How Coaches Should Approach Preseason Workouts
The goal of the preseason is to prepare for the season...hence the prefix in both words. It lays the foundation for the entire season -- both mentally and physically. You want the foundation to be sturdy and strong, right?
Your preseason workouts should be designed in a way that gets your team in peak basketball shape without burning them out. This is a difficult balance! If you don't do enough, your team will be weak and out of shape on the first day of practice. If you do too much, your team will be exhausted and broken down.
Like the story of Goldilocks and the 3 Bears, you want your preseason workouts to be just right!
What makes this difficult is that there is no right answer -- every team is different. Is your team made up of mostly freshmen and sophomores or is it senior heavy? How many players on your team are currently playing a fall sport? Did most of your players play AAU all spring and summer? On a scale of 1-10, how hard have your preseason workouts been so far?
These are all factors to take into consideration.
The human body is similar to car. No matter how expensive a car is, or how well you take care of it, when it starts to hit 150,000-plus miles on the odometer, it begins to have problems. Many times these problems are minor, but they are problems nonetheless. The same holds true for a basketball player's body. No matter how good of shape a player is in, if they do too much they will start to have issues. Tight lower back. Tweaked ankle. Sore hamstring. Exhausted mind.
If you want your players to perform as well as possible during the season, you can't put too many 'miles' on their bodies during the preseason. Most players already racked up a ton of miles in the spring and summer (literally and figuratively). Don't make it worse by crushing them during the last portion of the preseason.
Too many coaches make it their goal to kill their team in the preseason--believing it will get them in great shape and build mental toughness--by running their teams into the ground. And while I know they have great intentions, they are only doing their team a disservice. Their players will show up for the first day of practice (or tryouts) looking and feeling as though it is late in the season. They will be burnt out, exhausted, and physically and mentally drained.
Instead, you want your team to show up feeling refreshed, energized, and excited for the season to start!
I suggest you evaluate your current preseason workouts and talk to your team leaders to get their thoughts. Are you doing too little? Too much? Or is it just right? If you have a couple of weeks before practice starts, it's not too late to make some minor adjustments.
Productive and purposeful training is about working hard, but it is also about working smart.