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Why is it important for a basketball player to weight train? Simple, basketball is a physically demanding sport in which the player must be a complete athlete: strong and explosive while exhibiting fine motor skills when shooting, passing, rebounding, and dribbling. Basketball players must be conditioned to the demands of the sport. Weight training has been shown to increase the strength of muscular contractions, speed, and flexibility. The result is a stronger and faster player. Unfortunately, some players (high school and collegiate) do not understand the importance of strength training. In addition, those who do train seem to ignore the importance of lower body and core strength focusing entirely on upper body aesthetics. A basketball player must be able to efficiently run, shuffle, jump, and cut. All of these movements are performed primarily through the use of the ankles, knees, hips and core. In reality, players should possess the proper strength, power, flexibility, balance, coordination, and quickness to effectively compete on the court.
I’ve included 20 basic training tips for basketball players and coaches looking to get a competitive edge on their opponent.
1. Always start your weight room and on-court workouts with a general warm-up which is designed to raise your core temperature and increase blood flow to the muscles. Ten to fifteen minutes of jogging, form running, or active/dynamic flexibility drills are an excellent way to warm-up. Make sure your athletes take the warm-up drills seriously. Proper warm-up can reduce the chances of injuries.
2. Train the muscles of the core (hips, abdominals and low back). The core is the link between the upper and lower extremities. Without a strong core, athletic performance is limited. Forces generated from the legs and hips can be transferred into efficient movements when the core is solid and strong. This translates into running faster and jumping higher.
3. Train the core in a sports specific manner (on your feet). Medicine ball drills (i.e. chest pass throws, side throws, overhead throws, etc.) are an excellent way to strengthen the core and develop total body power.
4. The majority of training should include exercises that are closed-chain (standing on your feet), multi-joint (i.e. squats, squat jumps, lunges) and multi-planar (i.e. lateral lunges, 45° lunges, lateral step-ups).
5. Do exercises that focus on single leg strength and power. Players typically run and jump off one (1) leg to make lay-ups, make sharp running cuts, and to play defense (i.e. defensive slides).
6. Strengthen the muscles of the posterior and lateral hip (i.e. hamstrings and glutes). These muscles play an important role in rebounding, boxing out, blocking shots, and taking jump shots.
7. Train movements not muscles. The kinetic chain which consists of the nervous system, the muscular system, and the articular system (joints) must work interdependently to provide efficient movement. Strength training goals should focus on improving athleticism and movement on the court.
8. Drills to improve reaction time, footspeed, and eye-hand-feet coordination (i.e. stealing a ball from an opponent) should be included in your workouts.
9. Common injuries in basketball occur at the ankles and knees. Lower body exercises are crucial in reducing injuries in the lower extremities. Remember, athletes train to reduce the chances of injuries associated with their sport.
10. Use a variety of equipment for training (i.e. bodyweight, weighted vest, medicine balls, bands, manual resistance, dumbbells, barbells, slideboards, agility ladders, etc.). They all provide a training stimulus for improving on-court performance.
11. Incorporate exercises to improve the strength and the range of motion at the ankles. Most players tend to play with their ankles taped or with ankle braces which can lead to a lack of mobility.
12. Players should learn how to land and distribute ground forces from joints to muscle. Learning how to land on one (1) leg in multiple directions should be included in a training session once the athlete has mastered landing on two (2) feet.
13. Perform a static stretch routine after each workout session to:
1. Increase flexibility
2. Delay and lessen the on-set of muscle soreness.
14. Drink a post-workout shake consisting of protein and carbohydrates after each training session to re-fuel the body.
15. Drink plenty of water and remain hydrated. A lost of 2% of bodyweight due to dehydration can cause a 10-20% decrease in athletic performance.
16. Eat a minimum of three (3) meals per day consisting of protein, (good) carbohydrates and low fat for energy and to maintain or increase lean muscle tissue. However, it is recommended that athletes have at least six (6) meals a day.
17. Absolute speed (or linear speed) is not necessarily important in basketball. Lateral speed and the ability to accelerate, decelerate, and change direction is crucial. Cone drills, slideboards, and agility ladders are excellent for developing lateral quickness and agility.
18. Research has proven that basketball is predominately an ANAEROBIC/FAST GLYCOLYSIS sport (non-endurance). Basically, it’s a game of brief but intense and repeated burst of action and the ability to recover quickly is vital for playing hard. Therefore, conditioning must mimic the energy demands of the sport. Sprinting drills, interval runs and shuttle runs should constitute the majority of training. Aerobic training or long distance running will have a negative impact on developing speed, strength and power.
19. Learn how to think and play under fatigue. Circuit training with a work to rest ratio of 1:1 or 2:1 is a good training method at accomplishing this task.
20. Proper rest is needed to recover from strenuous workouts. Athletes should aim to get at least seven (7) hours of sleep at night.
Is it measured in wins, loses, injury rates, athlete's experience, compliance and satisfaction by the coaching staff, etc.? In the NBA, strength and conditioning coaches are measured on the basis of games missed due to injury. Therefore, if players are not missing games due to injury but the respective team finishes the season with a losing record is this still considered successful?
Ray Eady, University of Wisconsin
Good question. This is a problem seen for many years and will continue for many years in our profession.
I feel that some of the measurement is due to the administration, organization, coaches and how they view it.
Obviously, wins and losses are a big key to how people in charge will respond. Keeping players on the court, field playing and developing well in the areas necessary for success is a huge part of the job. Pressure placed on coaches by upper level management for not enough wins eventually will trickle down to the strength program. This is regardless of any success with a lack of injuries, athletes experience, compliance, and coaching staff’s happiness.
I hope this answers it somewhat; it is a very open question.
RON – Purdue
How do I measure success by keeping our guys healthy and how many games did players miss - that is a quantitative approach. I also see success from a qualitative standpoint in what kind of impact does our program have on them from a mental stand point:
I.e. Are we making athletes more confident b/c of their improved strength, body comp, conditioning, power, etc.
Are we making athletes better by improving their mental state and teaching them how to remain positive and not show defeat and frustration during difficult tasks?
Are we making athletes better by asking them to themselves and their teammates accountable?
Are we making athletes better because they start to care more about their bodies inside and outside the weight room (attentive to nutrition, recovery, extra workouts, etc.)?
These are all things that make my program successful - as well as the feedback that I get from the athletes about what we are doing - if I see them buy into what we are doing, then I know I'm being successful.
How do sport coaches measure success - they see performance numbers increase, they see that they are healthy, they see improvement on the field/court/ice, etc.
I don't think we have a direct result in wins/losses but we do have an indirect effect:
1. are the athletes able to with stand the rigors of the sport (conditioning, strength, power, etc) 2. are the athletes resilient enough to bounce back from difficult practices (mobility, flexibility, stability, recovery) 3. are the athletes confident in their preparation that they won't crumble under the pressure of competition
Unfortunately if teams lose but stay healthy there might be a trickle down effect to the strength coach, b/c everybody is quick to point the finger during difficult times but in reality we don't have any technical or tactical effect upon the game itself - our job is done prior to the ball being tipped.
How do I measure success? Injury rates and performance indicators such as vertical, 10 yard, 4 jump, etc.
How do sport coaches measure success? I think that depends. Some only care about wins/losses. Some just care about bench/squat/clean numbers. If we are lucky, they understand our field a little more "globally" and realize the best thing we can do for our athletes is improve their chances of staying on the court/field.
Devan – Stanford
If performance indicators improve and injury rates decrease but the team still performs poorly in the win/lose column is that still considered successful?
Granted, as strength coaches, we can't control many variables: recruiting, game strategy, etc. etc. but should we still take some accountability for wins and loses?
Ray – Wisconsin
I don't think I can say it better than B did.
If performance indicators increase and injuries decrease, I believe we have done our job. As B stated, their may be trickle down if we lose, but we really don't have direct influence over those stats, so while I do take it personally, in the end we can't claim victories nor SHOULD we be held over the fire for losses. Not real world obviously.
I will add 2 aspects to my evaluation of a successful program:
1. FMS scores improve. I am a big believer in this screen, and though it could be seen as the same as injury rates decreasing, I do get fired up for my athletes when they improve their scores.
2. As B alluded too, how much have our athletes changed for the positive and grown as people when they leave. At then end of the day, very few of them will make money playing their sport, and even if they do, if they leave a more responsible, confident, "better" human being than when they arrived, and my program had anything to do with that, I view my time with them as successful.
D – Stanford
When a high school athlete signs their letter of intent, their #1 goal is to play [and play immediately and long-term]. Simple! They choose that "specific" collegiate program because that program gives them the BEST opportunity to achieve that goal. Therefore, success [for me] is helping that player [who signs that letter of intent] achieve the physical and mental tools needed to compete in the sport they LOVE. Basically, creating a POSITIVE experience and environment for the athlete when they are in a strength training [conditioning] session and using that environment as a catalyst for on field, court, or ice success.
Of course, in order to achieve that positive experience and/or environment we must keep our players healthy [first and foremost]. Nothing is more discouraging for a player than not being able to play [THE SPORT THEY LOVE] because of an injury. Positive experience/environment also means helping that athlete achieve the physical attributes that are needed to excel in the sport and giving them the motivation and confidence needed to be successful on AND OFF the playing field. In a nutshell, that is all I can control.
I agree, I don't think we have a direct result in wins/loses; however, our yearly interaction with the players can definitely influence how they compete. We can all agree, outside of the coaching staff, we spend the most time with the players than any other person within the athletic department. Therefore, if our interactions [and environment] with the players are not positive, I believe it can have some influence on wins/loses.
In the end, the best testimonial must come from the athletes. Athletes with positive experiences that are achieving positive results is a key indicator of success.
Ray – Wisconsin
I’ve always looked at success from both a strength program and a sports medicine perspective as simply related to the number of shots being put up each year. This is clearly related to the total games missed due to injury – but it goes one step further. Not being able to play in a game due to injury is devastating for both coaching staff and athlete, but not being able to practice for the days leading up to games week after week also has a tremendous effect on “success” both from a team perspective (wins/losses) but also overall skill development. Not being able to practice day in and day out limits reps on the press-break, in-bounds plays and “getting up shots” not to mention the opportunity to develop strength in the weight room. At the end of the day, the ability to endure the rigors of college basketball day in and day out is a huge factor when addressing this question.
The second part is simply about filling the gaps. This is twofold: First, it starts with assessment and addressing the needs and deficiencies of the athlete prior to injury. I think we all get that. The second part is about filling the gaps associated specifically to the success of the basketball athlete. Mike Curtis’ video that just recently came out I think summarizes what I am about to say. Our job is to create better basketball players – not better “weight room athletes”. Strength development is certainly a large piece of this, but should not be the end goal. Creating athletes who are strong and explosive in the frontal plane (especially for guards) is paramount in my eyes and simply cannot be done with traditional strength training (squat, bench and clean). Guards live and die by the cross-over, either putting on their opponent or defending it. If your program is not addressing this unique, yet trainable quality, I’d say you’re not filling the right gaps.
Art – Northeastern University
By Ray Eady, M.Ed, CSCS, PES
It's simple, female basketball players need to get strong!
It's not uncommon to hear the following from players after a long competitive season, "Coach, what can I do to..."
1. Jump higher?
2. Improve my jump shot?
3. Play better defense? (defensive stance)
4. Run faster?
5. Move quicker?
6. Etc., Etc., Etc.
My response is usually, "Get stronger!"
Likewise, coaches often approach me stating, "We need to..?
1. Get more athletic!
2. Play better defense! (defensive stance)
3. Run faster!
4. Move quicker!
5. Get in better condition!
6. Etc., Etc., Etc.
My response is usually, "Coach, let's continue to get stronger!"
Let's be honest, today's athletes are consistently looking for a quick fix. Most want to get better at playing their sport but very few are willing to do the things that can really improve their game. When a player asks me what they can do to improve their athleticism, I simply tell them to get stronger. Of course, a well-designed training program is going to include soft tissue work, mobility work, core work, speed work, plyometrics, explosive training, corrective exercises, and other forms of training to enhance athleticism. However, for the purpose of this article, I want to talk about the importance of building pure strength.
I work with the women's basketball team at the University of Wisconsin and every off-season my goal is to get our team stronger than the previous year. Why? Because if there is one physical attribute that a female basketball player needs more than any other it's strength. On the other hand, I am still amazed that some basketball coaches continue to underestimate the importance of strength.
I was talking with a strength coach who was frustrated at his head coach because she wants her players to run during the post-season. The reason; "We need to get in better condition". I do not profess to have all the answers but why do players need to be in "basketball" shape in April, May or June for that matter? Official basketball practice does not start until mid-October. I'll be honest; I am not a fan of players running or conditioning in the post-season. I believe the post-season is a time to heal from the long competitive season and for preparing your athletes for off-season training. The last thing basketball players need in the off-season is pre-season style conditioning. However, basketball players do need lots of strength work and this especially holds true for female athletes.
The myths surrounding females and strength training are quite disturbing and in some cases have negatively impacted our ability to train women despite the tremendous amount of research on the topic. These myths include:
1. Women can't get strong
2. Strength training will make women look bulky and masculine
3. Women should avoid high-intensity training or high-load training
4. Women should train differently than men
5. Women only need to do cardio and if they decide to lift weights, they should be very light.
As strength and conditioning professionals, it is imperative that we educate our coaches and athletes on the benefits of strength training, particularly when dealing with female athletes. This is extremely important when we are introduced to new recruits (freshmen) with limited strength training experiences.
Some people will argue what exactly is strength? Is a female capable of performing a 20-rep squat at 60 percent of their one-rep max a form of strength? Or is a female capable of squatting 1.5 times her bodyweight a form of strength? I would say both scenarios are examples of strength (strength endurance versus maximal strength).
However, the basis of this article is to discuss maximal strength development of which female athletes don't do enough of. Now don't get me wrong, I understand the importance of movement and function and I don't see the world through the hole of a 45-pound plate (a great article posted previously on this blog). However, it's okay to challenge and encourage your female players to lift heavier weights during a training session to develop the strength needed to effectively compete in their sport.
As quoted by Lou Schuler in his book entitled The New Rules of Lifting for Women, "results come from hard work and hard work occasionally includes lifting heavier weights." Basically, it's alright for females (if capable and taught proficiently) to squat heavy, deadlift heavy, perform chin-ups/pull-ups, perform sled work, perform kettlebell work and the list goes on!
So what are the benefits for getting strong? (I am sure this comes to no surprise for those reading this article.) First and foremost, we all know that female athletes are more prone to sport-related injuries when compared to male athletes. Therefore, the stronger females can become, the less likely they will get injured. Second, strength is the foundation for improving movement efficiency, central nervous system efficiency, balance, coordination, stability, power, speed, elasticity, acceleration, deceleration, quickness, reaction, and conditioning.
Basically, strength is one of the catalysts for enhancing athleticism. Athleticism is the catalyst for providing a solid foundation for developing a skill. Therefore, if you want to improve your ability to post up a defender - get strong; if you want to improve your rebounding capabilities - get strong; if you want to improve your ability to play man-to-man defense - get strong; if you want to improve your ability to absorb contact when driving to the basket - get strong; if you want to set hard screens or get through screens - get strong, if you want to improve your jump shot - get strong! I think you get the point!
Third, all basketball players need to play at an optimal weight/body composition regardless of position. Researchers found that unlike men, women typically don't gain size from strength training, because compared to men; women have 10 to 30 times less of the hormones that cause muscle hypertrophy. So, lifting heavier weights will develop functional strength without the expense of adding unwanted size.
I believe there is also a psychological benefit for females when developing strength. When a female athlete becomes stronger, they become more confident and their self-esteem soars through the roof. Confidence translates into toughness. Toughness is an attribute that is needed to win games. Why, because you need toughness to play defense, to dive on the floor for loose balls, to make free throws, to run your offensive sets, to erase a ten point deficit or to maintain a 10-point lead.
Within a team environment, getting stronger can foster team unity and enhance team toughness simply by having players push themselves (and each other) in the weight room. Make no mistake, female athletes want to be challenged and in most cases; in the same manner as a male athlete. They want to train in an intense and competitive environment and some relish the experience.
Lastly, studies have shown that strength training (strength work) reduced depression symptoms and anxiety levels more successfully than standard counseling sessions. Newly released studies show that after a strength training session, endorphin levels (feel good hormones) are increased by more than 60 percent leaving you feeling rejuvenated and even euphoric, keeping your mind trouble-free.
Mentally, players have to prepare for a long season which can be quite stressful. Players are under extreme stress because of classes, study sessions, and practices. Games are normally played on Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays and during winter break sessions. Social activities with friends and family are at a minimal. If you ever been to Madison, Wisconsin the cold weather and snow can sometimes make life miserable. Let's not forget, losing streaks are stressful as well. Stress can make or break a season! Weight training can be quite therapeutic.
So remember, if you want your female players to be athletic, lean, competitive, self-confident, tough and stress free; lift some heavy stuff once in awhile!
by Ray Eady
I was talking to a former colleague (who was also a former collegiate basketball player) and we were debating if basketball was a team sport. His reply, “Absolutely not, all you need is two all-stars and a decent role player and your team has a good chance of winning.”
Ok, I can understand his argument and we call all agree if you have a couple of “all-stars” on your team in any sport you can improve your chances of winning”. However, I still believe role players (reserve or bench players) are a key ingredient in the winning process. In many cases, you cannot become a championship team with just two good players. You need important players who can come off the bench and play quality minutes.
What is considered “quality minutes”? A few include:
• Substituting for a starter who is injured
• Substituting for a starter that has fouled out of a game
• Substituting for a starter that is having a bad game (it does occur!)
• Giving the starters rest during intense competition
• Helping to provide a momentum shift in competitive games because of renewed “spirit” and “energy”
• Preparing the starters during practice
• While on the bench, the good role player keeps their head in the game, and observes what's going on, where the weaknesses are in the defense, which opposing players are a threat, what's happening on the boards, etc.
The coaching staff at the University of Wisconsin constantly stresses to our bench players to "make a difference". Not just go into the game and run aimlessly up and down the floor, but play hard, hustle and become the “X” factor.
With this understanding, here are a few things I do with my reserve players in the weight room to foster that “X” factor mentality.
1. Assign leadership responsibilities to the reserve players and not solely to the captains, starters or the “best” player on the team. This gives the reserve players some team ownership and keeps them engaged.
2. Have the starters’ partner with the reserve players during training sessions. This shows that everyone on the team is of equal importance [regardless of minutes played] and that the whole is better than the sum of its parts.
3. Empower your reserve players to make decisions for the team. Once again, this promotes leadership, decision-making, as well as confidence and competitiveness.
4. Constantly give positive feedback. Positive feedback promotes self-confidence, self-assurance and improves self-esteem. In addition, it shows that you care!
5. Continue to challenge them physically and mentally. Put them in situations where they have to overcome some adversity.
6. Recognize their hard work, achievements, and efforts in front of the team. This develops player credibility.
7. Promote the perception that membership on the team is an honor regardless of role. Players feel more attached to the team when it makes them feel special.
8. Limit group competitions but incorporate more team competition where success is only achieved by the inclusion of all players.
9. Verbally communicate to the team the importance of role players and their impact on team performance.
10. Most importantly, continue to hold them accountable at all cost!
The good role player realizes that their "time will come". The role player is a special person because most players want to be starters; however, it takes great maturity to be a good role player.
With that being said, I guess basketball really is a team sport!
What is the latest book you read and why?
At the University of Wisconsin, the women's basketball staff has bible study sessions at least once a week throughout the year (even during the summer months). Our goal as a staff is to coach in God's name and honor. Right now (as a staff), we are reading a book entitled, "The Quest" Coaching for Jesus in a Bottom line World. Personally, I look at my career as a blessing (and obligation) from God to mentor and inspire young people. For me, basketball is simply the platform for doing God's work. As coaches, we have an obligation and a duty to educate, nurture, and develop our athletes beyond the athletic arena. I work mostly with female athletes, so I use my platform to help empower women mentally and physically. Coaches have the ability (and the center stage) to positively influence many people.
Early in my career, it was all about winning games and my coaching reflected this desire. Winning was my way of advancing my career; an opportunity to make more money or to work at a bigger collegiate program. Losing was not an option and in my opinion that was very selfish. Now I coach for God and I follow his coaching blueprint which is too prepare young people for success and life's challenges. I am still a competitive individual but winning has taken on a new meaning. Winning is having a positive impact on players that will last a life time.
I think Tony Dungy said it best, " We do play on Sundays, but if we play the right way, carry ourselves the right way and honor God with our lives, we can impact people for Christ that would never hear about Him in a normal "church service."
For interns, volunteer coaches, graduate assistant etc. aspiring to be basketball strength coaches, what advice would you give?
My advice to aspiring basketball strength and conditioning coaches is to get on the training floor and learn how to be a GOOD strength and conditioning coach. Basically, this means learning how to instruct a variety of athletes regardless of sport. Developing contacts, collecting business cards, and networking is important but at the end of the day, you got to know how to coach. It's critical that aspiring strength coaches learn how to interact and communicate to a diverse group of athletes particularly in a team setting. This includes females, African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, rural-area athletes, inner-city area athletes, athletes with a strong religious faith, athletes from single family homes, and the list goes on.). Athletics is the "melting pot" of the world. Some athletes are motivated differently given their background. All athletes aren't built the same! As a strength coach, you got to find the best way to get the most productivity out of your players. You are not going to get this type of training in a classroom or at a symposium or conference. This type of training comes from being in the weight room, at practices, at games, at film sessions, etc.
Lastly, in my humble opinion, the most successful strength coaches are also great communicators not only to athletes but to sport coaches, athletic trainers, physical therapists, doctors, equipment managers, nutritionists, etc. In many cases, you got to be able to articulate and sell your training philosophy (and in some cases defend your philosophy). Art Horne wrote a great blog on this topic called "Who's fault is it". Developing positive and productive relationships with people in the athletic department is extremely important.
What is your training philosophy regarding in-season training? Off-season training? Pre-season training?
My goal for the off-season is to prepare our team for the upcoming competitive season by developing the physical qualities need to perform at a healthy and optimal level. Of course, this includes improving strength, power, sport-specific speed, quickness and conditioning. At the end of every competitive season, I will develop a yearly training plan based on a couple of factors (a few many include):
1. The number of returning players. Will we be a veteran or a rebuilding team?
2. What type of playing style will we execute offensively and defensively?
3. Are we a team that needs toughness? More team unity?
4. Are we skilled at all five positions? How many players do we have at each position?
5. How will certain players be utilized offensively and defensively?
6. Do some players need additional work (i.e. weight loss, weight gain, speed, etc.)?
Once these factors are identified, I can develop and implement a plan to meet our competitive needs.
I divide the training year into blocks (off-season I, off-season II, pre-season I, pre-season II, and in-season). Each block focusing on a specific physical quality. For example, off-season I is typically dedicated to teaching and re-educating the players on how to perform certain "technical" lifts as well as improving posture, balance, coordination, movement, core stability, and GPP (work capacity). These are the physical qualities that are going to be needed to successfully complete summer workouts.
Our main goal for off-season II is to improve sub-maximal and maximal strength which is extremely important. Strength is one of the catalysts for enhancing athleticism.
We will still train other qualities such as strength-speed, speed-strength, general conditioning, etc. but our number one priority is to get strong. This particular block is the best time to achieve this quality because of a couple of reasons:
1. On-court activity is usually reduced during the summer. Players can give more energy and mind share to weight room activities.
2. I don't believe you can continue to improve strength at an optimal rate during the pre- or competitive seasons because players are now being exposed to stressors that can negatively impact strength gains. (i.e. individual workouts with coaches, team practices, conditioning sessions, pick-up games, late night study sessions, early classes, etc.)
During pre-season I our goal is to prepare for the start of official practice. The physical qualities that are highly emphasized are basketball specific movement/endurance, power, and strength. Our training tends to be more specialized to the demands of the sport.
The goal for pre-season II is to prepare for the beginning portion of our non-conference game schedule. At this point in time, on-court activity has increased dramatically. Weight training frequency and volume will decrease but when we train the focus is to maintain strength gains achieved during the off-season and pre-season I. We tend to do more therapeutic work during these sessions to help facilitate the recovery process as well.
Finally, the goal for the in-season is to keep the players healthy and competitive. Like most strength coaches, I understand the importance of in-season strength training but I also understand that practice takes priority. You can't put too much physical and mental stress on your players that they are unable to perform efficiently on the court. Eventually, you will have overtrained players and not so happy coaches.
What are some of the biggest myths that still surround strength training and the basketball athlete?
Many basketball athletes still think the best way to improve their jumping ability (vertical jump) is to continue to do jumping drills outside of playing basketball. Whether it's on a vertimax, using bands, jump ropes or wearing shoes specially designed to increase jumping performance. As strength coaches, we call all agree that the vertical jump has a direct correlation to limit strength. If you want to jump higher, you must get stronger! This includes adding squats, deadlifts, rack pulls, posterior chain work, and single leg work into your workouts to develop the maximal strength needed to be explosive.
Need more proof? Studies from the National Strength and Conditioning Association have shown that the average vertical jump for a division I collegiate basketball is approximately 27" when compared to a division I collegiate defensive back (football) which is approximately 33". In my opinion, this is not a coincidence. I still believe the majority of basketball players and coaches are still light years behind their football counterparts when it comes to strength training (and conditioning). Many basketball players continue to specialize during the off-season while their football counterparts tend to concentrate the majority of their efforts on strength training. Yearly specialization by the basketball athlete will have a negative impact on developing the maximal strength needed to improve other physical attributes.
What assessments or evaluations do you use with your players during pre-season?
During the pre-season, the athletic trainer and I will assess and evaluate the players in a couple of areas. First, we will do a functional movement screen. I like doing the movement screens because it allows me to asses an array of total body movement mechanics. As you know, proper movement mechanics is needed to perform efficiently, effectively, and injury free on the basketball court. The screens we typically use are:
1. Overhead squat test
2. Hurdle test
3. Active hamstring test
4. In-line lunge test
In addition to the screens, we will do the hop and stop test and the leap and stop test to assess a player's ability to produce, absorb, and stop force on one leg.
We will also do some performance evaluations to measure leg power and strength. To measure power, we will do a series of vertical jump test.
1. Static jump test to measure starting strength
2. Countermovement jump test to measure speed-strength
3. 4-jump test to measure how efficient a player is using their power repeatedly
We perform these jumps on a just-jump mat while the athletes are holding a dowel on the back of their shoulders (as if they were going to do a back squat). The goal is to eliminate the action of the arms to really determine leg power. I like performing these tests because they can help you determine if certain players need more strength work or more speed/elastic work.
For conditioning, we will do the standard 300 yard shuttle test which is a great test to measure anaerobic capacity. This year, I will test the players in the 150 yard shuttle because the energy system demands are bit different (anaerobic power).
Lastly, we will do body composition assessments on a DXEA system to determine body fat and lean muscle tissue. I want our players to be at an optimal body weight for increase performance and to reduce the chances of injury.
I must say the most overrated test when evaluating basketball players has to be the bench press test. So many coaches put a premium on the results. I am not saying basketball players don't need upper body pushing strength but the relevance it has on basketball performance is minimal. When the bench press can prevent a female player from tearing their ACL then I will put more emphasis on the test.
Let's make it clear, performance evaluations will never truly tell you if a player will have some success on the court. It merely predicts future performance. All the strength and power in the world won't make you a successful athlete unless you're able to apply it in sport-specific contexts and integrate it with finer motor qualities.
I don't try to re-invent the wheel when it comes to testing. I want to make my evaluations meaningful for my athletes and to make it applicable for what they will most likely be doing on the court.