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In two posts (see and ) we covered some of the background behind developing a strength and conditioning program for basketball. This post will cover some general thoughts about program design and basketball.

First, some principles:
• Strength is going to be essential to the basketball player. There are a number of reasons for this. First, basketball has contact. Second, strength has an impact on power (power is the ability to express strength quickly). Third, strength may be a prerequisite for making plyometrics effective.
• Attention needs to be paid on injury prevention. This is especially true of the ankle and the knee. This can be achieved in the warm-up (ankle) and during strength training and plyometrics (knee, by emphasizing the role of the hamstrings in squatting and landing from jumps).
• Until elite levels, there probably isn’t a need to distinguish between the positions in terms of strength training. However, at the elite level the positions should be viewed differently in terms of strength training.
• Everyone has an opinion on this, but basketball doesn’t appear to be a largely aerobic sport – there is a lot of walking and standing. This means the players have to be conditioned to be able to execute high-intensity sprints repeatedly.
• Plyometrics will be important, but the strength and technique base needs to be there first.
• Basketball players aren’t weightlifters, powerlifters, or bodybuilders. The weightroom is only a tool to better basketball.
• Agility is going to be very important. As the athlete becomes more advanced the ball and opponents need to be incorporated into drills.

With the above in mind, this post will look at high school level basketball players. In Texas, the high school basketball season runs from November through February. At the high school level, there isn’t a need (or a benefit) behind a lot of specialized training. The athletes need to develop a foundation in terms of exercise technique, muscle size (which is important for strength), strength, mobility, speed, game endurance, and agility techniques.

Strength and conditioning during the off-season could be organized around the following:
• Variations of the power clean, push jerk, and pull to help develop explosiveness and to teach the techniques associated with these exercises.
• Squats, Romanian deadlifts, and good mornings to develop lower body strength and hypertrophy.
• Presses and pulls to develop upper body strength and hypertrophy.
• Core training as needed/desired.
• Ankle injury prevention exercises (these were addressed in previous posts and ) done as part of the warm-up.
• Ten to twenty yard sprints focusing on acceleration and starting mechanics.
• Starting, stopping, shuffling, and backpedaling to focus on fundamental agility skills.
• Sprints as conditioning (i.e. limited rest periods combined with a greater volume) to simulate the metabolic requirements of a game.
• Beyond fundamental skills, an emphasis on plyometrics won’t be productive at this level.
• Classical periodization is more than appropriate for this level of athlete. This means initially focusing on higher volume/lower intensity and gradually decreasing the volume/increasing the intensity as the athlete gets closer to the season.

With the above in mind, a sample week of off-season workouts might look like the following:

  Monday Tuesday Wednesday
Strength Power Clean, h, AK, 3×4-6×60-70%

Back Squats, 3×12-15×60-70%

Romanian Deadlifts, 3×12-15

Bench Press, 3×12-15×60-70%

Bent Over Rows, 3×12-15

Military Press, 3×12-15

N/A Push Jerk, 3×4-6×60-70%

Lunges, 3×12-15

Good Mornings, 3×12-15

Dips, 3xMax

Pull-Ups, 3xMax

Plyometrics Counter-Movement Jumps (emphasize landing), 3×10 N/A Standing Long Jumps, 3×10
Speed N/A 3-5×20 Yard Sprints, Standing Start


1×20 yard, 1×40 yard, 1×60 yard, 1×100 yard, 1×60 yard, 1×40 yard, 1×20 yard

Agility N/A Shuffle right/left, 3-5×5 yards

Backpedal, 3-5×5 yards

Other Dynamic Flexibility



Dynamic Flexibility Dynamic Flexibility





  Thursday Friday
Strength N/A Clean Pulls, h, AK, 3×4-6×60-70%

Front Squats, 3×6-8×60-70%

Reverse Hyperextensions, 3×12-15

Dumbbell Bench Press, 3×12-15

One-Arm Dumbbell Rows, 3×12-15

Biceps/Triceps, 3×12-15

Plyometrics N/A BB Medicine Ball Throw, 3×10
Speed 3-5x Stick Drills

3-5×20 Yard Sprints, Standing Start


Agility Start/stopping drills, 3-5x

Shuffle + turn and sprint (3-5×5+5 yards)

Other Dynamic Flexibility Dynamic Flexibility



Power Clean, h, AK = power clean from the hang, barbell begins at above-the-knee height
3×4-6×60-70%= three sets of four to six repetitions at 60-70% of 1-RM
3×12-15= three sets of twelve to fifteen repetitions, last 2-3 reps should be hard
Conditioning is a series of sprints. Ideally the athlete has a specific amount of time to perform each sprint, after that time has elapsed the next sprint starts. For example, the athlete has 20 seconds from the command “Go!” to perform a sprint and rest before the second sprint starts. Athletes should never be told how much time they have so that they give 100% effort throughout.

In-season workouts will be condensed due to travel and time restrictions. If I were writing this up, I’d drop the middle strength training workout and the second speed/agility day and fight hard to maintain the other three workouts each week.

For more information:

Standing starts: and .

Shuffling: ,,  and .

Stopping:  and .


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