Every player wants to be at least a little better and many rightfully decide that relentlessly working out in the off-season is the best way to accomplish that. However, for a variety of reasons, many well meaning players just don't get it done. Here are 5 ways to immediately improve your game even if you didn't work out as much as you should have during the off season. (If you have been working out these 5 suggestions will help make you that much better!)
1. Take Better Shots
What is your overall shooting percentage? If it's not as high as it should be then here's another question for you - Are you a bad shooter or are you just taking bad shots? It doesn't matter how good your shot looks or how mechanically sound it is if you are taking off-balance, highly contested, difficult shots! If you only shoot on balance, wide open, high percentage shots and still have a low shooting percentage then get in the gym!
2. Become more active
When you think of "good" players what do you think about? Good shooters? Relentless rebounders? Tenacious defenders? As a coach, when I think of good players I think of those guys who fill up the stat sheet day after day, game after game. I think of the guys who score some points, grab a few rebounds, get a couple steals, rack up a few assists, block a shot or two, etc. If you want your family and friends to be impressed with how much you've improved then become more active and start doing a little bit of everything. If you want your coach to be impressed then start doing a lot of everything!
3. Talk constantly
If you talk constantly and with purpose you'll see immediate improvements in your game. Talking keeps you mentally engaged in the ongoing action and the increased focus will help you play better. Plus, when you start talking your teammates will increase their talking as well and the extra information and support will also help your game. Talk on defense - "I've got the lob," "Bring him my way," "Pick left, pick left." Talk on offense - "Nice shot," "Great pass." Talk in transition - "Outlet!" "Middle!" "I'm on your right," "Trailer." Talk anywhere and everywhere you can warn, inform, support or encourage your teammates.
4. Be More Physical
Watch most any college game on television and you're sure to hear the announcers rant and rave about the physicality of a certain player. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that but you never heard those same comments ten or twenty years ago. Why? Because back then nearly everybody was physical! Now partly because of rule changes and partly because of personal preferences that's not the case anymore. Box out on defense, refuse to be boxed out an offense, set solid screens on offense, refuse to be screened on defense, battle in the post, aggressively rip the ball away from weaker offensive players, dive on loose balls, shot fake and draw fouls by jumping into the defense. These techniques and strategies are all still legal but often ignored. Everyone who plays against you should be tired and sore afterwards!
5. Study the Game
Lots of players play the game but relatively few know and understand the game. You can still have a lot of fun playing basketball without understanding all its intricacies but if you want to be really, really good then studying the game and increasing your basketball I.Q. can put you on the fast track. There are three things that can separate you as a player and make you stand out from your peers - athleticism, skills, and basketball I.Q. If you haven't worked out and practiced as much as you should have then it's very difficult to improve your athleticism and skills. Studying the game won't completely make up deficiencies in other areas but it can certainly close the gap.