How to Improve Your Basketball Skills During the Off Season

You’ll improve your shooting, passing, defense and other technical seasons best when you’re with your coach and teammates. The offseason is the time to improve your strength, power, balance, speed, quickness and other physical attributes. Creating a three-phase training plan to improve your first step, jumping ability and other skills can increase your chance of making the team and becoming a starter.

Change your training to be more basketball-like as you near your season 

Create a Strength-Training Plan

Start your training plan by creating a simple strength-training plan. Write a list of the exercises you’ll do for a strength-training phase during the offseason. Include lower-body exercises such as deadlifts, squats, lunges, calf raises, leg presses and hamstring curls. Add upper-body exercises such as curls, kickbacks, rows, presses, pulldowns and pushdowns. Include core exercises, including a variety of crunches, Russian twists and those using an ab wheel.

Once you have your list of exercises, practice a few reps of each and calculate the maximum weight you can lift for each exercise. This is the most weight you can lift once before failure — if you can do several reps in a row, you’re not using your max. Learn the proper technique for each exercise and practice each one without weights to help reduce your risk of injury.

Begin muscle-building workouts one or two months after your basketball season ends. Perform three to five repetitions of one exercise, then take a break. Repeat the set two to four more times. Move to a new exercise, using different muscles. Rest a minimum of 24 to 48 hours before lifting with those muscles again.

Create a Cardio Plan

Although basketball is an anaerobic sport and your cardio training should consist of high-intensity interval training during the pre-season and in-season, you can use low-impact aerobic workouts to help stay in shape after the season. Skip high-impact workouts to allow your body to recover from your pre-season and in-season training and games. Perform non- or low-impact aerobic workout using exercise machines such as ellipticals, rowing machines or an exercise bike. Add workouts such as swimming, skating or biking.

Improve Explosive and Reactive Power

Explosive and reactive workouts will help you improve your power and jump. Choose explosive exercises that will help you improve your first step, passing and pushing against opponents. Include exercises such as box squats, deadlifts, bench presses, pullups and chin-ups and box jumps. Use 50 percent of your maximum weight or less to perform these exercises. Perform three to six reps per set. Move from muscle building to this type of muscle training approximately three months before your season begins.

Write a list of exercises that train your reactive power, or the coordination of two or more muscle groups, to train your muscles for jumping. Include reactive squats, depth jumps, bounding, standing jumps and high-knee skipping. Use 30 percent or less when doing weighted exercises. Start this at least two months before your season starts.

Practice jumping for a standing position, and by taking two steps, simulating moves you will use on the basketball court. Practice with a basketball in your hand, as if you are shooting, and with your hand or hands raised, as if you are defending.

Add Interval Training

Switch from aerobic exercise to sprint training when you begin explosive power training. Perform exercises very hard for 30 seconds, then take a 90-second break. Work toward a goal of two-minute sprints, followed by two- to four-minute recovery periods. This will train your cardio system to recover faster after fast-breaks, plays and during timeouts.

Perform specific, on-court basketball skill drills at least two months before your season begins. Play low-intensity pickup games or practice dribbling and shooting throughout the offseason, but make practice more game-like as you near your season. For example, you never shoot 100 free throws in a row during a game, so don’t practice this way. Drive to the basket and dunk the ball; run to the other end of the court and defend, running backward; run to your basket and shoot a jumper; then throw only two free throws, similar to a game situation.

Additional Resources

How to Jump Your Highest : Physical Training on the Off-Season for the Basketball Player