For youth basketball players, the offseason remains a time for personal improvement. You want to get bigger, stronger, and faster for your upcoming season. You also want to develop those important skills to take your game to the next level. To improve during your basketball offseason, you’ll need focus and a clear plan.
Summer remains a pivotal part of the season for more than just the coaches looking to make the most of the offseason. It’s during spring and summer where developing players can sharpen their basketball skills ahead of tryouts in the fall and the winter’s regular season.
While there are ways to maximize training, when looking to improve during your basketball offseason, you should consider these five key areas.
Rest and Recover
Following the end of your basketball year, the first step to improve during the offseason is to rest and recover. This remains especially true if you sustained an injury during the season. However, even if you made it through your schedule without getting hurt, your body still needs time to recuperate.
Coming off an injury, it’s important to check in with your doctor to see if you’re healthy enough to compete in summer league or AAU basketball. The last thing you want to do is aggravate a pre-existing injury which could harm your availability for the coming season.
Heading into your basketball offseason, one of the best ways to improve is to take a timeout. Don’t jump right in to strength training and conditioning. Shift your focus to another hobby or outlet. After a period of rest and recovery, even consider playing another sport to help further develop your body.
Strength Training to Improve This Basketball Offseason
Th next key area to improve during this basketball offseason is strength training. No matter your current level, working on your body can only help your performance. This is especially true if you’re playing up a level in youth basketball. And ideal offseason development program sees three days of strength training per week.
A full-body workout three times a week stands as perhaps the best way to improve during the basketball offseason. A program of this style provides more volume that a normal “arm day” and “leg day” split. Doing a full-body routine three times weekly allows for greater development at a more consistent pace. You should be focused on growing your muscles at this point.
Make sure your workout program starts with a decent warm up exercise to get your blood flowing. From there, consider the following exercises to help you improve this basketball offseason. Some of the best exercises for this include Goblet Squats, Dumbbell Bench Press, Pull-Ups, Standing Overhead Press, and Bicep Curls.
Your routine should include three sets of a weight you can handle with good form. Consider eight to 12 reps per exercise. Rest a minute between sets. As you progress through your program, add weight once you notice you can complete 12 reps with good form. The ideal schedule to improve this basketball offseason sees you workout on three, non-consecutive days per week. (Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday, for example.)
Skills to Improve This Basketball Offseason: Ball Handling
Ball handling stands as one of the most important skills for basketball players at any level. So, it makes sense that to improve this offseason, you work on your handle. Developing a solid dribbling routine helps maximize your improvement efforts, especially since you don’t need a gym to practice this skill.
A good place to start with ball handling skills is control. Make sure you can manipulate the ball equally well with both hands in stationary dribbling exercises. To level up in this process, add a second ball to your stationary work. This improves awareness, control, and focus. Another exercise to incorporate is dribbling with one hand while tossing a tennis ball with the other.
Once your stationary work is compete, move on to ball handling drills on the move. Use cones if you have them and weave up and down a set space. Progress to crossovers, pull-backs, and back-the-back dribble moves. Incorporate hesitation moves as well. Once you’ve got that down, add more advanced dribbling practice.
Skills to Improve This Basketball Offseason: Shooting
The next step in your offseason program to improve for your next basketball season is shooting. If you want to see the floor consistently next season, you must be able to knock down shots when you’re open. Your ability and position should dictate some of the aspects to your shooting regimen.
Each shooting workout should consist of at least 100 jumpers. These shot attempts should be spread out to different areas of the floor, but it’s important to get shots up. Shooting is a repetitive motion, so you’re developing muscle memory with each workout. Work on developing rhythm to your shot attempts, focusing on repeating good form. Step into your shots with proper footwork. Remember, bring your weak side foot forward first.
Make sure your shot attempts come from spaces on the floor you would find yourself in a game. It makes little sense to perfect a post game if your coach never sets you there. If you can partner with a teammate for rebounding and passing, that might make things simpler. This also help with catch-and-shoot practice.
Finish your shooting workout with a set of at least 20 free throws. Make sure you repeat the same motion and routine to perfect your form.
Agility and Conditioning
As your basketball season draws closer, it’s time to incorporate agility and conditioning drills. These exercises help you improve during the offseason and give you a head start for the next basketball season. Don’t double up agility and condition with your strength training. These exercises should come on those days you’re not working through your strength training program.
One good agility drill to try is called the “Lane Agility Test.” This begins with you on the left elbow of the floor. Start by sprinting from the free throw elbow to the baseline. From there, laterally shuffle to the right lane line. Then, backpedal to the free throw line. Finally, laterally shuffle to your original starting point.
Complete this exercise at least three times. Make sure you’re facing the baseline throughout each rep. Don’t shift or lean your shoulders. Try to complete each rep as quickly as possible.
When you shift your focus to condition, consider High Intensity Interval Training. If you’ve been working to improve throughout the basketball offseason, you should be in pretty good shape at this point.
For this exercise, start on one baseline and sprint the length of the court to the opposite baseline. Turn and sprint back to complete the first rep. One set of this exercise includes four reps, or four sprints up and back. As you continue through your program, add more sets to this training exercise. But don’t forget to include a rest time, ideally 45 seconds, between sets.