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The Do’s and Don’ts of Off-Season Youth Basketball Training

While the phrase off-season may sound like another way of saying break, it really just defines the period of time when an athlete is not participating competitively in their sport. While some downtime is important, off-season is when most athletes shift their focus from the game itself to fine-tuning specific skills that will improve their performance for the coming season. While many youth basketball players find ways to stay in shape off the court, it can be easy to sabotage all the hard work of their past season by not clearly defining what they need to work on during their downtime. Here we will explore some do’s and don’ts for off-season training to keep your child at the top of their game.

Do: Talk About Nutrition

“You are what you eat” is something we’ve all heard. Kids can be picky, we get it. But learning at a young age the connection of what we eat and how it affects growth and performance is important. Start conversations about how the balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fat in certain foods can help build muscle and strength and find out what combination of these foods your child enjoys (or maybe hasn’t tried) to incorporate into their diet. Eating together and planning family meals can be a great way to get your child involved in making some nutritional choices of their own. Children tend to mimic behaviors of adults around them, so leading by example is a great way to incorporate healthier choices.

Don’t: Force Your Child to Adopt An Eating Plan

Want a surefire way to make your child balk at healthier choices? By forcing them to eat a strict food plan or diet, of course! Remember that nutrition is never a one-size-fits-all kind of deal. Meals should be a pleasant experience, without nagging or shaming their eating habits. Typically, the more you tell your child to eat something, the more resistant they become. The same goes for restricting certain foods, especially deserts – the more you say “no,” the more they will want them. If you’re worried your child is missing out on important nutrients, a dietician can be a great source for finding ways to fill in the gaps.

Do: Find Sport-Specific Exercises To Challenge Them

Any off-season training should largely focus on strength and conditioning, but it’s important you lean towards exercises specific to the sport they play. As a basketball player, your child uses certain muscle groups that allow them to move quickly across the court, spin, shoot, and dribble. You wouldn’t give them the same types of exercises as a football player, would you? Looking at the game of basketball, it’s fairly obvious: it’s a running sport. Running drills for conditioning is a great foundation but combining sprint exercises with footwork drills can fine-tune their skills for the court. Incorporating dribbling drills will improve ball handling, and one-on-one work will keep their competitive spirit sharp.

Don’t: Introduce Too Many Exercises

There is a fine balance between keeping a young athlete engaged by introducing new exercises and changing it up too much, to the point where it gets too confusing to enjoy. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a good structure to use to build endurance and strength—but keep the intervals simple. HIIT workouts introduce short bursts of aerobic activity, followed by a short break to allow the heart rate to come back down. Choose a few exercises in a circuit before moving on to another activity. Not only will this build endurance, but it actually promotes recovery by delivering oxygen-rich blood to tired muscle tissue that takes a beating during competitive season.

Do: Build Strength With Weight Training

Regardless of sport, weight training is a great way to build muscle strength and encourage growth. We’re not promising weight training will change you child’s game, but stronger athletes have an easier time recovering from intense training, as well as jumping higher, passing harder, and pivoting faster. Introducing a young athlete to strength training doesn’t mean handing them a barbell or iron. Heavy weight isn’t as important as good form and repetition. Resistance tubing and body-weight exercises, such as push ups, planks, burpees, and weighted ball exercises, are very effective options, without the risk of over-lifting. Increased strength also leads to stronger bones and can aid in injury prevention.

Don’t: Forget To Rest And Recover

As important—and even, necessary—as off-season training is, recovery time is even more important. Young athletes may be so focused on improving their game they forget to slow down and rest, sometimes to the point of injury. Growing children experience muscle imbalances and joint alignment issues that often require repair and mending during the off-season. Not only the muscles, but the mind of a young athlete needs a break from constant stimulation and training. Make sure you balance off-season work with fun trips or other activities to keep them from getting burnt out. Sadly, recovery is an incredibly important portion of most training programs that often gets left out, so getting creative with how/when to train and how/when to rest is vital. In the long run, lack of rest and pushing too much, too fast does more harm than good, even if your child insists they don’t need a break.


Do: Invest In Elite Basketball Training With Priority 1 Athletics

At Priority 1 Athletics, we provide elite basketball training to athletes of all ages and experience, right here in Knoxville, Tennessee. Our process begins with an individual evaluation to develop a tailored program for each athlete. Our mission is not to make the best player on each team but to make each player the best that they can be. We help develop our athletes’ weaknesses and grow their confidence in their strengths. With programs focusing on shooting, ball handling, footwork, and basketball IQ, training packages are built in both private and group settings. Founder and trainer Sean Green believes that before you count wins, you have to put in the work. At Priority 1 Athletics, our motto is, “work now, win later!” Is your child ready to improve their off-season game? Contact us today to learn more about our training packages and to set up your one-on-one evaluation. We’ll put in the work with you!