Athletic Abilities for Basketball

Any training program should be customized for the players involved.  The program should meet the needs of the sport, the team, and the individual athletes.  Training sessions should be conducted with Intensity that matches games and Quality that meets the standards of all team members.

Elite Basketball Training

Basketball players must be capable of performing up to a thousand unique movements during a forty to forty-eight minute game, at varying degrees of intensity (Abdelkrim, El Fazaa, & El Ati, 2007, p. 72). Successful athletes possess excellent explosive strength, speed, endurance, agility, and power, along with solid basketball fundamentals. Part of the attraction of basketball is the all-around skills required.

Throughout the season, strength and conditioning coaches develop a combination of strength, explosiveness, speed, balance, flexibility and quickness. Many top professional players also spend time performing corrective work to ensure that they maintain good technique to match their athleticism (Zimmerman, 2005).

Planning a Training Regiment

During the off-season and the pre-season (general) phases, players can achieve extensive gains in personal fitness if they are motivated. During the season, more time is devoted sport-specific preparation and conditioning is tapered in advance of competitions; building athletic ability becomes very difficult. Can you maintain technique and execute correctly under physical stress? Building team fitness during the pre-season is critical to deliver quality performance on demand in games to achieve success.

Plan training according to a periodization model.  Start with higher volume and lower intensity and technique early in the season during the preparatory phase.  Finish the season with less volume and more intensity and technique.  Include taper and peak periods to coincide with major competitions (Taha, 2009).

The Role of the Coach

It is important that athletes follow technique correctly.  For sport-specific exercises, players should master the movements before loading the drills.  Players will only perform what they know and it is up to coaches to provide non-judgmental objective feedback.  Coaches must coach and cannot permit incorrect repetitions that hinder progress, risk injury or result in a violation on the court (Pasquali, 2011).

Athletes are completing their growth spurt and are ready to practice more complicated movements.  However, some may be new to the sport or unaware of good training habits so it is up to the coach to follow Long Term Athlete Development Principles.  Youth coaches should adapt exercises to each athlete.  Athletes in the Train to Compete stage should learn to perform simple skills well.  After technique is mastered, increase to game intensity and add resistance (Taha, 2009).

Instruct nutrition, recovery, injury prevention and other off the court concepts to support the development of the entire athlete.  Fitness testing helps coaches monitor progress and gain feedback on their instruction.

Training Strategies for Youth Basketball

A focused team can perform many repetitions during a short workout.  Alan Stein, who trained Kevin Durant and works with the DeMatha Catholic High School Boys Basketball Team aims to accomplish in forty-five minutes what other teams realize in an hour or longer (Stein, 2010).

Every little bit helps.  Teams can improve strength, quickness, and explosiveness by incorporating station work into each practice.  If facilities are available, working out once or twice a week makes a difference.  Use supplies that are inexpensive and easy to store at school or at home

Sport-specific exercises at the beginning of practice can develop athletic abilities.  When athletes have the energy the work at their maximum, it is the best time to develop explosiveness and quickness.  Using additional resistance while practicing skills make games seem easier (Stein, 2010).

Social learning enables athletes who train together push each other to get better and pull together because the support of a friend or teammate is a powerful motivator.  Athletes in the same Zone of Proximal Development can train together and work towards mastery-oriented goals (Subban, 2007, p. 937).  They are also effective workout partners.

Don’t use lack of facilities as an excuse: everything doesn’t have to be perfect.  You have the tools to start a high performance program today if you want.  It is a matter of the team members committing to themselves and each other (Stein, 2010).  The only limitation is creativity and reasonable safety precautions.

Have Fun

Everyone: players, coaches, managers, and staff should relish their roles with the team and enjoy what they are doing. Variation prevents staleness and permits players to continuously improve themselves while keeping every workout and practice distinct (Price, 2006, p. 111).

Training should be enjoyable, interesting, and challenging. The coaches should not only inspire the players to achieve the short-term personal goals of the season but motivate them to adopt a long-term vision of athlete development and personal growth.

List of Resources

  • Pasquali, R. (2011, November 6). Feedback. (B. Bourgase, Interviewer)
  • Price, R. G. (2006). The Ultimate Weight Training for Basketball. Pepper Pike: Price World Enterprises.
  • Stein, A. (2010, December 13). DeMatha High School Weight Room Tour. Retrieved March 1, 2011, from The Hoop Group on YouTube:
  • Subban, P. (2007). Differentiated instruction: A research basis. International Journal of Education , 7 (7), 935-947.
  • Taha, T. (2009, April 22). Long Term Athlete Development Part III. Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
  • Zimmerman, C. (2005, December 1). Basketball Training with KG and Billups. Retrieved October 28, 2011, from Stack Magazine:

Long-Term Athlete Development

This is a presentation that I did for an N.C.C.P. Planning and Periodization Module conducted by Rod Scott of C3 Consultants.