In Season Basketball Conditioning:
An Intelligent Approach
This article is intended to provide guidelines for basketball coaches and players on how they should structure and implement their conditioning program during the basketball season. Because most of the athletes’ energy will be directed at practice sessions and the games themselves, care should be taken to make sure that athletes do not ‘overdo it’ when including their conditioning work into their overall program. In particular, high-stress activities such as jumping and plyometrics should be kept to a minimum – if not excluded altogether – since the sport of basketball includes a high number of high intensity jumping movements and direction changes throughout the game. It is not uncommon to find many basketball players complaining of knee, low back, foot and ankle pain throughout the season. Excessive explosive-power work would only make matters worse.
Because many of the speed, power and endurance components will be accommodated by simply playing basketball, there is little need for extensive sprinting, agility, jumping and endurance training during the competitive season – particularly if the players have a good off-season training program. There are only a few specific situations where these types of training should be included in a program:
Outside of the realm of speed, power and agility activities, the one area where significant gains can be made – without the risk of overuse injuries – is the weightroom. Weightlifting – particularly high-weight, low-rep programs – not only maintains maximum strength capabilities for players who lifted in the off-season, but can also result in gains for novice lifters. Because the weightlifting movements and workload can be carefully monitored, there is significantly less risk than with plyometrics or agility training. Yet a good weightlifting program can enhance the ability of a player to jump, sprint, defend, gain position, rebound and shoot.
2. Characteristics of an In-Season Weightlifting Program
Before you consider implementing an in-season weight program, it is important for each player to assess his or her background in weightlifting. For players that have experience in following an advanced weightlifting program – which includes Olympic lifts and other free weight movements – their program can include high-intensity, heavy-weight lifts. For intermediate lifters, it is likely that the lifts they choose will be of lower complexity, but still using heavy weight. For beginners, the focus would be on using a comfortable weight, and working on good technique.
Weightlifting can provide a number of benefits for all players. The most significant benefit is increased strength – providing indirect benefits for jumping ability, speed, establishing position and increased shooting range. Weightlifting can also be used to increase body weight and musculature – particularly important for low-post players. Additionally, the strength gains and body awareness gains from weightlifting can make the athlete more resistant to injury. These benefits, however, do not come with the cost of joint pain and soft-tissue injuries that commonly accompany explosive jumping and plyometric work. It is important to recognize that weightlifting is included to supplement your basketball activities, not compete with them.
on the following pages, are examples of weight training programs that
could be used for advanced, intermediate and beginner weightlifters
– who are working towards improving their basketball performance.
These programs are intended to provide players with guidelines for setting
up their own programs in-season. As a rule, lifting volumes will be
low, intensity will be high and rest between sets will be high. If you
are not comfortable with a certain type of lifting movement, it is recommended
that you opt for a lift that is less complicated and more comfortable.
3. Advanced Weightlifters
If you have experience in performing Olympic lifts (i.e. cleans, jerks and/or snatches) and you have been instructed by a qualified coach, you would be considered an advanced weightlifter. Your program will take advantage of the fact that Olympic lifts can be used to make you stronger and more explosive.
A sample Advanced week of training could include 2-3 weightlifting days, as follows:
4. Intermediate Weightlifters
Intermediate weightlifters may or may not have experience with performing heavy Olympic lifts, but have significant experience performing such activities as back squats and many other heavy, but less complex lifts. Athletes in the Intermediate range can practice Olympic lifts at low to moderate weight (with low reps), but not include them as a major portion of their program.
A sample Intermediate week of training could include 2-3 weightlifting days, as follows:
5. Beginner Weightlifters
Athletes that have not spent a lot of time lifting weights – particularly free weights – would be considered Beginners for this program. Given that you would not have a significant background in weightlifting, the exercises would be simple in nature and the weight lifted would be quite light. The purpose of doing a weightlifting program would be to build general strength and endurance, as well as work on good posture and technique during the lifts.
6. General Considerations
Before you begin your weightlifting program – whether you are an Advanced lifter or a Beginner – it is important to consider the following guidelines:
For a copy of the PDF version of this article, click here.
©2005 SPS Athletic Training Group. All rights reserved. Use of any of the content of this site - text, images, video clips, illustrations, etc. - without the expressed written consent of SPS Athletic Training group is strictly prohibited.