10 Keys to Effective Basketball Training

by Dannie Evans

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You’re here because you want to get better as a basketball player.  What holds you back is knowing how to do it.

How do you train to become a better basketball player?

While having stock workouts and countless drills will help (and we will be providing many on this site as we grow), that alone isn’t enough.

What we really want to do is help you understand how to train and how to practice.  Essentially we want you to how to make the most of all drills, exercises and workout plans that exist out there.

10 Keys to Effective Basketball Training

1. Preparation

Preparing to train is just as important as the training itself.  Without this critical first step, you will go to the gym and haphazardly attempt to work on your game and athletic development with minimal results.  I can’t overemphasize how important it is to maximize your time by training efficiently.

Here is my simple four-step process for preparing to train for basketball that gets optimal results.

  • Evaluate your game. What are your strengths and weaknesses in terms of skill, athletic ability and basketball IQ?  What does your coach need you to improve upon to help the team?  Answering those questions are the foundation of your personal basketball development.
  • Study what works. You want to maximize your time and effort in your workouts. So you want to go in already knowing what drills and exercises will develop your ability the best.  Whether that means reading books, watching videos or stopping by this blog from time to time, don’t waste your sweat with ineffective training tactics.  Learn what works and get to work.
  • Schedule your gym time. While studying what works is important, you must not paralyze yourself in analysis.  You must schedule time on the court or in the weight room to apply what you’ve learned.
  • Plan your workouts. I see it all the time.  Players come to the gym with the intention of working out and randomly come up with drills on the fly.  Lack of a thought-out plan to improve your game with each workout minimizes the effectiveness of the session.  And don’t just think about it and grab your ball and go.  Write it down, type it up.  Just make sure you have today’s workout schedule on paper with you at the gym so you can maximize your time and effectiveness.  Don’t waste your sweat.

2. Repetition

You can’t avoid this.  You can hope the next guru’s gimmick will magically make you better with no work, but you’ll just be dreaming and wasting time.  You gotta put in the time and sweat to really improve your game.  Combine the right drills and exercises with a high quantity of quality reps, and that is your key to unlocking your full potential as a basketball player.

3. Attitude

You must attack your training with the same effort and competitiveness as you do games.  Michael Jordan sums it up perfectly:

I’ve always believed that if you put in the work, the results will come. I don’t do things half-heartedly. Because I know if I do, then I can expect half-hearted results.

I play to win, whether during practice or a real game. And I will not let anything get in the way of me and my competitive enthusiasm to win.

I approach practices the same way I approached games. You can’t turn it on and off like a faucet. I couldn’t dog it during practice and then, when I needed that extra push late in the game, expect it to be there. But that’s how a lot of people approach things. And that’s why a lot of people fail.

~ Michael Jordan

4. Concentration

Far too often players fool around or just shoot around when training their game.  Not you.  If you approach your training like a game, you will be laser-focused and zoned in.  That is a critical element for skill acquisition and development. Your mind tells your muscle what to do.  If you’re not concentrating at the highest level your results will suffer.

On top of that, practicing with heighten concentration directly translates to heighten concentration in games, making your game sharp and dominant.

5. Technique

If  you’re going to train and practice you might as well do it right – right?

I think Rick Torbett said it best:

Use the best techniques that will give you the most return on the time you put in. ~ Rick Torbett

Any practice is better than nothing, but the best practice, using the best training techniques builds the best habits that translate to in-game performance.

6. Intensity

Go hard!  You’ve heard the sayings “practice at game speed” or “game shots at game speed.”  That’s because it’s great advice.  You are training to play the game.  Understand that practice and training is just a means to an end, not a means unto itself.  You are working toward improved ability in games.  The best way to do that is to go harder in practice, pushing your limits helps to develop skill faster and makes the games easier.

I played hard every day in practice; so playing hard in the game was just a habit. ~ Michael Jordan

Tip:  If you get tired during a practice session, take a break.  Don’t take casual shots or go through the motions because of fatigue.  That leads to bad habits and is a time waster.  If  you need to, rest a bit, then get back to high-intensity practice.

7. Conditioning

You can’t practice hard enough or attack games with the kind of ferociousness necessary to succeed if you are out of shape.  Condition your ENTIRE body so you can handle all the demands of the game.

8. Expectations

You must expect great things of yourself before you can do them.
~ Michael Jordan

9. Track your training

How will you know if you’re getting better if you don’t record what you do?  That means track what shots you take, how many and how many you make.  Create a simple shooting chart for your workouts.

The benefit of keeping a log of your shots is it allows you to see your strengths, weaknesses and even hot zones on the court.  How much better would you be if you knew that you shoot a higher percentage from the left elbow and right corner three than other spots on the court?

It’s the same when you are in the weight room.  You keep track of how many sets, reps and how much weight you are putting up, don’t you?  Take that approach to the court as well.

You probably noticed the first letter of those 8 keys spell out “PRACTICE.”  And that is the 10th and most important key to effective, skill-producing basketball training.

10. Train to play the game, don’t play to train.

Lack of dedicated practice focused on skill development is easily the biggest mistake players make in their quest to become better basketball players.  One that I didn’t fully learn until my freshman year of college.

We simply play too many games.  Pick-ups games, summer league games, AAU games, pro-am games you name it.  All those games leave little time for real skill acquisition and development.

Finding an empty gym or open court, whether it be alone, with a partner or a group of players and practicing different elements of your game is the fastest and most effective way to improve your in-game skills and ability.  It allows for the necessary touches (repetitions) and individual attention for real skill development to be achieved.

You can’t do that by playing countless games.

This point is so important I will be covering it in much more depth in a future post, so look for it.

Until then, sign up for EffectiveBasketballTraining.com updates for more game-changing basketball training tips.

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