Co-authored by Bryan Meagher, Oak Hill Academy assistant head coach
A key success factor in Oak Hill Academy's championship winning basketball program is our off-season workouts. The goal is for each player to become a better athlete before the season even begins, through a focus on improving basketball-specific strength, power, speed, quickness and agility. (Don't mess with success. The program has produced greats like Brandon Jennings, Kevin Durant and Josh Smith.)
Our players are required to give their best effort in everything they do—in school, work, games, practices and workouts. With this in mind, we design our pre-season workout program as competitions, not only to make each athlete stronger and more explosive, but also to teach them to be competitive in everything they do.
The Oak Hill pre-season workout starts with individual baseline testing in the Bench Press, Standing Broad Jump, Chin-Ups and the Mile Run. After these initial tests, we set the stage for competition by having the players choose teams. The teams then become workout groups for the entire pre-season.
Three days a week, players complete basketball-specific strength and power training. On the remaining two days, their focus switches to performing a variety of plyometric, speed, quickness and agility drills. Every other Friday, the players compete for their workout teams in strength, speed, agility and endurance competitions. To foster an aggressive mindset in the athletes, points are awarded according to where each team finishes in each competition. The goal here is for the players to take their desire to compete and be the best onto the court and maintain their competitive drive throughout the season.
(Monday, Wednesday, Friday)
At Oak Hill Academy, we use a variety of strength and power exercises, including many explosive, Olympic style lifts. Triple extension movements like these are important for basketball, because they involve the hip, knee and ankle. When moved from flexed to extended position, these three major joints create the power needed to jump explosively.
For a list of some of our favorite strength exercises, see Top 10 Basketball Strength Exercises From Oak Hill Academy.
We make a conscience effort to design all our plyometric, speed, quickness and agility exercises to simulate the game of basketball. We also explain the purpose of each drill to the players so they understand how it will help them become quicker and more explosive on the court.
The first day of the week, our drills are focused on short, powerful plyometric movements like our favorite drill. The second day of the week focuses on agility and quickness through agility ladder and cone drills. Again, we add competition by incorporating games like tag, one of our favorite agility and quickness drills. Tag is a great because athletes rely on speed, agility and quickness to avoid getting tagged. This is not just a little kid's game. If you're an athlete who is are truly quick and agile, you shouldn't be tagged.
Training with basketball-specific endurance exercises (repeated movement with short bursts of sprints) is why our players perform at their best late in games. One of our favorite drills is the "Warrior Shuttle," a 300-yard shuttle run in which the athletes run 25 yards down and back six times. In addition,we have our players run a timed mile at least once a week. It's not basketball-specific exercise, but the mile run is still a great cardiovascular workout, and it teaches our guys to compete to beat their previous times.
Although each workout contains some form of team competition, every other Friday we make it the center of the entire workout. We compete in everything from simple Push-Ups to a version of the CrossFit Games.
To be great, basketball players need to be driven. The competitions help keep them motivated to continue working hard throughout the long pre-season. The competitions also teach the athletes the importance of competing in everything they do.