Conditioning drills from Michael Finley's trainer

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By: Chad Zimmerman

Michael Finley started his career in 1995 with the Phoenix Suns by setting the franchise's record for most minutes played by a rookie. That same year, he started a three-season streak of playing in 247 consecutive games. He ranks as one of only three players to play in every game for his frst three seasons in the league.

In 1996, the Suns traded Finley to the Dallas Mavericks. The following season, he led the NBA in minutes per game (mpg) with a 41.4-minute average, ranked 11th in scoring and 19th in assists. Among other accomplishments, including playing in two All-Star games and the 2002 World Championship, Finley's career average is more than 39 mpg.

The stamina, strength and power to achieve these feats didn't come without hard work or the help of resident STACK expert and elite performance enhancement coach, Tim Grover of ATTACK Athletics in Hoops Gym in Chicago.

Grover stresses the importance of proper conditioning to athletic success. "Michael Finley is a great example of a player who improves his performance with conditioning. He works hard during the off-season to keep himself in top form and is consistently one of the players in the league with the most minutes played during the season. He is able to compete at this level because his body is prepared."

To condition Finley and countless other NBA stars under his guidance, Grover uses specifc, basketball-oriented drills.

"I think the 60-second sideline drill and the complete-the-square drill are vital to properly condition basketball players."

The 60-second sideline drill
"The change of direction in the 60-second drill translates to a quicker frst step and the sprinting improves overall speed on the court," explains Grover..

Beginning at one sideline, start a stopwatch and sprint to the opposite sideline. Plant at that sideline and sprint back to the original starting spot. Sprint back and forth across the width of the court as many times as possible for 60 seconds. Focus on a quick change of direction and sprint as fast as possible from sideline to sideline.

Perform three reps of the 60-second drill. Take a three-minute rest between reps. To increase the diffculty of the drill as conditioning intensifes, progressively decrease the rest time between each rep.

Use this drill two to three days a week and on the same days you speed train.

Complete-the-square drill
"The complete-the-square improves movement in all directions and is especially effective for improving defensive play," says Grover.

Start on the corner of the left side of the lane and the baseline. Sprint forward to the top corner of the key and laterally shuffe right across the top of the lane. Once you reach the opposite side of the lane, back pedal until you reach the baseline. Close the square by shuffing laterally left back to the starting position. Repeat this pattern four times to complete one rep.

Perform three reps of this drill with a three-minute rest time between reps. Like the 60-second sideline drill, decrease rest time to increase the diffculty of this drill as conditioning intensifes. Run the drill at least two to three days a week and on opposite days of the 60-second drill.

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