Basketball Hall of Fame Coach Bob Knight had a saying that went something like this “”The key is not the will to win… everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important”. I would add that in over 40 years of playing, coaching, and closely observing basketball teams, I can think of no truer statement than that.
I have seen players go from part time starter to all state. I have seen teams go from having a losing record one year to setting school records the next year. What all of those individuals and groups have shared in common was that they all spent a lot of time doing basketball workouts in the months of April through October.
If you would like to experience that exhilarating feeling that comes with maximizing your potential as a player, the single most important thing you can do is to commit yourself to daily basketball workouts.
Out of season, you might not have a lot of time to practice your skills and play games as well. If you want to make the biggest improvement you can in the time that you have available to devote to basketball, use it to do basketball workouts that are 45 minutes to an hour long.
Sure, playing in games helps you improve. But, how many shots do you get to take in a pickup game or an open gym game, or even in a summer league game? Maybe somewhere around 10 to 15 shots max. How many shots do you think you can get up during a 45 minute workout? Let’s say you only get up 5 per minute, which is a pretty low average. That is still 225 shots in one workout. Which one is going to help you improve more, a day where you take 10 shots, or a day where you take 225 shots?
How many shots you make is not the only factor in how much you improve during a basketball workout. You also must take game shots, from game spots, and at game speeds. In other words: shoot the types of shots that you shoot in a game, from the areas on the floor that you will get shots from the offense that your team uses, and shoot them while running and cutting hard to get into position, just like you were being guarded by an imaginary defender.
Always begin your workout by warming up and stretching properly. At the beginning of the workout, spend five minutes shooting shots where you concentrate only on your form. Start out close to the basket and move back gradually until you are at the maximum distance for your shooting range.
The next part of the workout should include working on ball handling, dribbling, and driving. Work on your dribble moves that you use to shake your defenders in games. Work on driving to the basket, making a move to beat defensive players who come to help on you, and then work on finishing at the basket with the scoring moves that work best for you.
By the end of your ball handling drills, you should be moving either full speed or faster than you can go and still keep from losing the basketball. Improvement begins where you comfort zone ends. That means you must go faster, faster, faster until you make a mistake. That is the only way you improve. Your workout is not a success if you didn’t work at a pace that causes you to make mistakes.
By now, you should be moving fast enough to be getting winded. There should not be any rest or down time in your workout. But, when you do need to catch your breath, go immediately to the free throw line and shoot three free throws. Continue to do that for the remainder of your workout.
You should find a variety of shooting drills to include in your workout so that you have variety. Find ways to force yourself to compete against a given amount of time or against a specific number of shots made (or both). Include at least six of those shooting drills in each of your workouts.
The last drill for every workout should be some type of “gut buster” that really pushes you mentally and physically past the point of fatigue in addition to getting lots of repetition with correct technique. For example, shoot three point shots, rebounding your own shots, for five minutes. Make sure you record how many you make each time so you can measure your improvement. Find other drills that are much harder on you than playing in a game is.
If you really want to improve your game, daily basketball workouts are the best way to do that. You get a lot more reps in a workout than you do in a game. That is how you make sure that you are working on the type of shots that you will take when you do play five on five and that you are pushing yourself to work out at game speed or even faster. And, when you do play in a game, evaluate yourself on how well you are applying the shots and moves from your workouts.