Basketball is such an interesting game for several reasons. One could argue that it’s the only sport that requires a player constantly dribble a basketball if he or she wishes to advance down the court.
One could also argue that it’s a game of a few inches, where a shot just a touch too short or too long is the difference between a team winning a game or not.
No doubt about it, basketball is one of the most entertaining and interesting games on planet earth. However, one aspect often overlooked about the game is conditioning.
I know you don’t want to think about it, especially for former players who use to run laps or “suicides” but basketball demands strict conditioning.
Basketball requires an interesting combination of speed, acceleration, agility, and endurance. The game is like an interesting rhythm where one moment your movements are filled with quick bursts and changes of direction and other moments methodical and at a slow pace.
Basketball conditioning needs to address both long-term endurance and short term speed. The endurance comes into a factor late in the game, the fourth quarter or second half, when you have been running at a constant rate up and down the court for several minutes. The short-term speed is broken down into the quick offensive movements and defensive positioning you must make throughout the game.
Basketball conditioning drills are utilized by coaches at all levels. In fact, basketball conditioning drills are one of the few practices you can find consistent between a middle school team and a professional team. Sure the sets and reps might increase, but generally they are doing the same conditioning drills.
Basketball conditioning drills really are used by coaches, almost like a tyrant, at the beginning of the season. In the first couple of weeks, the coaching staff must prepare the players physically for the up-coming season. Generally players are not in shape and step slow, so conditioning is the only remedy.
These first couple weeks will drive players to their physical and mental limits. Your body and mind will tell you “no,” while your coach will scream “yes.”
Basketball conditioning drills are not only intended to improve endurance, but also to improve the mental aspect of the game.
In fact, it’s amazing to see what you can do that you previously deemed impossible.
Basketball conditioning drills usually begins before practice with basic warm-up drills and light running workouts, continues throughout practice, and finishes with a hard and difficult conditioning routine.
Here’s a basic conditioning plan for the first couple weeks of practice:
Before the practice starts, make sure the players gather as a team and go through stretches. Pick out two to three players that will represent your team’s captains and have them stand in front of the whole team. You can also elect to have the captains selected by the team through an anonymous vote.
Have the players go through a basic stretch routine each day of practice that addresses all areas of the body. After the stretching is finished, instruct each player to do 20 push-ups and 20 jumping jacks. Then have the players take two laps around the court. If you want to add a little extra running, line up all the players on the baseline and have them run to half court-back to the baseline-back down to the other baseline-and back to the starting line at 60% full speed.
During practice, a good coach will know how to utilize conditioning through drills. Running basic drills like dribbling, rebounding, defense, and 3-on-3 or 5-on-5 will allow your players to further their conditioning while also working on their skills.
The practice should be tight with little room to waste. By this I mean that you should never allow a lot of time for players to walk or rest. Allow water breaks every half hour. When switching from one drill to the next, have the players jog over to the next drill. Never allow walking. One good way to push players to constantly move is through a running clock on the scoreboard. Set an amount of time for each drill, and immediately count down ten to fifteen seconds to the next drill. Any player who doesn’t make it to the next drill in time forces the whole team to run. This will improve discipline and individual responsibility to the team.
At the end of practice, it’s now time to shout, “On the line!”
“On the line” is the most dreaded words a coach can ever say to his players. It basically means, “Are you ready to run until you feel like puking?”
Set six to eight lines on the baseline. If you have more than eight players, have them line up behind the line’s leader.
Grab a whistle and instruct the players on what they will be running.
Basic basketball conditioning drills include “up and down’s,” “suicides,” and “double suicides.”