How To Develop Workouts Like A Pro -- Using 8 Key Building Blocks

Home > Player > Workouts > How To Develop Workouts Like A Pro -- Using 8 Key Building Blocks

If you're serious about excelling at the game of basketball, you are probably already starting to work on offseason workouts. Here are tips to guide you through the process of developing your own workouts.

You will see there are 8 blocks in the organization of the workouts.

Block 1 - Athleticism and Injury Prevention.
Block 2 - Ball Handling / Passing
Block 3 - Finishing
Block 4 - Form Shooting
Block 5 - High Repetition Shooting
Block 6 - Theme Shooting Drills (Game-Like Shooting Drills)
Block 7 - Fun Competitive Drill
Block 8 - Cool Down / Static Stretching

You can do something similar or you can create your own organization.

Block 1 - Athleticism and Injury Prevention.

How valuable is your jumper if you lack the athleticism to get open?

What is the point of working on your crossover if you lack lateral quickness and linear acceleration speed?

How much can you help your team if you're injured?


Before every workout, you incorporate dynamic flexibility exercises and coordination exercises to loosen your joints and warm your body up. This can include knee-to-wall touches, leg swings, reaches, knee hugs, lunge matrixes, squat matrixes, jump matrixes, balance work variations, crawling variations, shuffling variations, carioca variations, skipping variations, movement technique progressions.

After the warm up, utilize basketball-specific drills that incorporate lateral and linear movement and change of direction. Two examples could be the mirror drill and defensive close out variations.

Before every workout, you should spend AT LEAST 5 to 10 minutes on the warm up. For players, get to the gym 15 minutes prior to the workout and perform these exercises on your own. That way, you can take full advantage of your court time to work on basketball-specific training.

Block 2 - Ball Handling / Passing

For simplicity purposes, we have divided this block into 3 sections.

Develop Feel For Ball - This is where you develop your hand-eye coordination, hand quickness, and feel for the ball utilizing drills. These drills can range from stationary and slow-moving drills for beginners to 2-ball drills, tennis ball drills, cone drills, ladder dribbling drills, etc for intermediate to advanced players. Once you develop a basic feel for the ball, I prefer to utilize exercises that involve movement around the floor.

CAUTION: Do not spend too much of your practice time on these drills. Many players fall into this trap due to the YouTube circus tricks. If you want to become a circus trick performer, there is nothing wrong with that. Heck, allocate 20 minutes after every practice to that if it's something you really enjoy. But don't be surprised if you don't advance as far you'd like to in your playing career if that's all you focus on.

Full Court Dribbling and Dribble Moves - This is where you practice dribbling down the court with minimal dribbles, changing speeds, back up dribbles, and primary and counter moves.

You can practice your dribble moves in a confined space, full court, or attacking the basket. This can easily be done by placing cones or chairs at certain spots on the floor. Focus on just a few moves and become great.

You can't be great at everything so choose wisely. If you're a college or professional post player, you may only spend 5 minutes on this area where a point guard should spend at least 10 to 15 minutes in this area.

Passing - If you don't have a partner that you can pass to for the shooting drills, you probably need to spend some time passing to a chair or a wall. You could allocate 5 minutes for this every workout.

Block 3 - Finishing

Every workout, you can spend about 3 to 5 minutes on finishing moves close to the basket. This allows you to improve dramatically on certain finishing moves due to the high amount of repetitions.

For intermediate players, this can just be variations of the mikan drills and jump hooks. For advanced players, this could be Euro steps, Rondos, floaters, runners, or other moves.

Just pick a couple and become great.

You can also incorporate finishing into dribble moves and game-like shooting drills.

Block 4 - Form Shooting

Form shooting is all about refining your stroke. This is vital to your shooting so bad habits don't slowly creep in. This involves one-hand shooting, shooting from the release position, and "smooth" shooting starting from the shot pocket.

You can shoot between 25 and 100 shots depending on skill level.

Block 5 - High Repetition Shooting

High Repetition Shooting, just like form shooting, is all about refining your stroke. These shots involve little movement prior to catching the ball, typically just stepping into your shot. The purpose of this is to get a high amount of repetitions in a short amount of time. Typically, you should try to get at least 100 to 200 shots up during this period. These shots include:

  • Catch and shoot.
  • 1-dribble shots - stationary.
  • 1-dribble shots - moving.

Some might argue that you should skip this because all of your shots should be game shots. I disagree for a few reasons.

  • You would highly fatigue yourself trying to get 300 to 500 shots that involve a game-like cut to get open. Your body would have trouble restoring itself which could lead to injury if you repeatedly do this throughout the offseason.

  • Not enough time in the day; You might be in the gym for 4 hours. You should incorporate short, intense workouts of 45 to 75 minutes to avoid burnout and maximize efficiency.

  • High-repetition shooting is good for confidence, mentality, developing rhythm, and distance control too.

  • When you combine high repetition shooting and game-like shots into a workout, this will translate to a higher percentage of shots being made during games. This relates to myelination and Hebbian Learning which is a topic for another article.

  • High repetition shooting improves your conditioning. This happens two fold.

    1. The continuous movement of shooting the basketball can challenge you to improve your conditioning.

    2. When you reach an expert level, with each focused repetition, the signal in your brain becomes stronger. Due to the stronger neurological connection, the task of shooting a basketball is easier which means you utilize less energy. Therefore, you can perform a task longer and your conditioning is better.

    Have you ever felt like you had to take a nap after a really challenging mental activity such as a learning a new topic or trying to understand your taxes? Even though you did very little physical activity, you felt exhausted. That's because your brain was working hard trying to build new neural connections or rewire old ones.

Block 6 - Theme Shooting Drills

Theme shooting drills take a particular area of your game and incorporate game-like shots involving that theme. I got the theme aspect from Don Kelbick. You can have a day where you work on guard play, post play, screens/cutting, footwork, fast break, and high repetitions. I can't recall, but believe that I got all of these from Don. Some of the themes overlap some, but that's irrelevant.

Here are a few sample situations for each theme:

Guard Play - Ball Screen Drills, Shots Off The Dribble, Shots From Dribble Moves
Post Play - Screen and Roll, Pivots and Counter Moves In Post, Short Corner Moves, High Post Moves, Low Post Moves, Taps, Combo Drills
Screens / Cutting - L Cut Series, Down Screen Series, Zipper Cut Series
Footwork - Pivots and counter in the post and perimeter.
Fast Break - Trailer Shots, Shots Off Dribble, Perimeter Shots

Most of these themes include shots off the catch, shots off the dribble, and finishing shots.

If you can get a workout partner of similar skill level, it's crucial that you incorporate some competitive game-like drills into the workouts.

If you workout 4 to 5 times a week, you might work on a different theme every day. If you do not, you might have to shorten the reps and practice 2 to 3 themes each workout.

Block 7 - Fun Competitive Drill

You can use a few drills that are fun. This helps gauge your progress and provides a fun way to end the session. This usually involves shooting drills, but don't limit yourself. Be creative.

Block 8 - Cool Down / Static Stretching

After every workout, you should spend 5 to 10 minutes static stretching. This will help lengthen your muscles to prevent muscle imbalances and future injures while assisting with recovery.

Coaches, if you work out players, you should show them exercises for Blocks 1 and 8 in your first couple of workouts. After that, require that they show up early and stay late so that you can maximize your court time to basketball specific training. All of those exercises can easily be done on a sideline or in a hallway.

How much time should you spend on each block?

This depends on the age and skill level of the player. For younger, less-skilled players, we will spend most of our time on Blocks 1 through 5.

For advanced players, we might only spend 20 to 30 minutes on blocks 1 through 5 and spend the majority of time on block 6 which is theme shooting drills.

The rationale is that there probably isn't much use practicing shooting during game-like situations if the player has poor shooting form, shooting accuracy, or ball handling skills.

For an advanced player, you wouldn't spend too much time on shooting form or beginner ball handling skills. You could also turn the high repetition shooting part of the workout into a conditioning aspect and get a lot more shots up in a shorter amount of time versus a beginner. With a beginner, you would focus on them doing things right and taking their time at first.

View this sample basketball workout using the method above.

Hopefully, this will help you create your offseason workout plan!

What do you think? Let us know by leaving your comments, suggestions, and questions...


Most Likes First   Oldest First   Newest First

Jerry says:
4/19/2017 at 2:21:04 PM

Just a thought here: For me, as much as it helps to maximize time, doing the dynamic and static stretching as a group will allow everyone to feel they are a successful part of the team and allows some down time as a group. Also, if this is extremely important for injury prevention, executing this as a group insures the players will not rush through or skip the exercises. I think no matter what age you are, there is a tendency to rush through warm-ups because they become tedious day after day.

  1 reply  

Joe Haefner says:
4/19/2017 at 2:48:02 PM

Definitely, Jerry. We do the same thing in our team settings.

However, not all coaches do this, so we wanted to offer another way for players to get this in.

Also, as a coach, I like to do this before we take the court if we're limited on time. This also applies to individual and small group workouts.


Leave a Comment
Email (not published)
Three times one is equal to?  (Prevents Spam)
 Load New Question
Leave this Blank