This morning, I tuned in to Joel Smith's Podcast with Michael Zweifel (highly, highly recommended) about the importance of autonomy, creativity, and freedom in warmups. When we think about our standard dynamic warmup, what does it look like? Everything the whistle? Everyone in lines? Same thing every day?
Keep in mind, they were primarily speaking in the context of warmups, but this can apply to workout, practice, and even game settings as well. If we constantly funnel athletes into what feels like an assembly line of drills, controlled environments, and drills that they're working alone in, the athletes adapt to this. They lose creativity, autonomy. Now, most time it isn't this obvious, but in my opinion, we have to start working more towards the creative and free-flowing end of the spectrum.
Sport isn't a controlled environment. It's chaotic, crazy, and unpredictable. so when training is controlled and predictable, it doesn't truly prepare us for the competitive environment.
How can we do this?
Yes, it's easy to have your athletes memorize a monotonous warmup or set of drills each day, but it's not about our job being easy. Let's all get more creative and put our athletes in engaging environments!
I'm a huge proponent of variable shooting and variable practice in general because of all the research that backs it, but sometimes training is such an art that things go against the science. Today I had one of those epiphanies, realizing that sometimes the old-school "what worked for me" method ways can hold some value at times. Feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments, and check out our block vs. variable content on the platform!
Remember that Spanish class you had (or have) in school? The one where you worked your ass off for 4+ years to get good grades but graduated not being able to hold a real conversation? Me too. What if I told you the exact same thing was happening in basketball?
There’s an obsession in the training culture with individual, 1-on-1 training. Parents and kids will pay a premium to have the full attention of the coach or trainer, ensuring that they target all the small details and needs of the player. This is undoubtedly valuable! In terms of polishing one’s game and technique, these individual workouts are essential. But, with that being said, I’d argue that small group workouts are even more valuable. Hear me out:
All of basketball comes down to two processes: perceiving the situation, and acting on it (deciding to act on it can also be added in between). As we come up the floor, we perceive the spacing of the floor. Where our defender is. Where their feet are oriented, and what openings that provides us with. We pick up on this and accordingly make the action(s) that the situation calls for. In most training environments, we only emphasize this second part—the action. We work on the moves, but not the triggers that cause us to do these moves in-game.
The game of basketball is becoming increasingly intertwined with the accompanying “performance” side of things that is generally considered separate. So, regardless of whether you’re purely on the basketball side of development or coaching, it’s valuable to have an understanding for what players should be doing in-season when we talk about training in the weight room. I’ll keep it short and sweet, but the goal by the end of this article is for you to understand the principles of in-season training enough to call out strength coaches who are going against them, give players general advice, and control players’ load as they go about their season.
Albert Einstein once said “play is the highest form of research.”
With young hoopers playing upwards of three games per weekend during the summer, you hear it all the time: “players play too many games.” I’ll make an adjustment to that: players play too many organized games.
Every trainer or coach has a slightly different theory on when and if we should change players’ shots. Some think we should push every player more towards the perfect form, and some are big believers in letting repetition do the work for them. In reality, it’s a very individual subject (as usual, it depends!), and most situations will fall right in the middle.
There is an ongoing discussion about the efficacy of audio cues in the coaching community—and for good reason. We don’t react to a coach saying “left” or “right” in a game, so there isn’t much direct transfer.
If you want to continue to be at your best throughout the year and especially come playoff time, in-season skills work is a must. This is why you will often see NBA players working out before and after games to refine their skills. Player cannot just rely on TEAM practice to maintain their INDIVIDUAL skill. Skills training during the off-season and in-season are all after the same goal—improving a player’s in game performance—but the way we approach that goal must differ depending on time of year. The demands of practice, games, travel, lifts, all play a major factor in altering how we approach our training in season. We also have to take into account this is the time of the year we need our players at their BEST, not experimenting with new thins. We also don’t have the luxury to push a player as hard mentally or psychologically during the season, or we could be doing more harm than good. Let’s dive into it.