Here’s a common conversation I have with players during the offseason:
Player: “Coach, I’m going to the gym.”
Me: “What are you going to do at the gym?”
Player: “Get up shots”
Me: “What types of shots?”
This is usually when I get a strange look back—the wheels begin to turn— and the athlete fumbles through their words, thinking about what their workout will look like and what they think I want to hear at this moment.
Me: “You don’t have a plan. You’re basing your game on hope?”
The first step you take, toward any destination, is to plot a course. If you take a trip in the car, you type the address into your map app. If you’re taking a class at school, you get a syllabus from your teacher that outlines what you need to do to earn an A. If you’re cooking a meal, you buy the ingredients and follow the recipe.
This need for direction is why, when I work with athletes, I often talk to them about my 3D philosophy: Dream, Direction, Discipline.
It starts with a dream or vision for the future. What does it look like? What does it feel like? Who’s beside you? Decide your dreams, goals, and vision now. It can even be helpful to break your dreams into three-time frames: short-term, intermediate, and long-term. This is big picture thinking—which allows your mind to run wild—putting you on the path to having a productive summer.
Once you’re clear on your dreams, it’s time to map out your direction. Your direction is the plan and process of how you’ll accomplish your dreams. If you’re struggling with this, ask your coaches for help.
Prepare with urgency and imagination. As a player, I used to love the offseason. I realized this was my time to separate myself from others. If you have inferior athleticism and speed, you must have superior will and skill. This is achievable through a ridiculous dedication to offseason training.
Being in an empty, hot gym or outside in the driveway is where special players create habits that win and lose future games. This is where playing time is earned and opponents are beaten.
The problem is most athletes don’t think this way. Most athletes only hope to improve their shot, hope to get a better handle or hope to become a more dynamic playmaker.
Stop hoping and start working.
Map out your direction and plan. If you’re planning a shooting workout, don’t be vague and say you’ll get up 200 shots. Be specific. Where are you shooting from? How many shots from each spot? How many makes vs. misses?
Here’s an example of what it could look like:
Phase 1: 100 made 3-point shots off the catch
- 20 from the right corner
- 20 from the left corner
- 20 from the right-wing
- 20 from the left-wing
- 20 from the top of the key
Phase 2: 50 made mid-range shots off the dribble
- 25 right-wing mid-range one-dribble pull-ups
- 25 left-wing mid-range one-dribble pull-ups
Phase 3: Free throws
- 50 makes
Discipline is your responsibility. A coach can give reminders and provide opportunities, but the most disciplined athletes are wild animals. You must hold yourself accountable for your offseason improvement. You must create the discipline which matches your habits to your dreams. Ask yourself this question—am I training according to my aspirations? If you’re not, change.
There will be many times when you’re in the gym by yourself, but you don’t have to travel this road alone. Surround yourself with people who will hold you accountable. Find the teammate who’d the hardest working athlete in your program or area and train with them.
In addition, let your imagination run wild. It’s critical to maximizing your time and efforts. There will be days when you don’t feel like it. Your body hurts. You’re tired. It’s raining outside. In these moments, remind yourself of what PGC founder Dick Devenzio famously said in his book Stuff Good Players Should Know.
Championships are not won on the night of a big event, but years before by athletes who commit themselves daily to championship principles.”
Imagine you’re playing in that championship game. Visualize yourself competing against the best defender in your area so you continually raise the intensity level of your training.
Player: “I hope I have a good year next year.”
I have heard this comment from hundreds of athletes. Heck, I probably said it to myself at some point. So why do so many players prepare for the season like they are playing the lottery? Why do we look at our future and hope something good happens?
Instead, create a dream for your future, map out your direction, and create the discipline you need to develop championship habits.
If you do that, you’ll wake up at the end of your career with a smile on your face, knowing you did everything you could to maximize your potential.
Join us at a PGC camp this summer to enhance your court awareness and basketball IQ, create better relationships with even the most “challenging” teammates and master subtleties of the game most coaches don’t have time to teach.
See you there,
Sam Allen, PGC Director
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PGC Basketball provides intense, no-nonsense basketball training for players and coaches. Our basketball camps are designed to teach players of all positions to play smart basketball, be coaches on the court, and be leaders in practices, games and in everyday life.
We combine our unique PGC culture with a variety of teaching methods and learning environments to maximize the learning potential of those that attend our sessions. In addition to spending 6-7 hours on the court each day, lessons will be reinforced through classroom sessions and video analysis.
Our goal at PGC is to empower you with the tools to fulfill your basketball dreams, while also assisting you in experiencing the joy of the journey.