Articles & Resources

In-Season Strength Training: Being Strong When It Counts by Alan Stein

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Nov 13, 2010 9:31:00 AM

by Alan Stein

Head Strength & Conditioning Coach
DeMatha Catholic High School Basketball

In order for you to reach your true potential on the basketball court, and have an edge on your opponent, you must maintain the strength you built throughout the off-season.  Keep in mind you are not an Olympic lifter, Power lifter, or bodybuilder, so you don’t need to train that way. A safe, time efficient and productive in-season program can take as little as 20 minutes, twice a week!
The primary purpose of your strength training program is to reduce the occurrence and severity of injury.  As you know, basketball is very physically demanding.  Making your muscles and joints stronger will lessen your chance of injury (such as a pulled groin or rolled ankle), and keep you on the court where you belong.  Strength training will also help you improve your performance.  The stronger you are the more force you can produce; which means you will run faster and jump higher. However, strength is an attribute that can quickly diminish.  In as little as 3 weeks you may have a noticeable decrease in your overall strength and power.  If you don’t strength train during the season, you will be physically at your weakest come playoff time!

There are as many different strength training methodologies as there are ways to run a full court press or a secondary break.  Regardless of what you choose; safety, time efficiency, and intensity should be the backbone of your strength training philosophy.  Your main focus during the season should be to maintain your overall muscular size and strength.  An in-season program should address your major muscle groups (legs, hips, core, and upper torso) as well as the most injury prone areas: ankles, knees, groin, and lower back.

You should only use the safest exercises available and perfect exercise technique. You should work within an appropriate repetition range (8-15 reps for most high school players). Since time is a precious commodity during the season, the goal of your in-season strength program should be to get the maximum results in the shortest amount of time. You should use a limited number of sets and exercises during each workout (1-2 sets per exercise), while minimizing rest intervals to induce an overall conditioning effect.  This will make each workout brief, but intense!

Intensity is the most important controllable factor in determining your results.  Below a certain level of intensity, strength training will have very little benefit.  If you are capable of lifting 100 pounds 15 times on a given exercise, and you stop at 10, the exercise was not as intense as it could have been.  Therefore, it is recommended that each appropriate set is taken to the point at which no additional reps can be completed (muscle fatigue).  

Since you will be practicing and playing almost every day (at high levels of intensity), and will be in a constant state of fatigue from now until March, it is recommended you decrease the volume of each workout to reduce the overall wear and tear on your body.  Do fewer sets and less total exercises, especially for the lower body, than you would during the off-season.

Sample In-Season Strength Workout

Perform 2 sets of each of the following exercises:

Basketball push-ups   

Multi-directional lunge


1 legged squat

Standing shoulder press

1 legged leg curl on physio ball

Seated row



Topics: Strength Training, Alan Stein