So your season is over and you have the entire offseason staring you in the face. Where do you start? Designing your offseason skills program is a daunting task but hopefully this article can give you a framework for going about it.
If you want to maximize your time in the gym this offseason, then get ready, this is going to be the most valuable 20 minutes of your spring and summer. Grab a pencil and paper or open up a blank document on your computer. You ready? Alright, lets do this (read all the way through for an example program at the bottom of the page).
Step 1 (6 minutes): Determine the skills you want to improve.
For the first 4 minutes, list any skill you want to improve. Don’t limit yourself to just your weaknesses, include strengths that you want to get better at as well.
This is a brain dump so don’t be afraid to sound silly or stupid. If you think it, write it. Some examples could be...splitting the pick and roll, keeping my man in front of me, between the legs move, and finishing over shot blockers.
Make sure you narrow down anything that is too general. For example, if I said I want to improve my “shooting,” that's way too vague. What aspect of shooting do I want to improve? My range? My shooting off the dribble? Be as specific as possible. It will make Step 2 much easier.
For the last 2 minutes of Step 1, choose the 3 most important topics on your list and circle or bold them. These will serve as the focal point of your offseason skills regimen.
Step 2 (5 minutes): Develop tangible goals
For each of the three topics you’ve chosen in Step 1, write down your goals for the offseason.
These goals need to be as specific and tangible as possible. Don’t say that your goal is to get better at shooting off the dribble. Instead, your goal could be something like this: “Be able to consistently make 7 out of 10 pull up jump shots going both left and right.”
If you have multiple goals for a topic, feel free to write them all down. Just make sure you don’t have so many that you can’t focus enough attention on each individual one.
Important note on goal setting: an ideal goal is one that is difficult, yet attainable. This way, you’ll be challenged to reach a high target while still encouraged that your goal is possible.
Step 3 (5 minutes): Lay out actionable steps
Spend the next 5 minutes writing down actionable steps that you will take in pursuit of your goals from Step 2. For every area of improvement, write down two actionable steps so that you end up with a total of six. This step is vital because it provides concrete actions that you personally hold yourself accountable for.
I've noticed that it's much easier to rationalize a lackadaisical workout when all I’ve agreed to do is “get better” at something. But it's difficult to justify being lazy when I’ve personally agreed to an inflexible rule like "shoot 100 pull ups a day" (for tips on self-motivation check out this post on using motivational quotes).
Step 4 (4 minutes): Fill in the rest
The 3 areas that you’ve chosen to work on should make up 60-65% of the time you spend training. So if you’re planning on training for 1.5 hours, you should spend about 20 minutes on each skill. These 20 minutes should include--whenever possible--the actionable steps that you developed in Step 3.
For the other 30-35%, mix it up. Practice a wide variety of skills that complement the other drills you are performing. I suggest listing as many other drills you know of that focus on complementary skills. This way you can draw from that bank any time you aren't working on your three main skills.
Creating a plan for your offseason training is absolutely vital to rapid improvement and effective workouts (Check out this post on why its important to write down your workouts).
Simply investing 20 minutes now toward organizing your offseason workout program will pay major dividends down the road. Trust me, it’s worth it.
Example offseason skills program
Step 1: Areas of improvement
Shooting with range
Shooting while curling down screens
Ball handling in traffic
Finishing in transition
Finishing over shot blockers
Defending post players
Staying in front of quick guards
Step 2: Goals
Step 3: Actionable steps
Make 100 deep 3s during every workout
During pickup games, pretend that the 3 point line is a step farther so that every 3 is shoot is from a step behind the line
Spend 15 minutes shooting floaters from all angles during every workout
Perform weighted squat jumps 3x week
Perform the ladder agility series 3x week
Perform 5 sets of 15 seconds of lane line to lane line defensive slides 3x week
Step 4: Fill in the rest
1 ball stationary ball handling series
Full court ball handling series
1 dribble pull up jumpers
Creative finishing at the basket
Jump hooks (both hands)
MJ triple threat series
Simulated ball screens
Split the screen
Soft hedge pull up
Reject the screen
Hide behind the screen for 3
Hard hedge pull up
Continuous backboard touches
Catch and shoot 3’s