Tuesday, July 28, 2015

It Ain’t Over – How to Maximize Your Summer Skill Development

Shot From: Coach Francis National Select Skills Lab - Email Coachfrancisusa@gmail.com for training opportunities

As the proverbial season 2014-15 season draws to a close plans are readily being made for the 2015-16 to begin.  There will be a very brief timeout during the month of August as players attend national camps, re-evaluate their current circumstances and entertain new homes for next year.  This is the reality for many not just in the DMV but throughout the country.   

Yet there is one aspect that hasn’t been mentioned in this equation and that is the time and opportunity for players to get in the gym and work on their skill sets; what is referred to as player development. Each year players at every level should come back not only bigger, faster, and stronger, but better too.  There should be another noticeable aspect to their games, refining a new skill that they haven’t put on display before. If a player really wants to improve at the game of basketball here is some advice for maximum development.  Improvement should involve several integral points.

First, focus on hard skill development. Hard skills are acquired through intentional focus and repetition such as shooting, ball handling and offensive skills. A serious player may work on these about 2-5 hours per day depending on ability, age and specific goals.  Hard skill improvement is linked to investment of time.  Too often players are so focused on “advanced” skills, and they haven’t yet mastered the critical fundamentals to build from – the simplest example is if you cannot consistently make a Free Throw; master that prior to mastering the 3-point shot.

The second focus should be on soft skill development, specifically understanding the game and learning the nuances to react. This is best accomplished in a very competitive and intensive setting which allows for many opportunities to get the ball. Find a good gym or a group of competitive players and play lots of one-on-one and three-on-three - anything that provides more touches with the ball isolates hard skill work. PLEASE NOTE:  Five-on-five is one of the slowest ways to build skills because of the simple mathematical reality that players get less time with the ball. Playing an abundance of games at this time of year after a heavy game schedule is unproductive time wasted as it relates to maximizing development.

Third, develop a specific physical training plan such as building strength, quickness and vertical jump. Meet with a trainer to evaluate strengths and weaknesses. Work to build an intensive workout which emphasizes growth in these areas.  For players with high metabolisms, especially younger players diet is equally as important as it hydration meeting with a dietary specialist may be helpful to make sure the player is getting all their needs met.

Fourth, develop a mental plan working on basketball IQ, confidence, personal faith, and mental toughness. This is a crucial separator between good and great athletes. Though the course of the year there are so many players that are excellent athletes but do not truly understand HOW TO PLAY THE GAME.  How to make reads, cuts, and in some cases lack the ability to speak the language – this is the time of year where you work on that as the physical advantages that some players have now will slowly but surely dissipate as things even out athletically.  Taking time to analyze and break down game tape, watching high school and/or college games, reading books and publications from those who have played at a high level and/or coached there can also be tremendously helpful.

Finally, find a mentor who can help with planning and provide accountability to goals. The reason why camp is such a great training place is because players get saturated in both hard and soft skill training, they get an improvement plan in place and they can make the important needed changes.  They then take that learning and get to immediately use it in a competitive setting – competing at the highest level will allow you to measure yourself against the best and truly evaluate where you are at with your development.   If you can also combine this with national competition, players from around the country, you are truly maximizing your opportunity as you can evaluate where you are in your specific class outside of your local market. At the middle school level there are a select group of camps that offer high level instruction, high level competition, and a national platform.  Those serious about the game should ensure their attendance and participation in such events.  Once reaching the high school level these type camps become more exclusive, are driven by the sneaker companies, thus being able to show and become accustom to this environment has both present and long-term benefits.

Some of the best camps for middle and grammar school kids are:


CP3 Rising Stars National Camp (Class of 2020 Only) – July 31st – August 2nd, Atlanta, GA

CP3 Rising Stars National Camp (Class of 2019) – August 7th – August 9th, Winston Salem, NC

Get Me Recruited Southeast All-Freshman Invitational (Class of 2019) – October 3rd, Raleigh, NC


Bball Spotlight Future Phenom Camp (All Classes) – August 21st – August 23rd, Boyds, MD

Buckeye Prep Showcase (All Classes) – September 11th – 13th, Westerville, OH

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