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Off-season basketball training.

The "Off Season" is a critical period for the construction of a work ethic. It's a time when the players can dramatically distance themselves or gain ground on the competition by (1) further developing their fundamental skills, strength, and competitiveness or (2) seizing the opportunity to rest or just play pick-up games.


Most of the serious athletes will probably maximize the training period by having the coaches spend time with each player in carefully constructing the off-season training program.

A simple but effective training program can be built around the following factors: (1) desire, (2) identifying strength and weaknesses, (3) developing a practice plan, and (4) commitment and hard work.

Ask your players what they need for their next level of play and then help each player achieve it. If he has a passion for the game and truly wants to realize on his potential, he should be willing to go for it.

As a player, he does not want to look back at high school and college and say: "Oh, I wish I had done this or that."

We must remind him that there are athletes out there who are working harder than he is. It is important for us as coaches to motivate our athlete to be one of the exceptions.


You should talk with each player about his overall game. Determine which areas need the most work and which just need "maintenance."

This analysis will help you outline a practice schedule that will maximize each player's time. Magic Johnson once said, "I tried to add a new dimension to my game every summer."

Your players should do the same.


A practice plan is a projection of how players can get from point "A" to point "B" as efficiently and quickly as possible. It is like a map that indicates direction and helps one stay on course.

A practice plan consists of two elements: practice plan and goal setting.

1. The first part of a practice plan is to develop a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly practice schedule. It is important to prioritize the players' weaknesses and then develop the schedule accordingly.

The areas that need the most improvement will obviously require the most time. Instruct the players to vary their routine and try not to do everything in one day. There would be too much to do to get the best results. They must do many repetitions.

2. The second part of a practice plan is goal setting. Goals keep players mentally focused, eliminate boredom, maintain competitive drive, and motivate them to constantly work hard.

Goals are the most commonly neglected part of the training program. They must have some desired end in sight. Some general goals: most improved techniques, earning all-league honors, or how to win (or receive) a scholarship.

This will obviously vary, but athletes have to set their sights on a "prize." For example, specific goals for an off-guard could be: shoot 55% of their field goals, 85% of their free throws, score 18 points per game, have 4 assists, 2 steals, and to play tough defense.

Keep in mind that all offensive goals should be compatible with the team's offensive play. When practicing their shooting, players should keep track of their percentages to see whether they are improving or not.

They should also try to shoot at least 15% higher in practice than in their games.

Note: When someone is guarding you, your percentages will drop. Once players have perfected their technique, it becomes extremely important to practice the skills at game speed. They should always work on their explosiveness, change-of-pace dribbling, and a quick release.

They should not just go through the motions; "half-speed" will only get them "half-way" in life.


Commitment is necessary in maintaining anything you do. Since the players have now decided to go for it, the next step is to stick to the practice schedule. Consistency in training will yield the best results. It will also develop good work ethics that will remain with them forever. It is important to not only work hard, but to practice smart. Use their time wisely to ensure the maximum benefits. Through repetition and time the various skills will become second nature.

Players have to understand that it is not just practice, but perfect practice that will help them develop their skills. They must be willing to change their bad habits and be patient because nothing comes easy.


By having a clear understanding of goals and the off-season training program, the players and (ultimately the team) will reap measurable benefits. It can mean the difference between a mediocre ("Why didn't I do that?") season and an outstanding season.

Remember that the foundation of success is fundamental skills. It will demand a lot of desire, determination, perseverance, patience, and hard work to master the skills. But, the end result will be: (1) enhanced individual fundamental skills, (2) increased confidence, (3) effective team play.

Coaches should use the off-season to advantage. They can start by helping their players develop a proper attitude and passion--which will help them achieve their full potential.

Coaches and teachers should also develop a thirst to work hard and have fun doing it.

As General Patton once put it: "Accept the challenges ... and reap the exhilaration of victory."

By Tom Marumoto, Director/Coach

Marumoto Basketball Academy, Newport Beach, CA
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Title Annotation:BASKETBALL
Author:Marumoto, Tom
Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2008
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