Time is a valuable commodity. Unfortunately, not every athlete can afford to spend countless hours in the gym working on their game. While some athletes are blessed with the opportunity to focus on the game of basketball while their parents pay the bills, many players don't have the choice but to have a job in the summer or even work year round.

Either way, whether you have an hour a day to spend in the gym or four hours, the same challenge always remains: how do you get the most out of your time?

Skills and Athleticism

Athleticism is an important part of being a basketball player, and there are many tools, resources, and ways for players to work on quickness, speed, agility, coordination, and jumping. Some players will jump rope, some run a few miles across a hot, sandy beach and others strap a parachute on their back and run with some added resistance.

However, while these methods may help increase overall athleticism, they all require time. Look around you and you will notice many, many players who have used their time for the purpose of being more athletic. The problem is too many have sacrificed the time they needed for skill work, in order to become faster, stronger, and jump higher. The truth is, time must be spent on your skills and your athleticism. That means, for the sake of efficiency, players must find ways to work on both at the same time.

If you want to work on your quickness, speed, and agility without losing out on the reps you need to become a better shooter, ball handler, and skilled player, go out and get an agility ladder. Jump ropes are absolutely necessary for basketball training, but if you are short on time you can't dribble or shoot a basketball while holding onto a jump rope.

A basketball, on the other hand, can be carried through an agility ladder. This provides you with the opportunity to take many shots, from game spots, at game speed, while working on your quickness, balance and overall athleticism. Research some agility ladder footwork, lay one down, carry a basketball through it, and then shoot or drive to the basket. Your workout will immediately become more time efficient and basketball specific.

Free Throws

Let's look at the above question from the perspective of the free throw shot.

Basketball players must take game shots, from game spots, at game speed. They must also learn how to take game free throws. It's not enough to stand at the free-throw line, go through your routine, and just shoot 100 free throws per day. If you never shoot free throws when you are tired, you won't be ready to knock the important foul shots down when you are exhausted in the fourth quarter with the game on the line.

That being said, there are many ways to get tired, but not as many ways to get tired in a basketball-efficient manner. Running countless sprints and suicides may be able to take the wind out of your lungs, but what if you only have 15 minutes to practice your foul shots?

Give this a go. First, break up your free throws. It's not realistic to stand at the line and shoot 25 or 50 straight, because the most you will ever shoot in a game is three in a row. Then, add pushups. Shoot two, do five pushups. Shoot three, do five pushups. Shoot two, do five pushups.

As your arms get tired you will have to rely on your legs, which is a great way to simulate the fourth quarter when your legs are needed most.

If you are a little skeptical, think of it this way: when it comes to training efficiently, you don't necessarily want to burn out your legs for free throw practice. After all, you'll need them fresh for the agility ladder.