Last week’s blog, Off-Season Part I: The 3 R’s covered the initial steps in setting up a productive off-season: Rest, Recover, and Reflect.
The next two steps are Evaluate and Plan.
After ample rest, players need to formally evaluate their strengths and weaknesses. This step is vital to success; yet rarely done.
Players need to clearly establish what they do well and what needs improvement. This can only be done effectively through a comprehensive evaluation by both player and coach.
Both player and coach should rate the following 15 traits on a scale of 1 through 10:
1. Ball handling (weak hand? variety of moves? maintain court vision?)
2. Shooting (form? off the pass? off the dribble? range? FT’s?)
3. Passing (understand angles? feed post? pass on the move?)
4. Rebounding (box out consistently? go to the ball?)
5. Defending (on ball? in post? through screens? team concepts? contest shots? don’t foul?)
6. Strength & Power (finish with contact? knocked off ball screens? dunk?)
7. Quickness & Reaction (explosive first step? first to the ball?)
8. Agility & Movement Efficiency (effectively accelerate, decelerate & change directions?)
9. Flexibility & Mobility (stiff hamstrings? low back? tight ankles?)
10. Body Composition (need more muscle? have excess body fat?)
11. Conditioning (great basketball shape? as effective in the 4th quarter as in the 1st?)
12. Basketball I.Q. (know how to play? quality decision making?)
13. Leadership (do teammates listen? do they follow? ‘Play Present’?)
14. Teammate (know & accept role on team? care about teammates?)
15. Work Ethic (1st in the gym, last to leave? give 100% all of the time?)
Players should write down what they believe; not what their parents or girlfriend thinks or what a scouting service says.
How do the player’s scores compare to the coach’s scores? Any score that the player and coach agree on is probably accurate. If they both believe ball handling is an “8”, then it probably is. But what if the player thinks it is an “8” and the coach believes it is a “5”? Is it possible the player thinks an aspect of their game is better than it actually is? Regardless, I recommend you take the average of both scores to derive a final rating for each trait.
Which category is the best? Which needs the most improvement?
Ranking the categories will help players prioritize and plan what to emphasize during the off-season.
Before planning the off-season, let’s define it by dividing the year into 3 distinct phases:
Off-season: beginning the day after the last game and ending 8 weeks before the first practice.
Pre-season: beginning 8 weeks before the first practice and ending the day of the first practice.
In-season: beginning the day of the first practice and ending the day of the last game.
Players need to plan their spring and summer schedule and take a look at everything that will necessitate their time.
Will they play a spring sport?
Do they need an academic tutor?
Are they planning to play AAU?
Will they take any summer vacations?
The more they know in advance, the better they can plan a realistic schedule.
The initial goal of the off-season should be to improve strength and power. There is no such thing as being too strong! When players ask me why strength is so important, I say:
“What do you want to be; the bug or the windshield?”
Quickness, agility and conditioning are important, but for the first part of the off-season, players need to focus on increasing their overall strength and address muscular imbalances. This is the foundation of the entire off-season program.
If you need a quality program to follow, this 12-Week Off-Season Strength & Power Program is an invaluable resource:
Next week’s blog, Off-Season Part III: Work Your Plan, will cover the third phase of the off-season: Execution.
“You can’t win a championship in the off-season, but you sure as hell can lose one!”
Work hard. Work smart.
PS: A similar evaluation should also be done by coaches. After all, the off-season isn’t just about players getting better… coaches need to constantly develop too! I would recommend having assistant coaches and players offer their feedback too!
Here are some possible traits for coach’s evaluation:
- Practice plans
- Game strategies & adjustments
- Scouting reports
- Pre-game routine
- Motivational techniques
- Teaching concepts
- Relationships with players
- Overall attitude
- Leadership style