8 Things All Basketball Players Must Do in the Off-Season

offseasonBecoming a good basketball player requires dedication, hard work, and discipline during your team’s season of play. With that said, actions taken during the off-season can be just as, if not more important, to any athlete’s overall development. Here at Hoop Group, a full-service company devoted to helping young people improve basketball skills through instruction, competition, and exposure, we invite players, parents and coaches to read the following; Eight key steps competitors should engage in during the off-season to maximize their basketball skills training.

Pinpoint Skills That Need Improvement

This might be difficult for some of us to hear, but improving requires identifying areas of our game in which improvement is needed. We can accomplish this task by speaking with our coaches and others whose opinions we value and/or have some knowledge about basketball.

Relax And Unwind

As soon as the season ends, we should reward ourselves with some time off. This multi-week respite will not only give our bodies time to rest, but will allow any nagging injuries the opportunity to heal.  This provides us with a mental recess where we can reflect upon the past season and prepare ourselves for the challenges that lay ahead.

Commit To A Training Program

When we are away from the game for a time, we risk morphing out of shape. Any off-season training program should focus on retaining strength and keeping fit. Above all, exercise programs should focus on improving the cardiovascular endurance vital to becoming a successful basketball player.

Do Not Neglect Schoolwork Or Other Responsibilities

Unless we are performing at the professional level, we will always have other important responsibilities, most notably academics. Under certain circumstances, student athletes might be required to maintain a specific grade point average to play competitive sports. Regardless, becoming better students can help us transform into better athletes because we learn how to allocate our time and create balance.

Attend A Camp Or Off-Season League

As athletes, we need to maintain a competitive edge and continue to hone our skills during the off-season. This can be accomplished by attending such gatherings as sleepaway basketball camps, joining a summer youth basketball league or attending various basketball clinics.

Master The Art Of Shooting

The ability to score is the foundation for personal and team success. Good scorers are even better shooters. The off-season is the perfect time for us to improve our shot. Good shooters are those who can drain baskets from short or long ranges and release the ball quickly.

Remember Basketball Is A Game

As competitive as many of us are, and as much as we yearn to improve our skill set, it is important to remember that basketball is still a game that should always be fun. Therefore, we should engage in friendly games or just go out and shoot merely for the pure enjoyment of the game.

Take One More Quick Rest

About a week or so before the new season begins, take several days to rest, reflect, and prepare for the new season.

With these tips in mind, take advantage of your next off-season and prepare yourself for the season ahead of you!

The Importance of Ball Handling in Basketball

After giving up an easy layup, the scoring team runs back lethargically to get their defense into position. The ball is quickly inbounded to the point guard and rolls down the court, before being snatched by the floor general at the tempo of a slow crawl. Should the point guard push to take advantage of a temporary lapse in the defense, or is this lapse a decoy designed for a quick snare? Regardless of the decision, the fate of the play lies in the tempo of the primary ball handler. And the tempo, of course, is dictated by the ball-handling itself.

The Subtleties of Ball-Handling

Often times, ball-handling drills are emphasized but the theory behind why is neglected. One reason for this is that ball-handling is quite abroad category; ball-handling can encompass dribbling, catching the ball, releasing it for a pass, or for flashy purposes to dupe the opponent.  Fundamentally, the main reasons that we work on our ball-handling are to build strength in our hands and to increase hand/eye coordination. These drills also keep the muscles in our hands loose, which helps prevent cramping up in late game situations.  In our quest to get better at basketball, improving in this area will also improve other areas of our game — since hand/eye coordination lends itself to so many facets.

Dribbling

Once we have enhanced the strength in our hands, we move on to one of (if not the most) important factors of ball-handling: dribbling. Obviously, having sound dribbling skills is crucial to a ball-handler’s success. Dribbling allows us to artfully move around our opponent — setting up separation and space to either create our own shot or to set up a play for a teammate.  Our dribbling skills also help us dictate the flow of the game. With dexterous ball-handling, we have the ability to change our pace multiple times when attacking the basket. Introductory handling drills are stressed to be of paramount importance in all basketball training programs.

Inspiration for Ball-Handling

When we look at teams such as the Golden State Warriors or the San Antonio Spurs, we witness a beautifully constructed system that is similar to a musical orchestra. The source of this soundness lies in a team that has multiple playmakers, and thus, multiple ball-handlers.  The fact is, the game of basketball has evolved quite a bit over the recent years. No longer do all of the ball-handling duties lie in a single point-guard or floor general on a team. Instead, we are witnessing the trend of a positionless game where even centers and forwards will push the ball up the floor to create plays with their ball-handling skills.

Quite simply, ball-handling is important because of versatility. And versatility is an excellent trait to have in our continually evolving game. These skills can be improved at a basketball academy such as Core Skills Training, where players will work on a variety of offensive skills alongside ball-handling.

Top AAU Tournaments for Recruiting

For more than a half-century, Hoop Group has been an undisputed leader in basketball skills instruction as well as the premier venue for showcasing the very best amateur teams and talent, while offering many other basketball-related services. Besides featuring the absolute ‘cream of the crop’ among high school hoopsters, Hoop Group has also featured  legendary players such as: Lou Carnesecca, Al McGuire, Geno Auriemma, Jim Valvano, Rollie Massimino, Dean Smith, Pat Summitt, and Bob Hurley, Sr., as instructors/lecturers at various basketball clinics, training camps, and AAU tournaments.

Headquartered in Neptune, New Jersey, Hoop Group’s long proven record of providing the very best in basketball instruction, competition, and exposure is unmatched. The number of young men and women who’ve been positively impacted by the company’s mission over fifty plus years is well in excess of a million, and among its alumni is a ‘Who’s Who’ list of All-Americans, NBA Draft Lottery picks (including No. 1 picks Dwight Howard, John Wall, Kyrie Irving, Markelle Fultz), NBA All-Stars, and even Hall of Famers (Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Julius Erving, Moses Malone, David Thompson, Nancy Lieberman, Ann Meyers, and Charles Barkley). Currently, there are more than 200 Hoop Group alumni on NBA and WNBA rosters.

Undeniably, the lifeblood of college athletics is recruiting, and perhaps the sport in which recruiting is most impactful, is basketball. Unlike college football and baseball, one or more 5-star, blue chip basketball recruit(s) can transform a ‘good’ team into a championship contender immediately. Players such as Louisville’s Pervis Ellison (1986), Syracuse’s Carmelo Anthony (2003), Kentucky’s Anthony Davis (2012), and Duke’s Jahlil Okafor (2015) are evidence of this, with each playing pivotal roles in leading their schools to national championships in their freshman seasons.

With potentially elite players being recognized earlier and earlier, the competition among coaches for landing top prospects has also ramped up considerably. Where once the primary recruiting period took place during the traditional high school season (late fall through winter), the dramatic increase in AAU basketball tournaments, summer basketball camps, and basketball exposure camps has transformed recruiting into a year-round pursuit. There are advantages to this development, especially for college recruiters. The best players are competing with and against the ‘best’, giving college coaches an ‘up-close-and-personal’ insight into such intangibles as teamwork, maturity level, and composure, while having multiple top prospects in one location is an obvious ‘win-win’ on every level, for both coaches and players.

Hoop Group’s history in providing top-notch youth basketball training for boys and girls of all ages is unsurpassed, and their success record in the area of player development is almost staggering, with more than 75% of attendees either receiving college scholarships and/or competing at the collegiate level. Hoop Group’s reputation is also supported by the fact that nearly 1,000 college coaches/recruiters and recruiting services are regularly in attendance at their showcase exposure events and tournaments.

Best Training Plan to Maximize Basketball Performance

For over a century, basketball has captivated our athletic senses in a dynamic fashion. Part of what makes the game so unique compared to other sports is the “stop and go” rhythm of the game that forces its participants to strategize their next explosive movement and plan of attack. The tempo of basketball is ever-changing and the different plays reflect a team’s technique in dictating the pace of the game. When attempting to design a training plan to improve performance, much of our thought process is guided by this framework.

Fitness

For starters, cardiovascular fitness is of utmost importance when doing practice drills to improve your performance. Before we decide to play, it is crucial that we work on drills that promote agility, flexibility, and quick lateral movement for both the offensive and defensive end. These movements allow us to become better defenders and by becoming better defenders, we help our team control the overall tempo of the game in our favor.

Endurance and Recovery

Endurance plays a key role in our ability to play with a consistent energy level throughout the game, but it is not the only factor of our training plan. Another variable that is often overlooked is our ability to recover from quick “spurts” with flexibility and renewed dynamism. The ability to stop, refresh, and reinitiate our muscles “take-off” mechanism with fluidity plays a large role in our ability to pace ourselves throughout the game. This is the reason that drills are often followed up by a quick stretching period for rejuvenation.

Exercises

With this in mind, here are a few exercises that will help you in your quest to get better at basketball:

  1. The Glute Bridge – A lower body exercise designed to improve explosive movements in the game.
  2. Dumbbell Press – This basic strength training exercise not only improves the chest but builds strength in the lats which improves the dexterity of your shot.
  3. Front Squat- Designed to keep your core solid, this exercise will promote balance and equilibrium in the game.
  4. Jump Rope – As silly as it sounds, a simple jump rope can be one of your most effective tools in building your cardiovascular fitness and endurance.

Building these workout drills early on in a player’s basketball career will promote good habits and decrease the likelihood of injury. Many of these training drills are covered in Mike Rice Workouts, a twice-a-week program that builds a disciplined training regime for all participants. In this program, both offensive and defensive drills are emphasized, and being trained in both areas will be useful for switching stances with fluidity throughout the game.

Lifting

While agility and having a strong core are great starters, we should not downplay the importance of weight lifting and maximizing your raw strength either. As Myron Medcalf of ESPN reports, “strength training long ago used to be perceived as ruining a basketball player’s shot” but is now blended into a diverse routine that is used in many aspects of the game — depending on the basketball player’s goals, position, and aspirations.

Therefore, building a consistent shooter’s form with a strong core baseline will ensure that we optimize every player’s potential before taking on their first challenge on the court. An efficient youth basketball camp will promote these skills and the connections between each area while promoting a productive overview of how the game works as a whole.

Improving Your 3-Point Shooting with a Successful Offense

In today’s NBA, many of the professional teams that are competitive contenders year in and year out have four main offensive qualities, which are vital to a successful postseason run.

Rebounding

The first quality in learning how to get better at basketball on the offensive end is rebounding. Offensive rebounds are very important because they give your team more possessions and opportunities to score after failed attempts at field goals. Offensive rebounds also reset the shot clock, which helps the team control the time of possession in the game.

Passing

The second main quality of effective basketball skills training on offense is passing. Greg Popovich, head coach of the San Antonio Spurs is the engineer of a tested and successful offensive system that is predicated on unselfish play. Passing on offense disrupts defensive schemes, thoroughly utilizes the shot clock, and eventually leads to well-assisted, high-percentage shots that the team can depend on. Also, if an offensive play breaks down due to double or triple-teams by the opposing defense, making that extra pass can work wonders.

Ball Screening

The third main quality of an effective offense is ball screening. Setting screens is a valuable skill that is taught in basketball clinics when children are enjoying their first years of playing the sport. There are a number of good reasons why setting clean ball screens is important. One reason is that good player movement on offense can throw a defense off guard and force help on that side of the ball. If the opposition’s defensive anchor is not communicating well, offenses can take advantage of it.

Setting great ball screens is usually even more effective if some type of activity is happening before the screen is set, which causes the opposing team’s power forward or center to leave their spot on the floor to rove behind the play.

3-Point Shooting

The fourth and final main quality of a successful basketball offensive is 3-point shooting. 3-pointers are a big plus because they obviously put more points on the board when they are scored consistently at a high rate during any given game.

When you look at today’s professional league, the great teams who put themselves in a great position to compete for a championship every year are the teams who have a collective 3-point field goal total that hovers around 40%. Really great 3-point shooters who have great individual percentages from behind the arc are very valuable teammates to have in today’s era. Players from the past, such as Reggie Miller and Ray Allen were excellent 3-point shooters.

Currently, NBA players like Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Kyle Korver can dominate games with their uncanny ability to score 3-pointers consistently, against any defense. However, the best shots are the ones that are taken and made without a defender in sight. Getting to this point involves doing all the other things (offensive rebounding, passing, and ball screening) consistently.

Improving your 3-point shooting involves practice on a regular basis. The most successful professional players will tell you that there’s no premium you can put on shooting that ball behind the arc countless times a day during practice. Great shooting is also about body positioning and developing a shooting style that you use every time you attempt a shot. Like any other attempt, you have to have a great release and follow through.

If you’re interested in improving your offensive skills and developing your 3-point shooting, choose a youth basketball camp that’s dedicated to bring players to the next level.  Keeping these things in mind, you’ll be defeating competition in no time.