A basketball player's athleticism is the foundation of their entire game. The broader and more sturdy the foundation, the higher the potential peak. Picture a pyramid—the wider the base, the taller the pyramid. That is why the best players in the world are in the best shape.
An improvement in athleticism (strength, power, quickness, balance, agility, reaction, etc.) will allow a player to perform their basketball skills (shooting, ball handling, passing, rebounding, and defending) at a higher level, with more efficiency, and for longer before fatigue sets in. This again, is why the best players are in the best shape!
I am fully aware that most youth and high school basketball players don't have a traditional offseason due to the rise in popularity of AAU, summer leagues, camps, etc. Regardless, the spring and summer are times when players need to be conscious of making improvements in their athleticism. It is a time when strength and conditioning workouts should be a high priority. A couple of brief workouts per week are better than nothing. As long as the workouts are purposeful and progressive, improvements will be made. And little improvements will add up big over time.
I encourage players to look at their game as a house. First, they must pour a strong foundation. If they neglect this integral step, their house won't last. If a player doesn't take care of their body, they won't be able to play without injury taking its toll. Once they have laid their foundation they can begin building their house.
How do you build a house?
Brick by brick.
You lay each brick with precision. You lay each brick with care. Every brick is important.
These 'bricks' are the fundamental skills of the game—shooting, ball handling, passing, rebounding, and defending. These skills are the framework of the house.
And every brick matters. Every workout is a brick. Every practice is a brick. Every shot is a brick. Every pass is a brick. You must be meticulous with every brick if you want a remarkable house!
Once you've laid the foundation (athleticism) and built the walls (skills) brick by brick, it's time to add the roof. After all, what good is a house with no roof?
The 'roof' is a culmination of 4 traits: basketball I.Q., the ability to be coached, being a great teammate, and true mental toughness.
This makes the house complete.
It doesn't matter if you have a solid foundation and four sturdy walls if you have a leaky roof. By the same token, it doesn't matter if you have elite athleticism and sound skills if you don't know how to play the game, aren't coachable, don't care about your teammates or are mentally soft.
Take the concept of making your house a high priority this spring and summer because the house you build now is the house you will have to live in next winter!
One more thing: As any homeowner will tell you, the upkeep of a house is a never-ending process.
If you don't take steps to maintain your house, it will fall apart and deteriorate. Constant upgrades, replacements, and renovations are a must. No house is never complete!
The same is true for your game. Players must work on their athleticism, their skills, their basketball I.Q. and their mental toughness on a year-round basis for the duration of their career.
Players like Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul and Kevin Durant are still working on their houses.