Passing, stealing, defending and running plays are all integral parts of basketball and require training and drilling. In addition to mastering these sport-specific skills, your players will need to work on their general physical skills, including running, jumping, landing and sprinting. They’ll also need the muscular endurance and cardiovascular stamina to compete during an entire game. Using a bit of sport science to guide you in your basketball coaching will help you develop an athletic, well-conditioned team.
Plan conditioning to more closely mirror a game as your season nears
Create a Periodization (Seasonal) Plan
Depending on how long your season runs and how much time you have to prepare your team , you’ll want to start with resistance training and aerobic conditioning, tapering loads and durations of exercises as you get closer to your season. Create a basketball conditioning plan with defined dates that moves from heavy weightlifting and aerobic cardio workouts to lighter weights, more reps and explosive power and sprint training as the season nears. Lifting heavy weights and running miles during the season will train slower, low-twitch muscle fibers, rather than the high-twitch fibers your players will use during games.
Work on Jumping Skills
After you’re finished with strength training (muscle building with heavy weights), move to explosive and reactive power training. Explosive strength exercises require your players to move quickly and powerfully in one direction. Examples of explosive strength exercises include jumping onto boxes or other platforms with both feet; box squats, which have you start from a seated position, standing up with weights on your shoulders; and placing one leg on a bench or box, then pushing straight up in the air with the raised leg as high as you can go.
Reactive power, or plyometric, exercises require a down-and-up leg movement like a slam dunk. Jumping off a box, then jumping as high as you can as soon as your feet touch the floor, is an example of a plyometric exercise. High-knee skipping is another.
Measure your players’ vertical leaps prior to starting this type of conditioning and re-measure each week or so to gauge improvement and let players see their progress to help them understand how the work they are doing is benefiting their basketball skills.
Teach Correct Stretching
Prior to practices and games, it’s not a good idea to stretch using the traditional stretch-and-hold movements often performed by players in many sports. This static stretching actually decreases power and vertical leap for 20 minutes or longer. Dynamic stretching, which uses quicker movements, is better for your players before physical activity. These include movements such as high-knee skipping, arm swings, quick lunges, giant steps across the court and other moderately fast muscle movements that mirror basketball moves. Static stretching after practices and games is very appropriate and helps promote increased flexibility.