There is a cornucopia of training information for almost every athletic endeavor that you can imagine partaking in. This information can be found online, in books, and from seminars. You don’t have to go very far to learn about training for your sport. Whether that’s football, mixed martial arts, bodybuilding, powerlifting, track and field, soccer, baseball, hockey, or anything else, the information is out there and can be obtained fairly easily.

Unfortunately though, for many basketball players and coaches, there isn’t much information readily available specific to basketball. Sure, much of the “other” information is fairly general and applicable to many sports, including basketball. But that’s not good enough. There’s a lot of information—most of it pretty bad—on training for the vertical jump, but the vertical jump is a small part of becoming a better basketball athlete. An important part but a part nonetheless. (If this is something you’re interested in, check out Kelly Baggett’s, Vertical Jump Bible. It’s the best, bar none.)

So, if you’re a player or a coach interested in improvement, start reading, researching, and experimenting. But first get your feet wet with this list—the five most common training mistakes that I see in basketball players today.

  1. Basketball players play too much basketball.
    You might read that and think I’m crazy, but I’m not. Basketball players play the game, whether it’s five on five, three on three, or one on one, every day for hours on end. And I’m sorry to break this to you, but there is such a thing as diminishing returns.Because they play so much, players are constantly in an overreached state. What does that mean? It means their performance will consistently be sub-par, and their motivation will wane. Something they used to love to do sucks now because they often don’t play as well as they used to or normally do. Playing becomes a chore, not the fun activity it used to be. How often should they be playing? I recommend two to three times a week at most. For most athletes, twice a week is optimal.
  1. Basketball players don’t practice enough.
    Right along with playing too much, they don’t work on their skills enough. We’ve all heard about how the Europeans spend hours every day training their skills. While I don’t think it’s nearly as big of a deal as some make it out to be, there is something to be learned here. Time needs to be spent perfecting skills such as shooting, passing, dribbling, and man-to-man defense. As these skills continue to improve, those improvements should transfer over to games. Then, voila! You’re looking at a better basketball player.How should you balance playing with practicing? Like I said, I think most players would see the most benefit from playing two to three times a week and practicing two to three times a week on the days that they’re not playing. Combined, basketball players should be playing/practicing no more than five times a week.
  1. Basketball players are weak.
    When I say weak, I mean weak. There are definitely some players out there who are strong, and it definitely helps their game. (They’re really easy to spot, too. Just look for the fastest guy who jumps the highest.)How does strength help? Well, strength is the foundation on which all other athletic attributes are built. There are several important attributes that I’m referring to, but the two big ones you might be very familiar with—speed and explosiveness—absolutely fall under the “determined by strength” category. Get stronger and you’ll be running faster and jumping higher. Not only that, but you’ll also improve your body’s resistance to injury and its ability to recover. What’s the lesson here? Get stronger!
  1. Basketball players have jacked up ankles.
    Between high-top basketball shoes, ankle braces, and zero ankle mobility work, basketball players have some of the stiffest and most injury prone ankles that you can find. The problem lies mainly within the three things I mentioned above—footwear, ankle braces, and a lack of mobility.With those three culprits working together, its no wonder every basketball player has ankle issues. What can you do to help prevent ankle issues? First, get a pair of lower top basketball shoes. They’ll feel strange at first, but that’s because your ankle actually has to do some work now whereas before it was doing almost nothing while the shoe took care of everything. As with anything new, work your way into them slowly.Second, unless you’re just coming back from an ankle injury, it might be a good idea to toss the ankle brace for the same reasons that you should toss the high-top shoes. Again, work into it slowly as you gradually become more comfortable with it. Then, start working on your ankle mobility. It would take a few pages to describe everything you should be doing, so start by moving your ankle through all the ranges of motion and work from there.

    Finally, do some dynamic strengthening movements to improve on your balance, proprioception, and quickness simultaneously. I like two- and one-footed speed line jumps for sets of 20–30 and pogo jumps for sets of ten.

  1. Basketball players don’t work on recovery.
    With all this playing, practicing, weight training, and injury prevention work, you’re going to have to do something to help tolerate all of it, which falls under the category of recovery work. Something that always blows my mind is that most people don’t know that the positive things that come with training happen when you’re not training. That’s what recovery is. You basically damage your body while training and then “relax” temporarily for 24–48 hours (or however long you have between sessions) where your body repairs the damage and, in an attempt to better handle the stress it knows is coming in the near future, overshoots where it was before the initial training session and builds itself back a little stronger and a little better.What can you do to assist the recovery process? Make sure you’re eating a proper diet, especially after workouts, and perform some static or dynamic stretching. You can also ice sore areas, do some foam rolling and massaging, take a nap, or practice contrast therapy (if you’re really brave) to name a few. Don’t ignore this one. It’s integral to the training process!

A bonus tip!

  1. Basketball players are weak!
    Yeah, I already said it, but I didn’t say it loud enough! Above all else, if you want to become a better athlete, get stronger. If you’re a beginner, lots of body weight work will suffice. If you’re a little older and/or a little more advanced, get your butt in the weight room and find the squat rack!

Alex Maroko is currently a kinesiology major at Michigan State University and a former Division II college basketball player. Besides training himself and his clients, Alex likes to read, discuss, and think about anything pertaining to training. At this point, it’s borderline obsessive.
You can find out more about him at Or find out more about his first product geared toward basketball players at

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