A Secret to Getting Your Basketball Players to Attend Open Gym Workouts

We're going to tell you a little secret that Tom Billeter (who coached under Lute Olson) does with his players. It...

  • Motivates players to come to open gym because they are given a choice
  • Exposes hidden talents that may have been covered up by pigeon holing players
  • Puts some "fun" in basketball - makes them want to practice more

You and I both know getting kids to come to open gyms to workout can sometimes be difficult.

It's great if your kids are playing in leagues, but it's also important to come to open gyms where coaches can help hone individual skills for the next season. Players need both in the offseason.

But I know a lot of times, if players had a choice, they'd want to play games instead of attending workouts.

Goal = Players who are passionate about getting in the gym and getting better.

One of our coaches - Tom Billeter - has figured out how to get players to come to open gyms for workouts.

Coach Billeter has been blessed with very good shooting Bigs as the coach for Augustana University in South Dakota. They just finished 26-4 and were ranked #5 in Division II this season.

He offers a great piece of advice that has worked for him throughout the years and has helped him get more players WANTING to come into the gym on their own.

Let's start in Las Vegas...

A few years ago, Billeter was in Las Vegas on a recruiting mission, watching AAU games, and got to the gym early one morning. It was one of those 8 o'clock early games in one of those far satellite gyms. There he saw a 6'8" post making every 3 pointer just warming up.

That post was Eric Krogman, and Billeter called him as soon as the NCAA's rules allowed. That was the start of a 3-point career for Krogman...he turned into one of Augustana's most reliable 3-point threats. Krogman is in Augustana's top 10 all-time 3 point shooters.

But what you don't know is that Krogman shot just ONE three during his entire high school career.

What Billeter realized then is that Bigs want to get in the gym when they know the coach will let them shoot 3s. That motivates them. It's something fun for them.

Don't get me wrong...Billeter still played Krogman on the block, but the key is that he allowed Krogman to expand his game. First year, Krogman was an okay 3-point shooter, and then every year after that he got better and better and by his senior year, he could really shoot it from the perimeter, a force to be reckoned with.

Find something your players want to get better at...and give them that opportunity.

And Billeter knows that sometimes there is something in coaching where you still work with your players on development, but you also find something they want to get better at. Maybe they don't have an opportunity...and you give it to them.

Coach Billeter doesn't pigeon-hole players. He doesn't just put a player at a certain spot because that's what he's supposed to do. They try and have some fun.

They like to open up the gym at night. They want their guys coming in so they can do their individual workouts. But here's what they do that inspires their players...


You got 10 minutes, what do you want to work on?

After all, they just dictated the player for 50 minutes, so he gives them a choice and a chance to work on anything they want for those 10 minutes.

Billeter says it's kind of funny. They'll have guards wanting to post up and Bigs wanting to shoot 3s. It doesn't matter - it's their call, even if the coaches don't think they can ever do it - because it doesn't matter.

This allows players like Krogman to practice some aspects of the game they usually don't get a chance to.

After all, the goal is to have kids who are passionate about getting in the gym and getting better.

Maybe Tom Billeter's tip will work for you this summer!

(If you're also interested in learning more about Coach Billeter's offense that has given him so much success, you can find information here: Billeter's Rocket Offense.)


Do you have any questions or suggestions for this article? Let us know by leaving your comments...



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