnovers and mental mistakes should be non-existant for PG’s. Especially if you’re only in the game for limited minutes
- Have high energy minutes
- There should be no drop-off in energy when you come into the game, even if you aren’t as skilled as the starting point guard
- Run practice team efficiently in practice
- Challenge the starting unit to help improve them and your team overall
- Make open shots that are in range
- this may be anything from 3’s to mid-range
High School (Starting) Point Guard:
- Know all of the teams plays
- Offensive, defensive, out of bounds, etc.
- Be able to guard the other teams starting PG
- You have to be quick enough to control the other teams point guard
- Make free throws at a high perecentage (especially down the stretch)
- You must be confident enough to have the ball in late-game situations
- Be able to Penetrate to create easy shots for other players
- Your ball handling and ability to read openings must be GREAT
- Control the Flow of the game (play how your coach wants to you on the offensive and defensive end)
- Sometimes you may have to speed it up, other times slow it down
After you have done this exercise you should get an idea of where your game currently is. If you disagree with your current role as a player, make sure to discuss with your coach some of the ideas and concepts that we talked about. Find out from him or her what their expectations are of you as a player (both now and when you get your starting role). Your spare time should be spent either improving the needed skills for your current position/role on the team. Or you should spend it working on improving or developing skills that will help you in your future role.
The big take away from this activity should be that you need to be honest with who you are as a player. Don’t make believe you’re a point guard if you’re really a big man. Rondo would not be in the NBA if he wanted to be a shooting guard; KD wouldn’t be the most effective player if he was playing center and around the basket all of the time (even though he’s 6’9”); Lebron wouldn’t dominate on the offensive end if he slowed the ball down and played more tentatively (he’s too fast, strong, and athletic).
All of these players know who they are as a player, and yet know they need to improve to become a better version of themselves.
Who are you?
I could see the disappointment in his eyes.
No one wants to see their vertical jump go down. Especially more than an inch. The worst part of all is that it happened in less than 2 weeks.
What causes a vertical to drop from 32+” to 30” in a few days?
Too much stress, not enough recovery, poor diet, too little sleep – any and all of that will factor in to how you feel and how you perform. The challenge as a performance coach is manage all of these factors, while trying to balance life, school, and basketball at the same time. I mean, let’s be honest, most middle, high school, and college kids aren’t exactly focusing on these 4 pieces like they should be.
Despite what adults will tell you, high school is stressful. Sure it’s different than “adult” stress, but high school is stressful. Friends, girl/boy friends, school work, parent issues, coach issues, college issues – there are all kinds of stresses that can wreak havoc on your body.
The part of all of this stress is that’s cumulative. It continues to add up over time. So if you have a bad stretch during exams it may take you 2-3 weeks to recover from it. That can impact a basketball season significantly – I’m talking like 6-10 games. For some, a poor stretch like that can mean the difference between a great season and a crappy season.
The most important thing to remember when handling stress is to adjust your training accordingly. When I say training, I’m talking both lifting and skill work. These are two of the most important factors to having an athlete feel run-down over the course of a season and yet they’re two of the most easily controlled factors.
If you’re over-stressed I tell my athletes to reduce the number of total sets per lifting exercise to just 2-3 sets (this should be down from 3-5 sets). Next, reduce the amount of weight you use to a weight that simply feels “good.” I don’t care how light you go because if you go too heavy you’ll struggle recovering even more. Next, take out all of your extra skill work. Since you’re already practicing or playing games 6x/week, I’d recommend spending the extra court time either sleeping or recovering instead. Once you’re health you can add back in your skill work.
If your legs and body start to feel heavy (like you’re dragging your body around everywhere), start using cold bath or ice bath everyday.
During the past few years I’ve experimented with just regular ol’ cold baths at home in our bath tub. Nothing fancy – no bags of ice or whirlpool jets, just cold water and a stopwatch.
It works. I wasn’t sure if the water out of the faucet would get cold enough to help the recovery of my legs, but it does. I recommend about 10 minutes with your entire legs submerged in the water.
Now, I know what you’re thinking – there’s no way Shelby is going to convince me to get in that cold water. Ok, ok, I hear you. BUT, I said the exact same thing just a few years ago. The best trick I’ve found is that when you’re filling the baht you get in when there’s just a few inches of water. Quickly lower yourself in and out of the water (just enough so that the back side of your legs get wet) and then get out and wrap up in a towel.
On another side note, a great way to gauge your recovery is the dot test. To do the dot test, all you do is set a timer for 10 seconds (a stopwatch will do if needed), and make as many dots as you can (on a piece of paper, but I guess that goes without saying). You should perform this test first thing in the morning, before fatigue or stress has a chance to set in (within an hour after getting up). Make sure to count up your total number of dots. If your number of dots drops by 25% or more, you’re over-trained and need to focus more on overall recovery: sleep, nutrition, etc.
Look, I know what you’re thinking here….you want to see a diet plan laid out for you. You want me to tell you exactly what to eat, how much of it, when to eat it, and then all of a sudden you’ll have the body and game you desire.
I hate to break it to you, but no matter how hard I try, I can’t have you eat chicken and broccoli and end up looking like Lebron with a game like KD. No amount of chicken (fried or not) can do that. But let’s be honest, you want help and I’m here to do just that. So….
Nutrition in a single sentence: more lean meat (grass fed/free range if possible); lots of veggies (the more colors the better); a piece or two of fruit a day; more water (actually only water unless you use a protein shake during your workouts – and use coconut water for hydration instead of Gatorade). Eat lean chicken, beef, and pork; cucumbers, peppers, onions, spinach, carrots, tomatoes, lettuce; have banana, orange, pear, grapes, or any fruit that you’ll actually eat (gushers are not considered a fruit) and you’re most of the way there.
In all honesty, nutrition is really complex. I think most people can get 80% of the way to a healthy diet by taking the above advice, but after that you’ve got to tweak it for your individual needs. The more simple you can make it, the better.
I’m sure you’ve probably heard your parents say something along the lines of, “You need your sleep so you can grow big and strong.” Since I know you probably weren’t listening then, I’ll repeat that: “You need your sleep so you can grow big and strong.”
A lack of sleep reduces the amount of growth hormone released in the body. This effects everything from brain development to muscle growth. As youth are developing, sleep is one of the biggest factors in proper development and growth.
I’m not here to lecture you on the need of sleep (adults included), instead I’ll try to give you reasonable “things” you can try to improve your sleep time and quality.
- Set weekend goals. If you talk to any sleep experts (or read their research and books) they’ll tell you that routine is a huge factor for sleep quality. Rather than recommend sleeping-in on weekends, they recommend getting up at your normal time. My recommendation is to get up as close to your normal time as you can in order to achieve or work towards a “goal.” If you have something to get up for, you’re a whole lot more likely to do it. No time to lift? Now is the time. Want to get up some extra shots? Now is the time. Need to study the game? Now is the time.
- Complete outlines of the work you have to do at night, during the day. At a bare minimum, even if you don’t want to do all of the work (school work or otherwise), make an outline that you can follow later on in the day. This will save you time and effort. If you have a big project, outline the flow of it and the “big” pieces. Later on when you come in to fill it in, you’ll save time. Time saved = more sleep at night.
- Experts will recommend unplugging TV’s, computers, shutting off phones, etc. in order to help you get quality sleep. Since I’m a realist and understand that you’re not going to do all of that (not at first at least), I think you should take a few steps in that direction. Instead of looking at Facebook at 10pm at night, try reading for 30 minutes before bed. I would recommend this thing they call a book. Sure it’s old school, but it eliminates the illumination of a computer screen. If you don’t know where the library is, or want to start by reading blogs, Internet articles, or other technology-based pieces, I would recommend printing them out and reading them separate.
I always tell athletes that recovery is a complete life effort. It doesn’t stop: 24/7. The key to improving your recovery is taking baby steps so that you’re actually able to create habits.
If you’re familiar with the Indiana Jones series, in the Last Crusade, Indi is forced with the decision of choosing the cup that a king would drink out of. The selection of the right cup, means that he’ll have eternal life. Fortunately for Indi, he’s chooses ‘wisely.’
Basketball isn’t a matter of life or death, but if you’re on here, chances are it’s very important to you.
I got an email the other day from an avid reader, Will Shaw. Will asked me a great question: “I doesn’t have a lot of access to court time, so if I only had 1 hour each day to work on basketball skills, what should I do?”
I’m a big fan of making choices based on rate of return. In other words, what’s the least amount of work you can do to get the most amount of return. Some of you reading this may think that I’m being lazy and teaching athletes that they shouldn’t work hard or train hard, but the truth is, if you want to successful in basketball and life, you need to learn this important lesson.
Before we move forward with anything else, understand this – I’m not going to hold your hand and tell you exactly what to do. It’s not because I’m trying to be the bad guy, instead it’s because there are way too many possibilities of what you may or may not need to do during your hour of training. Here’s a short but brief list of some of the things that I typically see players working on:
1) Practice completely useless shots that will do nothing but make you only slightly better at awful shots. One of the most ridiculous things I see players do a regular is practice stupid shots. I see kids throwing the ball from half court; trying to make shots over the backboard; bouncing the ball off the wall; throwing up behind the back passes; shots on the knees; the list goes on and on. So before you do anything else, avoid doing this.
2) Walk around the court like you’re on the set of the new 2 Chainz video. Hey look, I’m all for having swag on the court. I find myself telling kids that often times the only difference between them being a good player and a great player, is the way they carry themselves and how much they truly believe in themselves (aka SWAG). Before you think I’m a swag-hater, understand that I’m all for confidence, but also for effort. If you’re out there on the court, do something productive. Don’t walk – run. Don’t practice useless moves – do game stuff. Don’t practice – train. And for those 2 Chainz lovers, here’s a music video I thought you’d enjoy…
3) Shoot and Text intervals. Cell phones are addicting. There’s not much that gets people jazzed up like checking emails and sending off t-bombs. If you can’t give up an hour of your day and leave your cell phone all by it’s lonesome self, shutoff, and on the sideline, then you don’t deserve to be a great basketball player. Your friends will understand if you need to practice (at least if you want to continue being ‘the man,’ or ‘the wo-man.’
You should have some fun, I’m all for having fun playing the game of basketball. If you want want to be around for a long time playing the game of basketball, you need to be successful – this means you’ve got to train (not just show up) the majority of the time.
Instead of that normal/boring list that I put above, do the following and you’ll be BOSS status before you know it.
1) Spend 15 minutes working ball handling and finishing. It doesn’t matter if you’re doing tennis ball drills, two ball drills, stationary work, whatever tickles your fancy – just make sure you do it for 15 minutes at the start of your workout. I love progressions in ball handling (as I’m sure you’re aware of), so feel free to follow some of the ball handling progressions I have on the site.
The other thing that most players should do while they work their handles is work on their finishing moves and techniques. If you ever want to see your pretty face on ESPN Top 10, you better be prepared to finish the ball around the like Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, or any other leading guard.
2) Form Work Helps a Lot. Everyone needs to be able to shoot. Whether you’re a shooter, a slasher, a scorer, I don’t care, you need to be able to shoot. The better your form, the better your chance of making it you have. That’s not to say that if your shooting form got beat by the ugly stick that you will be awful, but more that if your form is good, you’re more likely to stroke it! Plus, everyone needs to be able to hit open jump shots and free throws – just ask Rondo! So how much time should you alot? About 15 minutes. I would work a variety of this from traditional form shooting up to catch and shoot based shots.
3) Work Game-based Situations. Spend 1/4 of your hour long workout practicing very specific situations that you’ll face on the regular. Pick and rolls, 3 pointers, floaters, anything that your little heart desires as long as you do it in games. And don’t be afraid to make it challenging. Rememeber, as the famous athlete Patches O’Houlihan once said, “If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball.” Challenge yourself to make tough plays in your training and the game will seem easy because you’ll be prepared.
4) Conditioning should last at least 15 minutes. That means for 15 minutes you should be busting your backside with the goal of improving your conditioning. The good news is that this portion of your training should be overlap from everything else that you’re working on as well. Ball handling, shooting, game-like situation work, should all be part of your drills that are conditioning based. *If this were the off-season I would prescribe a separate ‘conditioning’ program, but not if you’re short on time.
Now you no longer have any excuse as to why you can’t maximize your potential in just an hour a day.
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Damin Altizer, of http://daminaltizerbasketball.com/. In this interview he drops knowledge bombs on us about:
- What the deciding factor was in him going from a d-3 caliber player to a d-1 caliber player (and what you can do to help you get there)…
- Why innovative drills with medicine balls and tennis balls are better for you than just training with a basketball…
- How Coach K influenced him into changing his mindset and outlook on basketball – and how you can do the same…
- What you really have to do to have a chance at playing d-1 basketball (and it’s not what you think)…
Remember, Damin is an in the trenches skills trainer (unlike some of the phony internet trainers). He’s actually training athletes hands-on and working with some of the best players in the country and around the world. This guy’s legit!
Listen to the interview here: Damin Altizer on 2012-11-16 at 11.17
You find Damin at his website (where he also has some GREAT free training package) http://daminaltizerbasketball.com. In addition, Damin has tons of great content on his YouTube channel, http://youtube.com/altizerbasketball , Twitter - https://twitter.com/DaminAltizer, and Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/pages/Damin-Altizer-Basketball-LLC/148428661840039
“Find me a cardboard box. I’ll just jump over that.”
I was out in my driveway, setting up my first plyometric training program with my dad. While a slightly sloped driveway isn’t the ideal situation for training your vertical, I, just like everyone who wears their first pair of Jordan’s dreams – wanted to dunk.
Earlier that day I had fired up the old computer, complete with dial-up internet connection (for those that don’t know what dial-up is, be thankful, and just understand it was like watching The Sound of Music – slow, boring, and sounds that would make you cringe) to find a plyo program. Unlike these days on the world wide web, there weren’t lots of legit trainers who posted information for free or next to nothing. Instead we had to rely on trying to find a single program that perhaps could give us some idea of what we were trying to do (kind of like those awful questions on aptitude tests in school – you never really know what they’re asking).
While I assumed that this program was legit, (I mean c’mon, it was on the internet, everything on the internet has got to be true – it’s on the internet after all) I still wanted to make sure that I made the progress that I needed to make in order to throw down! I figured that if some training is good, more has got to be better – right? So rather than simply do the plyo program as it was written, I decided to borrow a friend of mine’s Jump Soles (R).
*As a little background on me at this point in my basketball career: I was 15 years old, going into my sophomore year in high school. I was a thin, ok – skinny (about 125lbs), and about 5’5/5’6”. I had been able to touch the bottom side of the bracket (about 6 inches below the rim) and was naturally very fast twitch dominant (meaning I am more explosive but not as great as distance or endurance training). Up to this point I had never done any real formal training for improving my athletic ability – other than simply being active.
For those that don’t know, strength shoes are specila shoes that are deisgned to overload the calf complex by stretching the achilles tendon and calf complex. The concept of the shoe is that is forces the calves to support 100% of the body weight or impact (upon landing on the ground).
While most of the statements made on the site are mostly true, it’s important to understand that research (and my experience) shows that training with a proper training program will get the same results as training with the same program using Strength Shoes (1,2,3,4). In other words, there is no statistical difference in jump heigth or improvement in performance when comparing those using Strength Shoes versus those using regular shoes.
So, back to the lecture at hand (cue the Dr. Dre and Snoop music), I bet you’re wondering what happened to my vertical when I started using jump soles?
Great question. My vertical improved significantly. Despite using a junk training program that was completely random and came for FREE offline, I was able to improve my vertical up to the point that it got as high as 36” during the start of my sophomore year. I was able to dunk a small (mini) basketball running off of 1-leg despite being only 5’6”. I couldn’t palm a basketball due to my small hands (don’t laugh), so I’m not really sure if I had enough height to throw down a regular men’s ball.
Unfortunately about 2 months into my sophomore year, right at the tail end of soccer season, two torn meniscus’ forced me into surgery (I’d been playing on them torn for nearly 3 years at that point) and my vertical wasn’t the same again until my senior year. While it’d be boss to tell you that I crossed up a defender, broke his ankles, took it to the rack and elevated up over a 6’8” guy and threw down an and-1…in the state championship – it didn’t happen like that. Instead I was forced to miss more than half of that basketball season to an injury and wasn’t actually in game shape until we lost a preliminary playoff game in February.
I am not sure what my vertical jump started out at when I started this training program. I can guess it was in the 28-30” range. My training program (from what I can remember), consisted of plyo’s 3 days a week with a day of rest in between. The training took me about 30-40 minutes and consisted of 4 or 5 different exercises: Jumps over Box (cardboard box – all directions) x 4 reps each way; standing squat jumps (with counter-movement) x 6 reps; jump shot jumps (practice footwork into a jump shot w/o ball x 4 reps each way; tuck jumps x 8 reps; and running 1 footed rim jumps (just like trying to touch rim) x 4 each way. Each exercise was repeated for 3-4 sets and I rested as much time as I needed to be fully recovered and achieve maximum height (typically 1-2 minutes).
You’d think that after all of that success I’d be raving about the strength shoes. I mean, I improved my vertical somewhere between 6 and 8 inches; was able to dunk a small basketball; and figured I’d be bangin’ on fools by my Junior year at the latest.
Plyo programs work, but, they should be reserved for periods of 6-12 week blocks 1-2 times per year after having completed a solid strength program during the rest of the time. Remember that plyo programs are designed to take advantage of the “strength” that your body already has and turn that into “power.” If you never improve your strength, the plyo’s won’t do anything for your power (coincidentally, this is why most jumping programs don’t work as well for people on their second and third times trying them). My experience shows that regardless of what shoe you wear, a solid plyo program will improve your vertical. Rather than spend $100+ dollars on shoes to help you jump, spend that money on a training program that is legit. My UGTS has plyo’s built right into the training program (along with strength), which is why my athletes routinely see increases in their vertical year-round and for their entire career. If you want to use a jumping program for an intensification period in the off-season, I recommend the Jump Manual- it’s specifically designed to help athletes jump higher – with non of the BS that a lot of programs have. A jump-specific program should be reserved for no more than about 12-weeks total during an entire 52-week year (either one 12-week period or two 6 week periods). Sometimes athletes can do more, but I recommend starting with no more than 12-weeks.
While the Jump Soles that I borrowed didn’t cost me any money, they were essential useless in terms of helping me improve my vertical. Now that I’m older and wiser, I realize that I could have achieved at least the same amount of improvement in just my regular shoes. As a matter of fact, at least one study, by Ramsey, showed that athletes showed a significant improvement in their vertical when they did NOT use Jump Shoes (5). How’s that for a knowledge bomb?!
1. Porcari et al. Effects of Training in Strength Shoes on 40 Yard Dash Time, Jumping Ability, and Calf Girth. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: May 1996, Vol. 10, Issue 2.
2. Nicopoulou et al. The Evaluation of the Influence of Strength Shoe as an Effective Supplement to a twelve week Training Program on the Vertical Jump Improvement of Male and Female Greek Basketball Players. Coaching & Sport Science Journal; 1998: Vol. 3, issue 2. P 7-12.
3.Cody, S.M. The Effects of The Strength Shoe on Vertical Jump Performance in Male Collegiate Basketball Players. Microform Publications, University of Oregon. 1992.
4. Waggener, W.R., Gehlsen, G.M., and Massey, J.C. The Effects of a Plyometric Training Shoe on Vertical Jump Height, Speed, and Power. International Journal of Volleyball Research. 1999: Vol. 1, Issue 1. P 1-6.
5. Ramsey, J.K. Influence of the Strength Shoe and Three Plyometric Drills on the Strength, Velocity, and Jumping Ability of High School Football Players. Microform Publications, University of Oregon. 1993.
There are two types of athletes: the ones who will over-train and do too much training (both on the court and in the weight room), and the ones that don’t want to put in the work to get better and just wish for success. Weak sauce.
If you’re the second type, unfortunately I can’t really help you and this article won’t address any of the ways for you to commit yourself to becoming better on a daily basis. Instead go grab a copy of the NBA 2k for PS3 or Xbox and tell me how your self-created player has improved his or her game since last season (blah blah blah). However, for those of you who are serious about playing college basketball (in the flesh and not in video games) this may be the most important article you’ve ever read.
If you plan on playing basketball for as long as you can, wheher it be high school, college, or professional, you better be prepared to work. For however logn you continue to play, you’ll be expected to work on your game both on teh court and in the weightroom almost year-round. With the amount of time and effort that it takes to continue to improve it can take a real toll on the body. 2+ hour long practices followed by skill work and shooting can wreak havoc on your legs. Throw in some plyo’s and jump training and add in some work in the weight room and all of sudden you have a recipe for disaster.
Despite all of the demands of the sport of basketball, you can easily improve your game year-round by training properly both on and off of the court. After helping countless ahtletes (including myself) navigate in-season training I’ve come up with the following rules to keep you both healthy, happy, and ready to play at almost any point in your basketball career.
1. Take at least 1 day off per week. I don’t care what people tell you about taking a day off. It’s good for the body and mind. I’m not saying be lazy, but allow yourself some time to recover if you’re working hard for the rest of the week. This doesn’t mean you can’t go play pick-up basketball, or a beach volleyball game, but don’t do anything planned or structured. I like to tell my athletes to go do something ‘fun’ that they enjoy other than their normal sport(s). Plus, perhaps this extra day will allow you to go the beach and show off your new body. Sun’s out, guns out!
2. Train with weights 2 times per week in season. You’ll find the time, trust me. If you really want to be great, reach down, grab you know what, and find time. It doesn’t have to be long. A 10-20 minute workout of some simple lifts like goblet split squats, pull-ups, push-ups, and KB swings can be done after practice with minimal equipment or effort. If you can find (I really mean make) time, allow your workouts in-season to go about an hour or so. This will allow you to get everything you need to get done including strength work, flexibility work, core, mobility, explosiveness, etc. If you want to be better than anyone you know, start right here and do this, at the end of the season you’ll look, feel, and perform better than you did at the start of the season.
3. Train with weights 3-4 times per week in the off-season. While there is no real off-season anymore for competitive basketball players – which is part of the reason why I say lifting twice a week in-season is so important, during your most down periods of competition you need to be seriously training 3-4 times a week. What you do and how you split it up depends on a lot of factors. In my UGTS I give advice on how you can perform the program depending on the amount of time you have. In general, you want to go with either an upper body/lower body split (1 day of each – rotate the days); or a total body lift each day. You should make more progress in this period of time than any other.
4. Do no more than 1-2 hours of extra skill work on-court. Sometimes when you struggle on the court your goal is to put in tons of extra time and crank up another 300-400 shots per day, work on ball handling, or whatever it may be. I know, we’ve all heard of the stories about Ray Allen getting there early and going through his shooting routine. The difference between you and Ray (amongst other things) is that he is in the NBA. Basketball is his job. He doesn’t have school, class, girlfriends or boyfriends (at least that I know of), and gets paid very nicely to play basketball. He’s also got people to rebound, do massage therapy, stretch him, cook for him, and whole host of other support that most of us (myself included) just don’t have. Therefore he can do things that most of us can’t, including shoot 2 hours a day, lift, play games, and make millions of dollars. Instead of dwelling on it, focus on putting in no more than 1-2 hours while you’re in-season and bump up the time and intensity in your off-season or down time.
5. Limit extra skill work to no more than 30 minute sessions. This goes along with the above. In-season I think players should get off the court sooner than they think they should. I’ve been there, I get it. It feels productive to get up extra shots, but to be honest it doesn’t seem to help that much (at least not a lot in my experience). Understand that I’m not talking about avoiding extra work, just keeping it short and sweet. After a long practice the last thing you should do is kill yourself (mentally and physically) by spending another hour or two on the court. Instead spread it out over the week in short 15-30 minute sessions. Put in some quality work with a coach or teammate and then get off the court and recover. This will make you focus on getting something productive done since you only have a short time and it will keep you from throwing up 25 half court shots or seeing who can make the most ridiculous shot. You don’t get bonus points for making tough shots in games.
There you have it. 5 ways to balance your in-season training.
The stress for a player anticipating tryouts is crazy.
Some players have so much stress that they can’t even eat or sleep. If that’s you, read below to learn 7 tips on how you can guarantee yourself to make the best impression possible at your tryouts.
Do the following and you’ll be a BOSS on the court!
1) Communicate on defense. It’s self-explanatory, but if you are talking you’re a step ahead of almost everyone on the court. I used to tell my players to start by saying something – anything when you’re on the court. This will put you in the habit of talking. From there we will worry about what it is that you’re communicating, but typically it goes like this: help, screen, switch, shot, ball. Start there.
2) Paint The Floor With Your Shoes. This is a great tip I picked up from Dena Evans at PGC Basketball. If you made believe that you had paint on the bottom of your shoes you want to cover the entire court with paint. In other words, move your feet. The more you move your feet the more you’ll find yourself in the proper defensive position – great concept, I know.
3) Be in the best shape. The other day I got an email from an athlete who wanted to make sure he was prepared for tryouts. He wanted to know what he could do to give himself the best chance of making his team. Great question: condition. Be in the best shape of anyone at tryouts. I have posted previously about conditioning for basketball, but if you check out my video here you will get all of the drills and format for it for free. http://youtu.be/OPtPkY5U4B4
4) Arrive Early. There is nothing that draws negative attention to a player more than showing up right at the start of practice/tryouts. Someone who walks in while you’re speaking or ties their shoes while you’re covering the practice plan doesn’t exactly end up on your good side. That draws negative attention to you as a player that you definitely don’t want. If you have a bad habit of arriving late (or just on time), give yourself a cushion of extra time (try 30 minutes). Force yourself to stop whatever it is that you’re doing by that time and then reward yourself if you’re able to do so.
5) Start lifting. While I don’t consider 4-6 weeks an ideal starting point for strength training, there is no better time to start than right now. If you don’t start now, there is no way you will start during the season – this means that you won’t start lifting for at least another 4-5 months. I hate to sound like a broken record, but the bottom line is that you’re simply wasting your time if you don’t do something today. My number one regret from my basketball days were that I didn’t start lifting weights sooner (I started the summer after my junior season). So if you’re younger than me, you have a chance to make up for a mistake that I had. My UGTS has a built in in-season training template which means that you can start now and switch to the in-season training template without missing a beat.
6) Leave it all on the floor. Well, not literally – but kind of. It takes no skill at all to play hard, yet it’s one of the the most under utilized attributes in the game of basketball. Playing harder than other athletes is the most simple thing you can do. If you think it’s easy to do, you’re gonna be in for a rude awakening. Playing hard for 5 minutes or 10 minutes is challenging, but doing that for 2 or 3 hours is really hard. If you can do it though, you’ll make an impression on your coach that will leave you in good standing and blast you to the front of their mind.
7) Listen. I can live with a player making physical and even some mental mistakes may get a free pass. What won’t pass is not paying attention. When your coach talks, listen. When they ask you to do something, do it. One of my pet peeves is someone who isn’t paying attention when I talk. You have two ears and one mouth for a reason…
Make sure you take this chance to grab the bull by the horns and make the best impression in your upcoming tryouts. If you do these I guarantee that you’ll make the best impression that you can during your tryouts. Remember, you don’t want to regret any of your decisions!
There’s there awful rumor going around that basketball players don’t need to lift weights. Even worse, they think that lifting weights will make them big and bulky and destroy their Ray-Allen-esque jumpshot.
Believe it or not I’ve heard that excuse multiple times from various athletes, coaches, and parents:
“Jimmy/Suzy doesn’t need to lift heavy weights because they don’t need to get big. I just want them to work on their core, quickness, and jumping.”
Gotcha. The good news…I can do all of the above. In fact, I can do all of the above, while making your child stronger, more resilient to injury, and improve their athleticism. The bad news, I can do all of that but the fastest, most efficient way to get there is by lifting weights. And believe it or not, heavy weights.
Don’t Believe Everything That You Read (or hear)
I know you’ve probably heard that lifting heavy weights makes you big and bulky, and you don’t want to be big and bulky (or built like a football player). That’s ok. Lifting heavy weights doesn’t mean that you will directly get bigger. Lifting heavy weights only means that you’ll get stronger (ie create more force).
I’ve actually found that the number one weaknesss most basketball players have is, well, weakness. They simply aren’t strong enough. Don’t expect to get huge if you’re squatting with 25lb plates on the bar. Oh yeah, and that bench, don’t plan on your arms, chest, or shoulders growing to big with a couple dimes tossed on each side. Oh, you only care about improving your quickness and vert? Great, the only problem is that in order to jump higher or move faster you need to create more force – and in order to create more force you need to get stronger (ie lift weights).
What About Bodyweight?
Sure you can use bodyweight to improve strength. In fact, bodyweight works great in some instances. My only problem with it? It works better for athletes who don’t have the luxury of having access to big weights. If you have access to steel why not use it?
Some of my favorite strength movements are bodyweight movements. But, just because I like bodyweight movements, that doesn’t mean that avoid lifting heavy things. Bodyweight training is great for multiple things: getting the body warmed-up and loose; improving coordination; adding less stressful volume to a training program; developing movement patterns; and bridging the gap between the weight room and the court.
The list could be virtually endless, but here is a brief list of bodyweight movements that I have my athletes complete nearly everyday:
Lower Body – bodyweight squats, split squats, pistol squats, counter squats, SL elevated squats, glute-ham raises, and leg curl variations.
Upper Body – push-ups; handstand push-up variations; inverted row (horizontal pull-up); pull-ups/chin-up variations; I,Y,T,L variations for shoulder warm-up and function.
Lifting Heavy, Things.
The biggest difference I see in athletes who lift heavy weights versus those who believe that bodyweight only training is the answer is this: developing athletic strength in the weight room is and will carry over to bodyweight training more than bodyweight training will carry over to strength in the weight room. In addition, the most important carry over happens on the court. With a proper balance and blend of movements and weight, the carry over to the court is immense.
Here are a list of my favorite strength movements for basketball players: cleans, snatches, weighted jumps, squatting varitions (single and double leg), rowing varitions (barbell and DB), bench press, OH pressing, and arm/shoulder movements.
In order to help maximize the carryover and have a transfer of athleticism my recommendation is to continue to play basketball on a regular basis. It’s been my experience that players who continue to dribble, pass, and shoot don’t have any negative association with moving big weight.
I think that most coaches would agree that an athlete who is disciplined is an athlete who will most likely be successful.
Sure, you have to practice the correct skills and drills, but with all things being equal, the athlete who is disciplined to the do the ‘little’ things will win out most of the time.
I’ve talked about it before: routine makes habit.
My concern? Most of us are trying to discipline habit, not routine.
Ways to Make Things Routine:
1) Encourage ‘punch the clock’ workouts and training. Some of you are going to hate me for this and think I’m crazy (and that’s ok). I tell my athletes that there are times when you must simply show up, do the work, and move on. You won’t set any records, you won’t perform at your best, and sometimes it may even be what most would term a ‘bad’ day or training session.
So why are the ‘punch the clock’ workouts so important? Because they build routine. By building routine we build habits. By building habits we build success.
So next time you think that because you aren’t feeling good, or would rather do something else, simply show up and ‘punch the clock.’ Get in, get out. Don’t worry about makes and misses; don’t worry about how fast you completed an exercise, drill, or movement; and don’t worry about how much weight you lifted. Just do it. Because while you’re doing it (and building routine) others are simply skipping their training.
2) Complex is the enemy. In my daily life I try to simplify everything as much as possible. It’s hard because I’m a thinker – but it’s also necessary because it makes success much more possible.
I’ll be the first to tell you that advanced knowledge is far from simple. I’ll also be the first to tell you that the best coaches make the complex easy to understand. If you want to succeed, don’t make it complicated. This will often mean that you worry about as little as possible. For most athletes this should simply be completing their training programs. Don’t waste your time or energy on writing workouts, researching training, or finding the best drills. Instead have your coach, trainer, or parent take care of that for you.
Why waste 3 hours of your day looking for the best basketball drills you can put into a workout, when you could have someone else do that for you?
Find a training regimen (basketball, strength, and explosiveness) that works for you and then only worry about doing it. Whether you purchase a program like my UGTS or simply use something you’ve received from a coach is irrelevant to building routine or habit. The bottom line is that you have to do it for it to be effective. I am known for telling my athletes that the best training program in the world isn’t effective if you don’t do it.
3) Realistic. 2 hour weight training sessions and 4 hours of basketball are great, but if you can’t do it regularly without burnout or fatigue you’re going to crash and burn.
I hate to be ‘that guy,’ but honestly, someone who does shorter workouts more routinely is going to be leaps and bounds ahead of someone who goes HAM for 2 months and then falls apart and doesn’t train for a while. I’ve seen it happen first hand many times. The athlete who makes something routine wins.
This may mean that you have to shrink the time you commit to your game. Instead of trying to squeeze in 2-3 hours of gym time everyday, focus on 1hr of quality intense work. Try to get up as many shots as you can; incorporate ball handling into your shooting drills; and perhaps focus on conditioning, jumping, or agility as well. You’ll be amazed how much work you can get done if you focus for one hour straight.
If you have more time, take that extra time and work on other areas. I believe that every play who ever dreams of coming close to their potential or wants to play college basketball needs to do some form of performance training at least 2 days/week. Don’t waste your time training hard all summer with a trainer for $50-$100+/hr then do nothing for the fall months. That’s a waste of time and money. You’re much better off training 2 times a week for the entire year. Not only will you make more progress, but you’ll also build that routine which will lead the good habit of training.
Bottom line: shrink your training times to something that is realistic and you can maintain. That doesn’t meant that you can’t have intensificaiton periods where you go hard and train more – in fact it’s quite the opposite. This should allow you the energy and time to go at those intense periods with more focus and more discipline.
There you have it, 3 ways you can up your discipline and start making more progress on a regular basis. Forget hitting those plateaus in your training, with this approach you’re always getting better.
“Easy to dream a dream, though it’s harder to live it.” – Wale
I got a Wale kick this weekend and couldn’t stop listening to his song, “Ambition” with Rick Ross and Meek Mill. No matter if you love or hate rap/hip-hop you gotta give credit where credit is due. There hasn’t been a more appropriate line on ambition and success than the line above. It is easy to dream, but it’s much harder to make it a reality.
The bridge between dreaming and reality can be defined by ambition. Dictionary.com defines ambition as follows:
ambition – an earnest desire for some type of achievement, or distinction, as power, honor, fame, or wealth, and the willingness to strive for its attainment.
So the question isn’t if you want to be successful or not. The question is are you ambitious enough to get there?
Here are 3 tips to help turn your dream into reality.
1) Create a road map. No matter what you’re doing right now, I want you to grab a blank piece of paper, a napkin, or anything you can find that you can write on. Got it, good. Next, I want you to get a pen, pencil, chalk, I don’t care as long as it writes and can make markings on your paper. Write down all of the goals you think you want to accomplish in the next 5 or so years. I don’t care how many goals it is. It may be 5, maybe 10, maybe 35. What’s most important is to get them down on paper.
If you’re having trouble of thinking of goals, don’t worry, at first it’s often overwhelming to people to get a more concrete idea of what they’re trying to do and where they’re trying to go. Maybe it’s a goal of playing college sports, maybe it’s an academic goal, maybe it’s to build muscle or lose fat, improve your vertical – whatever your goals put them down.
Next I want you to group together all of your ‘like’ or ‘similar’ goals. Anything that is related should be grouped together (start a separate list for this). If you have basketball goals, all of those should be together. If you have fitness goals those should be together, etc.
This will become your road map. Those goals are where you want to go. The next step is to find the best path to get there.
2) Find the Path. Having a list of goals is great. It’s the first step to becoming successful. However, it takes knowing exactly where you plan on going in order to get there.
One of the first things athletes ask me is what to do if they don’t know where to go or what to do to get there? Great question. If you’re lost for direction, ask yourself what single goal would have the most impact on reaching your goal. Meaning, if you could only work toward achieving one thing everyday, what one thing would keep moving you closer and closer toward your goal?
Maybe you’re a 5’7,” 150 lb, point guard and your goal is to play college basketball. Great goal. In order for college coaches to show interest in you, you need to show that your size isn’t a negative. This means that you must be able to do all great things a PG does despite your size: be a leader, finish plays at the rim, see the floor, handle the basketball, control the flow of the game, etc. Looking at all of those skills and attributes, what is your current weakness or issue? Maybe you can’t defend other teams bigger, strong guards? Or maybe you’re not quick enough to get into the lane and dish the ball. If either or both of these were the case you could automatically change both areas simply by getting on a proper training program. A program that is geared towards helping an undersized PG improve both strength and quickness will do just that.
You need to take your list of goals from above and take a look at each of the groupings. Looking at those goals, you need to figure out what goals will lead to the other goals. This means that goals build upon each other and work to support each other. After you look at the goals I want you to rewrite them in the order of importance (just like I talked about in the paragraph above). The first goal listed is going to become your priority for your daily actions (outlined below).
If you’re still unsure of what direction or path you should take, ask a knowledgeable coach or trainer who is willing to tell you exactly what you need to do to get there.
3) Make Daily Progress. In my ebook, UnLimited, I talk about the concept of little victories. Little victories are basically achieving small goals that will help you reach your larger ones. It’s very important for your mental state to make sure that you’re seeing progress on a daily basis.
Last night I sat in front of the TV chilling out and eating some grub. As I was flipping through the channels I happened to see that Tony Robbins was on QVC. If you don’t know who Tony Robbins is, he’s a self-help, success guru who has worked with everyone from CEO’s of huge companies to the top professional athletes. Now, I don’t normally watch QVC, as a matter of fact I never watch QVC, but I’m a fan of Tony Robbins. Love him or hate him, the man has reached and inspired action in a LOT of people. One key point that Robbins talked about in people being happy wasn’t money, fame, or their physical appearance; it was about their ability to make progress.
There is no sure fire way to see more success in a shorter period of time than to get closer to reaching your goals. That’s why it’s so important to have clearly defined goals and goals that you can break down to achieve daily success. This means that everyday you get up, you need to make progress towards your goal(s). If you’re unsure of what your actions should be, ask yourself this question: “Will this activity help get me towards my daily goal.” If it does, it’s a good action, if it doesn’t you should question your choices.
So I will go back to my first statement in the article: the question isn’t if you want to be successful or not. The question is are you ambitious enough to get there?