The answer is something that every dedicated athlete desires. During my freshman and sophomore years of high school I would spend countless hours in the gym. I would be the first one on the court after school. Over the next 3-4 hours players would cycle in and out and we’d play some pick up games. I remember being the first one in and the last to leave on multiple occasions. This desire helped me to make it at the next level. But I always questioned if I was doing the right type of training. I’m older now and much wiser than I was when I was 15.
At High Intensity Basketball Training our motto is Train Hard, Train Smart, & Keep It Fun. What I learned over the past 22 years is that it’s far more effective to train hard and smart in short effective training segments. You also need to keep your training routines fun or you’ll get burned out. Becoming a great basketball player is a marathon not a sprint.
In my early 30s I picked up Triathlon for about 5 years. The top triathletes are masters at listening to their body, creating balanced training programs and giving themselves proper recovery time. You can take that same system and apply it to your basketball training. Basketball is an explosive sport that will wear you body down. It’s important to not overtrain or you won’t get the results you desire.
There is no exact answer for every player out there. I try to create programs that are effective and insure that you getting the highest and best use of your time. Everyone is allotted the same amount of time each day to pursue their dreams. How you use that time is critical to achieving success!
Train Hard, Train Smart, Keep It Fun
#1) Hire A Personal Trainer – This is by far the most effective way to improve your vertical. In my area personal training sessions go for about $85 per hour. Check with your local gym to get pricing in your area. If you trained with them twice per week you could probably do the 3rd and 4th work-outs on your own as the 2 work-outs with the trainer will be the most crucial. Although effective it is costly and many aspiring players will need an alternative.
#2) Follow A Vertical Leap Program – There are many different programs out there that give you a 8-12 week program that will increase your vertical leap. Some claim to help increase your vertical by 6-12 inches. I can’t say that will be the case for everyone but there are some great programs out there that will help you. I personally recommend the following program.
The Jump Manual
And here’s why……
Jacob Hiller has helped 100s of players improve their vertical.
The program is very easy to use and follow with a video tutorial of all exercises.
From my experience he covers the most up to date training methods that have been proven to be effective.
To do this program on your own will take self discipline but if you can muster the mental fortitude you will see results.
They do offer a Coaches Help Desk and can analyze your movements from videos.
Click here to check out The Jump Manual
#3) Take Advantage Of Your Teams Trainer – Most basketball programs these days have a personal trainer who is responsible for helping the players stay strong during the off season and helps them to maintain that strength during the regular season. Many times they put together optional workout that are available for FREE as long as you are a member of the team. These trainers are normally very knowledgeable when it comes to strength and conditioning and could probably design you a program that will help you improve your vertical.
If you are working on your shooting always remember the 50% rule. The 50% rule is simple….only do drills that you can successfully make 50% or more of the shots you take. The only exception to this rule is if you are really new to the game and can’t shoot 50% or better going block to block. If that is the case start with Form Shooting and Block to Block Shooting until you can make better than 10 of 20 shots. I’ve seen some pretty good players go out there and shoot 100 3 pointers in a workout and make about 25%. They leave the court thinking they worked hard and got better. I would argue that they training themselves to shoot poorly. If you can’t hit 50% in a 3 point shooting drill with NO defense move in a few steps first. The easiest way to gauge your shooting percentage is the Ghost Man Drill.
Ghost Man Drill
Simply find a spot on the court or move between 2 spots.
For every shot you make you get 1 point.
For every shot you miss the Ghost Man gets 1 point.
Play to 10.
If you win you are shooting over 50%
I’ve worked with thousands of kids on how to improve their shooting. The best advice I can give them is to “Maintain Perfection In Form Shooting”. Form Shooting is the most important drill you need to master in order to become a great shooter. Once you learn all of the principles that are involved in a perfect shot it’s important to practice them regularly. Unfortunately some players simply can’t focus on their technique for so many repetitions. Form shooting is more of a mental work-out than a physical one. For example if you are a player that’s elbow pops out on him while shooting. You will have to make a conscience effort to tuck that elbow in before you take that shot. Often players will make 100 shots with the intentions of improving their shot but only about 30 of the makes were made with good form. My advice is to only count the shots you make with perfect form. This will help you build the necessary muscle memory faster.
Drill #1 Tennis Ball Drill
Equipment Needed: 1 Basketball, 1 Tennis Ball
Start off by dribbling knee high with your left hand and holding the tennis ball in your right hand.
Remember to dribble the ball forcibly down with your left hand. If you don’t feel you fingers, forearm, upper arm and shoulder muscles working….you aren’t working hard enough!
Begin by bouncing the tennis ball off the ground and catching it. Be sure to keep your knee high dribble going with your left hand.
As you get more comfortable continue to catch the tennis ball off the bounce and do Waist High Dribbles, Big V and Little V Dribbles, and Circle through the leg Dribbles with your off hand.
Once that becomes easy find a wall to throw the tennis ball off of while you continue to work your off hand.
SET GOALS to improve! Start with trying to get 5 tennis ball catches in a row, etc..
Drill #2 Paint the Tape Drill
Equipment Needed: 1 or 2 Basketballs
Start with 1 Basketball at the block and face the elbow.
Use your off hand and dribble 2 Inch V’s with along the Lane Line till you get to the elbow. Turn-around and come back and then repeat. These are quick fast dribbles that will work your forearm.
To make it more difficult dribble with your strong hand waist high while dribbling tiny 2 Inch V’s with your off hand along the Lane Line.
Finally pick different lines (3 Point Line, Side-Line, Etc) on the court and paint the tape with those tiny V Dribbles with your off-hand.
This drill really helps when you are trying to split a trap!
Drill #3 Dribble & Roll Drill
Equipment Needed: 2 Basketballs
Start on the Sideline.
Your Strong hand will be on top of a ball that is sitting on the ground.
With your off hand do a knee high dribble and start moving to the other sideline at 50% speed. Spider-Roll the ball with your right had as you dribble knee high with your left hand. Spider-Roll means you turn your strong hand into a spider and walk the ball across the court. Be sure to have 1 finger on the ball as it’s rolling rather than just pushing it out in front of you.
If you do this right you will be working your legs! Be sure to keep your butt down which doing this drill
Rebounding is easily the most overlooked skill in basketball. I’ve never heard the crowd cheer when a dominating rebounder pulls down his 12th board of the game. Don’t let the crowd noise fool you! Rebounding is absolutely critical in basketball. Here are 3 skills that will make you a better rebounder.
#1) Anticipation – Dennis Rodman, AKA “The Worm”, had a long and successful career in the NBA by being extremely good at anticipation. For those of you that remember him he wasn’t much of an offensive threat. But he averaged double digit rebounds per game for his entire career. He had a great ability of anticipating when a shot would be taken. He also had had great vision of how the ball would come off of the rim. In doing so he was able to put himself in the best position to secure the rebound. To practice anticipation you have to make a conscience effort to think about it while you play. Next time you compete try to go after offensive rebounds by anticipating when your teammates are about to shoot and then pursuing the basketball. On the defensive end it’s important to box out your own man. Once you box out pursue the basketball aggressively. You can become a better rebounder just by learning to anticipate.
#2) Leverage – Charles Barkley was far from the tallest power forward when he played in the NBA. He is in the basketball Hall of Fame and is also known as one of the best rebounders to ever play the game. He used leverage to drive space between his opponent and the basket. The lower man wins in basketball and this is especially true when it comes to rebounding. It’s important to get your center of gravity lower then your opponent so that you can drive him out of the key. To improve this skill practice wall sits with your legs at a 90 degree angle and your back against a wall. This will help you build muscle memory and get into a low position quicker.
#3) Physicality – One of my coaches once told me that if you are physical with your opponent for the first 3 possessions of the game they will likely lose their intensity. This was proven true and I made it a habit during my career. If you push your opponent back out of the paint for the first 3 possessions of the game the majority of players will stop crashing the boards to try and get an offensive rebound. It doesn’t happen 100% of the time but in my experience about 90% of players don’t like to get pushed around and will avoid the contact. This will make your life much easier during the game and your rebounding statistics will skyrocket.
These are 3 quick tips that will help you become a better rebounder. Rebounding gives your team an extra opportunity to score. The fans won’t normally cheer when you pull down that board but your coach and teammates will value you as a player.
In the past 2 weeks I’ve been working with several of my club team players and personal training clients on improving their shooting rotation. The majority of the time the off hand is causing the lack of perfect shooting rotation. Here is a simple 200 made shot routine to improve your back spin rotation.
#1) Start with 50 1 handed form shooting shots about 2 feet from the basket. Be sure to keep all 3 right angles in your form with elbow pointed to the basket. Engage your legs and finish with your fingers pointed down. The ball should have a nice rotation since you are shooting with 1 hand.
#2) Shoot 50 form shooting shots with only your pointer finger and middle finger barely touching the ball. Focus on not allowing those 2 finger tips to effect the rotation.
#3) Shoot 50 more shots with 4 finger tips barely touching the ball. Same thing here it should still feel like a 1 handed form shooting shot and focus on perfect rotation. Only count make that have perfect rotation.
#4) Finally add the finger pads but NO THUMB and shoot 50 more. 90% of the time the Thumb is the cause of the problem so you want to make sure you keep your thumb off of the basketball for all 200 shots.
Be sure to concentrate on each shot. Don’t be in a rush and this should take you about 10-20 minutes depending on your skill level.
Do you have a weakness that you’d like advice on? Please email me so I can help!
“Train Hard, Train Smart, Keep It Fun”
I loved watching Stephen Curry take on the Grizzlies in a must win games 4 & 5 this week. To be honest when he entered the draft out of Davidson a few years back I doubted he could succeed at this level. He’s proven me and many others dead wrong and I’ve become a huge fan in the process. Stephen Curry is a testament to the importance of building your basketball fundamentals. He is only 6’3”….and yes he can dunk but as evidenced by his first attempt in game 4 he doesn’t have crazy athleticism……and yes he’s quick but not nearly as quick as Russell Westbrook and many other great guards in todays NBA. He earned the MVP by being an absolute lights out shooter and having incredible ball handling skills. Those two skills don’t require height or athleticism. To become great at those skills you just have to be persistence and work extremely hard. Congrats to Stephen Curry for proving so many of us wrong!
With the onset of the NFL season upon us it made me think about which team sport is the toughest sport to reach the next level?
Simple Math Football – 52 Man Rosters (30 that will play)
Soccer – 25 Man Rosters (15 that will play)
Basketball – 12 Man Rosters (8 that will play)
For those of you that love the game of basketball these numbers shouldn’t scare you they should inspire you. You have the opportunity to play in the most competitive team sport on the planet. The majority of the people in the world look at the numbers above and will get discouraged because they don’t feel like they’ll make the high school team or be able to play in college. You have to have an undeniable passion and desire to reach the next level of basketball. BE A GYM RAT!! When those players are waisting their time getting discouraged…you need stay positive and focused on your goals. Be specific with what you want to achieve and write it down. Then right and even more specific game plan on what you need to do to reach those goals. Be laser focused on your training and train smart.
The other teams best player has been assigned to YOU! He dribbles across half court and you feel like you’re on an island. Here are 3 Tips to help you improve your on ball defense and lock down the other teams top scorer.
Stay low in your defensive stance. Always remember that the lower man wins in basketball. You might be matched up against players taller or shorter than you in basketball. Whether you are playing in a practice, scrimmage or a pick up game always remember to stay low. This will put your body in the most effective position to react to the offensive players movements. Wall sits are a great drill to develop the muscular endurance necessary to stay low when you are in a game setting. Simply find a wall and slide your back down until your legs are at a 90 degree angle. Be sure that your shoes are shoulder width apart and your knees do not protrude past your toes. Try to hold it for as long as you can. Start with 30 seconds and try to work your way up to 3 minutes. Over time you will be able to stay low in a game because you have increased your muscular endurance.
Be more physical than your opponent. Basketball is a contact sport. When you are guarding the ball you can’t slap your opponent or bump him especially on the perimeter but when your opponent attempts to drive to the basket or go around a ball screen you can create contact with them by using your forearm as long as it appears natural. Try to be deceptive when you create contact. There are many subtle techniques you can use to slow your opponent down while not drawing attention from the referees. You must play a lot of games to see which techniques work for your style of play. Test the limits until you get called for a foul. Eventually you will find the happy medium that will make you an effective on ball defender. The most important thing to remember here is that you can create contact with the offense especially when they attempt to attack the basket as long as you are in a legal guarding position.
Be a team player and know where your help is positioned. It is crucial to understand where your teammates are positioned. Communicate with your teammates and strategize on the most effective way to be set up on defense. If you have a player that loves to drive baseline then you want to make sure the post players understand that they need to be positioned to provide help in that area. If the player has a tendency to go left you could strategize to force him to go right and then communicate with your team so that they can be there to provide extra help if necessary. Communication is a key part to defensive success. You don’t have to be on an island if you can talk to your teammates on defense.
These 3 tips will help you improve as an on ball defender. Defense is all about attitude and it is one of the most overlooked aspects of becoming a great basketball player.