Mixing Mental and Physical Basketball Training for On-Court Results | POINT 3 Basketball
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Mixing Mental and Physical Basketball Training for On-Court Results

By Jeff Sparrow, POINT 3 Alpha

 

Players really like to see results when they train, and everyone loves to see physical development results as well. My big philosophy in training is not what we do, but how we do it.

THE MENTAL SIDE OF TRAINING

Training is not all just on-court skills or strength work. I coach my players’ left and right brain parts during training. There might be a session where we go an hour or two hours and I talk for 30 minutes, then there might be a session where we barely talk. Most importantly, when a player leaves the workout, he needs to understand exactly what we did and why we did it as opposed to just physically going through the workout and leaving.

We’ll stop and talk if there is a situational learning, or we really want to breakdown the game. Or I might just give them quick positive feedback during a drill. It depends on the flow of the workout and what’s best for the level of the player.

INCORPORATING AGILITY DRILLS

When we’re on the court, I also like to mix in agility work with basketball related skills. We might start out with a two-ball dribbling workout. I love to do variable training so we will mix in tennis balls and exercise balls, just depending upon the situation.

I think it’s very important to mix in some variable training to get their mind working, overloading their brain.

I want my training sessions to be hard, and I want my players’ heart rates to be up the entire time. If a player is making shots at the end of my workouts, then the next day when they go play they are feeling good about themselves and feeling that their legs are definitely stronger. 

 

 

ON-COURT STRENGTH TRAINING

I incorporate a lot strength training mixed in to our basketball specific stuff.

Say someone is weak with his or her left hand. We’ll breakdown forearm strength, pinch strength, and grip strength and then burn them out as much as possible. Then we’ll move on to a layup series that is all one-handed where you have to pound the ball into the ground and then go right up to the rim without using your right hand. 

So while they might be missing a lot of shots during that session, it’s because the hand has been worked before we even got going on that drill. By the next day, we will have strengthened that muscle area, and mentally they’ve become more confident.

THE IMPORTANCE OF BALANCE

It’s a great teaching moment when a player realizes his or her balance is off.

I’ll do a balance exercise where the player will sit on the edge of the bench and I have them put a squishy foam ball in their elbow and have them squeeze. Then all in one motion, starting flat-footed, they come up and finish a shot on the tip of their toes and fall forward at the same exact time. What I tell them to do is to close their eyes while they do it and feel if one ankle is pushing more so than the other.

I can tell them all day their balance is off, but they need to realize it themselves. 

If they are falling forward equally and it feels equal, then you know they are pushing off and their balance is pretty good. But if their left foot is pushing more and they are going to the right, then that is probably a symmetric issue with their right ankle and we have to strengthen it. And that’s how a player can identify what is going on with their balance. This will also help them work on their muscle memory.

I like to measure my players’ vertical, their weight, and agile shuttle time. I make sure that they see those results before and after so they can truly understand how much they’ve developed.