No Days Off: 6 Things Every High School Athlete Needs to Stay in Shape This Summer

  • Nike AAU Basketball

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    2. Find a team

    There are all types of summer leagues that are open to players, but most importantly finding yourself a quality AAU team is a great way to maximize your summer–especially one that doesn’t have just kids from your high school team competing but other high schools around the city. That will be vital to growing your game. My AAU coach taught me so much of what I know today, on and off the court. Keep in mind though, because of the political nature of AAU teams nowadays, that it can be a delicate process in finding the right one. My suggestion is go with who you feel the most comfortable and trustworthy with. There were instances where I joined teams that had fancier uniforms and high-profile players, but those often come with people who have other agendas and can hinder your actual development.

    Remember, playing summer ball is beneficial for several things, but two very important aspects will always be skill development and exposure.

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    3. Identify strengths and weaknesses

    Take this summer to find out what you are really good at, and what you are not so good at. Ask coaches, ask fellow teammates, ask anyone willing to give some level of critique. Always keep in mind, everyone’s going to have their own two cents about you, and what they think about your game. That’s fine. Don’t hang on to things too much. Use it to fuel your workouts.

    Once you’ve narrowed down, let’s say, three solid strengths you are good at, don’t find yourself complacent with just being good at them. Continue to work at them. The three weaknesses, however, are what you will spend 60 percent of your time on. There’s always–and I mean always–something that can improve, and I had one specific coach that consistently reminded me that someone out there was working harder than me. That should keep you motivated.

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  • Basketball training

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    4. Get creative

    There are a few workout tools that can cost anywhere from nothing to more than $100 to help with getting better over the summer. Here are three of my favorite training tools that can help push your limits.

    BROOM:

    Yes, a broom. If you’re a jump shooter or just working on your shot, this is one of the best and cheapest tools that can help you practice shooting over imaginary defenders. Find a broom in your garage, have your training partner or parent, even your grandma can stand and hold the broom if need be. Practice shooting over the broom’s length. The process of having to elevate up and develop a higher release to clear the broomstick can do wonders for your jump shot. Have your partner adjust the broom higher and lower so that your shot, no matter where the broom is, is habitual and routine.

    DRIBBLE SPECS:

    We used these a lot in AAU practice. I absolutely hated them. Why? Because they sucked; they make you look like you can not dribble a basketball. However, they force you to dribble with your head up, it takes away your vision of looking down so your only option is up, and that’s a beautiful thing when you’re in transition and you no longer have the habit of looking down so you can toss a no-look to your friend and let the crowd applaud instead. These run anywhere from $5-10.

    WEIGHT VEST:

    Training with a weighted vest helped my agility, quickness, conditioning, and pretty much anything related to stepping on the court. When you’re used to running with weights on your back and chest, when you take them off it feels so much easier. You feel lighter, you feel much more explosive, and it will carry over into games…trust me. They can be costly, running anywhere from $50-100.

    image via Dave Gillem/Flickr Creative Commons

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    5. Strength and conditioning

    This is high on my list because it’s the two areas that you can truly set yourself apart from competition. There is endless time during the summer, and an hour a day for strength and conditioning isn’t too much to ask. Some may rest and relax, play video games over the entire summer, ultimately ending up out of shape when tryouts veer around the corner. Don’t let that be you.

    That being said, I mentioned this is the time to elevate YOUR game. Well, part of that is how strong you are, and how fast and hard you can go for extended periods of time. A 6-week strength program is not hard to find–there are plenty of great ones either online or from your coach. My thing is, if I’m on a program and it gives me specific lifts to do, maybe they are the same lifts week in and weak out…and it may get boring. Just always continue to lift heavier each week.

    Conditioning, I hate to say it but suck it up and do it. No one likes it, and it’s not easy. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. Period.

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    6. Surround yourself with positive and influential people

    Summer freedom is just that, freedom. If you’re serious about becoming a better basketball player you may have to tighten your circle and stay around good people and, thus, good things will follow.

    Balance is key. Other activities and having fun doing non-basketball-related things will keep you from getting burned out and that’s critical. I’ve always felt being around great people inspired me to be great.

    Basketball Hall of Fame coach Tara Vanderveer of Stanford University and I chatted earlier this basketball season about her coaching philosophy. She encourages her players to do other things besides basketball, pick up hobbies, do things that keep you mentally engaged but don’t drain you from the sport you played. I found that incredibly interesting as Stanford has been a perennial force in women’s basketball. It’s not all about hammering players into the ground. It’s about balance. I say she has the right formula with over 900 wins.

    Make each day count!

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  • Nike AAU Basketball
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  • Basketball training
  • Nike Kobe 9
  • Basketball training

With school coming to a close, your routine is gone, and there no more classes. So what’s there to do with all that down time? That’s what I’m here for. Since I started blogging for The Drop, I’ve written about the things that can turn any pretender in the NBA Playoffs into a contender. I’ve also told you about the five skills that every great player needs to maximize before they can truly be considered superstars. Today, we’re taking it back to the basics. You don’t need to be a longtime NBA veteran to understand all of this. All you need is the motivation.

Here are some key tips on how to maximize your summer and elevate your game to the next level.

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1. FIND A TRAINING PARTNER
Okay, so not everyone is self-motivated or can push themselves, even if you have the benefits of having someone there to push you further than you can push yourself makes this an important first step to get your summer going in the right direction. When you have someone holding you accountable, you are less likely to skip days because you don’t want to let someone down. This is called No Days Off for a reason.

They don’t have to necessarily be at your same skill-set, but a training partner helps get the party started. With as much access as we have to social media nowadays, this should be an easy task. Even finding someone who is older–perhaps in college–but is in their home town training would be a great situation to luck into. No harm in asking or reaching out!

Follow Steffi on Twitter at @steffisorensen

image via @NikeBasketball