Staying Sharp In-Season

Maybe the toughest challenge I’ve had with my NBA guys over the years is keeping their skills sharp in-season. For college and especially for high school players, it is even more difficult. With hard practices, limited gym time, and games throughout the week, players to tend to do minimal individual skill work.

But if you really think about it, how can we expect players to make shots in games if they are getting up only a few shots each day in practice? And how do we expect players to stay strong throughout the year when they stop lifting weights when the season starts? The answer is, we can’t and shouldn’t.

The answer to this problem is to structure the weeks to allow for continued development throughout the season. Time must be set aside to get skill work in, to get extra conditioning in, and to keep the body strong and healthy. Coaches tend to use 100% of their practice time on team concepts – fine-tuning the offense, or the zone, or the press. These things are critical, but you can’t win if your players aren’t sharp, physically and mentally.


What I have found with guys like Kevin Garnett, Kyle Lowry, and Demarcus Cousins over the years is that the extra individual work during the season helps keep their confidence high and keeps them feeling good about where they are as players. Taking that extra time to work on 3’s or sharpening post moves gives them the confidence to execute them in the game. Getting an extra lift in gives them confidence in their strength and endurance to push through tough times during the game. It really works and I have seen it work for 20 years.

Our Certification Course spends a lot of time talking about “how to” structure the season to allow for individual improvement to continue. It is one of the main focus points of our business and keeping guys at the top of their games over an 82-game, or even a 30-game season. It is definitely not an easy thing to accomplish, but more than worth it for the success of the team.

Players appreciate the coach setting time aside for their individual improvement. It is all part of getting them to “give” of themselves to the team by showing them the coach is willing to invest in them individually.

There is nothing “selfish” about players wanting to get better and as coaches, we should love the fact that they want to put work in. We should feed that passion and allow them to grow throughout the season, which will, in the end, help win more games as a team.

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Joe Abunassar, founder of Impact Basketball (www.impactbball.com), trains basketball players of all levels in camps, clinics and individual workouts in their world-class facilities in Florida, Las Vegas and Los Angeles, at their NBA gyms, and now online via Impact’s Certification course for coaches, trainers, parents and players. To learn more about Joe and Impact, the leaders in basketball skill development and conditioning, click here.

Here’s what newly appointed Head Coach of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers has to say about the Online Training:

“Joe’s system is something that every coach, trainer, or even parent, can use to raise the level of every player they coach or train. This program is proven and player development is highly overlooked in basketball today.”

Tyronn Lue, Head Coach, Cleveland Cavaliers

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