Thursday, July 10, 2014

Sun, Sweat, and Skills by Jasen Sousa for Premier Hoops

A long season and a long school year has just recently concluded.  It is summer, and along with commitments to work, family, and friends, basketball will also play a large role in your summer plans.  Playing your fair share of actual basketball games either indoors or on the playgrounds to keep your game in rhythm is important.  However, what a lot of basketball players forget to do during the summer is work on and develop their game in unique ways which will better prepare them for a successful season.  Many of the top players in the NBA use the summer to add new moves and new exercise routines to their arsenals.  

An alternative exercise which helps with flexibility and mobility is yoga.  Working on specific aspects of your game are also important.  Ball-handling drills can help when the opposition is putting pressure on you while dribbling up-court.  Shooting drills while taking thousands of shots from different areas and angles on the court will build confidence and help make you a scoring threat from anywhere on the floor.  Improving the overall strength on your body is important to not get stripped while driving down the lane, as well as being able to accept contact and complete a 3-point-play.  

How about changing the mechanics of your shooting stroke?  It’s not a good idea to adjust your shot during the season as you will lack confidence in your shot and undoubtedly go through a shooting slump.  Maybe you need to add a new routine for when you shoot free throws?  Maybe you have a hitch in your shot that is always making you miss in a certain direction?  The summer is the time to take countless shots, by yourself, in order to gain confidence in your shot for the season.  When you get the ball in a crucial situation you don’t want to think about the mechanics of your shot, you want to catch and shoot in a natural motion and have confidence from the practice you put in during the summer, and not even think twice about letting it fly.  

How about endurance?  The summer is a great time to really improve your conditioning to gain an edge during the season.  Many basketball players have told stories about jogging on the beach in order to gain increased jumping ability.  Be careful not to run during afternoon hours in the summer heat, but early morning and late night jogs can be a refreshing way to start or end your day and clear your mind.  Remember that having a mental advantage can also be a factor when competing, so try and stay in a positive space and balance your life with positive people as much as you can so you can stay motivated to exercise, work hard and improve both as a basketball player, and as a person.  

This summer, don’t stress over how many teams you can beat, or for bragging rights on the playground, worry about taking care of the areas of your game which are often overlooked so when you are in the game during the season, you can succeed and know it was because of the work you put in during the summer.   

Contributing writer Jasen Sousa for Premier Hoops is the author of a number of poetry and fiction books for young people.  Jasen has an M.F.A. in Creative Writing and is a life-long participant and fan of the game of basketball.  

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