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Old 08-07-2007, 11:37 PM   #2
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Default Re: Insider request ESPN- off season work out

There is a well-known quote that permeates all basketball levels: "Players work on their individual games in the summer, and their team stuff in-season."

Thirty years ago, that was an accurate line, and perhaps in some high school communities it remains true today. But for NBA players, who routinely face constantly-changing schemes and major personnel changes, in-season development is more important than ever in remaining productive from November to June.

There is no question, however, that the summer months are also an invaluable time. During the "offseason," players have the opportunity to continue to refine and improve their skill-sets, and perhaps add some new weapons to use once the season begins. Players can benefit from a smart, well-executed plan that will allow them to arrive in training camp feeling fresh, fit and ready for a new season.
Steve Nash

Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

Getting loose like Steve Nash is usually the first step.
Some players elect to train all summer in their own arena, working with the same coaches they'll see throughout the year. Others seek special facilities or camps that focus on NBA player development. And others choose to train by themselves or with a few friends.

The types of workouts vary greatly, though most players seek to simply maintain their skill-set and physique.

But the special players, the guys who desire greatness, want to add to their games each offseason. They can do this by building a better body (see the bodies of Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony over the last three years) or learning to use the body they have in a more effective fashion (see Kobe in the post now compared to his early years).

Adding skills might be the best way to utilize the summer months, giving players new dimensions to their games just when opponents thought they knew how to defend them (think Magic Johnson's skyhook). Maintenance of their already-established skills is also a must. After all, there is no guarantee that a player will shoot the same from one season to the next. The skills we all see exhibited nightly in an NBA game are the result of talent, to be sure, and hours and hours of practice.

For an NBA player to grow on the court -- increase his productivity (with regard to skill) -- he must spend a large percentage of his time in the gym developing genuine confidence in his skills before he can display them in a game situation. Genuine confidence only stems from genuine work (something I remind players of daily), so let's delve into what exactly happens in an offseason NBA player workout to produce the kind of players and plays we see in the season. Before I script out and explain an NBA workout, let me first share with you a simple explanation that players must understand to improve their game. Offseason training is best approached like packing a suitcase for a trip.

Obviously, you can only pack the clothes that you own, not the clothes you see in a catalog or in a window or that someone else is wearing. Well, the same principle applies to players when they arrive at the arena for a game. Only the skills and athleticism that they "own" can be used, not what they see someone else do on TV or in person.

This is a major problem in basketball today. Too many players try to shoot fadeaways like Vince Carter, or dribble through traffic like Allen Iverson or split screens like Tony Parker -- without the ability to do those things all that effectively or consistently.

To "own" a skill is to have mastered it through countless hours of practice, developing supreme confidence and then trying it out on the court. When you own it, you can suffer through the temporary failures and still believe in the same maneuver in crunch time. But to master a move means the player must not just practice it relentlessly, he must do so under game conditions -- speed, competitiveness, pressure and exhaustion.

An NBA workout should incorporate all of these things, so that the difference between practice and the games is largely mitigated. Some workout days are purely devoted to skill work, while others are strictly cardio. For our purposes, let's assume this workout is a hybrid, which is the most typical.

• Check out Thorpe's sample workout
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