The biggest advantage that conditioning gives a player (or team) is that it will allow you to use your skills longer in a game. It doesn’t matter how many skills you have – if you can’t last very long in a game, all those skills will not really matter much. Ever wonder why most of your teams mistakes and turnovers occur in the second half or mainly in the fourth quarter? Most likely, poor conditioning is the cause. Teams can lose games due to poor conditioning. One of the most disappointing ways to lose a game (especially when you know your team is better) is getting outlasted physically by your opponents.
Conditioning drills can make your players much quicker, faster, stronger, improve their coordination and balance, and most of all improve stamina – which will help your team perform much better in the second half of the game (which can lead to more wins).
Basketball is running. To perform at the highest level from the beginning of the game to end of the game you must be in basketball game shape. To get in basketball game shape it will require you to do lots and lots of running. If you don’t like running you must either endure it, or find another sport. While you are in the game you must be able to run up and down the court at full speed (at all times) or you shouldn’t be in the game.
How to Condition / Train for Basketball
The game of basketball is full of sprinting, stopping, changing direction, etc. This is what you need to train for, but most of all you will need train to be able to perform for long periods of time over the course of a game (Stamina / Endurance).
Long distance running – contrary to popular belief, long distance running should not be the main part of your training. It needs to be part of your training, but not the main focus. I usually have my players run around the court for 5 minutes just as a warm-up. Or go outside and run around the track a few times to start our conditioning routine.
Sprints – since basketball consists mainly of sprinting and stopping, this is where the main focus should be with your training. Lots of sprints, and then more sprints, take a break, and then run more sprints. I prefer to have my players do lots of line type sprinting, such as suicides, and then I have them do suicides while dribbling the basketball.
Running Backwards – is a very important skill that also needs to be worked on. I have my players start on the baseline, sprint to half court, then turn and run backwards with their arms up in the air. This not only helps with coordination, but it’s a good defensive technique. The players turn and now can see the ball, and what’s happening on the court (rather than having their back to the ball).
Lay Up Conditioning Drills – it is important to incorporate shooting skills while conditioning. Players will need to be able to make a lay up while they are tired (late in the game).
Other important basketball conditioning skills / drills
Although running is the main necessity with getting your team in proper condition – there are other components of conditioning for basketball that need to be considered. Although basketball is basically all about running, basketball “conditioning” is not just about running. Conditioning is also about movement – jumping, passing, dribbling, moving side to side, footwork, speed, quickness, stopping, starting, etc. Having the ability to change direction quickly, keep your balance, jump, and start and stop quickly are important skills required for playing the game of basketball. It is important to incorporate agility and conditioning drills that focus on coordination and a player’s reaction time also.
Here are some proven drills that will help increase your players overall stamina and coordination skills:
Jumping – Is one of the most important skills used in the game of basketball. If a player is tired, they will not be able to jump as high. A team needs a player that can get rebounds in the final minutes of the game. Here are a few conditioning drills that will help with building a players jumping endurance…
Footwork – Jump Roping, Ladder drills, Karaoke drills are all part of building great footwork skills. Since there are too many drills to list – and we already have a “Footwork” menu page it is suggested that you check the Footwork page out…
Defensive Drills – Defensive drills are all part of the conditioning scheme. A good defensive player “attacks” rather than “reacts” during the game. Here are some drills that will help with defensive agility skills… Side to Side / Step Slide / Step Slide holding basketballs /
Strength Training / Conditioning
When we talk about strength training for basketball we have to consider it as a type of conditioning needed to play the game at the highest level. Building strength in your legs will make you faster, and allow you to jump higher. Building arm strength will make you quicker, and help build stamina in your ball handling skills. There is somewhat of a myth that if you lift weights that a players “shot” will be off. That is kind of true. If your arms get stronger, you have to also build up your “muscle memory” to get your shot back on track. Basically, if you are lifting weights, you will need to take a lot of shots in order for your memory to get used to your muscles getting stronger (which is referred to as muscle memory).
Strength Training / Working with weights
The best strength training advice that can be given here is to consult with your basketball coach. He or She should be able to point you in the right direction. Every high school basketball coach is interested in having their players work hard in the off season so even if they don’t start a program, they will find you a program. The football team usually has a “strength / conditioning” coach for off season workouts. This may be an option for you also. My daughter worked out with the boy’s basketball team since their coach conducted an off season conditioning program. They worked out with weights, did agility / coordination drills, ran a lot, worked on jumping skills, and then played some basketball at the end of the workout. After basketball season they worked heavily on the weights, then during the summer more agility / coordination drills, and then the coach added more and more basketball towards the last part of the program (just before the high school basketball season was to begin).
Players need to condition their arms to be able to handle the ball late in the game. The best way to do this is to do “stationary” ball handling drills until you can really feel the “burn” in your arms. Then move to ball handling drills that require lots of movement and agility. The harder you work at ball handling, the easier it will become in a game. Most ball handling drills will work as long as you dribble hard (pound the ball through the floor), always look up, and use proper stance.
Other Drills (that players can do on their own)
Push-Ups – Are a great exercise to help keep your arms strong during the season, and also a good drill to do when you have to skip a workout.
Sit-Ups – Keeps the abdomen strong, also helps keep the lower back stretched out.
Pull Ups – If you have a spot in your garage where you can do some pull ups, then go for it. Pull ups will also help to keep your arms strong during the season, and when you have to skip a full workout.
If and only if your players work hard during each and every conditioning drill will they improve. There is no other way. I have heard coaches say “we work on conditioning all the time; I don’t know what the problem is.” Well, after seeing their practice, and how the players are really not working that hard and are “pacing” themselves just trying to finish the drill I could see why it’s not working! If the players don’t work hard right from the start, don’t expect results. Coaches must impress upon their players the philosophy behind proper conditioning and the results that can come from it. Make conditioning a priority so your players are ready to “finish” the game strong!