DREAM, DIRECTION, DISCIPLINE: 3 steps to planning a successful Offseason
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 start turning and the athlete fumbles through his words, thinking about what he’s going to do and what I want to hear.
Me: “You don’t have a plan. You’re basing your game on hope.”
The first step you take, toward any destination you’re aiming to reach, is to plot a course. If you take a trip in the car, you plug the address into your GPS. 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 in the class. If you’re going to cook 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 of the future. What does it look like? What does it feel like? Decide your dreams, goals and vision. It can even be helpful to break your dreams into three time frames: short-term, intermediate, and long-term.
Once you’re clear on your dreams, you can map out your direction. Your direction is your plan and process of how you’ll accomplish your dreams. Ask your coaches to help you establish your direction and offseason training plans.
Prepare with urgency and imagination. As a player, I used to love the offseason. I realized this was my time to separate. If you have inferior athleticism and speed, you must outskill and outwill your opponent. This is achievable through a ridiculous dedication to offseason training. Being in an empty, hot gym or outside in the driveway or park is where special players create special habits and games are won and lost. 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 in your plan. Get a notebook and write it down.
Here’s an example: Shooting Workout, Phase 1: 100 made 3-point shots (20 each from right and left corners, 20 each from right and left wings, and 20 from top of key). Phase 2: 100 made mid-range shots (25 mid-range one-dribble pull-up jumpers going right, 25 mid-range one-dribble pull-up jumpers going left; 25 mid-range catch-shoot no dribble, 25 free throws.
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 that matches your habits to your dreams. Are you training according to your aspirations?
There will be many times when you are in the gym by yourself, but you do not have to travel this road alone. Surround yourself with people who hold you accountable. Find the teammate who is the hardest working athlete in your program or your area and ask to train with them or ask them to train with you.
Even if you’re disciplined, another important component to your offseason development is an imagination. It’s critical to maximizing your time and efforts. There will be days when you don’t feel like it. There will be times when you’re in an empty, dark gym. In these moments, you have to remind yourself that you want to perform when the lights come on. During these lonely times, imagine yourself in the midst of your season. Imagine you’re playing in that championship game. Visualize yourself competing against the best defender in your area. This can help spark your intensity and training efforts.
“I hope I have a good year next year.”
As both a player and a coach, 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.
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