Sports Training & Conditioning Zone!

Pre-season Conditioning for College Basketball

by Glenn Harris

The general purpose for pre-season basketball training is to prepare the athletes for the demands of the up coming season. It is the job of the Strength and Conditioning coach to get the athlete in the best shape possible to cope with the rigorous practice and game schedule that will follow. The basketball season often begins with the traditional midnight practice about the 15th of October and continues until March. This six-month season is very demanding, even for highly trained athletes. Often the first three to four weeks of the season include double sessions. This sheer volume of training is severe. Once the regular season begins, the on-court volume often decreases. The main objective of pre-season conditioning is to get the players ready for the middle of October and to help them maintain that level of conditioning throughout the season.

To successfully prepare the team for the season, you must investigate and appreciate the conditioning demands of basketball. Does basketball require a great deal of low intensity distance running? Or, is basketball a series of high intensity short sprints that require numerous changes of direction? Remember, a basketball court is only approximately 30 yards in length. Also important to consider is the fact that slower teams usually lose. The focus of the training should be on speed, agility and anaerobic conditioning.

The period from the beginning of the school semester to the first practice of the season is approximately five weeks. The objective is to design a sport specific conditioning program that will successfully prepare the team for the season. Hard work and a great effort are expected of every player. Training must be a five day a week effort splitting the time between strength training and conditioning. As you can see, the focus of our training is on specific conditioning for basketball. Agility, flexibility, strength training and conditioning are all addressed to make a complete program.

Strength training is part of the regimen three days each week. The first and third days of strength training are weight training circuits. The circuit training helps acclimate the players to a high volume of work and is specific to the requirements of pre-season practice. Work and Rest times are monitored during the circuit, which lasts no more than a total of 30 minutes. The second day of strength training focuses on strength and hypertrophy as opposed to endurance. Core training, or abdominal training, occurs on the same days as strength training.Core training is an evolving area of research. Michael Boyle has written an excellent article entitled "21st Century Abdominal Training." I use his methods for abdominal training. I suggest that you try it out.

Conditioning is extremely important during this training period. Figure 1 shows that conditioning takes place five days a week. Monday emphasizes change of direction. Thursday is interval day, focusing on track work. Tuesday and Friday are Airdyne Bike workouts. Wednesday includes team handball, a great conditioning workout which is fun and competitive. We borrowed this concept from Mark Verstegen of Athletes Performance in Phoenix.

All workouts are preceded by a warm-up and flexibility session.On Monday and Wednesday warm-up activity utilizes the agility ladder, a great tool for improving footwork and agility. After a series of ladder drills, wemove to dynamic flexibility. On Tuesday, Thursday and Friday the warm-up continuosly focuses on form running. The key to any warm-up is to raise the body temperature. If you are able to do that, your flexibility sessions will be more beneficial.

Shuttle and interval drills are intense workouts focusing on sprinting followed by rest. Shuttles of 150 to 300 yards are used. The team will run them in 30yd. segments, specific to basketball court length. The work time for the shuttles will vary from about 25 seconds for the 150 yd. shuttle to 55-60 seconds for the 300 yd. shuttle. The work-to-rest ratio will be 1:3 for the 150 yd. shuttle and 1:2 for the 300 yd. shuttle. As for the interval training, the work time is similar to the shuttle times. The times are approximately 55-57 seconds (330 yds.), 32-35 seconds (220 yds.), and 15-17 seconds (110 yds.).The work-to-rest ratios for the intervals are 1:2 (330 yds.) and 1:3 (220 yds. & 110 yds.).

The Airdyne bike workouts are designed to give the team an anaerobic training effect while not placing too much stress on the knees, groin and hamstrings. Utilizing biking as a mode of training decreases the occurrence of patella tendonitis. The bike workouts are designed to be similar to the shuttles and interval with regards to work-to-rest ratios.

Our pre-season program shows how different modes of training can be integrated to produce improvements in the conditioning levels of basketball players. To handle the stresses and demands of a competitive season give this program a try. It is very worthwhile.

Sample 5 Day Pre-season Basketball Workout

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Agility Ladder Continuous W.U. Agility Ladder Continuous W.U Continuous W.U.
Spiderman Bike Workout Spiderman Inch Worm Bike Workout
Lateral Resistors 3 min. @ L4 Hurdles/Weave Wall Stretch 10 mile Relay Race
Dynamic Warm-up 10 x 30 sec.
@ L10
Dynamic Warm-up   <30 min.
  1:30 @ L2-3 Team Handball Interval Training Core Training
Shuttle Training 3 min. @ L2-3 Core Training Ex: 330 yds. x 2 Circuit Training