By dictionary definition, conditioning is the process of changing behavior by rewarding or punishing yourself when certain actions occur, until you associate it with pleasure or distress. That’s a fancy way of saying “do it until you like it or don’t like it.”
Conditioning programs help you stay fresh and focused during crunch time so you can outlast your opponent. Learning to love conditioning drills is what separates great basketball players from the merely good ones. Reggie Miller created a Hall of Fame career based on conditioning; his success came from his ability to never stop moving. Rarely ever tired, Miller boxed his competition out by running, using picks to get open, and quickly changing pace and direction.
Below are a few basic conditioning drills for basketball players. As with anything in life, consistently is the key. These drills won’t help if you don’t do them regularly. To get to the next level, you must have better conditioning than your opponents. Separate yourself from all the average players: learn to love conditioning. Your body, game and team will thank you for it.
3/4 Court Sprint
Did you know that a basketball player changes directions (on average) every three steps? Rarely do you run at full speed for more than three-quarters of the court. Use this drill to build up your initial acceleration skills.
Starting at the baseline, sprint three-fourths of the way down the court. Then slow down and stop before reaching the opposite baseline.
This drill improves your ability to accelerate, decelerate and change direction.
Set up four cones five to 10 yards apart in the shape of a “T.” Assume athletic position at cone 1 (bottom of the T), then sprint to the middle cone (cone 2). Slow your pace and laterally shuffle to the cone on your left (cone 3). Plant your feet, change direction to the right and Carioca to cone 4. Changing direction again, side shuffle left to cone 2. Transition into a backpedal and return to cone 1.
This drill also amplifies your ability to accelerate, decelerate and change direction.
Set up three cones to form the letter “L,” with five to 10 yards between cones 1 (right point of the L) and 2 and 10 to 15 yards between cones 2 and 3. Starting at cone 1, sprint to the inner side of cone 2. Without stopping, stay low and circle it, then sprint to the outer side of cone 3. Repeat the process. Then sprint back to the outer side of cone 2. Continuing to stay low, go halfway around it and sprint through cone 1.
Perform a proper warm-up before you start, and begin with a low number of repetitions, adding more as your conditioning builds up. If your posture and form begin to deteriorate, stop doing the drills. Continuing with poor form will only train your body to do the wrong thing and set you up for a future injury.