By Tom Sadler
Coach Sadler shares how to structure your off-season development programme...
The Basketball season schedule is becoming more and more hectic every year. Junior players representing many different teams and sometimes across multiple age groups while senior players being asked to play more games and more minutes than ever before. This can make a season gruelling, long and very fatiguing.
Then when the season is finally over our coaches will tell us how important the off-season is. After everything we’ve just done, and all the hard work we’ve put in, we know that the coach is right. Some of us will indeed take a short time to rest but we know as soon as that time period is over we need to get back in the gym, we need to hit the weight room and we need to be in better condition, better shape and be better players’ in time for next season.
Though a daunting task and often a hard process the off-season is so important. As mentioned with the ever-growing demands of an in-season schedule we need to make the most of our time off so that we are ready by the first tip-off of the new season.
Therefore, it’s incredibly important that we get it right. This is where a structured off-season programme can help any player cope with those increased in-season demands.
The easiest way to make sure we get it right is to do one thing; plan.
Planning and structure can be the difference between a productive off-season and a wasted off-season. Coaches and players will organise their training weeks and schedules around fixtures and practices during the season, and even though the fixtures for a lot of us have finished you should approach the off-season with the same detail you would as in season.
One thing we sometimes find less time to do during the season is rest. Our strength and conditioning coaches sometimes find it very hard to accept we don’t find time for this incredible important element of a training schedule but they are also realists. They know the basketball season, as most other team sports seasons, is incredibly hard to manage from a coaches’ and players’ perspective, particularly making sure every player gets the rest they need. There’s so much that needs to be done in such a short period of time.
Recovery is arguably the most important element of any training regime. Our body’s make their adaptations and improvements when resting and as mentioned with the busy world of the basketball season managing this rest becomes more and more of a struggle, particularly if your club does not have on hand a professional medical or sports science team.
This is another reason why the off-season is so important because in the off-season we are lucky enough to have more than enough time to plan our training day, week and month. This means that if you work hard for a certain period of time you can schedule the appropriate rest period to make sure you get the most out of what you’ve just done in training.
Below we’ve put an easy way to manage this over a four-week period.
We’ve used a 2 days on/1 day off approach. Though not necessarily scientifically sound a full 24 hours can be a good amount of time to let the body recover. And to even be on the safe side and make sure we are not over doing it every 3rd series of this sequence is have 2 days off.
An Example 4 Week Training Block
If you start your off-season work early enough there is more than enough time to make sure you have worked on any weaknesses you may have before the new season tips off. You could get at least 2 or 3 of these 4 week blocks in over a long summer, and however many sessions and weeks you decide to get in at least you’ve put a simple plan in place in order to maximise improvement but also maximise recovery.
One thing to add is that these recovery days don’t always mean you don’t do anything, it just means lower the intensity from that of a normal training day. For example, some of the players we have worked with are insistent on getting on court as many times as they can in the off-season so when they are due to rest we restrict them to static shooting or free-throws.
The same can occur in the weights room. If on a rest or recovery day the sessions will either be a stretching session or some form of recovery cardiovascular work like low level cycling. In fact, active recovery can be very beneficially, particularly in well trained players, however it is important that you are strict on lowering the intensity if this is the route you decide to take.
Above all else is it of most importance that you listen to your body. You don’ have to fight through it in the off-season, there’s no fixtures, no team coaches looking over you, it’s just your opportunity to get the most out of each session, that’s how we get better. A fatigued body can’t possibly maximise training sessions and while we need to train hard we have to train smart.
As always it is important to vary your training but without losing the fundamental goal of becoming a better basketball player. It is very easy in the off-season to make the weights room your home and even though ONE2ONE is a programme that has dedicated strength and conditioning professionals who will always preach the importance of the weights room this should not supersede the work you put in on the court. What good is a structured S&C programme if you aren’t putting in the work to improve at the sport you are trying to perform? These two elements should coincide with one another and a structured plan can help any player get the most out the off-season and ready for the start of the next.
If you'd like to work with a ONE2ONE Coach to aid your development this off-season, get in touch.