As I arrive in Spain to begin my professional career, I'm in the same position as many of you. The offseason is in my rear view mirror and I'm officially in preseason mode. Since I'm always babbling on about being intentional in your training, I have a few questions for you.
How should the preseason change your training habits? Should anything change at all? Should the offseason just blend right into the preseason? Let's think about it.
The offseason is great for adding new pieces to your game. This often means trying out new dribble moves, trying to extend your range etc. You have a lot of time to make huge strides in new facets of your game so it makes sense to try and expand your skills.
The preseason is a different animal. The preseason is the time to hone the areas of your game that you're already good at. The parts of your game that will get you playing time and are aligned with your role on the team. It's not the time to try and develop difficult new skills from the ground up.
If you're mostly a spot up shooter, sure it's worthwhile to maintain your ball handling skills. But, it's not the time to try and add new, advanced dribble moves to your game. Instead, spend that time honing in on your shooting. That way, you're ready to contribute to your team most effectively.
1) There just simply isn't enough time. The process of building new skills from the ground up is extremely time-consuming. There are only a few weeks before the season officially begins, which means time is the one thing that you don't have.
In addition, you're probably already practicing and working out with your team throughout the week. This means you'll have less available time and energy to devote to your own skills. If you don't already have a solid foundation for a skill, it's unlikely that you'll be able to develop it in time for the season.
2) You have to make mistakes to develop new skills. Whenever you're trying to add a new dribble move or a shot to your arsenal there's always an awkward development stage where you suck at it (in fact, the best way to learn a skill is to repeatedly fail at it ).
Regardless, it takes a lot of reps and focused energy to get good at anything. When you're battling for playing time in front of your coaches and teammates, you don't want to make mistakes. And those mistakes are exactly what it takes to add new pieces to your game.
It's time to be realistic and honest with yourself. What is your role on the team? What is the coach looking for? What can you do well, that will help your team win?
The answer to these types of questions will give you a clearer sense of the skills you should focus on this preseason.
If you're a back to the basket post-up player, now is not the time to start jacking up 3's. If it was May and you had all summer to work on it, I would say go for it. Set up your training program to include shooting 3's every day and watch your percentage improve. But not now. Here's the hard truth: if you haven't worked on it all summer, it's too late.
I hesitated to even write this post because I don't want to deter anyone from trying to develop their skills. I think it's awesome when players are hungry to develop their game. Personally, I'm always looking for new ways to improve and I simply won't listen to anyone who tells me to stop improving.
I'm not saying you should completely abandon practicing your weak skills. I just think it's crucial to be intentional and pragmatic in your training.
Takeaway: With the season rapidly approaching, it's time to tailor your training accordingly. The preseason is the time to be realistic and practical. Be intentional in your training by spending a greater amount of time on the skills that will get you playing time.