What goals or objectives should you, as a High School Coach, hope to accomplish in your off-season workouts? Should your sessions be “Open Gym” for shooting, individual work, free play, or possibly a direct extension of your regular season practices? Whether your school district allows you to use the gym as much as you want, or limits your time in the facility, how you use that time can have a big impact on your program.
It is a big commitment for most Coaches to use their free time or family time to open the gym for off-season workouts. Therefore, it is wise to have a plan in mind so the time is well-spent. Start by asking yourself these questions before devising your plan:
A. What are the major weaknesses of last year’s team that need to be addressed?
B. What are individual player weaknesses that need to be improved?
C. Will you be introducing a new system, offense, or culture for the coming season?
D. How many sessions will you be able to schedule during this off-season?
E. How will player “buy-in” and attendance affect the potential improvement?
Off-season workouts should provide some instruction and skill training, but they also must involve some fun. A smart coach will consider how to make these sessions profitable, but also enjoyable for the participants. Here are some ways to do that:
- Meet with each player and discuss what their strengths and weaknesses are at this point. Give them a couple of specific things to improve on over the off-season.
2. Discuss with the entire team some of the weaknesses the team had last season and/or you anticipate this coming season. Explain how you will help them overcome these weaknesses in the off-season workouts.
3. If you are changing any part of your present system, meet with the team and discus the reasons for the change and how it will make them better next year.
4. Encourage players to show up for as many of the scheduled sessions as possible, but don’t make it sound mandatory. Summer vacations and down time are to be enjoyed in the off-season.
5. Discuss the “fun aspects” of the workouts. Examples: Extra time to work on shooting, plenty of scrimmage situations, competition drills, and individual attention with the coach to work on weaknesses. And maybe some Summer League games to test and gauge improvement.
If you address player weaknesses with specific drills, the players can improve not only in workouts, but on their own time too. If you come up with specific drills for the team that will address past issues, they will be more apt to focus on correcting these short-comings during your workouts. By adding plenty of time for shooting drills and free shooting, players have a chance to improve their shooting fundamentals and accuracy. Scrimmages can address the goals for the off-season, but some “free-time” play is important too. When their “free-time” play starts emphasizing your workout goals, you know they have bought in and recognize the goals. That is a potential reward for you as coach and for the future of your program.
- Pinpoint specific areas of improvement.
- Share your concerns with the players.
- Involve unstructured time for the players to choose their own options.
- Don’t work out on consecutive days. Two or three times a week is plenty.
- Remember, it is the Off-Season.