This is a very interesting topic because there are many conflicting points of view. One one hand, athletes have always been told to practice practice practice in order to get better. Hours and hours of drills. Blood, sweat, and tears are the way to become a better player. However, if your skills are great but you can’t play because you have a torn ACL, how good of an athlete are you? How good would your car run if all you did was wash and wax the exterior and neglected the engine? Well in basketball, the engine you need to take care of is your body. If the body is not prepared to handle the rigors it will face, it will break down. Once that happens, no matter how good your actual skills are, it won’t matter. So, in my opinion, becoming a better overall athlete is hands down the most important aspect in improving your basketball skills. While there is not a generic program that fits all athletes, there needs to be a balanced program that focuses on relative body strength (how strong you are for your body weight), speed, agility, and quickness.
Some athletes ignore their weaknesses and work only on their strengths. People, including myself, do not like to practice things they are not good at. It’s human nature to want to spend time on something you are good at. It makes you feel good and gives you more self confidence. Now, if you neglect your weaknesses, as Magic Johnson said ” your opponents will find your weaknesses quickly and exploit them”. So instead of trying to hide them, work on them and focus on having them become strengths. For most basketball players, their less dominant hand is a major weakness. Would it make sense to work on it ALL THE TIME so you give yourself more options? Of course. Well like I said, most people don’t want to practice what they are not good at.
Next we have the athlete that only works on their weaknesses. This seems like a good idea except for the fact that if you don’t use it, you lose it. This is especially true in basketball where having a plethora of options both offensively and defensively make you much more dangerous to your opponent and invaluable to your team. The only way your weaknesses can improve is if you are still considered a threat with your strengths. So don’t over train your weaknesses by ignoring your strengths.
Then you have my favorite. The 1/2 speeders. They are the ones that ” go through the motions”. ” Practice? We talking about practice? ” Remember that quote from Allen Iverson? How hard do you think Allen Iverson practiced? He was a very good player but did he reach his full potential? I don’t think he did. I believe that his sold himself short. His natural talent was probably ranked as high on the list as anyone who ever played the game, but his work ethic off the court was what kept him from being a champion. You play the game how you practice the game. Case in point is Michael Jordan. Michael never just went through the motions. He treated every practice as if it were game 7 of the NBA finals. He never took a play off and that is why he never had to turn on the infamous “switch” you hear about. Do you see a difference between Michael and Iverson? Iverson, 0 titles. Jordan, 6 titles. Any questions?
I hope this article was helpful in explaining what it really takes to improve your skills for basketball. I could have wrote page after page describing drills for you to do, but I think that in order to learn physical skills, you need to be physically taught. I would suggest seeking out and working with a qualified coach who is on the same page as you are in your quest for improvement.
Train Hard but Train Safe!