This article is the next of series from Jordan Petersen of our partners at Positionless Basketball. Read the others here. We are very fortunate to work with Coach Petersen as he has tremendous experience as a basketball coach, trainer, and player at different levels.
Pre-season is a great time to get a head start on your opponent, as well as sharpen your skills for the upcoming season. Depending on the state, coaches may or may not be able to work with you in workouts. And depending on if you play a fall sport, your preseason length could be very short. This makes pre-season a different time than the off-season and should be approached slightly different.
In the off-season players are working to improve there strengths, but also make changes to their game and try to greatly improve their weaknesses. Pre-season is more about sharpening or polishing a player's skill set to get ready for the season.
There are three areas players should concentrate primarily on to ensure they will be ready for the first practice and game.
#1: Player Development
Player development and building skills is always important no matter what time of the year it is. Specifically in the pre-season, it's important to concentrate on shooting, handling ball pressure, and finishing through contact. It's also essential to build these up to make them as game like as possible.
With shooting, start with form shots and rhythm shooting to make sure your mechanics are right and everything feels good. A lot of shooting is simply confidence and having your shot feel right as well as seeing the ball go in, goes a long way for a players confidence. After this build in shooting situations that a player will specifically see in games within the offense. This is a great way to utilize Dr. Dish shooting machines to maximize reps and simulate game-like actions.
With ball handling, players should challenge and push themselves to dribble quicker and have greater control of the ball. This means stepping outside of your comfort zone and making mistakes. Whenever possible, have a partner play defense and work on handling pressure. Players can even combine handling ball pressure and finishing through contact within the same drill.
There are many different 1v1 drills to work on finishing that will also help with ball handling such as advantage finishing, contact finishing or Russian finishing. Players may not have another player with them, so when working alone work on different finishes such as extended, inside hand, or ball away finishes that will be used in games and allow players to finish in multiple ways.
In pre-season, players may not have played in a game in a couple months. For this reason it is important to get in game runs whether it is an open gym or a fall league. It is important to get back to playing the game and putting players back in game-like settings. This is a great way to work on decision making and get back to making quick, reactive decisions.
Conditioning can be a separator for any player during the pre-season but will ultimately show up towards the end of the season when many players become burnt out. Whether you are trying to make the team or a veteran starter, it can help you stand out to coaches and separate players/teams from their opponents.
There are several ways to get conditioning in. The traditional way is to run lines, hills, etc. after your basketball workout. This puts the sole focus on conditioning.
Another way get conditioning in, is to incorporate it into your basketball workout. It could be full court layups, full court 1v1, or transition shooting. Honestly, there are a million ways to incorporate conditioning into a workout - it's just a matter of pushing yourself as a player and program and staying accountable that will set you apart.
Strength training in the pre-season is different than strength training in the off-season much like skill work or conditioning.
In the off-season players are trying to get bigger, faster and stronger and in pre-season it should be about refining technique, mobility, and preventing injuries. When talking about pre-season strength training, former Laker strength and conditioning coach, Tim DiFrancesco says:
“You need to prepare your body to be fluid and able to execute those skills with repetition. This will prepare your bones, tendons, ligaments and muscles for those types of actions, which you'll be doing more and more of as you get into the season.”
Rather than focusing on power-lifting and gaining significant muscle mass in the pre-season, the priority should be to increase flexibility and preparing your body to be ready and healthy for a long season.
Once again, we want to thank Coach Jordan Petersen for taking the time to outline this pre-season checklist! Keep on the lookout for more great stuff coming from him and Positionless Basketball.
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