Rhodestown Strength and Conditioning: Pre Season Basketball Training

TAGS: reducing injury, basketball training, training athletes, matt rhodes, conditioning

It’s getting to be that time of year when high schools start putting away their shoulder pads and helmets and start lacing up their hoop shoes. It’s a very sad time of year, but we must push on. Change is inevitable, and in some parts of the country, it’s just getting too cold to be running around outside. So welcome high school basketball season with open arms.

If you’re coming off football season, you're already conditioned for basketball. If you aren't, you had better get to it. Despite what people think, basketball is an anaerobic, power sport and should be trained accordingly.

As a basketball coach preparing his or her team for the season, here are a few things to consider:

You must weight lift pre-season and in-season: Take the time twice a week to get in the weight room for thirty minutes to help maintain some strength as the season grinds on. All the running will take its toll and the athletes will get weaker. Weaker means less powerful, less conditioned, less explosive, and more injury prone athletes. All bad things. Make the weight room an in-season priority and reap the rewards late in the season.

Pre-season conditioning must be appropriate: Stop running the mile! As a matter of fact, stop all aerobic conditioning. It’s a waste of time and you'll actually be making your athletes less explosive, more injury prone, and not as agile as they need to be for basketball. Like the leather helmet, aerobic conditioning is way out of date.

Anaerobic conditioning (exactly the same as football) should be employed. The best way to accomplish this is with different variations of the old fashioned “suicide” and cone drills. As you set up your conditioning program, remember a few things:

  • Work on linear speed (straight line sprinting).
  • Work on agility (cone drills).
  • Make sure that at least one-third of the movement you do is shuffling (to mimic defensive slides).
  • Stop running for distance and start sprinting for speed and your team will reap the rewards.

Sample Conditioning Program

Day One

Suicide ladder (1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 7, 5, 3, 1)

  • One line (baseline to opposite foul line), five seconds
  • Three lines (baseline to baseline to baseline to opposite foul line), 15 seconds
  • Five lines (baseline to baseline to baseline to baseline to baseline to opposite foul line), 30 seconds
  • Seven lines (baseline to baseline to baseline to baseline to baseline to baseline to baseline to opposite foul line), 40–45 seconds
  • Nine lines (baseline to baseline to baseline to baseline to baseline to baseline to baseline to baseline to baseline to opposite foul line), 55–65 seconds
  • Seven lines
  • Five lines
  • Three lines
  • One line

After each sprint, make sure to give a 3:1 rest to work ratio.

For example, a 60-second sprint means three minutes of rest.

Day Two

Agility cone drills (your choice), 20 minutes

  • Use four different agility drills and run the team through each drill for five minutes. Then switch (like four quarters). Incorporate change of direction, lateral slides, back pedaling, starts, and stops.

Day Three

Plyometrics and conditioning

  • Use low hurdles and do a series of different footwork drills.
  • Run through
    • One foot in each (lead with right/lead with left)
    • Two feet in each (lead with right/lead with left)
    • Side shuffle (lead with right/lead with left)
    • Two-foot hop (stick the landing)
    • Two-foot hop (fast; don’t stay on ground long)
    • One-foot hop (stick landing, right/left)
    • One-foot hop (stick landing, lateral, right/left)
    • Champions (week 1: start with six. Add one each week until the season starts)
    • Baseline to foul line and back
    • Baseline to mid-court and back to foul line
    • Foul line to opposite foul line and back to mid-court
    • Mid-court to baseline and back to opposite foul line

A good time is about 27 seconds for well-conditioned athletes.


I suggest doing these drills before you start practice. I like the idea of going through drills once the athletes are already fatigued. It causes the players to learn how to focus when they’re tired. It sucks, but they will get in great shape. Remember, practice should be so brutal (mentally and physically) that games are easy. Don’t overdo it, but work them hard.

You’ll be practicing five days per week, so they should get into great shape as they go. Don’t be afraid to sneak conditioning into the middle of practice with “punishment” sprints for not executing correctly. I like running the width of the court. Each line would be four seconds (e.g. three lines plus twelve seconds (sideline to sideline (1) to sideline (2) to sideline (3)).

In summary, lift twice a week, condition three days per week in addition to practice, use anaerobic drills to condition your basketball team, and don’t jog!

I suggest doing these drills before you start practice. I like the idea of going through drills once the athletes are already fatigued. It causes the players to learn how to focus when they're tired. It sucks, but they will get in great shape. Remember, practice should be so brutal (mentally and physically) that games are easy. Don’t overdo it, but work them hard.

You’ll be practicing five days per week, so they should get into great shape as they go. Don’t be afraid to sneak conditioning into the middle of practice with “punishment” sprints for not executing correctly. I like running the width of the court. Each line would be four seconds (e.g. three lines plus twelve seconds (sideline to sideline (1) to sideline (2) to sideline (3)).

In summary, lift twice a week, condition three days per week in addition to practice, use anaerobic drills to condition your basketball team, and don't jog!

Matt's Training Log

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