Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide. To receive daily news from the Iowa Hawkeyes, sign up HERE.
By Matthew Weitzel
IOWA CITY, Iowa — To compete for championships you have to play at an elite level during the season, but you have to a have a championship offseason to prepare for the challenges that lie ahead.
Following the University of Iowa men’s basketball team’s season-ending loss to TCU, freshman Jordan Bohannon said having a championship offseason was the talk of the locker room.
“We mentioned that a couple times after the last game,” Bohannon said. “Right from the start we all have had that mentality. I feel like we took a step forward starting with our first workout all the way until the last workout (last week).”
Follwing the NIT loss, the Hawkeyes had a two-week break from basketball activities before offseason training began in April. Strength and conditioning coach Bill Maxwell said the two weeks away is important both mentally and physically.
“During that time we like for them to decompress,” said Maxwell. “We encourage them not to come in, to re-center themselves, and catch up on any academics they may be behind on.”
During the month of April, Maxwell said the team lifted four days and had two days of one-hour basketball skill development sessions with the coaching staff. Assistant coach Andrew Francis said the goal of the offseason workouts are to work on things that can help the student-athletes progress individually as basketball players.
“This is the time of year where guys can sharpen skills that they may be weaker at while continuing to strengthen the things they do well,” said Francis. “On top of that, you continue to enhance the environment you want your program to be.”
Francis was pleased with the intensity level, positive attitude, and approach of the 13 returning players during the workouts.
“Our guys did a good job pushing themselves to do more while also pushing one another,” Francis said. “They did a good job of being competitive, but being supportive of their teammates at the same time. It has been fun to watch.”
Being a supportive teammate is paramount in having a healthy competitive environment, unity, and good team chemistry. The staff incorporated a new program this spring that will carry over to the summer months in dealing with behavioral goals. Each player has an accountability partner and a set of daily goals to accomplish.
“They receive a daily text where they can check off whether they did their daily tasks or not and then that message is sent to their partner and vice versa,” Maxwell said. “Each partner builds off each other and cheers on their partner.”
The goals are simple behaviors that can be easily achieved, but are specific to each player. If a certain player wants to improve his free throw shooting, his goal may be to make 10 consecutive free throws every day. His accountability partner will help encourage him. The feedback has been positive from both the student-athletes and coaches.
“I like it a lot because we get to hold each other accountable,” Bohannon said. “It sets a foundation for us. It starts with the little things that may not be on the court, but ultimately will contribute to on the court success moving forward.”