When it comes to preparing for your basketball season, most people tend to find as many pick up or open gym runs to get their "basketball legs" Though a great way to get ready, these games sometimes are just opportunities to run up and down and you don't get many opportunities to actually handle the ball and test out the skills that you have been working on all off season. One of the best ways I have discovered to really test out your skills is by playing a lot of 1v1. I recently read a blog by noted basketball trainer Mike Lee about the benefits of including 1v1 in your basketball training routine. Since I am such a big fan of playing 1v1, he had me at the title. As I read on, I found myself being validated in my training methods with my players.
I have always included 1v1 as a part of my personal basketball training routine and also included it in the workouts I put my players through. For me, one of the benefits is that 1v1 provides the opportunity to put together all the skills and drills you worked on to the test in an game environment, allowing the success or failure of executing relies solely on you.
Another benefit is the opportunity to learn "game flow". Way too often, I have seen players who are fundamentally sound struggle in the flow of a game trying to execute moves that in the drills they perfect but when faced with an opponent, they struggle. By playing 1v1 the right way (using a few moves as possible to score, not this constant dribbling around showing off the "And1" moves you learned by watching streetball) you learn how to become comfortable in taking the ball to your opponent. As much as basketball is a team game, by the time you get to put the ball in the basket, it generally comes down to you vs one defender.
There are many ways to play 1v1 basketball. Most people generally play games to 7, 11 or 15 (1's & 2's). For the really adventurous ones who want to see if they have the "legs" or stamina to go the distance you can play games to 50 or 100 (2's & 3's). I love playing the longer games with my players because I want them to learn how to pace themselves and build up endurance. I live by the old expression "he who has legs at the end, wins!" If you can handle playing the longer games, when you get to your league games you will be the one who in the last five minutes of the game still taking your opponent to the hole! Check out my article about the 100 point 1v1game here.
One of the best things you can do for yourself as a player is to find a good workout partner who has the same drive you do and get in the gym and grind out a 90 minute workout! As the old proverb says "as iron sharpens iron, so does one man to another". The end result will be the both of you becoming better players, able to take anyone anywhere. And that will go a long way to becoming a valuable team player!
Stay Forever Strong!