13 Ways to Improve During the Coronavirus Lockdown (Coaches and Players)

coronavirus-lockdown

Our hearts and prayers go out to anyone who has been affected by COVID-19.

While we still have a ways to go, I can’t help but be encouraged by how we have come together as one to defeat this virus.

To see some of the selfless acts individuals and corporations are doing during this extremely difficult time has been heartwarming to say the least.

- Folks shopping for their elderly neighbours

- Health care workers working round the clock

- Manufacturing necessary equipment at record levels

- Professional athletes stepping up and paying salaries of franchise employees

- Employees of life-sustaining businesses offering to work incredibly long hours

This is a time to come together as one, and it’s incredibly encouraging to see that we’ve done so in many ways.

We've received many emails from players and coaches who are interested in learning about ways they can improve while at home for at least the next few weeks (and quite possibly longer). 

Here are a few of the best ways players and coaches can spend their time:

Advice for Players

1. Watch Film, Games, and Videos

Unsurprisingly, some of the greatest players of all time are the biggest students of the game.

They’re always looking for any edge that would give them a competitive advantage over their competition.

Kobe Bryant is notorious for watching hours of film on a regular basis during his NBA career.

What some may not know is that Kobe began studying film as a youngster growing up in Italy, and his grandfather would regularly send him videotapes of NBA legends in their prime.

Kobe would voraciously watch game after game of the greats, modeling his game after Hall of Famers such as Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, and Elgin Baylor.

If you do not know a ton about some of those names, I HIGHLY encourage you to spend some time on YouTube watching those NBA Hall of Famers.

Mr. Triple-Double, for example:

LeBron James has stated on more than one occasion that on his days off, he watches every NBA game. Talk about commitment and dedication to your craft.

His teammate, Rajon Rondo, described what film study with LeBron is like, saying that LeBron demands every player's undivided attention during every film session.

There are countless ways to learn from watching film, whether you are breaking down your own film or watching film of the greats.

One caveat on watching film:

Do not fall into the trap of strictly watching film of individual players.

Be sure to also watch film of the best teams to ever do it as well.

Watch the Lakers and Celtics from the 1980s, the Bulls from the 1990s, the Lakers and Spurs from the 2000s, the Warriors from the 2010s, and pretty much any LeBron James-led team.

Watch Jay Wright's Villanova teams, especially from 2015 to the present day. It’s amazing to watch how they sacrifice for each other.

Watch last year's NCAA Final Four - those four teams were selfless and tenacious on the defensive end (and they played almost entirely man-to-man!)

Watch how these teams played championship level defense, rebounded, made the "hustle plays", and shared the basketball with each other.

We can all learn a ton from watching championship-level basketball.

2. Improve Your Conditioning

The best players are often the best conditioned athletes.

When we are eventually able to carry on with our normal lives again, it’s important to be able to pick up where you left off from a conditioning standpoint.

Some of you may have an exercise bike or a treadmill in your home...

Take advantage of this and put in the work daily.

Push yourself.

Beat the time from the day before.

Try to improve your time and your stamina each and every run or ride.

The best conditioned basketball players get stronger as the game goes on, while those who are not in shape run out of steam in the biggest moments.

Games are often decided because of this.

3. Improve Your Strength

The beauty of a body weight workout is that you can perform it anytime, anywhere.

Great players use their strength to their advantage when defending, when finishing through contact, and when battling for a tough rebound in traffic.

Below are just a small sample of excellent body weight exercises you can do in the comfort of your own home.

  • Squats (lower body)
  • Lunges (lower body
  • Burpees (whole body)
  • Pushups (upper body)
  • Planks (core strength)
  • Crunches (core strength)
  • Bicycles (core strength)
  • Wall Sits (core strength and lower body)

4. Improve Your Flexibility

I think we can all agree LeBron James is in the conversation as the greatest basketball player of all time (at the very least).

Here is a quote from an article that discusses just how important flexibility is to LeBron. 

"Part of James' ability to stay healthy has come at the junction of an evolution in basketball training and player development that has coincided with James' career. The focus is no longer on weight training but instead toward elements like movement, flexibility, body weight, and band resistance. While lifting weights would add inflammation to a player's muscles, the new focus is flexibility and recovery."

This is not to diminish the importance of strength, as LeBron has lifted plenty of weights throughout his playing days…

To be fair, LeBron is 35 years old, has plenty of miles on his tires, and is doing everything he can to continue the incredible longevity he has showcased throughout his unbelievable career.

This is to highlight just how important flexibility is in the game of basketball.

The most flexible players are often the best defenders, have the fewest nagging injuries, and have the quickest recovery times.

LeBron is a perfect case in point as he has largely avoided serious injury throughout the 17 seasons he has been in the NBA.

Below are just a few really good ways to begin enhancing your flexibility starting today.

  • Yoga (with today's technology, you can take yoga classes remotely!)
  • Dynamic stretching before workouts
  • Static stretching post workouts
  • Stretch multiple times per day

5. Improve Your Basketball Skills

If you’re lucky enough to have access to a basketball and hoop, what a perfect time to continue honing your basketball skills.

If the Golden State Warriors have taught us anything over the past 5-6 years, it’s the importance of every player on the court being able to shoot, dribble, and pass.

It’s very difficult to guard a team when all five players are supremely skilled.

When a team has players who are able to both space the floor and attack the hoop and score, it becomes extremely difficult for the defense to work out an effective strategy.

The defense is put in a “lose-lose” situation.

If they don’t provide help defense, the attacker will likely score.

But if they do help on drive, they’ll leave a shooter wide open for an uncontested shot.

Now is the time to work on the skills that will make you a “deadly” offensive player.

But remember...

You do not need to perform a 5 hour workout each day.

Working as hard as you can at game speed for 45 minutes and repeating this 4-5 times per week will yield remarkable results if you plan your workouts correctly.

Below are a few pieces of advice to keep in mind:

Dribbling

  • Stay low - the low man wins!
  • Head up
  • Pound the basketball
  • Work on both hands

Shooting

  • Everything at game speed
  • Work on all areas of the court
  • Work on catch and shoot
  • Work on shooting off the dribble
  • Work on shooting from deep
  • Work on mid-range jumper
  • Work on your floater
  • Work on different footwork
  • Work on finishing around the rim with both hands, different types of finishes
  • Incorporate free throws (preferably while you are tired to simulate the game!)
outdoor basketball hoop through fence

Advice for Coaches

6. Read

Below are just a few of the best books out there.

Some are basketball related, while others are broader in scope.

These are some of the best basketball / self-improvement books, in my opinion, and it’s my hope that you use this time in the house to get better.

Wake up early, make yourself a coffee, find a quiet spot, and voraciously consume these!

Here’s a quick list from my current bookshelf:

  • The Inner Game of Tennis by W. Timothy Gallwey
  • Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck
  • Sum It Up by Pat Summitt
  • The Sixth Man: A Memoir by Andre Iguodala
  • Rebel with a Cause: The True Story of Jerry Tarkanian by Danny Tarkanian
  • Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. by Ron Chernow

7. Connect With Your Team

This is a great opportunity to strengthen the bond with the players on your team.

If it’s appropriate to do so, check in on them during this difficult time.

Doing so will show each player that you care about their health and wellbeing as a human, not just for their abilities as a basketball player.

If you can develop trust now, they’ll run through walls for you when the season starts again.

Which leads me to the following...

8. Send Your Players Workouts

Players with the right mindset and a fistful of work ethic can take advantage of this lockdown time to improve their basketball game.

But, many players don’t know what to do...

That’s where a coach can step in to help!

Reach out to your players and see if they would like your help with skill / conditioning workouts.

If they do, ask them what resources they have available so you can put together their workout.

Example questions:

  • Do you have a basketball?
  • Do you have access to a basketball hoop?
  • How much space do you have to shoot?
  • Do you have cardio equipment?

Depending on their answers, put together workouts they can do at home.

(or send them one of the basketball workouts I created here)

These can be full shooting workouts if they have access to a hoop with space, stationary ball-handling workouts if they only have a basketball and small area, or even bodyweight workouts if they don’t have a basketball.

There’s always an opportunity to get better.

man playing basketball outdoors

9. Expand Your Basketball Network

Depending on your coaching goals, expanding your basketball network might be a wise use of your time while we’re all stuck at home.

Coaching is all about relationships, after all.

There are many ways to do this:

a. Get Online

Add your own opinion to our coaching discussions on Twitter, or join one of the 100’s of FaceBook groups dedicated to becoming a better basketball coach.

These giant platforms give you an amazing opportunity to connect with thousands of basketball coaches from every corner of the world.

If you’re willing to reach out, you’ll be surprised how many fantastic coaches are happy to share their knowledge to whoever asks for it.

b. Reach Out to Former Coaches

Another option is to rekindle friendships with some of your former coaches (and teammates).

If they’re anything like the retired basketball coaches I know, many would be over the moon to hear from a past player.

Ask them how they would handle a particular situation, see if they have any effective quick hitters out of a timeout, or ask for their favorite rebounding drill.

10. Review Game Film

Another way for coaches to get better is to watch recordings of previous games.

There’s a lot you can learn from this:

  • What are our strengths?
  • What are our weaknesses?
  • How is our transition defense?
  • How are opposition teams attacking us?
  • Are we helping / rotating correcting?
  • Which team wins more 50/50 balls?
  • Am I drawing up good set plays?
  • Where does our offense break down?
  • Is there anything I should do differently?

There are 100’s of questions to think about.

If you commit to doing this for several games while taking notes, you’ll come up with many ways your team can improve next season.

11. Improve Your X’s and O’s Knowledge

After you’ve finished watching your own team’s games, it’s time to expand your knowledge.

Schedule time in your day to study the game of basketball.

There’s a ton of information on this website that will help you.

> Want to study a few set plays? Read this.

> Want to learn more about 5-out motion? Read this.

> Want new basketball drills to add to your practices? Read this.

> Want to learn why it’s terrible when youth coaches use zone defense? Read this.

If you’re willing to look for it, there’s an endless amount of knowledge online.

A few other great resources to check out are:

12. Throw On a Podcast

Another great idea for development:

While you’re going about your daily tasks at home, put on a podcast.

These are fantastic because, unlike video / film, podcasts don’t require your undivided attention.

Putting on headphones and listening to experts speak on topics they’re passionate about is a great way to pass time productively while doing meaningless at-home tasks.

Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Solving Basketball
  • Way of Champions
  • A Quick Timeout
  • The Talent Equation
  • The Basketball Podcast
  • Thinking Basketball
  • The Help Side
  • Coaching U

(If you’re looking for a podcast player, I use Pocket Casts)

13. Spend Time With Your Family

Last but not least…

Cherish the time you get to spend with your family.

Without question it’s a difficult time for everyone right now (emotionally, financially, etc), but that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate the extra time we get to spend with those we love.

Don’t be so focused on improving (or the virus) that you forget to enjoy it.

Be safe everyone.

And remember to wash your hands!

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