Anytime we begin playing a sport the first thing most think of is “I have to get in shape.” The problem is most of us don’t even know where to begin. Whether you are returning for another season or a beginner trying to figure out different exercises to do in order to be ready for the start of the season, this aspect of playing the sport can seem overwhelming.
Most want to be in shape even before the start of the first practice because well, who wants to be the person running sprints and either can’t finish or the one breathing the hardest at the end of the drills. Some may think running is all that needs to be done in order to be ready but there are other things that can be done to help build muscle, aid in balance control, improve strength and help with agility, all which will help in maintaining stamina. The goal should be that by the end of the fourth quarter you still have the same amount of energy that you had in the first quarter. This way if you need to shoot a free throw at the end of the game or could possibly have the chance to make that winning shot, your arms don’t feel like jello.
One exercise that would help with shooting that possible winning free throw while being winded is the 17, 13, 9, 6 sprint/free throw challenge. How this works is to run the width of the court 17 times in the time that you set for yourself to do it in. Example, for high school boys it is said this could be done in 70 seconds. After the running is done you would shoot two free throws. After taking about a one minute rest you continue the same routine running the width 13 times, then 9 then 6 and shooting two free throws after each run. As the amount of runs decreases so should the time that you set for yourself to do it in. Make sure you take no more than a minute rest between each run.
The next exercise will increase your acceleration and agility. This is called the NBA lane agility drill. If you are conditioning on a basketball court you would start on the baseline to the right of the lane. You can do this in your driveway or at a park basketball court. You can decide what your baseline would be. So start on the right side of the lane. Stay outside the lane and sprint to the top right corner of the free throw line then shuffle to the left corner, backpedal to the baseline and then shuffle back to the starting position. Then just reverse everything starting on the left side of the lane and so everything again.
Most people feel they can’t play basketball because they don’t have to ability to run and dribble at the same time. This can be very difficult and is probably one of the hardest skills to develop for playing basketball. This drill can help with ball handling while being tired and also improve agility. This is called the dribble suicide drill. This is just like doing a suicide run with the addition of dribbling a basketball. Start at the baseline and run to the free throw line while dribbling and go back to the baseline. Continue this drill running and dribbling to half court and back, then to the opposite free throw line and back and then all the way to the other baseline and back. You may have to start out with a slow run if dribbling while running is difficult but don’t give up. The more you do it the easier it will become. The ball will probably get away from you quite often if you are just starting out but before you know it you will master this skill.
The next drill will help you with ball handling and also scoring while fatigued. One of the hardest things to do is to shoot a basket when you are exhausted. It is a very simple and basic drill but it will certainly increase your endurance. The full court dribble to layup/jump shot will exhaust you but it will for sure help you during game time. You just simply begin at one end of the court and run the full length of the court while dribbling the ball and when you get to the basket shoot as quickly as you can by either doing a layup or jump shot. Get your own rebound and continue this for a minimum of six total scoring attempts.
Training for change of pace, back door cut, and scoring while tired would require doing the baseline cut to the basket, catch, layup/jump shot drill. This drill will require you having someone there with you to pass the ball to you. Start under the basket. JOG (not sprint) to the wing of the free throw line (this is the area located on the side of the court near the extended free throw line). Then you change pace and SPRINT back towards the basket and have someone pass you the ball and take a jump shot or shoot a layup. Get your own rebound pass it back to the passer and do it again on the opposite side. Do this five times on each side as quickly as you can. Set a goal for you on how many baskets you want to make. Set the goal to match were your ability is.
Once you have mastered these beginning drills you can advance to other drills but these drills will give you a jump start in getting yourself in shape while helping you with other skills such as agility and ball handling. So many times people skip the basics when it comes to learning a sport which can create problems later on down the road. So get your basketball practice gear on, pick up that basketball and get conditioning and amaze your coach with the great shape you will be in on that first day of practice. You never know, he/she may let you sit out some running drills when they see how in shape you are.