By Kyle Ohman,
In an ideal world, we would all have access to a basketball court, football field, and baseball diamond 24/7. It would be there waiting for us to put up shots, throw the ball, and work on our game. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. There are times, sometimes, even extended periods, where access to a field and court is not an option.
And, with all of the COVID-19 concerns, going outside can even be an issue. With that being said, there are still ways for youth to work on developing their game at home. Kids can stay safe while also continuing to improve, regardless of the sport they play. And, these are not just for quarantine guidelines, either. Long after courts and fields open back up, these keys can still be used while at home.
If you talk to any professional athlete or high-level coach, they will be quick to talk about the importance of understanding the game. They won’t downplay the importance of physical skills, but they will also point out how valuable it is to have a high basketball IQ, football IQ, baseball IQ, and so on. That means as a player, you need to be investing in yourself and your understanding of the sport that you play. Whether it is a basketball player taking advantage of basketball resources, a football player reading about football, or whatever, you must spend time learning.
So while you are at home, get online, and find some different resources for your sport, read a book, watch a video, listen to a podcast, etc. With so much information right at your fingertips, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be taking advantage of it.
Another excellent way to work on your game at home is by watching and learning from your favorite players. By studying their moves, you will be able to replicate them better when you can go to practice. You will be able to better replicate all of the different moves that you have been studying. Before you know it, you will be able to add their moves to your own game.
Along with watching your favorite player’s moves, watch how they play and how they handle different circumstances throughout the course of a game. As a basketball trainer in Tampa, Florida, I am always encouraging my players to be students of the game. When they watch a game, I want them to enjoy it, but I also want them to study everything that is going on. This will allow them to absorb what is going on and will help them become better players when they play.
If you are looking for a physical way to develop as a player at home, working on hand-eye coordination is an excellent option. Most sports are going to require a good amount of hand-eye coordination, and being able to improve at this, will transfer to so many different areas. A great way to do this is with two simple tennis ball drills. Both will require two tennis balls and a partner, but they can be excellent ways for improving hand-eye coordination. Check them out, and then give them a try.
One-Hand Toss Tennis Ball Drill: For this drill, one person will have a tennis ball in each hand facing their partner, who will be a few feet apart. When the drill starts, the person with the tennis balls can pass either ball to their partner UNDERHAND. The partner must catch the tennis ball OVERHAND with the hand that is on the same side as the tennis ball (is not allowed to reach across their body), and then immediately pass it back UNDERHAND.
At the passer’s discretion, they can pass the next tennis ball, and the action is repeated. The goal is to get the tennis balls moving back and forth as quickly as possible.
For even more of a challenge, the passer can bounce the tennis balls on the pass or toss them up higher in the air. The receiver must still catch each ball OVERHAND and pass it back UNDERHAND.
Two-Hand Catch Tennis Ball Drill: This drill is going to start with one partner having both tennis balls in a single hand and their partner facing them a few feet away. Using only one hand, they will toss both tennis balls at the same time to their partner. The partner will look to catch a tennis ball in each hand. If they catch both, they will put the tennis balls in one hand and repeat the same action back. If they drop one or both of the tennis balls, the passer gets the point.
The goal is to make the pass as challenging as possible while still giving the receiver a chance to catch them.
As an athlete, it is critical that you are strong and able to excel at the different movements of your sport. Whether it is protecting a football while running, finishing through contact as a basketball player, or whatever it may be, you need to have sport-specific strength. A great way to do that a home is with bodyweight exercises. With the right know-how, you will be able to get a great workout without any weights or equipment.
Going back to developing the mind, a great way to improve as a player is by developing your mental strength. Whether it is using an app to improve your memory, reading about sports psychology, or finding some other way to challenge yourself mentally, this is an excellent way to work on your game. One of the best examples of mental toughness with any sport, and maybe the best to ever do it, was Kobe Bryant. He was an amazing player, but what really set him apart was his mindset and his ability to have a winner’s mentality in everything that he did. So as a player, the better you can learn to develop your mental strength, the tougher of an opponent you will be.
When tough times come, it can sometimes be easy to make excuses. It can be easy to say, “I can’t go to the gym or field, so I am just going to take it easy until I can.” Or maybe, it is simply not knowing what you could be doing to work on your game at home. Hopefully, though, with this article, both of these excuses are removed.
And while the circumstances are less than ideal, there are still some excellent ways to continue to develop and grow your game; you just need to take advantage of them.
Kyle Ohman is CEO of Basketballhq.comSee more New York Sports Connection articles
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