Basketball is a seasonal sport wherein players may go through certain weeks or months without playing the sport but would suddenly have to dive themselves back into it when the season is fast approaching. This means that there will be periods wherein players are not in the best basketball shape.
So, if the season is quickly approaching and you need to push yourself to get back into basketball shape, what is the fastest way to get into basketball shape? That is something we are here to talk about so that you will be able to get yourself in the best basketball shape possible in time for the season.
Do You Have to Be in Shape to Play Basketball?
Basketball is one of the few sports that rely on the entire body to work effectively. Many of the different things you do when you play basketball involve constant movements and quick yet short bursts that can take their toll on any person’s body. Of course, let us not forget that almost all of the different muscle groups in the body are involved in plenty of the movements regularly performed in a basketball game.
That means that you have to be at a certain fitness level to play basketball at a high level. And what we mean by high level are the competitive levels of basketball such as high school and AAU tournaments and college and professional games. These levels of basketball require a player to be fit and well-conditioned to be effective.
It is necessary to be fit when playing basketball because there are plenty of different movements that require a player to have the cardiovascular fitness and muscular endurance necessary for an entire game. Basketball players do a lot of running and jumping. Those movements do not even include dribbling, shooting, passing, changing pace, and moving laterally. All such movements incorporate all of the muscle groups in the body. That means that a player needs to be well-conditioned to be an effective player when playing competitive basketball.
However, recreational basketball for fun or leisure does not require the same physical fitness as a sanctioned game. Even though pickup basketball games played for fun can be quite competitive, the fitness level necessary in these games is not the same as the one needed in tournaments. That is because basketball tournament seasons require the player to be in shape the entire time. After all, some seasons can be quite long and only have a few days of rest in between each game.
On the other hand, pickup basketball games played during the offseason do not require the same physical exertion as competitive basketball games. The stakes in pickup basketball games are also lower, which means that the players are not expected to go all out all the time.
However, note that being fit for basketball does not always mean being in shape, physique-wise. Some basketball players are not the most impressive in terms of their physique but are better than other players in their conditioning. Having a good physique does help because a lower body fat percentage allows the body to perform more efficiently. But it all depends on a player’s conditioning and playing style.
What are the Benefits of Being Fit in Basketball?
If you are not convinced that you need to be fit to play basketball, here are some of the benefits you can get if you are in good shape:
1. Better stamina
A huge part of basketball requires you to have the stamina needed to run up and down the court throughout an entire game. On top of that, dribbling, shooting and moving laterally all require you to exert yourself in the cardiovascular sense. That means that you have to have the stamina you need to do all of those different basketball movements without getting tired quickly. Getting gassed faster can affect the way you approach the game on both offense and defense.
2. Lower injury risk
It has always been known that heavier people who have higher body fat percentages are more likely to get injured when performing physical activities. Of course, a sport that puts a lot of pressure on the body, such as basketball, has a higher risk of injury than simple physical activities such as running.
Basketball puts a lot of pressure on the different joints and muscles that you need to move regularly. The more weight in body fat your body carries, the more pressure you will be putting on some of the most important joints, such as your ankles and knees, and as such, being fit will dramatically lower your chances of getting injured in a basketball game.
3. Speed and mobility
Being fit also improves a player’s overall speed and mobility. Those in basketball shape are more likely to move faster and better than those who are not fit to play competitive basketball. Of course, there is no denying that a basketball player that is faster and more mobile has an advantage over slower players.
Keeping yourself in basketball shape and making sure that you are always fit enough to play basketball can have long-term benefits on your overall physical ability to play the game at a high level. If you look at players such as Karl Malone, LeBron James, Reggie Miller, and Ray Allen, who all took care of their bodies and kept themselves in basketball shape, they could enjoy long careers in the NBA.
While you might not be in the NBA, keeping yourself in basketball shape can have a long-term effect on your overall fitness level even as you age. This means that you can still play basketball at a high level or, at the very least, perform intense physical activities even as you get older.
5. Sustained intensity
The better your fitness level is as a basketball player, the more likely you would be able to sustain periods of intense performance. Even though basketball is a fast sport that is always on the go, some moments are more intense than any other part of the game. This happens when your team is on a scoring run or when the game is tight, and you need to perform at your best on both offense and defense.
Fit players are capable of sustaining a more intense level of play for longer periods. This means that they can play both offense and defense at the highest level during some of the most important parts of the game. If you cannot sustain an intense level of play for a long time, it would be difficult to go on scoring runs or make consecutive defensive stops.
How Long Does it Take to Get Into Basketball Shape?
The truth that every basketball player needs to swallow is that getting into basketball shape is a lifetime commitment. While there are some periods, such as the offseason, wherein you are not expected to be at your physical best because you need to rest your body, you still need to stay fit during that time.
The lifetime commitment we are talking about refers to keeping yourself fit enough during the offseason, even if you do not engage in a lot of intense physical activities. You cannot expect yourself to eat cheeseburgers and pizza while gaining 20 pounds throughout the offseason and then just suddenly lose all that extra weight a week before the season starts. That means that you still need to eat a healthy diet and engage in lighter workouts that will allow you to stay at a certain level of fitness.
As long as you keep yourself fit enough during the offseason, it will not take a long time for you to get yourself back into basketball shape just in time for the season. Depending on how much physical activity you were doing during the offseason, it might take a few weeks or even just a week for you to be in basketball shape once again.
Of course, there is no guarantee because it still depends on how well you took care of your body during the offseason. If you were eating right, lifting weights, and running regularly during the offseason, it might just take a week for you to “shock” your body back into basketball form, especially if you start doing team drills and scrimmages.
However, those who live sedentary lifestyles without following a good diet during the offseason will certainly take more time to get back into basketball shape. It would take a while for those players to build the strength and endurance to sustain an intense basketball game. Some may take two to three weeks, but it is not rare for players to take months before they are physically ready for the season. It depends on the person’s level of fitness before training.
How Do Basketball Players Get in Shape?
The most dedicated basketball players start getting in shape during the offseason by eating right and working out individually from time to time. Their focus is to keep themselves in shape so that they do not have to exert too much just weeks before the season or the tournament starts.
When these players are ready to get back to basketball shape, they usually start with strength training to allow the muscles to regain their strength and flexibility. Strength training involves lifting weights and performing full-body workouts that target all of the important muscle groups.
Then comes the aerobic part, which is usually done after strength training. Aerobic training involves increasing the heart rate by performing cardiovascular workouts such as jogging, running, and cycling. The goal of the player is to improve stamina or, at the very least, maintain it.
After that, players usually train with the entire team and perform drills or play in scrimmages to essentially “shock” the bodies back into basketball form. The body is an efficient machine that is capable of relearning things it already learned in the past. And the best way to do that is to shock the system by putting it in a situation where it is forced to remember. In this case, doing basketball drills and playing in scrimmages is a good and effective way of forcing the body to remember what it already knows to get back into basketball shape in a hurry.
5 Basketball Conditioning Workouts to Get in Shape
If you want to improve your conditioning as a basketball player or if you want to learn how to get in shape for basketball tryouts, here are some workouts that you can perform:
The most basic workout you can do to get yourself into basketball shape is to jog. Every basketball workout plan involves jogging or any other cardio workout. You can do this outdoors or on a treadmill. Jogging is the most sustainable way for you to improve or regain the stamina you once had before the offseason. It is also an effective way to shed some of the few pounds you gained.
2. Upper body strength training
Upper body strength training workouts are the best at shocking your upper body muscles back into shape. Some of the workouts you need to perform include dumbbell presses, pull-ups, push-ups, and chest presses, all of which target the most important upper body muscle groups. The stronger a player’s upper body is, the more likely he can handle the physical toll of a basketball game.
3. Lower body strength training
Lower body strength training will allow you to strengthen the muscles you often use whenever you run and jump on the court. Stronger lower body muscles will allow you to increase or regain your explosiveness while also working those muscles back into game shape. Some of the lower body muscles that you should be performing include squats, lunges, and deadlifts.
A good basketball condition program should have plyometrics. Plyometric workouts are those that improve overall mobility, flexibility, and explosiveness. They do not strengthen the muscles as much as strength training workouts do. However, they are still effective at improving your overall movement efficiency while allowing your joints to get back into basketball shape. Some of the best plyometric workouts you can perform include jump squats and box jumps.
There is no better way to shock the entire body back into basketball shape than sprinting because basketball games involve a lot of sprinting. If you have access to a nearby basketball court, it is best to sprint the full length of the court repeatedly to get the full effect of what it is like to run up and down a court in an actual game. And if you want to make things more challenging, you can perform sprints with weights by wearing a weighted vest.
Wrapping Things Up: How to Get Into Basketball Shape Fast
There is no fastest way to get back into basketball shape fast because fitness is a lifetime commitment. That means that getting back into basketball shape starts from the very moment the offseason begins, as you need to maintain a healthy diet and keep yourself active. However, make sure that you crank up the intensity level when the season is nearing because that is the best way to prepare yourself for the intensity of an actual basketball game.