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In two posts (see http://wp.me/pZf7K-6J and http://wp.me/pZf7K-6M ) we covered some of the background behind developing a strength and conditioning program for basketball.  Another post (see http://wp.me/pZf7K-6Q) covered program design thoughts for high school level basketball.  This post will cover some general thoughts about program design and collegiate/national level 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.
  • Strength and technique are essential to success at plyometrics.
  • 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 collegiate or national team-level basketball players.  This is the level that needs a balance between general/fundamental training and more advanced/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 but the athlete’s ability to advance beyond this will help to determine their success.

Strength and conditioning during the off-season could be organized around the following:

  • Variations of the power clean, power snatch, jerk, and pull using several implements to help develop explosiveness and to teach the techniques associated with these exercises.
  • Squats and their variations, 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 http://wp.me/p1XfMm-o and http://wp.me/p1XfMm-E ) done as part of the warm-up.
  • Ten to sixty yard sprints focusing on acceleration and starting mechanics.
  • Starting, stopping, shuffling, and backpedaling to focus on fundamental agility skills.
  • Combination drills to focus on applying agility skills to basketball.
  • Sprints as conditioning (i.e. limited rest periods combined with a greater volume) to simulate the metabolic requirements of a game.
  • Other implements (battle ropes, kettlebells, suspension training) used as metabolic conditioning for variety.
  • An emphasis on vertical plyometrics, especially as strength and technique warrant.
  • 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 early off-season workouts might look as follows:

  Monday Tuesday Wednesday
Strength 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

Power Clean, h, AK, 3×4-6×60-70%

Push Jerk, 3×4-6×60-70%

Clean Pulls, h, AK, 3×4-6×60-70%

 

N/A
Plyometrics Counter-Movement Jumps (emphasize landing), 3×10 N/A Standing Long Jumps, 3×10
Speed N/A 3-5x Stick Drills

3-5×20 Yard Sprints, Standing Start

 

N/A
Agility N/A Start/stopping drills, 3-5x

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

N/A
Other Dynamic Flexibility

Ankle

Core

Dynamic Flexibility Dynamic Flexibility

Battle Ropes

Suspension Training

Ankle

Core

 

  Thursday Friday
Strength Front Squats, 3×4-8×60-70%

Lunges, 3×12-15

Good Mornings, 3×12-15

Reverse Hyperextensions, 3×15-20

Dumbbell Bench Press, 3×12-15

Dips, 3xMax

Pull-Ups, 3xMax

One-Arm Dumbbell Rows, 3×12-15

Biceps/Triceps, 3×12-15

Plyometrics N/A BB Medicine Ball Throw, 3×10
Speed Conditioning:

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

 

N/A
Agility   N/A
Other Dynamic Flexibility Dynamic Flexibility

Ankle

Core

The above workout is meant to be organized around making Monday a strength workout, Tuesday a power workout, and Thursday/Friday geared towards hypertrophy.

A late off-season workout might look like this:

 

  Monday Tuesday Wednesday
Strength Back Squats, 3×4-8×75-85%

Romanian Deadlifts, 3×4-8

Bench Press, 3×4-8×75-85%

Bent Over Rows, 3×4-8

Military Press, 3×4-8

Power Clean + Push Jerk, 3×3+2×60-70%

Clean Pulls, h, AK, 3×4-6×60-70%

 

N/A
Plyometrics Counter-Movement Jumps (emphasize landing), 3×10

Box Jumps (emphasize landing), 3×10

N/A N/A
Speed N/A 3-5x Stick Drills

3-5×40 Yard Sprints, Standing Start

 

N/A
Agility N/A Start/stopping drills, 3-5x

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

N/A
Other Dynamic Flexibility

Suspension Training

Ankle

Core

Dynamic Flexibility

Kettlebells

N/A
  Thursday Friday
Strength Power Snatch, h, AK, 3×4-6

Snatch Pulls, 3×4-6

Dumbbell Clean, 3×4-6

Pause Squats, 3×3-6×60-70%

Good Mornings, 3×8-12

Incline Press, 3×4-8×75-85%

One-Arm Dumbbell Rows, 3×4-8

Dumbbell Shoulder Press, 3×4-8

Plyometrics N/A Standing Long Jumps, 3×10

Hurdle Hops, 3×5 yards

BB Medicine Ball Throw, 3×10

Speed 3-5×20 yards, Standing Start

3-5 Stride Length Drills

Conditioning:

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

 

Agility   N/A
Other Dynamic Flexibility

Kettlebells

Dynamic Flexibility

Battle Ropes

Ankle

Core

With the late off-season workouts, the training has become heavier and there is more of a power focus, it’s designed to build upon the training that has come before.

Regarding the in-season, there is less time available for training.  This means a real focus on what’s important, strength/power/basketball specificity.  During the in-season, sprinting is curtailed and done as part of agility training.  Conditioning is curtailed unless it is a deficiency.

A sample week of in-season workouts might look like:

  Monday Tuesday Wednesday (Game)
Strength/ Plyometrics Power Clean + Push Jerk, 3×3+2×60-70%

Back Squats + Box Jumps, 3×2-6×80-90% + 5 jumps

Bench Press + Medicine Ball Toss, 3×2-x80-90% + 10 throws

Bent Over Rows + Medicine Ball Toss, 3×2-6 + 10 throws

N/A

 

Clean Pulls, 3×4-6×60-70%

Pause Squats, 3×2-6×70-80%

 

Plyometrics Counter-N/A N/A N/A
Speed N/A N/A

 

N/A
Agility N/A Start/stopping drills, 3-5x

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

N/A
Other Dynamic Flexibility

Ankle

Core

Dynamic Flexibility

Kettlebells

N/A
  Thursday Friday (Game)
Strength/ Plyometrics N/A Snatch Pull + Power Snatch, 3×2-4+2-4×60-70%

Front Squats, 3×2-4×70-80%

Pause Bench Press, 3×2-6×60-70%

Plyometrics N/A N/A
Speed N/A N/A

 

Agility Agility drills incorporating ball and opponent, 2-3×3-5 N/A
Other Dynamic Flexibility

Battle Ropes

Dynamic Flexibility

Ankle

Core

For more information:

Standing starts: http://wp.me/p1XfMm-1S andhttp://youtu.be/JPoBnrJxnDQ .

Shuffling: http://wp.me/p1XfMm-1o ,http://youtu.be/rDHILRb8Mnc,  and http://youtu.be/jYtqLsy_fuQ .

Stopping: http://wp.me/p1XfMm-P  and http://youtu.be/YnaONuqZWWE

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In two posts (see http://wp.me/pZf7K-6J and http://wp.me/pZf7K-6M ) 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 http://wp.me/p1XfMm-o and http://wp.me/p1XfMm-E ) 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

Conditioning:

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

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

Backpedal, 3-5×5 yards

N/A
Other Dynamic Flexibility

Ankle

Core

Dynamic Flexibility Dynamic Flexibility

Ankle

Core

 

Notes:

  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

 

N/A
Agility Start/stopping drills, 3-5x

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

N/A
Other Dynamic Flexibility Dynamic Flexibility

Ankle

Core

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: http://wp.me/p1XfMm-1S andhttp://youtu.be/JPoBnrJxnDQ .

Shuffling: http://wp.me/p1XfMm-1o ,http://youtu.be/rDHILRb8Mnc,  and http://youtu.be/jYtqLsy_fuQ .

Stopping: http://wp.me/p1XfMm-P  and http://youtu.be/YnaONuqZWWE .

In the last post (see here: ), a general overview of the game of basketball was provided. From a strength and conditioning standpoint, it’s important to understand that basketball has a number of different positions and different kinds of athletes are going to be successful in each position.

A number of studies have looked at male basketball players from a variety of settings and playing levels (Division I, national team members, Euroleague, etc.). The results of these studies appear in the table below. I recognize that there are shooting guards, point guards, small forwards, and power forwards and that these are all lumped together below. Some studies distinguish between these positions, but others don’t. In the interest of comparing apples to apples, they have been lumped together in the table below.

Characteristic Guards Forwards Centers
Age 23 22 22
Height (cm) 191 196 203
Weight (kg) 87 90 99
% Body Fat 9.7 9.8 13
Vertical Jump (cm) 61 59 52
Bench Press/Body Weight 1.05 .98 .98
Power Clean/ Body Weight 1.14 1.11 .98
Squat/Body Weight 2.01 1.91 1.7
T Test (sec) 9.3 9.7 9.9
5 meter sprint .99 1.14 1.17
10 meter sprint 1.86 1.97 2
30 meter sprint 4.14 4.16 4.32

(adapted from Abdelkrim et al 2009, Abdelkrim et al 2010, Latin et al 1994, Ostojic et al 2006, Sallet et al 2005).

A few things to keep in mind about the above table. First, this table shows averages of an amalgamation of male basketball player data. Second, note the average ages of the players. Third, much of this is from European/North African national-level basketball players. The combination of all these things shows extremely interesting trends, but you should be cautious about using the above information as standards for player evaluation.

The table does provide some interesting information. Guards tend to be lighter and more athletic than the other positions. Their relative strength is greater, vertical jump is higher, and they are faster and more agile than the other positions. Centers tend to be the tallest and heaviest athletes with the highest body fat and the lowest relative strength (though their absolute strength is greater than the other positions). They also tend to be slower and have a lower vertical jump than the other positions. Forwards fall in between.

The specifics of this information (i.e. what values are ideal for each characteristic?) is going to vary depending upon age, level of ability, setting, etc. However, the trends are extremely important for an athlete and for a coach. An athlete that is taller, heavier, and slower may not make a good guard but may make a good forward or center. A smaller, faster, more agile athlete with a greater vertical jump may be more effective as a guard. Etc.

These same trends hold true of female athletes. The table below shows an amalgamation of research articles looking at primarily collegiate female basketball players. Notice that the same trends hold true:

Characteristic Guards Forwards Centers
Age 25 26 26
Height (cm) 170 177 184
Weight (kg) 62 70 78
Body Fat (%) 17 19 23
Vertical Jump (cm) 47 46 42
20 meter sprint (seconds) 3.37 3.53 3.59
T-Test (seconds) 10.05 10.5 10.7
Suicide Run (seconds) 30 32 32

(adapted from Delextrat and Cohen 2009, LaMonte et al 1999).

Abdelkrim, N.B., Castagna, C., Fazaa, S.E., Tabka, Z., and Ati, J.E. Blood metabolites during basketball competitions. J Strength Cond Re 23(3): 765-773, 2009.

Abdelkrim, N.B., Chaouachi, A., Chamari, K., Chtara, M., and Castagna, C. Positional role and competitive-level differences in elite-level men’s basketball players. J Strength Cond Re 24(5): 1346-1355, 2010.

Delextrat, A. and Cohen, D. Strength, power, speed, and agility of women’s basketball players according to playing position. J Strength Cond Re 23(7): 1974-1981, 2009.

LaMonte, M.J., McKinney, J.T., Quinn, S.M., Bainbridge, C.N., and Eisenman, P.A. Comparison of physical and physiological variables for female college basketball players. J Strength Cond Re 13(3): 264-270, 1999.

Latin, R.W., Berg, K., and Baechle, T. Physical and performance characteristics of NCAA Division I male basketball players. J Strength Cond Re 8(4): 214-218, 1994.

Ostojic, S.M., Mazic, S., and Dikic, N. Profiling in basketball: Physical and physiological characteristics of elite players. J Strength Cond Re 20(4): 740-744, 2006.

Sallet, P., Perrier, D., Ferret, J.M., Vitelli, V., and Baverel, G. Physiological differences in professional basketball players as a function of playing position and level of play. J Sports Med Phys Fitness 45(3): 291-294, 2005.

Basketball is a total-body sport that involves running, walking, sprinting, changes of direction, shuffling, and jumping. While it’s intended to be a non-contact sport, many injuries are related to contact. Regardless of whether it is men’s or women’s basketball, European or collegiate or high school, ankle injuries are the most common injuries seen in the sport, followed by knee and lower back injuries (Agel et al 2007, Kofotolis et al 2007, Mihata et al 2006, Stergioulas et al 2007). There are more injuries in games than practices and many of the ankle injuries result from contact.

Basketball is characterized by short bursts of high-intensity movement. The table below is from Abdelkrim et al (2010) and shows the distance and percentage of time devoted towards each type of movement pattern. In their article, the authors define the speeds at which each movement pattern takes place (for example, sprinting is in excess of 24 km/hour). The point is that very little time and distance is devoted to high-speed/intensity movements. Almost 63% of game time is devoted to walking or standing. This means that basketball athletes have to be conditioned for short bursts of speed and power.

However, as Taylor (2003) points out, though, this is going to change depending upon the personnel, level of play, coaching style/scheme, etc. So while the information below is useful, it should not be viewed as an absolute.

  Ttl Distance % Ttl Time
Total

7558

 
Walk

1720

30.98

Jog

1870

5.58

Run

928

4.54

Stride

406

2.37

Sprint

763

2.83

Sideways

218

1.89

LI Shuffle

606

8.54

MI Shuffle

691

6.48

HI Shuffle

169

3.1

Standing  

32.3

Jumping  

1.34

The sport has five major types of positions; shooting guards, point guards, small forwards, power forwards, and centers. As we’ll discuss in a future blog, each position has different physical characteristics that are necessary for success. Point guards are the main ball handlers and prepare the offense. Shooting guards are often the team’s best scorer. Small forwards tend to be well balanced in terms of skills and important for the defense. The power forward is important for defense and guards the basket. The center is generally the tallest player on the court, blocks shots, scores around the basket, and has a large rebounding responsibility. In the next post, where we discuss characteristics of the positions, the guards will be lumped together as will the forwards.

Abdelkrim, N.B., Castagna, C., Jabri, I., Battikh, T., Fazaa, S.E., and Ati, J.E. Activity profile and physiological requirements of junior elite basketball players in relation to aerobic-anaerobic fitness. J Strength Cond Re 24(9): 2330-2342, 2010.

Agel, J., Olson, D.E., Dick, R., Arendt, E.A., Marshall, S.W., and Sikka, R.S. Descriptive epidemiology of collegiate women’s basketball injuries: National Collegiate Athletic Association injury surveillance system, 1988-1989 through 2003-2004. J Athl Training 42(2): 202-210, 2007.

Kofotolis, N. and Kellis, E. Ankle sprain injuries: A 2 year prospective cohort study in female Greek professional basketball players. J Athl Training 42(3): 388-394.

Mihata, L.C.S., Beutler, A.I., and Boden, B.P. Comparing the incidence of anterior cruciate ligament injury in collegiate lacrosse, soccer, and basketball players: Implications for anterior cruciate ligament mechanism and prevention. Am J Sport Med 34: 899-904, 2006.

Stergioulas, A., Tripolitsioti, A., Kostopoulos, N., Gavriilidis, A., Sotiropoulos, D., and Baltopoulos, P. Amateur basketball injuries: A prospective study among male and female athletes. Biol Exercise 3: 35-45, 2007.

Taylor, J. Basketball: Applying time motion data to conditioning. Strength and Conditioning Journal, 25(2): 57-64, 2003.