I would be willing to bet next month’s paycheck on upon finding yourself a high school basketball player, they would have a basketball in: the trunk of their car, the passenger seat of their car, or their gym bag. Every chance these kids get, they are on the court receiving one-on-one specialized training, playing pick-up games, or makin’ it rain with the Dr. Dish.
While basketball is certainly not alone in terms of year-round adherence, it definitely holds the lion’s share of the blame. In my opinion, the game itself is limiting a player’s true potential, and physical preparation coaches (sadly) have to watch it happen from the bench.
Skill is not developed simply by playing more games. A player wanting to elevate his game needs to do two things: 1) find the weight room and 2) a coach with a plan to address his weaknesses (strength, speed, power, etc.). Now, a word of caution, training does not need to be “functional” or “specific” to the game of basketball. Why? If we want our training to be as “functional” and “specific” as possible, then it would make sense (sarcasm) to play basketball all year with little-to-no-time off. The problem with this is when our bodies are saturated with a given stimulus for a long period of time, it simply will have reached its max capacity of adaptation and will no longer want to reach new heights and get better, it will literally grow bored! In some cases, progress will actually go backwards! This is known as the Law of Accommodation.
I will be honest, I am not a basketball aficionado, I am a Physical Preparation coach. I have zero intention of bringing the game itself into my training system or facility. Having said that, the game captured my heart this past year when I was appointed the position Head Coach of Physical Preparation for the men’s basketball team at Grand Valley State University. Working with the kids on a daily basis, (yes, kids, just because they’re 6’10” doesn’t make them any older) lit a fire inside me that still burns with a fury one year later. This was the first true basketball appointment I received, you can imagine how nervous I was – what was I to do?! I sought out my now good friend, Mike Coval, in Ann Arbor, MI. If you don’t know Mike, you should, as he is thee basketball training authority in Michigan.
I spent the day with Mike at his facility, COVAL Fitness & Sports Performance, discussing basketball programming for the upcoming season. Our conclusion was not as sexy as you might think, him and I shared an idea that “If you give us a decent basketball player for 8-weeks, and nothing changes skills-wise, we will give back to you a bigger, faster, and stronger decent basketball player.” How could those qualities not help a player? We are not basketball sport coaches, we stay in our lane. Focusing on methods and means that were not “specific” but rather “transferable” in nature, yielded tremendous results for GVSU not only performance-wise, but the team also had the lowest incidence of injury in 10+ years.
Take away from my time with Mike? Raising a basketball player’s level of general physical preparedness will only boost his level of specific (or game) physical preparedness. Leave the game where it belongs, on the court during the competitive season! Truth be told, those players who wish to play beyond high school should know that the majority of your time will be spent in preparation, not the game itself. My point? You had better start embracing the process of building qualities unrelated to the sport! Luckily for you, there are (now two) basketball training authorities in the state of Michigan you may seek to bring out the freak in you! Can you imagine if Mike Coval and Hunter Charneski joined forces – could be scary.