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Sweet 16 Basketball Training Tips
by Andrew Heffernan, C.S.C.S. Male Pattern Fitness
Our thanks to Andrew for allowing us to re-print his Men's Health article. Visit Men's Health for more fitness articles or click here to read the original "Sweat 16" article
Need more flash in your drives? More lift in your layups? Try these drills from the NCAA's elite strength and conditioning coache
HOOPS IS A GAME OF ATTRITION, A FACT THAT BECOMES painfully clear every March. The strongest, healthiest, and best-conditioned teams are the last ones standing. So to help you elevate your game, we recruited 16 of the NCAA's top strength and conditioning coaches, whose teams often play long after everyone else has gone home. Use their favorite training tricks and tips to pick up your performance. But the real reward is this: These routines blast fat and build muscle. Who says your best days on the court—and in front of the mirror—are behind you? (And if you really want to elevate your game, you have to try The Super-Athlete Workout.)
9. Branch Out
The Commodores prepare to handle the unexpected with a drill called maps. Players are given a map of the campus with various highlighted locations, each of which features a fitness challenge. Create your own map drill at a local park. Give yourself five challenges—squats, pullups, squat thrusts, pushups, and agility drills, say—and space them about 100 yards apart. Pick a number of repetitions for each that's difficult yet attainable. Go through the stations as quickly as you can two or three times. Do this once a week.
10. Think Fast
Reaction time can mean the difference between smoking your opponent and being smoked. The Bulldogs use a unique hand-eye drill to build coordination and prepare themselves for intense NCAA game speed and pressure. Find a half dozen or more tennis balls. Mark half of them clearly with an L and the others with an R. Place the balls in a plastic bag. Without looking, reach in, grab a ball, and toss it against a wall. Catch the L balls with your left hand and the R balls with your right. When you miss a total of five, do 10 pushups. Stop the drill when you reach 50 pushups.
11. Get Warm
A 2011 study found that a quick dynamic warmup may help players jump higher. So the Cavaliers do the multidirectional lunge: Hold a medicine ball in front of your chest, and stand with your feet hip-width apart; this is the starting position. Do 3 lunges with your left leg: Lunge forward, step back. Lunge left, step back. Finally, step across your body with your left leg, turning your hips and shoulders to the right as you lunge. Return to the starting position. Repeat the lunges with your right leg. That's 1 rep. Do 1 or 2 sets of 4 to 6 reps to warm up.
12. Sweat to the Oldies
College ballers are magnificently conditioned athletes. Even some team managers could run the average weekend player off the court. The Hoosiers' warmup sequence would be a great cardio workout for anyone, and it works equally well before or after a training session. Stand on one end of the court. Jog to the other end. Backpedal to the start. Now do a high-knee run across the court, and again backpedal to the start. Follow that with a butt-kick run (lifting your heels high enough to kick your glutes on each step), a left-foot-leading side shuffle, a right-foot-leading side shuffle, and a high-kick run (like a drum major's strut) on your next four trips out. Backpedal to the start after each. Do this sequence once for a warmup, or do it 2 to 4 times for a fat-burning finisher.
13. Drive Hard
West makes sure his Huskies are as solid as Mack trucks when driving to the basket by training them with the kneeling cable core press, a move that strengthens and stabilizes every muscle from hips to core to shoulders. To do it, attach a D handle to a hip-level pulley on a cable machine, and kneel with your right side next to the weight stack. Hold the handle against your chest. Press your arms straight out, hold for 10 seconds, and return the handle to your chest. Do this 10 times, and then turn around so your left side is next to the weight stack. Repeat the movement. That's 1 set. Do 1 more. Want a complete training plan? Then check out West’s Super-Athlete Workout. It’s based on the winning workout formula that helped the Huskies win the 2011 NCAA hoops crown.
14. "Jop" Till You Drop
The next time you watch a game, check out the star players' feet: Sure, the players run and jump, but they also hop, leap, lunge, shuffle, and "jop"—jump off both feet and land on one. It's a lot of impact to absorb with one leg. That's why the Tide train with the multidirectional jop. Stand with your knees slightly bent. Jump forward 12 inches and land on your right foot. Hop backward to the start, landing on both feet. Repeat on your left foot. Next, do the sequence going sideways. Do 2 sets of 4 jops in each direction as a warmup. Or, for a fat-torching workout, hold a medicine ball in front of your chest and perform 4 sets of 4 in each direction.
15. Catch Air
All else being equal, the guy who can jump highest has a tremendous advantage, so the Fighting Illini do band jumps to add inches to their vertical and improve their overall athleticism. You'll need an exercise band with handles. Grab a very heavy dumbbell and place it on the floor between your feet. Loop the band under the dumbbell and hold one handle in each hand. Curl the handles up to your shoulders, and keep them there throughout the drill. Push your hips back and jump, extending your hips, knees, and ankles as quickly as possible. Jump as high as you can on each rep and take a few seconds to recover in between. Do 3 sets of 5 jumps, resting 30 seconds between sets.
16. Press Your Luck
We think of basketball as a game of sprints, lunges, and jumps. But it's also a game of nonstop reaches, pushes, pulls, and lifts, which can be hell on your shoulders. For unwavering upper-body stamina, the Tigers do this shoulder drill: Grab an 8-pound medicine ball. Stand with your dominant foot forward, holding the ball chest-high. Press the ball forward as in a chest pass, but don't release the ball. That's 1 rep. Do 30 reps, 6 seconds each. Then slowly press the ball up and slightly forward, as if you're grabbing a rebound. Again, do 30 reps, 6 seconds each. That's 1 set. Rest for 45 seconds, and then do 2 more sets.
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