Thinking Through your Off-Season

When I think about what makes a great basketball player a lot comes to mind, but seldom do I find myself thinking about strength first.

To me the question is, are you the “right” kind of strong?

Maybe it’s just the way my mind works, but I tend to categorize today’s players into two buckets, either super skilled or super athletic (can’t overlook basketball IQ). The special players are the rare few that combine these qualities with a relentless will. As you build your ‘Off-Season’ planner it’s important to look at the big picture and what is best for the long-term development of your players as well as your program. Obviously not all players are super skilled or super athletic. That’s why off-season training is so important to the development of players at every level from the preps to the pro’s.

Many players are STRONG enough to perform a move, but not SKILLED enough or SKILLED enough, but not STRONG enough.

I’ve spent the last decade of my life working with basketball players, coaches and parents who all want to know how to get stronger, put on weight, get quicker, more explosive and improve overall athleticism. Questions range from, ‘when should we start?’ to ‘what should should I eat?’, to ‘will it stunt my players growth?’

So what should a strength training program for basketball players look like?

Key take aways:
1. Start with the end in mind – What do you want to get our of your training?
2. S.A.I.D. Principle – Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands
3. My checklist Mobility, Mechanics, Muscles, (Integrated) Movement

Let’s unpack the above for some reference on where I’m coming from.
Players – What do my players need?
Program – What does our program need?
Progression – How will we progress? Long Term Athletic Development – Am I putting our players in the best position to succeed.

In this specific article we are dealing with building ‘Off-Season Training for Basketball Players’

My checklist goes like this…
1. Do they have the mobility to move the right way? Are they restricted in anyway that will hold back our training? When building off-season training programs the fist thing that you should look for is how your players move. Do the have any limitations in what they can do because they physically lack the mobility to get into certain positions? In a previous article I talked about the Functional Movement Screen and the insights it may give players and coaches. Basically, you want to be sure that your players can move pain free, efficiently and effectively. In essence, can they squat, lunge, reach, rotate, and perform all the movement essential to the game of basketball.

2. Do they know and understand the mechanics of the movements? Are they technically sound?
Whether players are in the weight room or on the court maximizing moment is a must. I always want players putting themselves in the best position to move and produce power when needed.

3. How can we improve the muscular system to improve performance?
Train for a specific and exact response. You get what you train for. If all you do is run, you might want to sign-up for the next track meet, because that’s where you’ll have the most success. All kidding aside really think about what you want from your training for your players.

4. Does what we’re doing translate to basketball?
Specificity – If it doesn’t translate to basketball we’re wasting our time. The integration of all that we’ve talked about is the culmination of great training program. It doesn’t have to be fancy or time consuming, it has to be effective. I’ve visited some of the major universities in the nation and have found that they do the fundamentals extremely well. They teach players how to master movement to maximize power.

Strength training will not make you a better player, it will make you play better. Big difference.

First let’s take a look at the big picture. In a classic periodization model there are specific training cycles where the stimulus changes for a specific response. Just in case you’ve missed previous articles here is an overview of what this year looked like for us. This would change slightly depending on when the season actually begins and ends and is always subject to change according to what would benefit our players most. The most important thing to understand is that this is a live document that I reference and tweak daily or as needed. It is not set in stone, in fact our Off-Season will begin much sooner than indicated this year.

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Macrocycle – The whole year
Mesocycle – The actual training cycle or phase within a segment of training
Microcycle – Typically weeks of the program phase throughout the year

Our first order of business is to test players, we want as much pertinent information as possible. For us this is anthropometrics, movement, and performance capabilities. This gives us the ability to build programs accruing to player needs as well as gives players the objective feedback they need to set goals. For example, our first “Mesocycle” will be based on building a great foundation, which means we will be focusing on form and function with an emphasis in mobility as stated above. To elicit this response we will put a premium on working through a full-range of motion, controlling movement and our intensity will be low, but our volume will be high.

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As always if we can help in any way, please feel free to contact us at anytime.

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