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Success is Not An Accident

Posted by Jeremy Kelley on April 5, 2018

March Madness has come and gone, and as the city of Philadelphia prepares for a championship parade to celebrate the 2018 NCAA Champion Villanova Wildcats, much of the sports world will turn their attention to Major League Baseball or The Masters or whatever sports season is up next. For the coaches, staff and players at the JCC, however, the end of the competitive season simply means that the beginning of the off-season is right around the corner. Contrary to popular belief, the off-season may not be exactly what you think it is.

The competitive basketball season only lasts about 6 months or so but a comprehensive basketball training program stretches the full year round. Most players forget (or just aren’t aware) that what they do in the off-season plays a crucial role in how their season plays out. Add in the all-important pre-season phase to the mix and you now have a full year that looks something like the following: Pre-season (2-3 months), in-season (6-7 months) and off-season (3-4 months). Let’s take a closer look at each phase in a basketball training program and what it involves…


So you’ve taken the time to prepare during the off-season. You’ve rebalanced your body in order to reduce the risk of injury. You’ve hopefully begun to develop high levels of strength and you’ve laid a good aerobic foundation…this is where it really starts!

This phase is not easy. But the rewards are well worth any short-term discomfort. You should start to move away from general aerobic conditioning and towards more basketball-specific sessions. Basketball is a multi-sprint sport. In a game you’ll be required to perform several successive sprints close to maximum speed on numerous occasions. The result? Your body quickly begins to accumulate lactic acid. Your ability to recover from this build-up of lactic acid can have an enormous impact on your performance. As such, your basketball training program must incorporate anaerobic endurance drills. Shuttles runs are a classic example and very effective. You can also make drills even more specific if you throw in a ball and some basic fundamental skills.

Plyometrics or jump training is one of the most effective methods for developing explosive power. And because power is a product of both speed of contraction and strength, your groundwork in the weight room will pay dividends here. As the competitive season draws closer your basketball training program should place more and more emphasis on quickness and agility. Again your conditioning must be basketball specific…try to incorporate a ball and basic passing and shooting skills.


So after all that preparation and hard work, you’re fit for life! You need never visit the weight room again! Well, not quite… But you can begin to enjoy the benefits of all your hard work and discipline. Because of your new level of fitness, your skill on the court will increase. There is nothing more debilitating and disconcerting than trying to perform intricate skills when you’re gasping for breath. Likewise…it’s a great feeling to know that no game situation is as demanding as the training sessions you’ve endured. The goal of the in-season is to maintain what you’ve developed during the pre-season.

You need to find a balance of strength training and power training. Two weights sessions and one plyometric session is a good model to follow. Similarly, two anaerobic endurance sessions is ample, especially as a game counts as another one. You can perform some speed and agility drills two days a week also. If you focus on form and keep them undemanding physically, you can tack them on to the start of other training sessions.


Don’t underestimate the importance of the off-season. It’s a prime opportunity to restore the imbalances that basketball places on the musculoskeletal system. Of course, it’s also a time when you rest and recuperate. But resting does NOT mean doing nothing…it takes just a few weeks of sedentary lifestyle to undo the majority of any fitness you’ve gained over the previous season. You will lose some fitness and that’s absolutely fine. It’s a necessary trade-off for recovery and mental refreshment. “Off the court” areas of focus on for the off-season include aerobic conditioning (some kind of low intensity, cardiovascular exercise), strength conditioning (focus on core stability) and flexibility conditioning. On the court, get back to the basics. Head to the courts on your own and get some shots up. Play in some light pick-up games to keep your skills up. Work on those areas that will separate you from the rest of the team when the next season rolls around.

“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard” is a motto that so many successful players and coaches have uttered over the years and it couldn’t be more true. While there may be more skilled or more athletic players, ANYONE can make up that deficit with hard work and dedication on and off the court. Check out the JCC Basketball page for more information regarding our Spring (off-season)  basketball programs as we offer skills clinics for players of all ages and we have recently partnered with The Scoring Factory to provide a top notch power and explosive training program here at the JCC.

We also offer summer Basketball Specialty Camps for kids entering grades 1 to 6. Click here for more information.

Contact Jeremy Kelley, Sports & Recreation Director, 412-697-3538 or [email protected] for information on our Basketball programs for players and coaches of all ages.

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