My Basketball Training Philosophy


Skills Kill

Your basketball skills are the most important thing in the game of basketball.  That’s why I spend about 50% of my overall basketball training time on them.  We have all seen those freak athletes that can jump out the gym, but if they don’t have the skills to dribble, pass, or shoot, they just look silly playing the game and never make it to the next level.

Even if you are as athletic as an elephant if you are skilled and have good basketball I.Q. you can find ways to be very effective in the games and even be a big scorer or assist guy.  So now lets take a closer look at what your basketball training for skills should consist of.

Shootingbasketball training shooting

Getting up shots is like brushing your teeth.  Some days you don’t really feel like doing it, but you have to or else no one will want to talk to you.  I am a believer that everyone can become a decent shooter.  I have seen so many players improve their shooting ability by just being consistent and brushing their teeth every day.  No but seriously, this is one skill that only comes with a high volume of repetition.

The more game specific the drill is the more effective that drill is to the players improvement, but you have to be careful too.  Remember, I said you need a large volume or quantity of shots as well.  If your shooting workouts are super game specific and have you emulating the game to a “T” but you are only getting up 50 shots in an hour workout that will NOT make you a better shooter.  When I say game specific I mean drills that allow you to shoot many shots while emulating game footwork, game speed, and game situations.  If you can improve your shot to make 8 out of 10 three pointers sprinting off a down screen with good footwork and a good release then you have improved something that will translate into the game and result in you scoring more points and becoming a better player.


Ball Handling

basketball training dribblingWhen working to develop your ball handling you want to focus on two things.  Becoming a faster and more powerful ball handler and adding new moves to your repertoire.  You apply the same philosophy as in the previous shooting section if you want to add moves.  You need a balance between quality and quantity.  To make you understand my basketball training philosophy in an easy manner always remember quality x quantity = improvement.

Quality x Quantity = Improvement

Whenever you are doing ball handling drills you should work to increase your power as well.  This is why every drill should be done a little reckless.   You should lose the ball.  You are working to get faster so sometimes you will over do it and go a little too fast, but that’s ok.  In time you will make less and less mistakes, yet you will be dribbling at the same speed.  This is also why we do stationary dribbling.  This cuts down on the quality of the drill, but in all honesty the quantity is so high for amount of time delivered it makes the drill worthy and serve a purpose.  Also, it’s a good way to improve young players dribbling strength.

Quickness is King

The quicker you are the better.  Improving your first step or agility will have direct impacts in your ability to score points, get assists, and play better defense.  That is why I recommend that you spend most of your off court training time working on your agility.

Have you ever heard someone say he is fast, but not quick (it’s better to be quick in basketball since most spaces are short distance.)  He is referring to your agility.


The rate at which you can speed up and slow down

Since the offense dictates where the defense must go the faster you can decelerate and then accelerate into that new direction the bigger advantage you have on the defender and the easier you can get a step on him.  Many players make the mistake of focusing too much on upper body strength and vertical leap and they overlook agility.

Jumping is Overratedbasketball training vertical leap

Now don’t let the title fool you.  You need to work on your vertical leap and jumping ability.  Many players focus too much on this though.  If you are a guard that plays below the rim, then jumping 5 inches higher will not dramatically change you game.  If all that time adding those 5 inches to your vert would have been dedicated to a faster first step you would have a new reliable tool that will make you harder to guard.  You add 5 inches, you get two fast break dunks (that you would of just layed in anyways), and you grab a couple more rebounds with the jump training.  With the faster first step, you draw two more shooting fouls, you get a blow by layup, and you pick off a pass for a layup.  That there potentially gives you 8 more points that game.

With that said you do need to incorporate some jump training.  1 or two sessions a week are perfect for your off season.  Especially if you are a player that relies on offensive rebounding and finishing above the rim in the half court.

There are two things that you need to focus on when working to increase your vertical leap.


Quickness refers to how fast your muscles can fire (fast twitch muscle fibers) and strength refers to how much weight you can move.  If you are really strong in the weight room but do not have good jumping ability then you need to work to improve your fast twitch muscles.  If you are a quick player that gets of the floor quick too but can’t get up high you probably need to improve your strength.  Most players are somewhere in the middle and need both strength and plyometric exercises to jump higher.

Strength is Standardizedbasketball strength

Having good upper body strength is important too, but it is the least important part of my basketball training philosophy.  I believe strength is standardized.  There is a standard that you must obtain to be a good basketball player so that you are not pushed around, and can help you be a more physical player.  Once you get to that certain standard for your position then you are good.  If you pack on 15 pounds of muscles and then slow your training down to simply maintain you can focus your basketball training time on more important things.  I said for your position because post players have to bang more and have more upper body strength than a point guard would.

Work on building a strong core with your upper body too.  Otherwise, you will not be able to control your balance as much and your overall athletic ability will suffer.


If you have read this entire post then I think you probably have a few thoughts, questions, or observations.  Please comment below.


  • John

    Reply Reply June 1, 2013

    Nice article. I think i’m going to have a lot of hard work this summer (off-season).

    • Augie Johnston

      Reply Reply June 1, 2013

      I’m glad you liked it. And I appreciate you leaving a comment. More to come…

  • Gene cotter

    Reply Reply June 1, 2013

    I am a believer! This is real! Focus on the underlying aspects that Coach Augie is talking about and you will be solid in your workout regimine

    • Augie Johnston

      Reply Reply June 1, 2013

      Thanks Gene I appreciate it and I know you guys are going to spread alot of basketball love this summer, I’ll have to stop by one of your camps to say hi!

  • Louis

    Reply Reply June 1, 2013

    Great Article! Gonna focus more on improving my agility, quickness, lateral movement and ballhandling!

    • Augie Johnston

      Reply Reply June 1, 2013

      That’s what I like to hear!

  • Lane

    Reply Reply August 19, 2013

    i cant go to a gym or anything do you have tips of what i can do at home?

    • Augie Johnston

      Reply Reply August 24, 2013

      You can always do ball handling at home!

  • Djordje

    Reply Reply September 29, 2013

    Nice 😀

  • Chris

    Reply Reply October 20, 2013


  • Sam

    Reply Reply October 22, 2013

    Hey great article Mr. Johnston. I know you probably have an agenda for how you put out your workouts, but is there anyway you could fit it into your schedule to write an article on how to read defenses and other basketball iq things? Im a high school point guard and i want to start this year, so being a smarter basketball player would help me out a lot. Thanks so much!

    • Augie Johnston

      Reply Reply December 2, 2013

      Great idea. I’ll do my best.

  • barry butler

    Reply Reply November 21, 2014

    Hey Augie! I am a Girls Varsity coach and your stuff has meant the world to my girls all summer long! This is another great source of information. I was wanting your take on strength. Do you believe in the weight room lifting, or natural non-weight training? Maybe your thoughts on boy vs girl, basketball specific vs overall, etc.. Thanks! And good luck!!

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