5 Unconventional Offseason Training Methods That Will Give You An Edge On Your Competition

Everybody will tell you the basics of what you should do every offseason like...

  • Rest - Take 2 to 4 weeks off after the season to rest to avoid emotional and physical burnout.

  • Create a plan and develop a workout.

While those are very important, we wanted to offer some ways to improve that are not commonly talked about. Hopefully, these unconventional approaches will help you blow by your competition.


  1. Play in the parks with some buddies and find some “old man” leagues.

    I’ve watched my fair share of basketball. The problem certainly is NOT whether there is enough structured game play. Actually, it is the problem. Kids today are being over coached. They are becoming robots rather than players.

    Why aren’t there higher IQ and creative players like in the generations of Jerry West, Bird, Magic, and MJ? Where is the next Pistol Pete? Why aren’t there more players like Magic and Jason Williams (the point guard)?

    Did they play dozens and dozens of structured tournament games during the offseason?

    Since kids are constantly competing for playing time, they are missing out on self-discovery (the best teaching tool) and creativity learned by playing in the parks with peers and against adults.

    They are not allowed to push their limits and fail and get better because failure leads to less playing time in the structured game environment.

    Who is your kid going to learn more from? Playing against the top-ranked 15 year old or the 40 year old vet with “old man” game?

    I can tell you who I would want my kid to learn more from and it’s NOT the top-ranked 15 year old.


  2. Use pick up games as a tool to improve your game.

    Set up rules for yourself when you play pick up games to enhance your skill development.

    For example, maybe you can only finish with your weak hand. Maybe you can only drive to your weak hand.

    Maybe you only shoot jumpers. No driving.

    Maybe you limit yourself to 2 dribbles every time you touch the ball.

    However, don’t tell your opponent what you’re doing.


  3. Play USEFUL 1 on 1 games

    Similar to pick up games, use 1 on 1 games that will help you improve in the 5 on 5 game. Taking 15 dribbles to back your defender down to get an open shot is not going to work during the game.

    Do things like:


  4. Pick 1 aspect to improve each offseason

    "I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times." - Bruce Lee

    This means that if you try to improve everything at once, you’ll probably be mediocre at best in everything.

    Pick one aspect each year and become great at it. Here are a few examples.

    • Pull up jumper
    • Extension finishing move
    • A counter dribble move to your hesitation move. Maybe a crossover or behind the back.
    • A counter to your drop step move - maybe a back pivot.

    If you’re not a great shooter, start there! The ability to catch and shoot and do it well will open so many aspects to your game including driving and passing lanes.

    If you’re unsure about what to work on, ask multiple coaches, parents, and players. That way, if you hear the same thing over and over, you know what you probably need to practice.


  5. Go to high-quality basketball camps that also teaches character development

    While basketball camps are becoming more uncommon due to the tournament approach, it has almost become even more uncommon to focus on developing the character of young people in today’s WIN-NOW environment.

    A high-quality camp should teach work ethic, skills, and the knowledge required to become a good basketball player.

    In addition to this, a high-quality camp should also instill the character traits that will help you succeed after your playing career.

    Everybody has a career after playing. Make sure you are developing the traits that will help you succeed as an adult.


Related Resources:

Breakthrough Basketball Camp Schedule

Can Summer Basketball Lead To Injuries, Emotional Burnout, and Diminishing Skills?

6 Crucial Tips For 1 on 1 Drills To Develop Better Skills

30 Competitive Game-Like Skill Development Drills

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


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Steven Ketcham says:
3/12/2015 at 8:06:08 AM

Can you elaborate on using a shot clock with 1-on-1? You do not mention it but I was also curious about using it with 3-on-3.

  1 reply  

Joe Haefner says:
3/12/2015 at 10:14:56 AM

1-on-1 with shot clock is just like a regular game with a shot clock.

If you have a 5-second shot clock, the player must shoot within 5 seconds. Otherwise, it is a turnover.

I have used similar ideas in a team aspect. Here is one to emphasize Fast Break scoring:


  1 reply  

Steven Ketcham says:
3/13/2015 at 7:46:41 AM

Sounds almost too simple. Thanks.

Our state does not have a shot clock but I have been watching games from states that do.

What caught my eye is how much smoother and more efficient the games were. I have considering adding this to some of the drills we use but I am not sure if just adding a time limit to a drill is going to make a difference.

Plus, even though the games that use a shot clock seem smoother the possession times seem similar to teams who play without the clock.

I am curious about it.


shawn says:
2/24/2015 at 11:09:28 PM

I have two boys 13 and 11 the 13 year old needs to improve shooting and 11 needs to improve ball handling and I have been trying to get him to shoot the the right way I stead of from his chest when they play outside with friends they always want to drop the hoop to 6 foot do you think this will make it harder for them on developing there shooting they do play with it at 10 foot a lot just wondering if different heights would hurt anything

  1 reply  

Joe Haefner says:
2/25/2015 at 9:44:53 AM

Shawn, first off, the fact that they want to play and are playing for fun on their own is great. While it won't exactly replicate shooting on a ten foot goal, I don't believe it will hurt their shooting.

Free play is one of the biggest things lacking with today's youth. They aren't allowed to be creative and just play for fun.

Here are some shooting articles that you might find helpful:




Also, be careful about forcing your kids to play. I'm not implying that you are.

Many parents with the right intentions end up getting the opposite results... a kid who doesn't want to practice or play.

How many things do we like to do that we're forced to do?

I would have a local coach or parent talk to your kids about what it takes to be good. Whether they want to do those things is up to them ultimately.

This Q&A has some ideas on how to develop the passion.



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