Preseason: What Are You Doing to Prepare?

With summer over and school in full swing, you still have several weeks before your first official practice. If you haven't been doing anything to prepare for this coming season, you better get started!

It is crucial you are doing everything possible to get in great basketball shape. Whether you are a question mark to make the JV team or a potential All-American, being in anything less than outstanding basketball condition is unacceptable. Your conditioning level is something you have complete control of, and thus if you are not in great shape, look no further than the mirror.

Basketball is a high-intensity game played at a very fast pace… so going out and running three miles every day will not get you in basketball shape. It is also a game of reading and reacting, quick changes of direction, and several movement patterns (sprinting, jumping, defensive sliding, and back pedaling)…. so running 10 reps of 100 meters will not get you in basketball shape either. To get in, and stay in, top basketball shape you need to participate in a series of progressive, game-like drills!

To get into great basketball shape; your conditioning program must be:

  • Energy system specific (high intensity/short duration, drills should last 15-60 seconds)
  • Movement specific (sprint, back pedal, defensive slides, jumping)
  • Progressive (increase intensity, increase volume, decrease rest)
  • Competitive (compete against teammate or clock)
  • Fun (try to find drills you enjoy doing, you will work harder if you are having fun)

The most effective way to get into basketball shape is to take a comprehensive approach:

Nutrition and Rest

Your body is like a race car and it needs to be properly fueled to work at a maximum level. You need to try to get eight hours of sleep each night to make sure you are well rested enough to give 100 percent at every workout. You also need to make sure you drink tons of water to stay hydrated. Even the slightest bit of dehydration can affect performance on the court and in the weight room.

You also need to eat your normal three meals a day plus three additional high-powered snacks. Two of the most important times to fuel are first thing in the morning (breakfast) and within an hour after working out. Some great foods you can start your day with to give you energy include pancakes, waffles, bagels, cereal, oatmeal, and fruit.

Strength Training

If your body is a car, your muscles are the engine. Proper strength training will increase the size/strength of your muscles (giving you a bigger engine!). If your muscles are stronger, they can produce more force, which means you will be able to run faster and jump higher (and you will also be less likely to be injured). Here are a few guidelines:

  • Training Frequency: 2-3 workouts per week
  • Training Duration: 40-60 minutes per workout
  • Training Volume: 1-3 sets per exercise, 10-15 total exercises per workout
  • Training Intensity: Perform each set to a point that no other "quality" repetitions are possible.
  • Repetition Ranges: 8-15 repetitions per set (reaching muscle failure prior to eight repetitions means the resistance is "too heavy" and increases orthopedic stress)
  • Equipment: Utilize what is available--free weights, machines, manual resistance, etc.
  • Workout tips: To make your workouts as effective as possible, utilize compound movements like squats, lunges, step-ups, pull-ups, bench presses, rows, and shoulder presses.


The primary goal of your conditioning program should be to get in peak basketball shape. There is a huge difference between being fit and being in basketball shape. You are not a track athlete and not marathon runner; so don't train as such. You should aim for each workout to incorporate drills that include sprinting, cutting, back pedaling, defensive sliding, and jumping with appropriate work to rest rations to maximize intensity. The more game like the drill--the better! You must go all out every rep of every drill in every workout to truly reach your conditioning potential.

One thing that unites every player in the world this preseason is the power to choose. You have the right to choose how you will train this preseason. Every one of us is a product of the choices we make on a daily basis. Where ever we are in life, we are there as a result of the choices we have made. If you are happy and successful, it is because of your choices. If you are unhappy and miserable, it is also because of your choices. Same goes for preseason training. When the season is here, if you are in great shape it is because you made the choice to be in great shape!

One of my favorite quotes of all time is: "Keep doing what you’ve been doing and you'll keep getting what you’ve been getting. If you don’t like what you’ve been getting than quit doing what you’ve been doing!"

If what you did last year didn’t work well; don’t do it again!

What kind of choices are you making now to start the preseason? Are you choosing to get plenty of sleep at night? Are you choosing to eat breakfast every day? Are you choosing to work hard in the weight room? Are you choosing to run every sprint/drill as hard as possible? Are you choosing to be enthusiastic and supportive of your teammates?

These are all choices. Your answer to these questions will dictate the success of your preseason as well as the type of player you will be.

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