You can beat more talented opponents if you are in better shape, and you can get in better shape with some good basketball conditioning drills. If you can run faster and fight harder for longer than they can, you can beat players and teams that are taller, more athletic, or just overall more “talented” than you are. I know, because that’s how we won games when I was in high school.
We weren’t very tall (I was the tallest guy on the team at just a shade over six feet) and we weren’t a freakishly skilled team, but we won a lot of games and tournaments. How? We were able to play press defense from tip-off to the final buzzer and run non-stop, up tempo offense. By doing this we would wear down teams that were (on paper) better than us. There were a lot of games when we trailed until late, but in the final three or four minutes our opponents just couldn’t keep up and we stormed to victory still running and gunning.
We were able to do this because we were in excellent condition. Our practices were usually fifty percent learning plays and skill development and fifty percent conditioning drills. It was thanks to our dedication to peak fitness that we were able to win so many games.
The good news is that anyone can achieve that kind of fitness. All it takes is a willingness to put in hard work in order to achieve your goals. Even the best shooter can have a cold streak, but speed never slumps. So, here are a few drills to help you start getting in the best game shape you can. Important: always remember to stretch well and warm up properly before you do any high intensity conditioning drills.
Conditioning Drills for Basketball
Here are three conditioning drills that coach had us do in practice all the time:
Start out on the baseline. Sprint to the free throw line and touch it with your hand. Sprint back to the baseline and touch it with your hand. Without stopping, sprint to the half court line and touch it with your hand. Sprint back to the baseline and touch it with your hand. Do the same to the far free throw line and the far baseline. Rest long enough to catch your breath between sets and do three or four sets. I can remember doing five to ten sets back to back without breaks when the team was in trouble for something, but that isn’t really the best way to do these. A variation of this drill is dribbling suicides in which you run the same pattern as fast as you can while dribbling a basketball. Touch each line with your foot, and switch dribbling hands each time you touch a line.
Put your back against a wall and assume a sitting position as though you are in a chair. Your knees and hips should both form ninety degree angles. Hold the position for as long as you can. If your legs aren’t on fire, you aren’t doing it right. If you do this with teammates or friends, make it a competition with everyone doing sprints or pushups except the one how lasts the longest. This will help strengthen your defensive stance as well as improving your conditioning and pain tolerance.
You need a flight of stairs, the longer the better. This is a five part drill. Start by sprinting up the stairs as fast as you can. When you reach the top, turn and run back down as fast as you can (be careful not to fall). As soon as you get to the bottom go back up hopping from step to step with both feet. Run back down. Now, hop back up on just your right leg. Run back down. Hop back up on just your left leg. Run back down and finish up with another sprint up and back down. Rest for thirty seconds to a minute after each set, and do two or three sets. This will help with your vertical as well as your general conditioning.
Check out this video for some more great conditioning drills.
Develop Your Own Basketball Training Program
Obviously, you need to do more than just three drills when you are getting into basketball shape. You need to perform a number of different drills and exercises to make sure your conditioning is well rounded. Also, if you just do the same thing over and over you will soon get bored and it will be harder to stick with your program.
There are a lot of different conditioning programs and videos you can buy to help guide you as you work on getting into your best game shape. Or, you can just put together your own program. Look around online (YouTube is a great place to start) and find some basketball training drills that you would like to try, and develop a program that works for you. You might even want to get your coach to help you figure out a good plan.
The most important thing is that you have a consistent plan and stick to it. If you work on your basketball conditioning several times a week, you will soon be in the best game shape of your life. That will lead to better performances on the court, and will help you outlast your opponents in those close, hard-fought games we all love to win.