Basketball Conditioning Drills

Of all the basketball conditioning drills we'll come across during our coaching experience, Horses are second only to Suicides for popularity when it comes to preparing our players to move quickly on court. But the nice thing about Horses is that they add in an element of stamina as well, making this a more effective simulation of what really happens in a basketball game.

Horses carry Suicides one step further, repeating the suicide in reverse so that the player essentially runs two suicides back to back. It is all start and stop, quick bursts of speed before changing direction, just like in the game.

Partly anaerobic since it is sprinting, partly aerobic because it lasts so long, it's a great basketball conditioning drill that will exhaust players while building their sport-specific conditioning. A great drill to use to get your players' conditioning up to game speed, especially early in the pre-season.

Basketball Conditioning Drills
Horses: Instructions to Players

Here's what players need to focus on:

  • Players must touch the lines with their hands, not feet - i.e., they need to bend down and come to a complete stop at each line

  • Be sure they are spaced out - you don't want them running into each other.

  • This is a speed drill - they need to sprint, not jog, especially in the last section or two when they become really exhausted.

Basketball Conditioning Drills
Horses: How to Run the Drill

  • Players line up on the baseline.

  • On the coach's whistle, players start sprinting

  • When the players reach the foul line (extended), they stop, touch the line, then sprint back to touch the baseline.

  • Immediately they sprint to the half, touch the half line, and then sprint back to touch the baseline.
  • Immediately they sprint to the far foul line, touching the foul line, and then sprint back to touch the baseline
  • Immediately they sprint to the far baseline, touching the baseline, and then sprint back to the original baseline.
  • Now they work their way back to the beginning, touching lines in reverse order to what they have already done...
    ...sprint to three-quarter court (far foul line), touch the line and sprint back to baseline
    ...sprint to half, touch the line and sprint back to baseline
    ...sprint to foul line, touch the line and sprint back to baseline

That is one horse.

Players have 8 minutes to complete 8 horses - that's 1 horse per minute. Be sure they pace themselves appropriately

This is great conditioning for basketball, as it simulates the speed and stop-start action that the game requires. Use this any time you feel your team's conditioning is lacking, especially in the early pre-season when conditioning is a priority.

Horses are also a part of an exceptional basketball conditioning workout called the 8-8-18 - an excellent workout when you want some serious conditioning, this is a half hour workout that really pushes and exhausts players. A great conditioning workout.

If you find your players are particularly slow and you really need to boost their speed and quickness, you can check out more complete, stand-alone training programs like the Speed, Agility and Quickness Program, a solid training program for players interested in developing their speed and quickness pre-season and in-season.

"The key is not the "will to win" - everybody has that.
It is the will to prepare to win that is important."

- Bobby Knight

Looking for something more visual?

Try UMass Head Coach Derek Kellogg's video package of drills