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Basketball Strength & Conditioning Workouts
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Any basketball player will improve his overall conditioning just by participating in practices and games. The nature of the game is to run up and down the court. However, to win the battles for rebounds and loose balls, players have to go above and beyond their normal training. They have to get stronger and more explosive if they want to be consistent winners.
The ability to increase speed and quickness can be instrumental in basketball when it comes to reaching a loose ball or making a big play on the fast break. One of the best tools to improve speed is interval training. Go to the local high school or college track and sprint distances of 100, 90, 80 and 70 yards. Run them in descending order, taking no more than 15 seconds between sprints. After you run all four distances, take a two-minute break and repeat the set. This will help build explosive running speed.
Lower Body Strength
Building strength in the lower body will help a basketball player hold his ground when establishing position under the boards. Two of the best exercises for building leg strength are the leg press and the leg curl. The leg press will build strength in the glutes, hamstrings and calf muscles. Leg curls will help build jumping power in the calf muscles.
Upper Body Strength
Building strength in the upper body will have an obvious impact when it comes to rebounding. A player who is stronger in the upper body than his opponent is not going to lose control of a ball that he has gotten his hands on. Upper body strength will also help when he is shooting the ball in tight quarters and absorbing contact as he does. A player who has built his strength is going to have a chance to make his shot even after he has been fouled. The bench press, lat pull-down and biceps curls are outstanding exercises for building upper body strength.
Baseline Running Drill
One of the oldest and most effective drills for building endurance takes place on the basketball court at the start of training camp. Players start at the near baseline. On a coach's whistle, they sprint to the near free throw line and then back to the baseline. Then they go to midcourt and back, the far free throw line and back and then the far baseline and back. Run this drill five times with your teammates or on your own. This will build endurance that can pay big dividends late in important games.
Shooting in rapid-fire succession will build endurance in this important area. Players do get tired when shooting, especially when they've been running. However, engaging in rapid-fire shooting drills will help a player maintain his best shooting form even when he's fatigued. Take a rack of balls and shoot five each from the right baseline, the right elbow, the top of the key, the left elbow and the left baseline. Record how you do and perform this drill every day during practice.
Improve Your Jumping
Improving jumping ability is a key part of nearly every basketball player's game. Players can improve their ability to get up high by wearing jump soles. These devices attach to the front of the gym shoes and isolate the calf muscles, which provide much of the explosiveness in jumping. One of the best things to do with jump soles is to wear them while running. Run 20 yards and then walk 10 yards. Do this five times, take a one-minute break and repeat the set. Another drill: Stand to the right of a 16- to 18-inch box and jump to the left over the top. Jump back to the right. Do 10 side-to-side jumps in this manner. Then get behind the box and jump over the front and then back to the spot where you started. Do this 10 times.
Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman authored The Minnesota Vikings: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and Who's Better, Who's Best in Football -- The Top 60 Players of All-Time, among others, and placed in the Pro Football Writers of America awards three times. Silverman holds a Master of Science in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism.