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In-Season Strength Training:
Crucial to a Basketball Player's Success

by Tom Emma, of Power Performance.net

Maintaining overall body strength during the regular basketball season is critical to a players success. The demands of a full season of games, practices, travel, team meetings, etc. can wear down even the most genetically gifted of athletes. Adhering to a year-round strength training program, which includes substantial weight room work during the season, is the best way to ensure that strength and performance levels are maintained throughout the long, grueling basketball campaign.

Believe it or not, at one time not so long ago weight/strength training was strongly discouraged for basketball players during the competitive season. The (erroneous) thought was that lifting weights in-season would contribute to body breakdown and thus decreased levels of performance. In actuality, if implemented properly and systematically, it does just the opposite and prevents the body from wearing down.

Obviously, the majority of the basketball world now agrees that in-season strength training is not only helpful but absolutely necessary for success on the basketball court. All top collegiate programs and professional teams incorporate highly structured in-season strength programs. Some individual players such as Michael Jordan and Grant Hill actually have personal trainers travel with them from city to city during the NBA season. These trainers responsibilities include locating gyms on the road, organizing workouts, monitoring progress, and providing motivational support.

Okay, now that we know how important an in-season strength program is for basketball players, how do we go about implementing one? You will find the answer below, where a comprehensive in-season strength program for basketball is documented, complete with training objectives, weight loads, sets, repetition schemes, and two sample workouts. It is followed by a variety of training tips that will help ballplayers maintain their strength, conditioning, and performance from fall practice to spring play-offs.

In-season Strength Training Progrram for Basketball

Mini-Cycle #1: Beginning of fall practice until the first regular season game.
Load: Medium/Heavy
Repetition Scheme: 6-10
Objective: The good news concerning this 4 to 6 week period is that you will have the time to strength train regularly after practice. The challenging news is that team practice in the beginning of the season are extremely intense and competitive, and by the time you hit the weight room, you will likely be physically drained. It is possible, however, with perseverance to maintain your strength, and in some, cases, even increase it during this time of year. The workouts generally will last no longer than 45 minutes or so. Train as heavy as your energy level allows, and avoid any high intensity methods such as super setting. On days when there is no team practice longer, more intense strength sessions can be employed.

Workout One
  ExerciseSets and Repetitions
  Squat2x10, 1x6, 1x8
  Incline Press1x10, 1x6, 1x8
  Pulley Row1x12, 1x8, 1x10
  Leg Curl3x12
  Shoulder Press1x12, 1x6, 1x8
  Hammer Curl2x12


Mini-Cycle #2: From the start of regular season play until the end of the season.
Load: Medium
Repetition Scheme: 6-10
Objective: The goal of this mini-cycle can be described in one word: maintenance. Because of games, practices, travel, school (unless you're already in the NBA), along with the numerous other obligation and responsibilities in your life, it is virtually impossible to make gains in strength during this time of year. But with a strong commitment and skillful time management, you can preserve the strength you've developed in the off-season. Most basketball players, especially those that play heavy minutes, become somewhat d-conditioned during the competitive season. Following an organized in-season strength training program will help you reverse this process, and enable you to sustain peak levels of strength, conditioning, and performance.

Workout Two
  ExerciseSets and Repetitions
  Lunge4x12
  Chin-up3 sets to failure
  Bench Press1x10, 1x8, 1x10
  Straight Legged Dead Lift1x15, 1x10, 1x12
  Upright Row1x10, 1x6, 1x8
  Triceps Press-down2x12

Strategies for Maintaining Strength throughout the Season

  1. Use Multi-Joint Exercises: Since energy and time will be limited, I suggest that you use only multi-joint exercises during the competitive seasons. These movements exercise a number of muscle groups at once, thus are more efficient.
  2. Strength Train Immediately Following Games: If you have access to the necessary facilities, strength training immediately after basketball games is a fantastic way to stay current with your routine. It also helps cool the body down after intense exertion. Post game workouts should be brief, and large amounts of fluids must be consumed before, during, and after the session. It is imperative that you respect your energy level after competition, along with monitoring any injuries you may have sustained during the game.
  3. Use Your Off Days Constructively: As any athlete can attest, off days during the competitive season are a precious commodity. An open day provides a basketball player an excellent opportunity to hit the weights hard. In my college playing days at Duke University, I used the 4 or 5 day break over the Christmas holidays to focus primarily on strength training. Because of this, I always felt strong and energized heading into ACC play in January. So if you have the energy and do not have a game the following day (strength training the day before a game is not recommended, as all energy should be conserved for competition), plan on strength training hard on your days off from practice.
  4. Schedule A Team Strength Workout Instead Of Practice: Scheduling a team strength training session in lieu of practice accomplishes a great deal. Along with allowing players to stay up with their programs, it provides everyone: players, coaches, trainers, and even managers, a mental break from the monotony of regular practice.
  5. Strength Train Consistently In The Off-Season: Perhaps the best way to ensure that you remain strong throughout the long, grueling basketball season is commit yourself to working consistently hard in the weight room in the off-season. The more strength you build in the off-season, the easier it will be to maintain peak performance levels when it counts during the competitive campaign.

* For more information on basketball strength and conditioning, access the author's web site at: www.PowerPerformance.net.


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