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Coaches Network: Off-Court Player Preparation

  • Date:
    Aug 21, 2015

At the end of last season, we asked the USA Basketball Coaches network to recommend some off-court resources that would help youth coaches improve. Continuing with a preseason theme, this week we’re asking about ways to help players as they prepare for the upcoming season. This week’s question for the Coaches Network:

With limited time to work directly with your players in preseason, what off-the-court suggestions do you have -- web sites, videos, books, etc. -- to help players better themselves?


Sue Phillips, head coach, Archbishop Mitty High School (Calif.)

With limited court time in the preseason, we as a staff focus on three areas: weightlifting, basketball I.Q., and mental skills training. Our team is in the weight room four days a week for an eight-week building cycle to enhance performance and reduce the risk of injury. To build our players’ basketball I.Q., I will watch game film with positional groupings during our common lunch periods.

Specifically, we watch last year’s game film to identify player strengths and areas of growth for open gym. To strengthen our players’ mental preparedness, we assign various chapters to read from the book The Champion's Mind: How Great Athletes Think Train & Thrive by Jim Afremow.  Mental skills training is something a player can do year-round to boost confidence and develop strategies for self-correction.


Don Showalter, head coach, Iowa City High School (Iowa)

After the season ends each year, we have an individual player conference.  During this one-on-one time, we discuss many things related to basketball and what they need to do to improve themselves in the offseason.

We also talk about some off-court things they can do to improve themselves both as a person and a player. The coaching staff assigns a book that we think is great reading for the player -- one idea is the book by Jay Bilas, "Toughness."  Another completely non-sports book that is a great read is "Unbroken," which is also a movie. We want the players’ mental mindset to be strengthened during the offseason as well as the physical. The players can also watch any of last season’s games, as they can access all games on their computer or iPad.


Brian Robinson, head coach, Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School (N.C.) 

From time to time we'll suggest links to web sites on improving their mental approach to the coming season. We've found that most of the time, the more mentally prepared a player is when it comes to facing their fears or reaching their goals, the better they are from a confidence standpoint before tryouts start.

We spend most of our on-court preseason improving their physical abilities and hope that their “homework” will be following up on the suggested mental training we can provide.


Are you a youth basketball coach looking for more resources to better yourself and help your players? Join the National Standard and become a licensed coach today! Register now



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