Quickness, endurance, flexibility and power
In basketball we are primarily concerned with improving quickness, endurance, flexibility and power. Training and playing is often enough exercise to develop and maintain these qualities, but where weaknesses are apparent there are specific exercises to improve them.
You will note I refer to ‘quickness’ rather than speed. A player’s ability to respond quickly to changes is his quickness and is an obvious advantage in such a fast moving game as basketball. To develop this quickness, agility drills, short sprints and ‘reaction drills’ are good on court drills to use.
Endurance is the quality that allows us to make a continuous effort and to recover quickly so the effort can be repeated. Endurance is not directly related to muscle strength, it is more a measure on how efficiently the heart and lungs can work to deliver oxygen to the muscles. Whenever time allows, long distance running should be included in your training scheme to improve endurance as well as normal on court basketball training in off season sessions. Build up the distance gradually starting with a two kilometre run three times a week and increasing the distance to between six and -10 kilometres three times a week during your six weeks pre-season program.
All effective training schemes are built on the principle of overload. In each session you should try to run that little bit further or that little bit faster, or just tackle one more repetition of an exercise. Without overload there can be no progress. This means you must increase your effort in exercising if you want to improve. Keep an accurate record of your training program so t your progress can be measured. Record the distance and time of your run and always try to reduce your time. When you feel you cannot reduce your time then the next step is to increase the distance. The same principle applies to your exercise and weight training.
Fitness demands that all the joints must move freely and the muscles that control them must be equally free for movement. The muscles must be able to contract easily and stretch to their limit so they are able to exert maximum power. A well balanced progressive exercise will improve flexibility. Exercises involving held stretches will help muscle strength and flexibility. With a simple exercise like touching your toes there should be a slow steady stretch and not a rapid stretch. If there is any weakness in a joint or muscle, the quick strain could cause an injury.
The most important point about any training scheme is consistency. Once you stop training de-training begins. You will lose some of the flexibility and endurance you have built up. So, regular and constant practice is essential, building up your daily routine gradually. Remember when training has been interrupted through injury or illness, don’t try to resume at the same level you left off, or you risk further injury. Unfortunately the rate of regaining fitness is not the same as the time spent away from training. If you have missed a week of training it will likely take two weeks to regain the same level as before the interruption.
The following exercises are useful for basketball conditioning and flexibility. All are capable of being used in the home environment.
Half squat alternated with heel raises. I am not in favour of using a full squat as it may place excessive strain on the knee joint. It is recommended that a plank of timber, or similar, about 50mm thick be used to set the heels on during half squats and the toes on during heel raises. These exercises are used primarily for improving jumping skills. Body weight is sufficient resistance to start a program using three sets of 10 repetitions alternating exercises. Weights attached to a bar may be used to increase the resistance as endurance and strength improves.
Sit- up alternated with press-up (using inclined bench if available) Three sets of ten repetitions alternating each exercise. Sit-ups are used to increase strength and endurance in abdominal muscles. When doing press-ups which help improve strength and endurance of shoulder and chest muscle some of the repetitions should use finger tips as well as l palms of the hands.
Burpee, alternating with star jump. The burpee has similar benefits as press-ups but also improvise flexibility. Hands are placed on the floor directly below the shoulders with knees tucked in next to the elbows.. The hands and arms remain still as the feet are rapidly pushed back r to the full extended position so you are now in position to execute a press up. Without moving the hands and arms the knees are quickly brought forward to the original position.
The star jump improves flexibility of legs, arms and waist. Start in a normal standing position with hands resting at the sides and feet close together. Jump and shift the lags wide apart simultaneously raising both arms out and up so hands reach well above the head. Before landing the hands return to their starting position and the feet move together shoulder width apart. When landing the knees should bend slightly cushion the impact and prepare for another immediate star jump. Three sets of ten repetitions of each alternating exercise will improve flexibility and endurance.