In simple terms, periodization in basketball is all about planning. But, it is a special and specific kind of planning, with the purpose of providing your team with the best chance possible to do well. When it is planned properly and implemented well, periodization is a great component of essentially all successful programs. On the flip side, the chances of negative conflict arising within the team are increased, since there is additional stress, and players are more prone to injury.
In order for you to advance successfully into competitive basketball’s upper levels and get the amount of playing time you want, you must somehow excel in at least one aspect of the game that no one else is. The skill could be just about anything: having a quick release on your three-point shot, aggressive glass work or lock down defense.
A player who is able to provide excellent playing skills in one aspect of the game will most likely get playing time. However, locating and developing a specific niche is not always the easiest thing to do. It can involve any of the following things:
The most frequently asked question during the off-season that I hear as a coach is “What can I do to improve my game this summer?”
The answer that is usually given is something along the lines like: “If you want to improve your game, you need to go to the gym and take more shots.” This is undoubtedly true for the most part. After all, everybody needs to do extra ball handling work and shooting during the off-season. However, it won’t enable you to maximize your effort during the off-season so that you can reach your fullest potential.
The true answer for the above question just has one simple reply: In order to improve your game, first you must understand how to identify your weaknesses and strengths as a player. Around 95% of all athletes fail to take this critical step. As a result, they most likely miss those great strides of improvement. A majority of players think this is an unnecessary step and will frequently jump straight into workouts without doing any planning or thought first. I will share with you a process that will help you to understand what your weaknesses and strengths are. It has worked well for me so far:
Find a trusted adviser to sit down with
Find someone who has a good understanding of your game and is somebody you can trust. It would be great if it was your coach. However, it also cold be a friend, grandparent or parent, as long as it is someone with basketball experience. Keep in mind two heads are usually better than just one.
Write it down
It may sound silly, but this is something that is very effective. Start off by writing down your strengths. List everything and anything the two of you can think of to put on your list. Your strengths are something that should easily flow out without having to do a lot of thinking. There is no such thing as a silly answer. Next make a list of your weaknesses. Include everything you do currently. As an example, shooting the ball too low. Also list all the things you don’t do currently but would like to do later on. For example, being able to dribble behind your back. Listing your weaknesses will be harder and more time consuming than it was to write down all of your strengths. Just be sure to be completely honest with yourself.
Making your Strengths even stronger
After you have listed your strengths, return to the list and circle your game’s strongest aspect. Be ready to work on this to make it even better. As an example, maybe you are a great shooter already. However, you wouldn’t want to neglect shooting work completely. Instead you would still keep working on your shots on a daily basis.
Analyze your Weaknesses
Once you have given serious and long thought to your weaknesses, what you want to do next is determine which three things if you could improve them would have the largest impact on your game. Then circle those three things.
Below your lists, on the bottom of the page, write down the three weaknesses and one major strength you identified previously.
Make a Plan
It is now time to start to make your plan. Determine how much time you have to invest into your future as well as how frequently you can practice. Next create a workout which will help you take your weaknesses and strength to a higher level. Keep in mind that any quality individual workout will include some conditioning, some ball handling and some shooting no matter what your specific goals, weaknesses and strengths happen to be.
Record your Results
Keep a workout journal that details what you are doing. This is the final touch to your individual improvement session. Keep track of how long the workout session was, what skills you worked on total shots attempted and made, and so on. Any information can be good information. You journal will help you keep track of your progress as well as help to keep you accountable when it comes to your own improvement. Also it will be a great source for your motivation, especially as the pages continue piling up. You should evaluate your progress each and maybe make changes to your workout in order to make them even more effective.
Repeat this process at the ending of the off-season and at the end of each month. Evaluate your weaknesses and strengths once again. Pretty soon your weaknesses will turn into strengths, while your strengths will become unstoppable.
There are a lot of games that are won by the team that scores most in the paint. On the other hand there is nothing more frustrating for coaches and players alike than getting to the rim and then missing the lay-up. There are very few times in the game when a player gets the chance of a lay-up that is wide open. This is why it is so important that players be taught how to score while being closely guarded. I’ve put together several points that emphasize finishing at the rim with contact.
Jump off both Feet
Being able to finish at the rim really has more to do with leverage than about who is the taller player. To create leverage, players first need to be taught about correct balance. The jump stop should therefore be among the first skills that are taught players how to do. This helps to cut down on traveling violations as well as prepare them to finish at the rim by jumping off steadily with both feet.
The dribbler, when attacking the rim, must be aware of defenders and keep the eyes up. When a defender has established a good position, he should jump-stop to either shoot or pass the ball out to the open team mate. If he chooses to shoot, then he’ll have a good balance. When the player jumps with just one foot, he’ll be out of balance and will have problems when contact is caused by the defender.
Square your Shoulders to the Board
Whenever you jump-stop, make sure your shoulders a squared to the backboard. This will allow you to absorb contact by using the inside of your shoulder while keeping the ball away from a good shot blocker. When players jump off one foot, they tend to open up their shoulders to the defender. This will expose the ball and it increases the likelihood of a blocked shot. Players who are smaller and square their shoulders to the backboard have a better chance to finish at the rim when going up against a taller player.
Once you have jump-stopped with your shoulders squared to the backboard, lean into your defender slightly in order to create contact with your defender. When contact is created using the inside shoulder it helps with negating any size differential that may exist between two players. Having contact also tends to straighten the body of the shooter so that it is parallel and vertical with the rim. This helps to keep your shoulders squared to the backboard. Not too many shot blockers will take a charge, therefore the risk of committing the offensive foul through creating contact is relatively low. It forces the defender to try to block your shot while committing a foul or allowing you to take a lay-up. You need to emphasize strengthening the body’s core in strength training. This will allow you to be able to score consistently while absorbing contact.
Players need to be taught to finish high for a better chance of making the shot. Finish with a high arch and a high release. This skill needs to be practiced and drilled in order for you to consistently score at the rim. Having a video of the players doing the drill is a good idea for coaches, since it will highlight all the advantages that finishing high offers. Even when the shot is missed, it provides an opportunity for teammates to get an offensive rebound and score.
Finishing With Both Hands
Shooting lay-ups with both hands, in addition to teaching jump-stops, should also be among the first skills that you should be taught. All players need to have the ability to finish at the rim using either one of their hands, no matter which hand is their dominant one. This is necessary in order to finish from any angle, even when there is contact. Some referees have a tendency to not call fouls against players shooting lay-ups using the inside hand, so scoring with both hands needs to be taught from early on. Good players should dedicate time outside of practice working on it to become a good finisher at the rim.