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The Sport Digest - ISSN: 1558-6448

Basketball Conditioning

Strength and fitness training is considered as one of the primary tasks that all college basketball coaches must thoroughly plan and execute. Experts have obtained useful information regarding players’ general physiological characteristics (i.e. VO2max = 50-65 m/kg/min, & %body fat = 8-15%) and energy system utilization (60-75% on anaerobic system). Experts’ findings and suggestions can help coaches properly prepare their players under the principle of training in specificity.

In this brief synopsis, some practical tips and concerns are presented to college basketball coaches for effectively planning a year-round strength training and conditioning program. The author has proposed a seven-stage (phase) annual training program to explain the details and requirements in preparation of basketball players. Hopefully, the illustrations, which are presented in this synopsis, can provide practical help and insights for new college coaches. Table 1 illustrates the activities and objectives for each different stage of training.

Table 1: Various Stages and Contents for an Annual Basketball Training Program

Phase/Stage Activity Description
Early Off-season *Light aerobic activities (2x/week)
*Weight lifting (2x/week)
*Last from early May to early June
*Gradually build the body back to the exercise mode from a 2-3 weeks recovery.
Mid Off-season *Weight lifting (3x/week)
*Aerobic exercise (2x/week)
*Participation of summer leagues, individual skill workouts & camps (2 games/week);
*Start from late June to Early August
*Increase intensity slightly to improve cardiovascular fitness
*Focus on strength building and muscle hypertrophy
Late Off-season *Aerobic, anaerobic, plyometrics & weight training (2x/week)
*Scrimmage (2-3x/week); footwork and shooting sessions (2-3x/week)
*Start from early September to October 14
*Try to reach maximal aerobic fitness and work on power, agility, jumping and speed
*Start to play more basketball
Pre-season *Regular basketball practice (5-6x/week)
*Weight training (2x/week)
*Speed drills (1-2x/week)
*Start from October 14 to season opener
*Focus on playing skills, lower the resistance of weight but try to improve explosiveness
Early season *Regular basketball practice (5x/week)
*Weight training (2x/week)
*Last from season opener to the start of conference play
*Monitor intensity carefully in order to prevent injury
*Adjust the intensity and volume of skill training to maintain fitness
Mid-season *Regular basketball practice (4-5x/week)
*Weight training (at least 1/week)
*During the conference game period
*Maximize the anaerobic power and speed; maintain level of strength
*Pick up reserved players’ aerobic fitness
Late season Same as above *From conference tournament to the post season tournament period
*Maintain the anaerobic power speed and strength
End of season Same as above *Last game of the season

Many Division-I basketball programs start their pre-season conditioning/training in early September. Due to some of the NCAA regulations, coaches cannot work with the entire team at the same time with basketball prior to October 15 of the year. Therefore, special types of training programs are usually implemented to get players in shape.

Table 2 would further illustrate the activities and drills that many coaches may use during the late off-season stage. It is assumed under the author’s opinion that the purpose of the late off-season conditioning is to get players to a fitness level which can sustain the high training demand on first day of the regular practice (around October 15). This means that players by that time should be fit enough to engage a highly intense practice without getting hurt or extremely exhausted in first few days of the pre-season.

Table 2: Contents of a Late Off-season Conditioning Program

Activities Frequency Description
Full court scrimmage 2-3 x/wk for 5 wks *Everyone gets chances to play
Aerobic training 2x/wk for 3 wks *Pace running*1-2 mile runs
*Cycling activities & aerobic dance
Anaerobic/speed training 2x/wk for 2 wks *Shot sprints and shuttle runs (suicide drill)
*400m and 800m runs*Rope jumping,
Plyometrics training 1-2x/wk for 4 wks *Work on agility, speed, balance and jumping
Footwork and shooting 2-3 x/wk for 5 wks *Work on foot-works for individual and team defenses, cutting, pivoting, and catching, etc.
*Shooting from various spots with proper intensity and speed

Excellent physical fitness is a basic foundation for building a successful program; however, coaches must remember that the conditioning program must not overtake the importance of skill training. Ultimately, winning is mainly determined by a high level of skillful plays. What fitness training does is to prepare players meeting the intensive and physical demands of the sport and reduce the risk of potential injuries.