In a perfect world, basketball is a sport that would happen year-round. In many communities, however, organized basketball takes the summer off. You love hoops, substituting the game with baseball or soccer just doesn’t feel right.
So, you hit the courts with your friends to play some pick-up games. It’s a good way to pass the time, right?
You could also spend that time training for your next season of organized ball. Think of this advice as a set of practical suggestions you can implement to help you become more effective at your game.
The Best Ways to Approach Basketball in the Summer
- Get Healed
Most players pick up a knock or two when playing basketball throughout the year. These minor injuries might be something you could play through. A better idea is to get rested, heal up, and return to a true 100%. You don’t want that knock to turn into a bigger injury that might keep you out for several weeks. Grab some ice, rest if needed, and follow-up with a doctor if a minor knock is still bothering you after a couple of weeks.
- Be Honest
You probably sat down with your coach, your parents, and your friends to talk about your game after the season. That feedback is invaluable to your development as a player. It will show you where there might be some gaps in your game that you can practice on those playground courts over the summer. To make sure that happens, you must be brutally honest with yourself. Don’t fool yourself into a sense of false confidence. Work hard, work often, and shore up those weaknesses.
- Eat Right
Your eating choices will either build a foundation for growth into the next season or put you behind everyone else. If you make poor eating choices, your game will suffer. Have the discipline to gain weight the right way. Use the summer to follow a strength-training program that lets you build some muscle. Include some cardio, so you don’t lose your wind. At most, you should be gaining about one pound per week if you’re gaining muscle.
- Work on Specific Skills
Many players fail in basketball because they get bored with the repetition. It is the art of repetition, however, that turns great players into elite players. You must continue to work on the basics throughout the summer. Your footwork, passing, and rebounding are just as critical to your game as your ball handling and shooting skills. For repetition to be effective, you must get yourself outside or to a gym every day to work on these things. Playing with your buddies a couple days per week isn’t going to get you to the next level.
- Get Flexible
Most players tend to focus on their hamstrings when they work on their flexibility. There’s nothing wrong in that. You just have plenty of other body parts that like to get warmed up and stretched out before you start playing. Focus on areas that tend to get stiff or sore on you during a game, like your shoulder or lower back, to make sure your mobility won’t be affected once you get back into an organized league.
Do you need to be in awesome basketball shape during the summer? Probably not. Should you kill yourself on court conditioning when you’ve got some time off? Nope. That doesn’t mean your condition should be completely ignored during the summer. Try mixing in some cross-training activities to liven things up a bit. Work on your coordination with a jump rope. Take a morning to go for a long swim. Jump on your bike and ride a few miles. You’ll have time to get back into court shape once practices start getting scheduled again.
- Count the Reps
To develop new skills in basketball, you must count your repetitions. You need at least 7 reps to begin building basic skills in a specific area. If you’re trying to develop a new skill over the summer, do a minimum of 15 reps per day. For players trying to develop an outside shot, your reps should be in the 50-100 range each day. To build strength in these areas, make sure to include some form of resistance for best results.
- Landing Technique
Injuries to the feet and ankles are very common in basketball. Some of this is due to the twisting and pivoting that the sport requires. Then there are the preventable injuries which happen because a poor landing technique was not used. In a study by the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the injury rate is 3.85 per 1,000 players to the ankles. When you land, work to absorb the impact. Your knees should be over your feet and your chest should be over your needs. Don’t land with your legs straight. Solid, supporting landings help to reduce the risk of an ACL injury while playing.
- Keep Going
There are days in the summer where you’ll want to play video games, eat desserts, and binge-watch some shows. That’s okay, as long as you do it in moderation. Just remember: every day you decide to set basketball aside is Day #1 in a new habit that could be established. Get back to the court right away.
Are You Ready for the Summer?
Summer practice occurs more frequently when players have access to the right equipment and the best basketball training aids. If your budget permits it, consider installing an in-ground basketball hoop, so you can work on your shooting when it is convenient.
If you can’t afford an in-ground system, then a portable basketball hoop will still let you get some work done.
Even a mini basketball hoop in your room that you use each day is better than nothing at all.
Summer might be a time for vacations. It is definitely a time for fun. It only takes a little extra work to make basketball become a priority for you too. That way, you’ll be ready to up your game when the next season rolls around.