The off-season has begun for high school and college programs; in most cases there is a feeling of excitement for players and coaches to begin a new quest to improve upon their finish from the previous season. However, as the off-season stretches on, it becomes more and more difficult for players and coaches to keep that sense of excitement and to remain motivated throughout the entirety of the off-season. Workouts get stagnant, open gyms lose attendance, and the overall level of intensity drops each week. That lack of energy, and feeling of “burnout” has a tendency to become a habit and part of your culture within the program. As a coach, you have to be able to find ways to keep players excited, motivated, and ready to maximize the time you allot for your program in the gym.
Every program has different ways of doing things and conducting their business, but great programs always find ways to get players to buy-in to off-season development. Champions aren’t made by starting from scratch each year on Day 1. One way of creating buy-in is fostering competition amongst players. Come up with five-ten new drills each month that emphasize important skills within your program (shooting challenges, ball handling challenge, finishing record, or a combination of skills) and track each one. Have players play different types of 1 on 1; then keep a standings sheet with each individual’s overall record. Keep track of wins and losses of each player in open gym play. This also will allow you to track improvement, and find players who are winners.
By fostering competition in the off-season you are much more apt to keep players excited, on top of maximizing the intensity of each skill session or open gym within your program.