Basketball Suicides:
A Classic Basketball Conditioning Drill

Running basketball suicides has been a long-standing tradition in basketball practices. And why not? It's a conditioning drill that simulates the start-stop action of a real basketball game, and is a great way to build up anaerobic power for the sprinting that happens in the game. A great workout to slip into your practices, especially in the training sessions early in the pre-season when you need to really build speed and quickness.

Basketball suicides have been an institution within basketball coaching for generations. Ask any player what drill they remember doing in varsity or junior varsity basketball, and you may get a variety of answers; ask them what drill they had to do when their coach felt they weren't working hard and needed a little "motivation" and you will likely get only one answer - suicides!

Suicides hurt. They are sprints, followed by change in direction, followed by another sprint, and so on.  And each consecutive sprint is longer than the previous one. And timed - if you don't come in on time, you do them again. It isn't a walk in the park. But it is great conditioning for basketball.

Basketball Suicides
Instructions to Players

Here's what players need to focus on when running suicides:

  • 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 - be sure to time it and make players complete suicides faster each progressive practice. A good time to aim for is about 25 seconds.

Basketball Suicides
How to Run this Classic Conditioning Drill

basketball-suicidesFull Court Suicide
  • 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 the baseline, stop and touch the baseline

  • Immediately they sprint to the half, stopping and touching the half line, and then sprint back to the baseline, stopping and touching the baseline

  • Immediately they sprint to the far foul line, stopping and touching the foul line, and then sprint back to the baseline, stopping and touching the baseline

  • Immediately they sprint to the far baseline, stopping and touching the baseline, and then sprint back to the original baseline

And that is one suicide

Basketball Suicides
Variations on the Drill

  • You can have the players shuffle backwards on the return portion of each leg of the suicide (warn them to be careful, as some will get their feet tied up and fall over backwards)

  • You can have them do push-ups, sit-ups, etc. at each line, to add in a little muscle work.

  • If you have them doing several suicides in a row but you want them to have a little rest in between, have them pair up. The first of the pair runs his suicide, and as soon as he returns, the second of the pair runs. This also spreads the field better, so fewer people run into each other.

Basketball Suicides Variation
Cross Court Suicides

cross-court-suicidesCross Court Suicides
  • One final variation on this great conditioning drill is to have players perform it cross court, instead of full court

  • In this variation, players start on the sideline and sprint to the foul lane, touch and sprint back to the sideline; touch and sprint to the far foul lane line, touch and sprint back to the sideline; then sprint to the far sideline, touch and sprint back

  • This is a shorter, quicker version, good for when you need something short and sweet, or when you don't want to use all of the court (e.g., if you have players running stations or in groups with one drill being run at one end of the court)

Suicides are a great basketball conditioning drill that can be used throughout the pre-season - I use it often as a "reward" to groups who lose in a contest (players take it as good motivation to play hard and concentrate, and accept it well when they lose the contest and have to run a suicide or two).

But don't use it exclusively as a punishment - this is an excellent conditioning drill for improving quickness and speed that is sport-specific to basketball - try to integrate it into pre-season practice on a regular basis.

“In 19 years Stockton never once lost a suicide drill in practice. Well, there was one day. He was sick. But he still ran it”

– Jerry Sloan

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