A well-conditioned team is one poised for significant triumph on the basketball court. Yet, achieving such a level of readiness demands a dedicated focus on basketball conditioning drills. This can be particularly useful in the preseason. Numerous approaches exist for achieving this: including sprints, distance training, rigorous drills targeting in-game stamina, or a blend of the aforementioned methods.

In our training regimen, extended distance running receives the least emphasis. This choice is grounded in the understanding that basketball primarily involves bursts of energy rather than prolonged jogging or running. Instead, our preference leans towards incorporating conditioning through dynamic wind sprints and specialized drills engineered to enhance overall endurance.

Basketball Conditioning Drills: Defensive Slides

This is a great drill for working on different defensive movements and can be used as a warm-up drill. Players will work on many defensive fundamentals: defensive slides, back-pedalling, close-outs, drop-steps, and sprinting.

A line of players begins behind the baseline on one side of the key. If available, place d-men or cones on the elbows so that players have a visual to close-out to. No basketballs are needed for this drill.

Players should complete the course as quick as they can while still in control of their body. Pay attention to the footwork of the players. Players must be closing out with short steps and get one hand up. They must stay on-balance during this. Some variations include increasing the distance and flipping to the opposite side of the floor.

Basketball Conditioning Drills: The Riley Test

This is a conditioning test from the Xavier Newsletter #198. This is a great conditioning exercise because it is tough but achievable for players to accomplish.

The Riley Test is five “down and back” runs. The players start on the baseline and must run those five down and back sprints. It is best to group your players by position. After each set the players get a 2:30 break.

The goal for high school boys has always been anywhere from 1:05-1:10 per set and for the girls has been 1:10-1:20. This can decrease as you go throughout the season or get more conditioned. We always started with 3 sets but never did more than 6 sets.

Basketball Conditioning Drills: Champion Runs

This is a run that I ran in my high school under my coach Andy Elkins. It is a long sprint where if you don’t give 100 percent effort, it is impossible to complete.

The Champion Run consists of the following: 1 valley (see note in intro paragraph) followed by 5 full court touches (full court touch= start at 1 baseline and sprint to opposite baseline is 1). Coach Elkins always said the beauty of the Champion Run is that you will end up on the opposite baseline from where you started, so you might as well run two Champion Runs!

We do these runs when we don’t make free throws like we should, commit too many turnovers, or for just some good old-fashioned conditioning. We time these. Boys, especially guards and wings, should complete a Champion Run in the 1:00-1:07 range. Girl basketball players should complete a Champion Run in the 1:10-1:16 range.

Related: Better Basketball – the Funnel Down Defense


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