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.


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.

4 Flaws Behind Lavar Ball’s Big Baller Brand League

Stop me if you’ve head this before: Lavar Ball is in the news. The self proclaimed Big Baller announced this week he will be launching his own professional league for high school players who do not want to attend college for a year. The league would ideally, in Ball’s eyes, consist of ten teams, with eight players each. Each player would make anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000.

Like most things that come out of Lavar’s mouth, the league was heavily criticized by the basketball world. First off, I know this is just a ploy to get his two other sons playing in a “professional” league on American soil. That said, I don’t think the idea is a crazy one, but I do think there are flaws in the way from making this league a hit. Let’s look at four reasons the Big Baller League won’t work out.

Competition Level

Ball says this league is designed to jump start players’ careers. He thinks it will be easy to attract talent, but I disagree. Playing in the BBB League won’t be much different than playing in high school. More often than not, the best prospects already face off either in high school tournaments and showcases, or on the AAU circuit. If the best high school players go to this league, we’re not seeing if they are ready for the next level. The point of going to college is to see if a freshman is able to play at the speed of the college game, against older, more mature competition.

G League/One-and-Done Rule

Another factor is the progress the NBA is making in their developmental league, as well as their openness to altering the one and done rule. For one, if Adam Silver decides to eliminate the rule, Lavar’s league loses all excitement around it. He would not attract the top talent, that top talent would go to the league. It would be near impossible to field 80 players that would make fans excited. In addition, the NBA has gone to great lengths to develop to G League into a place where players can grow and mature, while being close to a NBA franchise. The players may not have the exposure of a prime time college game, or even Lavar’s league, but they are working with a NBA franchise. That cannot be topped in terms of developing.

Roster Size

Another thing to consider is the size of every team. Eight players is not enough to field a basketball team for a season. If we’re playing glorified pick up games from week-to-week then sure. But if this is going to be an actual league for players to showcase themselves, it needs to be legitimate. To play at an elite level, you need to be able to rotate more than eight players on a given night. What happens with foul trouble? Eight is not enough, and I don’t think he will be able to field ten teams of ten.

College Coaches

The last reason Lavar’s league won’t work for the premiere prospects is the knowledge they can learn from college coaches. Would Joel Embiid have developed so quickly had he not gone to Bill Self’s School of Bigs? Would the BBB League really get players more ready for the NBA than John Calipari does? Does anyone in the BBB League have the wealth of knowledge  that Krzyzewski, Izzo, Boeheim, Beilein and Williams do? The answer is no. Maybe you’re not making the money (save your pay for play jokes) but you can’t put a price on playing for a Hall of Fame coach before you go to the NBA. In many cases, playing for them will only help you make more money in the long run.

Lavar Ball is a marketing genius. He convinced people to buy a pair of sneakers for $500. He is literally talking his sons, and his brand, into existence. His idea is not insane by any means. Is the BBB League better than playing in, I don’t know, Lithuania? Absolutely. But for the real blue chip players, there are better options and better ways to market yourself to NBA teams. Lavar Ball is definitely the type of guy capable of running a league. However, that league is probably closer to the XFL than any league for high school basketball prospects.

Top HS Basketball Opening Weekend Matchup

New Jersey high school basketball is saturated with talent this season. With names like Cam Reddish, Scottie Lewis, Bryan Antoine and Jabri Abdur-Rahim going at each other, this year is one of the most anticipated season for basketball junkies. One matchup you do not want to overlook is  Gil St. Bernard’s Paul Mulcahy and Shawnee’s Dean Noll.

We had an opportunity to see the two play in Hoop Group’s Fall High School Showcase a couple months ago where both had two of the most notorious plays of the weekend. Mulcahy pulled out a victory for Gill at the buzzer against the powerhouse of the weekend, Westtown. Over the weekend, he was going at players, attacking the rim and seeking contact every chance he had. Mulcahy finished the weekend in double digits during both Gil’s games.

Dean Noll got some love on social media after he threw down a dunk for Shawnee against Rutger’s Prep. A standout on the weekend, making good decisions and getting his teammates involved.

When we asked Mulcahy about Gil’s game against Shawnee Sunday, this is what he had to say…

“The Shawnee game should be exiting. They’re a tough team and very well coached. It will be a good test for us at the beginning of the season.”

Mulcahy’s and Noll’s play around the rim and tireless work ethic should make for an entertaining matchup.

Read our full Q and A with Paul bellow.

How have you improved since last season?
“I’m way more confident in my game. I can effect a game in ways other than just scoring. My shot has gotten a lot better. As well, I am getting stronger and more athletic.”


What’s your mindset when you step out on the court?
“WIN. I could care less about statistics. I want to win every game. If somebody out works me for 32 minutes, then hats off to them.”


You have a few new guys in the rotation… how’s that transition been and what do they add for you guys?
“Khalif and Peter add two new weapons to our team. Khalif will help us with scoring from all three levels and he is also a big guard like myself. Peter is unique because of his length. Defensively, it alters his game and he is able to block a lot of shots. He can be a dominant big for us as the season goes on.”


New Jersey and the ’18 class have had a lot of attention thrown their way. How do you stay focused on winning and improving?
“New Jersey has a lot of talent. I feel like the high school season is were you really prove yourself. It’s fun to compete against other kids form New Jersey, especially the guards. I want to beat the best, not just play against them.”


Game against Shawnee in a high profile opening tournament on Sunday. What’s your expectation for the event?
“The Shawnee game should be exiting. They’re a tough team and very well coached. It will be a good test for us at the beginning of the season. I am happy Hoop Group has this tournament each year. It’s a good way to feel out where everybody is in the state.”

NJ.com | Boys Basketball Preview: 24 Can’t-miss Games for Opening Weekend

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2017 Hoop Group Toy Drive Basketball Clinic

All toys will be donated to K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital

through Shore Children’s Dental Care’s “Give a Smile” campaign

Coaches Mike Rice, Tiny Green, James Cooper Jr, Austin Kelley, Zack Curran and Cooper Handelsman with our players at Hoop Group’s first Annual Holiday Toy Drive Basketball Clinic.

On December 12th, Hoop Group hosted its first Annual Holiday Toy Drive Basketball Clinic. Players who attended brought a toy to donate to the K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital and received a Hoop Group basketball clinic. Former division 1 coaches Mike Rice and Tiny Green volunteered to lead the workout with the help of Hoop Group Elite’s Austin Kelley, Zack Curran and Cooper Handelsman. Hoop Group Headquarters also shared coupons for one FREE Mike Rice or Tiny Green workout with those who donated toys to Shore Children’s Dental Care.

Hoop Group’s Holiday Toy Drive Basketball Clinic collected over 300 toys for the K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital. On December 23rd, Amy from Shore Children’s Dental Care picked up the presents and brought them to the hospital to be shared with its patients.

Hoop Group would like to thank all those who participated and helped to make our Toy Drive a success. A special thank you to Amy, Mike Rice, Tiny Green, James Cooper, Austin Kelley, Zack Curran, Cooper Handelsman, James Cooper Jr and the rest of the Hoop Group staff for donating their time to the cause.

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