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Basketball Conditioning Workouts

Basketball conditioning workouts are usually pushed during the off-season, and for good reason - the off season, especially the long summer break, allows so much time for players to improve their conditioning and their basic basketball skills. Since there are no regularly scheduled practices or games or school, all your players should be worrying about is having the determination to succeed and some solid basketball workouts to boost their basketball conditioning.

Crossover dribbles, rebounding, a consistent jumper - all important basketball fundamentals every player should have. But if they can't run the court, can't play for a full game, they won't get the chance to use those fundamentals when the season starts since they'll be too busy trying to catch up to the other team. Every player needs to know their fundamentals; but every player needs to be in exceptional physical shape as well.

To be in complete shape, players need three things:

  • Good Basic Skills
  • Good Aerobic Conditioning
  • Good Muscular Strength

All of these can be improved through following good routines diligently, making sure that the workouts are specific to the needs of the basketball player - e.g., workouts for aerobic conditioning are focused on the start-stop movement and sprinting that is so critical to basketball, not on distance training that will not provide much help to the player in the game.

What follows are several training plans. Some I have developed for my players, and some have been developed by others. I don't have complete strength training or basketball conditioning workouts - I've used lots, but I haven't developed my own simply because there are several such programs already on the market that do a good job, and that are specific to the game of basketball.

I give out two basketball conditioning workouts that focus on developing players' overall skills levels during the off season, an Off Season Skills Workout for Guards and an Off Season Skills Workout for Inside Players. These workouts share some of the same drills, but there are also drills in each that focus on skills specific to each position.

These workout programs are good, all-round workouts that hit the core skills areas. They are not intensive on any particular skill, but they do a good job of maintaining and sharpening skills players have learned through the season (especially good for them to work on during the summer, as so many players stop training - if your players continue this workout over the summer months, they'll come back stronger and better prepared than most of their competition.)

If you are interested in your players developing specific skills sets in more intensive workouts, I would suggest you promote (or perhaps run) a summer basketball camp. If that isn't possible, try using a program such as Point Guard Academy, a 12 week program that develops ballhandling, shooting, basic plays like pick n roll - the essentials of good playmaking. There is also another excellent program you can check out called License to Ball created by Bernie Holowicki, a head instructor at the legendary Five Star Basketball Camp. If your focus is on developing players' skills, you need instruction in that specific skill, which these programs and a good summer camp would provide. The summer skills workouts I've mentioned above will do a good job of maintaining skills players already have, but words on a paper won't be a good subsititute for solid coaching.

I also hand out basketball conditioning workouts designed to build muscular strength. Again, the off-season is the best time to develop strength, so I have a simple Off Season Weight Training Program for building functional strength. It's a straight forward set of exercises that pretty much anyone can use, although you might want to take a look at Vince Del Monte's No Nonsense Muscle Building Program for players that really need to add muscle (skinny post players should see some good gains with this). It isn't specific to basketball, but rather specific to guys who want to increase strength and size quickly.

But the weight training shouldn't end when the season begins, it should just be amended. Otherwise, all those hard-earned strength gains will be lost. So I also have an In Season Strength Training Plan that focuses on maintaining strength during the season.

For improving aerobic fitness, I tend to rely on conditioning drills that I use in practice - running a lot of them during the first week or two of practices and then tapering off as the pre-season goes on and players' conditioning improves. One basketball workout I use that could be an entire practice of its own (early in the season it would be a good thing to do as an additional practice a couple of times a week) would be the 8-8-18 workout. It takes about half an hour and is exhausting, but really good aerobic training and a good overall basketball conditioning workout.

Along the same lines, conditioning for basketball needs to focus on start-stop, explosive movements - movements that replicate the game. Long distance running doesn't. Unfortunately, there are very few complete programs out there designed to improve speed and quickness. I used to advocate a program called "The Truth About Quickness", but I can no longer find it online. There is another program that develops quickness and that has gotten really good reviews - AQ Speed. It is a solid basketball conditioning workout in its own right, and a good way to improve athletic abilities that are so important to many sports.

For a much simpler basketball conditioning workout that focuses on improving speed and fitness, have your players use this jump rope training which helps develop quick feet and aerobic conditioning.

One other aspect of conditioning that I get asked about often by my players is how to increase their vertical jump. I'll be the first to say that being able to dunk is not a necessary skill for a ball player. But I would also say it's nice to see your players get above the rim with ease - better scoring opportunities, better rebounding, and a nice side-effect is that the exercises used to improve players' vertical jump also help improve speed and quickness.

I don't have a basketball conditioning workout specific to jump training, but I do give out a few Exercises to Increase Vertical Jump in the off season, and for players interested in a complete jump training program, I recommend The Jump Manual - it's a comprehensive approach to improving their vertical jump, a demanding workout that I have personally used in the past and that produces results. There are other vertical jump programs out there, but I prefer the Jump Manual because it is a solid, comprehensive program that contains all aspects of good jump training.

Take a look at the basketball conditioning workouts above and choose the ones to fit your needs, and the needs of your players. You may want to individualize the programs somewhat to suit individual players' needs, but be careful to condition the whole player - e.g., don't over-train some muscles and under-train others. These workouts are what I have put together through years of trial and error and piecing together what I felt worked best from many other workouts. But I am not a certified trainer. If you have access to a trainer, even if it's only for one or two practices, take it.

Additional resources to help develop your basketball conditioning workouts:

Better Basketball Coaching Pages & Resources
External Resources

Whatever basketball conditioning workout program you choose, be sure that the exercises are sport-specific - i.e., focus on developing abilities important to playing basketball. Some cross-training is a good thing, especially off season, as it will develop muscles and athletic skills that an exercise program focused on a single sport may not.

But in the end, we want our players to excel in basketball, and so the basketball conditioning workout they adhere to should improve the skills and abilities required in the game of basketball more than anything else. Long distance running may be good for the heart, but it won't help you speed past a defender. Keep it sport-specific and watch your team improve.

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