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Make Your NJ Summer Basketball Training Purposeful and Fun

The Evolution of Basketball

I was having a conversation yesterday with a high level collegiate basketball player after one of our basketball skill development workouts at our Red Bank location in New Jersey. We were talking about the evolution of the game of basketball, in particular the jump shot, and how players and coaches need to evolve with the game. Unfortunately, some get lost in the time and do not, but that is another story for another time. The player’s father brought up how lifting weights for basketball used to be sacrilege and now look at how many of today’s Elite Basketball players are involved in basketball related sports performance programs. This got me thinking about my summer training regimen when I was a player back in high school. I used to love summer training. In fact, I still do. To this day (although I don’t play competitive hoops anymore) I still wake up early and get all of my training in before most people even start their day. I attribute this drive to the summer training regimen that I put into place back when I was a young basketball player.

My New Jersey Summer Basketball Training

When I was a high school basketball player growing up in New Jersey, my summers were devoted to becoming the best basketball player that I could be. I was cut from my middle school team twice and there was just no way that that was going to happen again to me in high school. I knew that I had to put in work and that the summer afforded me the time to do so. That being said, I would wake up early, get in a nutritious breakfast and head off the the gym to develop my body. Performance training was an integral part of my basketball training program and would include some sort of aerobic activity (sprints, running, agility work, etc) and basketball related strength training. This combination insured that I was covering all facets of my body that was necessary for the game of basketball. Once I finished at the gym, I headed back home for a quick protein shake and then outside to work on skill development. These skill development sessions were intense and included a variety of ball handling, dribbling, and shooting drills. Each one of these drills were game related and varied to make sure that I was getting a variety of reps from all angles and spots on the court. One of the keys to my success in summer training was that I charted every rep and make. This gave me a record of what I accomplished that day and a goal to focus on for the following day. Back then, I used a pencil and a notebook but with today’s technology, like the Wilson X Ball, this has become so much easier. Once the morning’s training activities were done, I was free to do what I wanted until the next phase of my training came…the evening’s pickup basketball games.

The Benefits of Pick up Basketball

Pickup basketball in the summer was the best part of my summer training plans. There is nothing like getting a bunch of your basketball buddies and heading to different parks in the Monmouth county area to test your skills against some of the best playground basketball players there were. I was fortunate enough that one of the parks with the best local games was about two blocks from my house. The best players would start filtering in around 6 pm and we’d play for hours under the lights. Often times the opposing players were men and were bigger and more physical than I was as a high school player. This was great though! Playing against these guys toughened me up and turned me into a physical basketball player, able to take a hit and still finish. The other added benefit of playing at the park was that it taught you how to make free throws and most importantly…win. On any given night, there would be 50 guys waiting to play on two courts. However, everybody wanted to be on the main court since that one got the best run. How did you get on that court? You shoot free throws, and the first five to make theirs were on. Once you were on, you needed to win to stay on. If you lost, you went back into the pool of players that was usually about a five game wait. Waiting could take and hour or more so losing was not an option. You needed to win, so you learned how to make shots under pressure. Nowadays in the world of AAU basketball, there is no premium place on winning. Teams are guaranteed three games or more at each tournament. Sure they’d like to win but it doesn’t really matter if they do or not since they’ll automatically be playing a few more games. One other component of playground hoops that I loved was when there were not players at the park to play a full court or even a half court game yet, we would play 21. I’m not sure if players play this anymore, but once again, the benefits are similar. You need to make free throws, and you need to learn how to score against one, two, or sometimes three or more players at once. This adds to your level of creativity as a player but also to your decision making against a defense that is geared at stopping you.

Summer Basketball League, NJ Basketball Camps, and NJ Basketball Trainers

The final components of my summer training included summer league with my high school team and camps or training programs with a trainer. Summer league was also a ton of fun. It afforded you the opportunity to play in a competitive environment with your teammates, under the supervision of your coach. It was a little looser than the regular season and it gave you the opportunity to show your coach that you would be the best option for the upcoming season. Even in the summer, you are always competing for minutes for the regular season. Playing with passion even when the games don’t matter as much shows your coach that you have a vested interest in the program. Basketball camps and/or basketball training was also quite valuable. Obviously, you get the input of professional coaches and trainers while at the camp or in a workout, but you also get constant feedback throughout the workout and at the end (or at least that is what happens in our New Jersey based workouts at Elite Basketball Training ;). This feedback as well as the drills that the coach uses are useful while there, but even more so when you are on your own working on the skills prior to meeting again with your basketball trainer.

Making Basketball Training Purposeful and Fun

Yes, summer basketball was some of the most fun and memorable aspects of my playing days. It was hard work but also rewarding to see success on the playgrounds, summer league games and eventually during the regular season. It is the work that you put in when the lights are off that will lead to your success when the lights are on. What will your summer basketball training look like this summer? Whether it is with us at one of our many Elite Basketball Training programs in New Jersey or on your own, make it challenging, purposeful, and, most importantly, fun.


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