This is a guestpost by Brandon Capaletti.

For basketball players, the offseason is arguably the most important time of the year for their development — largely because this is when the most individual growth can occur for those who are serious about taking their game to the next level. While player growth also occurs during the season, much of practice time — especially at the high school level — involves preparation for the next opponent. After the season is when players can really reflect on their game and their goals. Here are some things all serious youth basketball players should be working on in the offseason.

Rest and Reflect
No matter what level of youth basketball you’re involved in, it can be a long season — and chances are, especially at higher levels, you’re tired (mentally and physically) from the schedule and intensity of the competition. That’s why rest is so important. In fact, staying away from basketball-related activity for several weeks — perhaps even a month — is recommended. Let your mind rest, your muscles heal and allow proper recovery time for injuries. While you rest, you should be reflecting on your game and how/what you want to improve. You also should stay in touch with your coaches to get their input on what they’d like to see you improve in the offseason.

Strength Training
Every basketball player can benefit from being stronger. The offseason is the best time of the year to hit the weight room. For those who are super serious about maximizing this opportunity, teaming with a strength and conditioning coach can help players get the most out of each and every workout. Minimally, put that gym membership to good use or take advantage of your school’s weight facilities. You’ll notice the difference when you return to practices and games in the fall.

Become More Athletic
Getting stronger doesn’t mean you’ll automatically get quicker and more athletic. That’s where the likes of sprinting, jumping and shuffling come in to play. Don’t forget to work on your cardio as well. Becoming stronger and more athletic won’t do your game a whole lot of good if you’re constantly winded and out of shape, especially if your team plays an up-tempo game.

Shooting and Ball Handling
Basketball is a game where scoring matters most. While you can work on your shot in shootarounds and practices during the season, the offseason is when you can really fine-tune your shot — whether it’s a quicker release, increasing your range or working on shots from different spots on the court. Don’t forget to improve your ball handling, too, as it makes you a better all-around player and a more valuable asset to your team. (Just ask reigning NBA MVP Stephen Curry!).

Have Fun
Many basketball players can get caught up so much in improving their game in the offseason that they forget basketball is a game — and games are meant to be fun. So, work some fun into your offseason routine. Gather your buddies and head to the park for a friendly scrimmage. Create games that you can play, individually or with others. Make sure to keep basketball fun.

A good offseason plan can help you improve your game significantly. It can help you land a spot in the starting lineup, get you more touches during games — maybe even in crunch time when the game is on the line. If you’re in high school, offseason development may even get you some recruiting interest from college coaches. Regardless of your level of competition, have an offseason plan and execute it — with a purpose and with an overall goal of improvement.

Author bio: Brandon Capaletti is the Vice President of Cisco Athletic, a Maryland-based athletic apparel manufacturer of custom adult and youth jerseys. Cisco designs sublimated youth basketball uniforms, plus uniforms for 17 other sports including volleyball, basketball and baseball.