The Purpose of the Off-Season

An assistant coach called and told me that the head coach met with the staff and insisted that the players should “hate September.” I don’t understand this mentality. Why do coaches want players to hate basketball and training? How do we encourage life-long physical activity if the goal is to make our youth hate training? 

I have a theory: Older coaches are jealous of younger players and want the players to suffer through some of the things that they had to do as players. These older coaches played in an age when giving water to players was a weakness and coaches could do things that would lead to lawsuits today. Just because previous generations suffered through bad training does not mean that today’s athletes need to suffer.

There is a difference between hard training with a purpose and trying to make players hate the training. I occasionally have players answer an RPE (rating of perceived exertion) scale after training. Rather than use a Borg scale, I tend to use a basic 1-10 scale. My goal is not to make things hard; my goal is to enhance the players basketball performance. However, some of our workouts reach an 8-9 on a scale of 10 (10 being the hardest). These workouts have a point – increasing work capacity. Of course, an 8 or 9 is followed by a 4 or 5 on the next day as a means of activity recovery. The heavy lifting days or explosive power days tend to rate lower on the scale because the volume is reduced. My goal isn’t to kill them or make them sore or even make it hard. My goal is to make them better basketball players.

Most players’ careers end at the end of high school. Why do we want players leaving high school hating to train? Shouldn’t we want players to leave high school enjoying their workouts so they maintain their training habits when they matriculate to college, whether they play a sport or not?

I teach undergraduate weightlifting and circuit training classes. A very high percentage of the students say that they were high school athletes who stopped working out, and several years and many pounds later, they want to get in shape. Not every student stopped working out because of their high school coach, but why even make that an issue?

By Brian McCormick, M.S.S., PES
Coach/Clinician, Brian McCormick Basketball
Author, Cross Over: The New Model of Youth Basketball Development
Director of Coaching, Playmakers Basketball Development League

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