Articles & Resources

A Question Of Conditioning: A Look Back At How It All Started - One Year Ago

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Oct 9, 2010 7:02:00 PM

by Art Horne

About one year ago, a question on conditioning came up among a small community of strength coaches and friends. From this the idea of EVERYTHING BASKETBALL was born.  Today, EVERYTHING BASKETBALL continues to highlight the very best basketball professionals from across North America from all professional backgrounds and affiliations.

Thanks for continuing to share your ideas, videos and training advice.

The first question



I'm starting to put together my pre-season conditioning program for hoops and wanted to know if any of you have ever done the sideline ladder drill and if so, twice?
For example - one time up and down the ladder is this:

I want to put a progression together where we go up and down the ladder twice.  Didn't know if this is too much or even reasonable.
Please let me know what you all think (even if I'm crazy to think this) and what your experience is with this.
If you could reply to all that would be great - that way we could all learn from this.

Thanks and I hope everybody is having a great summer,
Brijesh Patel
Head Strength and Conditioning Coach
Quinnipiac University



I will try to be brief and elaborate later if you would like. I am out of town and typing on a blackberry. I have used ladders in the past and they have predominantly been of the full-court variety for many of the reasons Shawn pointed out with change of direction. 

The last couple of years I've been utilizing the heart rate monitors during our energy system development like Ray and have been doing a tempo/ladder type drills during the pre-season. I have always been more concerned about the total volume and how to manipulate it in conjunction with pick-up games.

I attempt to mimic the variety of distances and duration of efforts we incur in competition while still managing volume I have done sets of 3-5 repetitions for 4-6 total sets of varying distances. We know the court is roughly 30 meters. We can do runs of 30m(1), 60m(2), 105m(3.5), 150m(5), and 210m(7) at different gears (% of effort)in a set in any sequence or combination with varying amounts of active rest (1:1, 1:2, etc)between reps. Between sets is active recovery usually 120sec, about the amount of time for a TV timeout or foul called and free throws. I have found that the HR data and reports after show we have taxed both systems and the graphs look like those of game play. Doing it this way I can track the accumulated volume and adjust based on much playing and individuals they are doing and the HR data can give me signs of overreaching if we are doing too much.  

I can go over the progression and other components of some the ESD with you next week if you want to call.



Mike Curtis, M.Ed., CSCS, USAW, SCCC, NASM-PES, CES Head Strength & Conditioning Coach, Men's Basketball University of Virginia Athletics

Brijesh – Ray Eady (Wisconsin) and I were talking last night and he thought that maybe the women needed more change of direction so that they learn how to move more appropriately and transfer force,  etc better... more turns means more reps/opportunities for learning? Or more opportunity to get hurt?

What do you think?

Art Horne
Northeastern University




That's a great point and I was thinking of that too - I like them performing more change of directions to make them more "athletic" but also worry about all the eccentric contractions.

I think I'm going to stick with the sideline but go with Ray and take out the "12" so we'll go:
2, 4, 8, 16
And work up to doing 3-4 sets of that....I may not go down the ladder but just go up like Ray does.

What do you do for pre-season condo?

Brijesh Patel



Ill have to send you the stuff, but basically we do five days.

- We perform your metabolic conditioning sequence to end each week prior to the beginning of practice so I think we are on week 6 now?
- slide board/bike combos (because we don't have enough of either so we split then switch) slide board 30:30, bike 20:40 on:off
- speed/metabolic with tire runs, sleds and prowlers
- lastly a plate circuit that has a tremendous effect which starts at 20:40, 30:30, and ends with 40:20
- On Sundays we do a pool day which is mostly movement based and acts as a recovery but we finish with some conditioning then too.



As they say the rest is history……..

Best of luck this basketball season.


Topics: Art Horne, Conditioning-Agility-Speed

Pre-Season Training

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Sep 21, 2010 7:25:00 AM

Click HERE to download this article.

Topics: Conditioning-Agility-Speed, Glenn Harris

Movement Prep: Making The Most Of It

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Sep 21, 2010 7:23:00 AM

By Andy Weigel

Whether it is a 2 hour practice or 45 minute weight training session, proper movement prep (MP) is an essential part of our basketball routine. This short session of stretches can have a big impact on your team's physical and mental well-being. There are many factors that need to go into devising your MP. I will explain 4 Elements of MP along with other factors to take into consideration when designing your MP plan. In my case I have to specifically come up with a plan for basketball. Now the needs for my basketball team and are very different from what another team or sport may need. Therefore, it's vital to identify what my needs are.
When I design a MP, the first thing I ask myself is, what are we doing it for? Well that's easy, basketball, duh! True, but I need to get more in depth than that. Some days we will practice for 2 or more hours and it will be at a high intensity. Another day may be getting shots up for an hour. We may do individual work in a ¼ court setting with moderate intensity. The MP may be after we got off a plane or bus!
Now that I know what I'm using the MP for I can ask myself a few more questions. How long do I have for MP? Coach usually gives me a timeframe to work with, it's important to know. If I have 5 minutes, I have to use exercises that give me the most bang for my buck. If I have longer, I better know what to do with my time. I can't exhaust the team with my 10-15 minutes.

Where are the players at mentally? If I have great exercises but mentally the players have cashed out on me, it's something I need to take into consideration. The great MP I designed won't do its job, unless I get them doing it with some level of alertness and focus. Over the course of a basketball season the mental part is huge! After talking with a colleague this year, he calculated all of the movement preps over the course of a year at over 300! Your players may lose some interest; the question to yourself is what can I do to get them ready today?
How many players will I be warming up? If I have the entire team, how specific and difficult can I get with exercise? It's difficult to view 15 players trying to do a split stance lunge with 3-way uni-lateral upper body drivers with 3 angulations. At another time I may have a 4 man group, who moves well and understands exactly what I want. Timing is important for whatever you're flowing into.
Will I have any implements? It can be a very specific piece of equipment such as a tri-stretch or something much more basic as a box. You can get very creative and expand your toolbox of exercises with implements. Something else to consider are your resources when you travel. It may be wise to travel with some equipment but size is an issue. I've also found bleachers and railings are hidden gems when looking for implements on the road.

After you've answered those it's time to get into the actual MP. With each MP I believe you need to incorporate 4 Elements into its design. I did not create these 4 categories but I was fortunate to study under, Matt Herring at the University of Florida for nearly 3 years and take away these organized ideas about MP from him.

1. Increase muscle temperature (Warm-Up)
• Dynamic flexibility
• Multiple joints & muscles
• 3-planes

2. Clear dysfunctions and improve mobility
• Identify dysfunctions & issues
• Mobility vs Stability - what needs what
• 3-planes
• The big 3 - Ankle, Hip, T-Spine

3. Turning on the CNS
• 3-planes
• Ground based
• Gravity
• Proprioception

4. Movement
• Basic movement patterns
• Basketball movement patterns

There is a 5th category I have as well but I don't include it with the previous 4 elements. The last one is a needs category. This category is unique from the others. Most often it turns out to be an energy and enthusiasm category. I don't always use it but if I can see we need it, I'll include it. These exercises are sometimes very specific to basketball but not always. I may view the need for communication and incorporate that into a drill. There have been days where the staff has gotten involved with category 5. This category is always last; so it is right before the guys are handed over to coach.

Below is an example of a pre-practice warm-up that will last for 2+ hours at a high intensity. It is done in the pre-season so the guys are fresh mentally. The entire team will be involved and I'll have all of my normal implements. Coach has given me 10-12 minutes.
Muscle Temperature - 4 Dynamic Flexibility

  • Knee Hug
  • Heel to Butt
  • Straight Leg March
  • Sumo Squats

Dysfunction/Mobility- The Big 3

  • Ankle - Tri-Stretch
  • Hip - Hip Rockers w/ 3 stances
  • T-Spine - T-Hugs/T-Swings


  • Jump Matrix or Pivot Matrix w/ Arm Drivers


  • High Knees/Butt Kicks - Forward/Retro
  • Skip Matrix - Forward/Retro
  • S-Pattern Runs/Shuffles

Category 5

  • Star Passing

Here are a few other things to consider:
• Recording and dating each session
• Creating an encyclopedia of exercises
• Grading the MP, ex. too long, confusing, lost focus
• Reuse a MP, probably not every day but maybe once every few weeks
• When Coach says, "We won't go hard today, do we need to stretch?" Say yes, 5 minutes won't hurt!
• In-Season this is the only thing you may get to do with them for a week or 2 stretch (hopefully not)
• It's ok to ask the players what they need, they'll often tell you. Doesn't mean you have to conform! They're mental needs of, "I Feel It," are important
• If you can get a copy of the practice plan, it can help with design. It helps to know if practice will start with a 5 on 5 full court or defensive skill work.

Topics: Conditioning-Agility-Speed, Andy Weigel

Training With Tires: Developing On Court Speed

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Sep 21, 2010 7:22:00 AM

by Art Horne

Ray Eady originally told me about using tires instead of speed sleds on the basketball court a few years back after visiting Matt Herring at the University of Florida.  Since that time it has become a staple in our speed training development.

everything basketball


- Carpet on metal sleds slide off and cause marks on gym floors and need constant checking and maintenance.  With the tires you may have to change the t-shirt once a year depending on the amount of external weight added or amount of tread still left on the tire (if you can choose, pick tires with little to no tread left.)  We still have a few in their original t-shirts!

- We all know a big guy with an XXL t-shirt (you work in the weight room right?), so outfitting these is easy.

- Cost is low: just go to your local dump or ditch and you can find them for free.  Junk yards are more than happy to give you old tires to avoid the cost of disposing them themselves.

- Besides the cost of clips, belts (which you already have) and some rope, it’s relatively inexpensive.

- Need more weight? No problem: we add medicine balls on top of the t-shirts. The weight of the ball sags in the shirt and rarely pops off the back. 

- Still need more weight? For other sports, or the rare basketball athlete that needs a bit more, we’ve added scuba weights permanently inside the tire.  These heavier tires can be separated from the lighter ones by dressing them in say red t-shirts, the regular tires in black and if you can find some smaller tires put them in white t-shirts.   This will help distinguish different weighted tires if your goal is contrasting weights/runs, but also allow you to easily point those athletes who don’t have the strength to handle the heavier tires to the right ones.

- Typical run progressions include:

o Lean fall run
Tire only run x 6
o Tire with Medicine ball x 6
o Body weight sprint
o Groups of 3 usually work together (each athlete has their own belt on) to ensure enough rest to adequately give max effort on each sprint.  If you feel as though this is not enough, put 5 athletes in a group (3 on one end, sprint court, switch tire to next in line, next athlete sprints back, repeat.  This will give you a work to rest of 1:4 plus change time)

Topics: Art Horne, Conditioning-Agility-Speed

It's Plan And Simple

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Sep 21, 2010 7:20:00 AM

by Glenn Harris

It’s PLAN and Simple. (The Off Season)

Most strength and conditioning coaches have a plan when it comes to designing programs for their sport.  Basketball is one of those sports different from the “non-traditional” sports in the sense that the competitive season will go from straight from November to March, whereas the non-traditional sports will have a fall and spring season with a break during the winter.

I look at training for basketball as a twelve month commitment.  Four months are set aside for the off-season period.  Five months are dedicated to the in-season portion of your training.  And finally, about 1 ½ months are set for pre and post season phases.  When looking at each training phase, there are certain areas of emphasis that need to be addressed in the program.  Therefore it is important for the objectives of the program to be identified prior to the start of the phase in order for the program to run smoothly.

For the purpose of this article, I will discuss the plan that I had in place for this past off-season. 


The first thing that needs to be done is determine the objectives of the program.  If the objectives and goals are not clearly defined, then there will be some difficulty in designing an effective program. 

Our objectives are clear:

o Improve strength and power. 
o Improve basketball specific conditioning. 
o Reduce the chance of injury. 

If you have read my pre-season article you may have noticed that the objectives may be similar to the off-season but their order of importance is different during the off season.  The off season has the number one objective of getting stronger and more powerful.  Knowing the objectives will make designing the off season plan much easier.

Program Overview

Using the concept of periodization when designing your strength and conditioning program can help you obtain the objectives of the program.  The benefits of following a periodized program are that the volume and intensity of training will adjust during different phases of your training and will complement what the players are doing on and off the court.  Obviously, communication is a key component to program success.  Poor communication could lead to high volume in multiple areas and that could result in overtraining.

During the off season we follow a four day program that will include workout prep, strength training and conditioning.  I will describe in detail how we incorporate each component into our daily routine.

Workout Prep

Before we begin our workout for the day we will go through some prep work to get the body ready for the workout.  This is also called movement prep but I started calling it workout prep so the team can have an easier understanding as to why we are doing it.  We are getting prepped to workout.

The first thing that we start with is the foam roller.  Each guy will go and grab a foam roller and we will go through a 10 minute routine.  The routine is intended for the team to spend some time on some much needed self massage.  The routine can be seen in Table 1.  Each movement is done for 10-15 repetitions.  One of the coaching points here is that I always stress to the team that I want them to take their time while going through the routine.  We want to be prepared to workout.

Table 1.  The Foam Roller Routine.

o Gluteus Maximus
o Gluteus Medius
o Periformis
o Hamstrings
o Gastroc
o Back / Shoulders
o Hip Flexor
o Quadriceps
o Tibialis Anterior

Following the foam roller routine the team then begins with daily warm-up.  The goal of the warm-up is to elevate core temperature through movement.  These drills are basic and easy in technique but serve the purpose of warming up the team for their workout.  Check out my pre-season training article for a complete list of warm-ups.

After the warm-up we will move on to band work.  For such a simple tool, the team typically does not like to do band work.  I will use the bands, mini bands and monster bands, to help the team work on their hip area.  We will use supine mountain climbers to help with hip flexors.  We will use an exercise named the “triangle of terror” to assist the team in sitting in a defensive position.  We will also use the mini bands and lateral resistors when doing some lateral slides.  I have found that the light resistance of the bands will help the team understand how to get in the proper position through “physical cueing.”

Speed Development

After the prep portion of the workout, we then move on to our speed development for the day.  Depending on the day, our speed development will have a primary focus of either linear or lateral movements.  Some examples of linear and lateral drills can be seen in Table 2 and 3 respectively.

Table 2. Linear Speed Drills.

o Lean Fall Runs
o Push-up Starts
o 3 point Acceleration

Table 3.  Lateral Speed Drills

o Kneeling side start
o Standing Side start
o 5-10-5 shuttle

Strength Training

Following our speed development portion of the workout, we then begin with our strength training.  As I had mentioned earlier, we will follow a 4 day routine during the off season.  Days 1 and 3 are similar and Days 2 and 4 are similar.

Each day we will have an explosive movement as the first exercise in the workout.  Whether that is a “true” weightlifting movement, such as a clean or a snatch, or if it is a hybrid weightlifting movement such as a dumbbell snatch or dumbbell push jerk, depends on the particular day.  If the exercise is a clean or snatch, I have the guys perform them from the hang position.  In my opinion, basketball players were not intended to weight lift from the floor.  If they were then the weights would have a bigger radius.

Following the first exercise or the day, we will then proceed to perform three paired sequences of exercises.  As I had mentioned previously, our routine has days 1 and 3 similar.  On these days we will pair lower body pressing with upper body pulling movements.  For example, one of our paired exercises may be Hexbar deadlift pair with Chin-ups.  Another example would be Inverted rows paired with one leg squat.  I think that you get the idea.  As for days 2 and 4 we will pair the opposite set-up.  For example, we will pair bench press with glute ham.  We can also pair shoulder press with slideboard leg curl.

For the third and final pair of the day I like to have them focus on core training.  Chopping, lifting, medicine ball work, Pallof presses, and planks will be performed here.  We will incorporate core exercises into the program every day that we workout.


After the strength training is completed, we then move on to our conditioning portion of the workout.  Similar to how I set up linear and lateral speed drills, I will also have linear and lateral emphasis on our conditioning work.  Our linear day will involve more straight ahead running as seen in our tempo runs or our long shuttles.  The lateral day will involve more change of direction which occurs during short shuttles and slideboard work.  Keeping the conditioning competitive and challenging also helps motivate the guys to work hard.  After the conditioning workout is completed we then will have a team stretching routine that will focus on all of the major muscle groups. 


My goal in writing this was to give you a general overview of what goes into the planning process in order to make your program.  I cannot emphasize enough the importance of making a plan prior to starting your workouts.  Similar to a flight plan that I pilot will make to know his destination, a solid plan for your workouts will make the journey smoother than flying by the seat of your pants.  Now it’s time to get ready for the pre season.

Topics: Conditioning-Agility-Speed, Glenn Harris

Training With Tires: Part II

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Sep 21, 2010 7:19:00 AM

by Art Horne

Basketball requires athletes to move in multiple directions and from various starts positions.  Training with tires can enhance not only straight ahead speed, but can also assist strength coaches and those athletes lacking starting strength build the necessary strength to start from multiple positions and movement patterns and transition quickly into the traditional forward sprint.

The same work to rest ratio can be used as discussed in the previous article with groups of 3 working together on opposite ends of the basketball court (“A” athlete and “B” athlete at one end, and “C” athlete at opposite baseline.  “A” athlete sprints or back pedals the desired length to athlete “C”, unclips and athlete “C” returns to opposite baseline. Repeat and continue.)

Movement Patterns often forgotten about with traditional sleds:


Side Shuffle to Sprint

Multiple Cross-over Steps

Cross-over Step to Sprint

Back Pedal to Sprint


Topics: Art Horne, Conditioning-Agility-Speed

Move It Or Lose It: Movement Training For Athletic Development by Brijesh Patel

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Sep 21, 2010 7:16:00 AM

Click HERE to download this article.

Topics: Brijesh Patel, Conditioning-Agility-Speed

Greased Lightening : Building Speed by Brijesh Patel

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Sep 21, 2010 7:14:00 AM

Click HERE to download this article.

Topics: Brijesh Patel, Conditioning-Agility-Speed