How To Take A Basketball Player From Intramural To All Star Performance: Part 1

This post will be a longer post……if you don’t want to get better and don’t give a s@*t if THIS happens to you…

My name is Freddy and I DIDN'T work on my performance

My name is Freddy and I DIDN'T work on my performance

Then DON’T read this!

How many basketball players out there are frustrated with their level of performance?

How many are sitting on the bench a lot more than they would like to?

Maybe it’s the fact that you’re getting blown by, dunked on and dominated on defense?

I’ve felt every one of the above!

I even gave myself the whole “must be the genetics” talk. But it was just a cop out!

A large part of my life was (and still is) dedicated to basketball. I played from as young as I can remember and started going to basketball schools as well as joining a junior team by  the time I was 11. From there I played through high school at the highest levels, got a college scholarship and started 4 years, the later on played professional ball in Europe, not to mention countless street ball tournaments and just cutting short of winning the Nike Battlegrounds Slovenia. I also played in the NBA Summer Pro League 5 years ago before completely dedicating myself to strength and conditioning.





If I am real honest, I was far from a physical specimen growing up. I played tons of sports and was always active and participated in competitive events but I wasn’t the stud. I did well because I was so driven. When I started playing basketball I did ok but always seemed like I couldn’t keep up with a lot of the players physically (not on the level I wanted to play on that is).

A lot of that changed when I turned around 15 or 16 years old and started lifting weights. My mom had opened up a small gym where she worked the other part of the day after she came from her first job. I started hanging out there and lifting weights with some of the guys showing me what to do. I loved it and after a while I started noticing my strength training carried over onto the court where I could now hang with the other players and even dominate them in certain areas as I was just stronger than them.

This made me realize, strength training is great for sport (many coaches preached, as they still do nowadays, that lifting weights will make you slow)!

Strength and performance training can be such a huge “x” factor, that for someone like me it changed the whole game.

Now, before we move on, let me start by saying if you suck at basketball and you become a “performance beast” through training, you will still suck at basketball! I spent countless hours in the gym working on my skills and some more countless hours playing the game and being coached by some of the top coaches.

basketball FAIL2

Read the book Outliers and it will give you a good idea of how many hours are needed to be truly good at something (hint, hint 10,000….and that’s just the start).

But if your skills are close to that of another player (you may even be a little worse skill wise) and you are much better performance wise, you will dominate. I think that says a lot about how big a factor performance training is!

Never stop improving your basketball skill level and your basketball game (you will know what I mean here if you know that some people are “practice players” while others are “game time” players). But before I move into the performance training (the meat and potatoes) part of this post, I do want to give you some pointers on skill training and improving your basketball game:

- Quality over quantity! Let me repeat that, quality over quantity. When you go into the gym, how many times do you see guys hanging out and shooting around, doing AND1 moves and other craziness that’s not effective, for hours? Then they tell you they have been working on their game for hours that day. Maybe 10 of those minutes where productive. Maybe.

When you come to work on your skills you have to have a laser like focus. What are you going to work on that day (are you just winging it and then end up playing 21 with some people that are not making you better)? When you have it figured out, then work on the quality of what you’re doing before you increase the intensity or the quantity.

If you can’t make 8-10 out of 10 jumpers when no one is guarding you, then figure out what you’re doing wrong and fix it (whether that may be breaking down your shot and reconstructing it, or just making minor changes like squaring up when you shoot). When you improve it, then increase the speed, difficulty (off the dribble, coming of a screen, hand in your face) and number of shots you put up. If you tell me you put up a 1000 shots today and you missed 800, then what you’re doing is practicing to get better at missing shots!

I’m not saying putting in hours of work doesn’t help. Just don’t b.s yourself about what you’re really doing. An hour of real laser focused skill training can be way more productive than 4 hours of  ”pretending you’re getting better.”

- NOT Playing Basketball Year Round,Everywhere and Anytime. I have been through that gauntlet and I can tell you that I did not get as much out of it as I thought, a lot of injuries and frustrations though.

I think this is a current issue from middle school to high school (and even in college athletes). Players will play year round, playing with their team as well as open gyms, street ball tournaments, AAU all summer, etc. They’re playing so much they never have time to get better! Did that sound strange to you? You may be thinking “but I’m getting better playing all the time.”

How much of the time are you playing basketball on a really high level? So your game is perfect and you are constantly practicing perfection in a game situation?

You have to practice skills and make them better THEN when you have improved, you start implementing them into game situations. If I throw you in the fire and your post moves suck, you won’t learn to become a better post player in a game because you will constantly get dominated and/or make moves that are inefficient and not productive. So you will either get frustrated and quit or learn how to repeat crappy moves.

Sometimes it makes more sense putting it in another context. What if you wanted to do MMA (mixed martial arts) and you just sparred or did fights all the time without working on the skill and breaking it down so you get efficient at the movements and situations you could be in? Well, easy answer, you would keep getting beat up, chocked our or knocked the f@*k out!

So I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t do it MMA……but we keep doing it in basketball.

jackson-rampage-fights-skill-knockoutSometime I feel this would be needed to get the point across….

The other thing I mentioned is that when you play year round in everything , much of the time you will play against sub-par competition or people that don’t play competitive basketball. This will bring the level of your play down or ingrain a lot of bad habits (playing against street ball players all day…..remember the only AND1 guy that ever made it to the league was Rafer Alston a.k.a. Skip To My Lou and he went to college!)

I experienced this first hand when I started playing in certain tournaments and doing a ton of “tricks” and getting good at showboating only to get a reality check when I started playing with the pros.

If you’re playing a lot of street ball, open gym with low level players, 3 on 3 tournaments, how do you get your basketball IQ up?

Just answer that for yourself.

- You Can’t Be In A Fatigued State Trying To Improve A Skill – When you work on improving a certain skill or adding a new skill, you have to be fresh and focused when working on it. As you start getting better at it and then mastering it, you can add speed, fatigue and a bunch of other factors. Most people throw that out of the window and end up playing a bunch of open gym, then working on their moves when they’re worn out, making the quality of the moves very low and engraining that into the system. Great, now you are becoming better at a “crappy crossover” that will only cross over one person, and that’s you.

If you have never done a figure 8 in between the leg drill with a basketball and you want to improve your ball handling by adding that drill into your routine, and I asked you to do a couple of suicides before doing the drill, wouldn’t it be real hard to do it since you could barely breathe? The quality would be low and you couldn’t improve in the skill as fast as you would when you would do it fresh and focused. After you got better at the drill you could add complexity to carry it over into a game situation.

Trust me this guy started fresh, focused and built up to being so proficient in ball handling…

- If You’re Constantly Playing, When Do You Get The Time To Get More Explosive, Faster, Stronger And More Conditioned?Since we covered quite a bit, we’re gonna have to split this article into 2 parts and cover the performance training part in part 2 of the series……

Strength training works...

Strength training works...

Think about what I wrote and ask yourself if you’re serious about becoming better (much better) at basketball, taking to the next level whether that is high school first team, college scholarship, pro’s. Everything is possible no matter where you are but not if you are constantly shooting yourself in the foot. Learn from my mistakes and the mistakes of some of the greatest basketball players in the world and commit to fulfilling your potential with hard work AND knowledge (doing things the right way).

Let me know some other mistakes you see when it comes to the principle of basketball skill training. Comment on it below and I’ll go over it in another article/post.

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2 Responses to “How To Take A Basketball Player From Intramural To All Star Performance: Part 1”

  1. Michael Naumu says:

    Do you have a program dedicated to high school basketball players? I have watched the local high school basketball coach literally ruin athletes when it comes to skills, quickness, strength training and conditioning. Then they wonder why they are horrible and cant compete on the floor. If you were running a business this guy would be fired, but since he is a government employee, his failures are rewarded. Help!

  2. Luka Hocevar says:

    we do have programs for high school basketball players and have had great results from our systems. Most of our training has been individual high school players coming in and we haven’t had a whole high school team yet since it is hard to get in and show coaches what you do because of the “protective” mindset (coaches like to have control and many feel if you take over strength and conditioning programs, that they lose control or aren’t doing as good a job). Coaches should want what is best for their team and in most situations bball coaches should coach and have good coaches/systems for their strength and conditioning. We keep working on helping as many kids as we can though. I feel your pain.


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