Basketball is a game that requires physical aptitude. It takes a lot out of you and your cardiovascular system, that is why you should never play an all-out game without getting in shape first. There never really was a set time frame to get in shape for basketball, but most of the time, a couple of weeks is not enough to get yourself in “basketball shape.” In this article, we will check out basketball conditioning workouts, shooting workouts, and general tips on how to get better at basketball from a physical standpoint.
Why Is It Important to Get in Shape for Basketball?
Our body is the most sophisticated machine in existence. Train it enough, and it will literally do the heavy lifting for you. However, if you’re not in shape, it’s important not to overdo yourself playing such an intense sport like basketball. It will only lead to injuries and hellish muscle pain. With that being said, if you’re playing basketball as a way to get back in shape, take it step by step until you can push your cardiovascular proficiency to the limit.
If you are serious about playing basketball, then it is much more critical for you to get in shape. Why? Because showing up to a tryout or practice already in shape is virtually one of the few things you can control as a basketball player. You can’t control what your teammates are thinking or doing. However, if you are in shape, it sends a loud message to everyone that you mean business.
What are the Best Exercises for Basketball Players?
Basketball players should train for strength and stamina, as well as speed and agility. So what are some of the best exercises for basketball conditioning? Consider 10 exercises that are best for basketball players, and you can do some of these basketball conditioning drills at home.
Let’s start with the most straightforward workout. It’s simple because everybody knows what a pullup is, but not everybody can do it. Even so, pullups are good for basketball players because a jump shot requires the full extension of the lateral muscles, back, wrist, and shoulders. A pullup simulates that movement while strengthening you back.
2. Single-Leg Hurdle Hop
In basketball, you may make moves that only allow you to land on one foot. As simple as that sounds, landing on one leg is one of the most common causes of basketball players’ injuries. The solution? Do the single-leg hurdle drop to improve your ability to absorb impact on one foot.
3. Lateral Skaters
The first order of business in basketball is “don’t get injured.” This is what the workouts are for. Lateral skaters, no matter how funny they are to execute, strengthen the calves, quads, and hamstrings, all of which are essential for stability.
4. Side Plank Leg Raise
The side plank leg raise, like all planking exercises, is actually very difficult to do, especially if you’re a beginner. The purpose of planks, including the side plank leg raise, is to strengthen your core. Core strength is needed in every facet of the game, whether you’re defending or shooting.
5. Alternating dumbbell press
The latissimus dorsi muscles or lats for short is a very important muscle group that links your arms to your vertebral column. When you are doing a jump shot, this muscle becomes fully extended. To strengthen the lats, the alternating dumbbell press does the trick and builds up the shoulder and back.
6. Fingertip pushups
Like planks, the fingertip pushups are not for the faint of heart or massive in weight. You see, fingers play a crucial role in basketball. Dikembe Mutombo couldn’t block shots and do finger wags without those wipers, or Michael Jordan couldn’t have such an insane layup package without those giant mitts.
Aside from strengthening your digits, the fingertip pushups also build up your core and upper body. This allows you to absorb more contact on the body, thereby improving your overall game.
7. Line hop
Doing the line hop is possibly one of the easiest basketball conditioning workouts one can ever do. All you need to do is jump side to side on both sides of the line. What good will it do, you ask?
If you have not played basketball for a long time, our body forgets the movements associated with the game after some time. Doing line hops, simply said, helps you remember the neuromuscular patterns your body may have forgotten. In short, it allows the body to recognize the basketball moves once again, and it also helps with speed and quickness.
8. Heel Slide
If you think something can’t be simple and complicated at the same time, try doing the heel slide. It’s simple enough because you’re just lying there on the floor (or an exercise mat), but the proper form can be tricky. If you get the correct form, your hip alignment will improve, which reduces the risk of non-contact lower-body injuries.
9. The Mile Run
The mile run is one of the most effective basketball endurance drills you can do. But instead of merely running one mile in a straight route or around the court, coaches simulate the ever-changing directional play of basketball by doing half-court sprints until players reach one mile. That will be 56 sprints to the half-court line and back, and while that sounds easy, it really is not.
10. Lateral Bound
The lateral bound is like the lateral skater, but in a sense, it is more challenging. The order of business here is to develop explosive lateral power and quickness in the legs, enabling you to do fast cuts and lateral (side-to-side) movements. The best thing about the lateral bound is you don’t need any equipment, only a wide and flat surface, to execute it.
Of course, you may not be able to do planks and fingertip pushups after years of not playing basketball. However, many of these exercises will fast-track the process a little if you want to know how to get in shape for basketball. Start with the simple ones first and make climb up the ladder rung little by little.
How Do NBA Players Get in Shape?
NBA players are professionals, and some of the best athletes in the world. Their body is their investment, so staying and getting in shape is of paramount importance.
First of all, let’s clarify something about staying and getting in shape. Many of these NBA athletes go on vacation for a few weeks while eating a little junk food here and there in the offseason. There will be no practices to burn all those calories off, so they get out of game shape after a while.
Now, game shape and in shape are two different things. Game shape is where you need to be at to perform what NBA players are expected to do. On the other hand, being in shape simply means you’re in an excellent physical condition.
So while NBA players are still in shape in the offseason, there is a long way to go before being in game shape. That’s why it takes training camp and the preseason, and even the first few weeks of the regular season to get everyone in game shape.
NBA players get in-game shape by hiring personal trainers while also working with team trainers and personnel. The NBA workout may include basketball endurance drills such as three sets (10 reps each) of split-stance sprinters, rollouts, sprints with cable resisters, and more.
Most of them also work out at home, such as doing planks, sit-ups, and other core workouts. Many of them also have weight training rooms where they can lift weights, do curls, and other weight training stuff. With that being said, NBA players have access to facilities that we earthlings could only dream of, that’s why they are some of the most in-shape athletes you will ever find on this planet.
How Long Should You Train for Basketball?
Any promise of getting in basketball shape in a week or two is probably bogus. That’s probably fine for an NBA player who ate junk food for two weeks during All-Star break while on vacation at Cancun. If we’re talking from couch to hard court, two weeks is not a realistic time frame.
Of course, that’s not to say you won’t see any improvements after two weeks of doing exercises for basketball conditioning. You may notice an improvement in your heart rate, endurance, and overall cardiovascular capabilities. That said, if you’re new to basketball, it may take you four weeks or more to get yourself ready for the intensity of a basketball game.
5 Best Basketball Conditioning Drills
Basketball conditioning drills often require running and jumping to build up your endurance. Other than running and jumping exercises, it may also include movements that will zero in on the specific skills that basketball requires. These will help the players get familiar with basketball movements and teach them to push through fatigue.
1. Basic Sideline Sprint
As its name suggests, this basic drill is done by sprinting from sideline to sideline for one minute.
2. Half Court/ Full Court Sprint
Sprints are always a staple in basketball conditioning drills, and you can vary the approach with the half-court and full-court sprints. In the half-court sprint, start from one sideline up to the half-court. Touch the half-court line and return to your starting point. Repeat the procedure ten times. The same process is repeated in the full court sprint, but only repeat it five times.
3. Sprint and Free Throw Challenge
This conditioning drill is perfect for game-time free-throw situations, teaching the players to make the freebies under fatigue and pressure.
The basic idea of the challenge is to divide the players into two teams. Both teams will run the width of the court 17 times under a specified time (for example, in 70 seconds). After each player on the team accomplishes it, he will shoot two free throws. Everybody repeats it after three rounds. When a team hits their free throws for over 70% in all three rounds, they won’t have to run anymore. If they shoot under 70%, they have to run six more times.
4. NBA Lane Agility Drill
If you have followed the NBA Draft Combine, this is probably one of the most common workouts and conditioning drills for the hopefuls to do. It boosts agility and acceleration and shows your defensive potential since it involves running full speed for a second, shuffling the feet, and then running backward.
The Combine record for the Lane Agility Drill is Jamison Brewer with 9.65 seconds. John Wall reportedly does the same drill for 10.48 seconds.
5. Full Court Dribble to Layup
This drill is simple but takes a lot out of you. It involves dribbling the length of the court as fast as you can, converting a layup, and going back to the other end. You only stop after six made layups. This drill may also be done with a jump shot, which, of course, is more demanding than a layup.
Wrapping Things Up: How to Get in Shape for Basketball
We may be a little biased, but we absolutely think that basketball is the best game in the world. Not only is it fun, but it’s also a great way to stay in shape. However, if you’re new to the sport, what are some of the basketball drills that will help you get in basketball shape? Or if you have not played the sport and are thinking of getting back into basketball, how long could it possibly take to be in game shape?
First things first, it is important and imperative to play the game of basketball in shape. That means it is not recommended to go from the couch to the court just like that. You need to build your endurance up and strengthen the necessary muscles to avoid injury and burnout.
The process takes many weeks. Unless you’re an NBA player out on vacation, there is no way that a week or two of conditioning drills will get you ready for the grind and intensity of a basketball game. However, if you feel your endurance and cardiovascular capacity increasing in that time frame, that is already a huge step in the right direction.
Some of the most popular basketball training workouts are simple and can be done at home or at a nearby basketball court. These include the mile run, the lateral bounds and skaters, and heel slides. If you have some equipment like a dumbbell, doing dumbbell presses is also a great way to get in basketball shape.
Again, remember that while it is encouraged to do sprints for your basketball training to get in shape, the whole process is a marathon. Do not take shortcuts and unnecessary risks to prevent injuries. Remember, basketball is a fun game, so while you are doing your basketball conditioning program, enjoy the journey so you can bask in its results.
If you enjoyed this post, you’ll like our other basketball FAQ articles here.
Make sure to also check these posts:
> How to Get Better at Basketball: Tips & Drills
> How to Be Good at Basketball
> How to Get Better if You’re a Short Basketball Player