Approach To Summer Basketball Training

There really is no such thing as an off-season in basketball anymore, but what you accomplish when school is out will determine how well you perform with your club team during the viewing period and with your high school team next winter. Today we offer a four-step process of how to set up your personal training program.

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By Tom Marumoto

The summer is a critical time period of your athletic life. You can either dramatically distance yourself or gain ground on the competition by further developing your fundamental basketball skills, team play, strength conditioning, and competitiveness. While some student-athletes consider the “off-season” a time to rest and play with their club team to gain exposure and scholarship opportunities, it is the best time of the year to get an edge.

To maximize this time of the never-ending cycle of basketball training, carefully construct an off-season regimen. A successful program requires the following:

1. Object Of Desire
You need to decide at you want to do. By that I mean, what levels of success do you wish to achieve? If you love basketball and truly wish to reach your potential, then you must be willing to go for it and put in the necessary time achieve your goals. You do no want to look back on your career and say, “Oh, I wish I had done this and that.” Remember, there are people out there who are working harder than the rest. Be one of those few.

Stanley Johnson's work ethic helped him become one of the nation's best players the past two years. Photo: Brian Spurlock-McDonalds

Stanley Johnson’s work ethic helped him become one of the nation’s best players the past two years. Photo: Brian Spurlock-McDonalds

2. Analysis Of Strengths And Weaknesses
Talk with your high school or/and club coach and discuss your overall game. It’s important to be candid and tell them you want an honest opinion, even if it might hurt your feelings a bit. If it’s not possible to talk to one of your coaches, then ask someone who you know to be knowledgeable about basketball and doesn’t have a vested interested whether or not you make it to college or pro ball. You also need to analyze your game yourself.

Determine which areas of your game need the most work and which need “maintenance.” This analysis will help you outline a workout schedule that maximizes your time. NBA great Magic Johnson said that he would try to add a new dimension to his game every off-season. Go check out his free throw shooting percentage and how it got better towards the end of his career if you need proof. You should attempt to do the same and get better each season.

3. A Practice Plan
A practice plan is a projection of how you can get from point A to point B as efficiently as possible. It’s like a map that gives you direction and helps you stay on course. A practice plan consists of two elements: a workout schedule and goal-setting.

The first part of the practice plan is to develop a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly workout schedule. It is important to prioritize your skill weaknesses and then develop the schedule accordingly. The areas that need the most improvement will obviously require the most time. You should vary your routine. Do not try to cover every aspect of the game in one day; there is too much to cover. To get the best results, you must do many repetitions.

The second part of the practice plan is goal-setting. Goals keep you mentally focused, eliminate summer boredom, maintain competitive drive, ad motivates you to consistently work hard. The lack of goals is commonly the most neglected aspect of a training program. You need to have some desired end in sight. Perhaps you want to be a varsity by your junior year, or earn all-league, receive a D2 scholarship, or play professional basketball. Desires will obviously vary, but you need to have your sights set on the “prize.”

You need to set preliminary goals to help you get to the level you want to achieve. For example, for an shooting guard, your goals could be to shoot 55 percent from the field, 85 percent from the line, score 18 points per game, have four assists, two steals and play tough defense. Keep in mind that all the offensive goals should be compatible with your team’s offense.

When you work on your shooting form and gets reps in, periodically keep track of your percentages. Try to shoot at minimum 15 percent higher in practice than your season goal, because when someone defends you, the percentages will fall. Learning to apply what you practice with a defender on you is probably the most important aspect of your training program. Some guys look great in a workout and either fall back into old habits during the game or can’t do it under pressure. If you can do it under pressure, you’ll rapidly become a better player.

Once you have attained the proper form in your shooting and are comfortable with your ball-handling and movements on the court, it is extremely important to practice these skills at game speed. Work on your explosiveness, change of direction and change of pace while dribbling. For shooting, it is important to get your shot from the pocket to its release point as quickly as possible. Do not just go through the motions. “Half-speed” will only get you so far in life.

4. Commitment And Work Ethic
Commitment is necessary in maintaining anything you. Since you’ve decided to become a better basketball player, the next step is to stick to the practice schedule. Consistency in your training will yield the best results. Through tenacity, you’ll also develop a good work ethic that will be with your forever. It will pay off in other aspects of your life, too.

It is important to not only work hard, but to practice smart. Use your time wisely so you get the most out of each training session. Through repetition and time, the various skills you work on will become second nature. You have to realize it is not just practice, but the pursuit of perfect practice that will help develop your skills quickly. Be willing to seek help, change your bad habits and be patient because nothing comes easily.

Remember, the foundation of everything that is good for your game is fundamental skills. It will demand a lot of desire, determination, perseverance and hard work to master the skills you need to improve the most. The end result will be: 1) enhanced individual skill level 2) effective team play 3) increased confidence.

Make sure to use the summer to your advantage. Don’t just play a bunch of pick-up ball without a purpose. Have a passion to reach your full potential. As General Patton once said, “Accept the challenges, so that you may feel the exhilaration of victory.”

Editor’s Note: This was originally published in the December ’94 edition of Student Sports Magazine and has been slightly edited to reflect basketball terminology changes of the past 20 years. Tom Marumoto is an individual skills basketball coach in Orange County, Calif. Many of his students have become professional and/or college players and are generally known for their high scoring ability. For more information on Marumoto and his basketball academy, please visit marumotobasketball.com.


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