What You're Training For
College basketball games have 40 minutes of actual playing time and NBA games 48 minutes, although in each case that may be spread out over more than two hours, allowing for breaks, dead balls and other play stoppages. Most basketball plays demand short bursts of high-intensity activity lasting under a minute, involving anaerobic metabolic pathways, with low-intensity periods of recovery using aerobic energy. To avoid getting tired, you need to train for these specific energy demands.
Hard Training for Easy Games
Start your conditioning program at least six to eight weeks before your first game to build up endurance. Since no more than 15 percent of basketball activity is aerobic, only use long-duration, low-intensity workouts for warming up and cooling down. The bulk of your endurance training should consist of high-intensity intervals, such as high-speed sprints the length of a basketball court followed by recovery jogs. As well as working on cardiovascular endurance, do at least two weekly strength-training sessions, focusing on squats, lunges and pushups, to prevent muscle fatigue during games.
Eat Right for Energy
Bad nutrition can make you feel tired. For maximum energy, get at least 60 percent of your calories from carbohydrates and 20 percent from lean proteins. Eat several small meals throughout the day, emphasizing whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds and lean proteins. Consume a light meal of easily digestible proteins and carbohydrates two hours before a game, and then a small carbohydrate snack, such as a banana or energy drink, 20 minutes before the game for a quick energy boost.
Stay Hydrated for Sustained Performance
Dehydration can make you feel tired, especially if you are sweating profusely and not replenishing fluids. Start hydrating with 20 ounces of water two hours before the game; followed by 16 ounces an hour before game time; and then eight ounces, 15 minutes before the game. Drink from your water bottle during breaks to stay well hydrated and energized until the final buzzer.