Performance Training for Basketball: How to Make Your Pre-Season Training Matter

Check out this video for some examples of what we are referencing in the video!

Performance Training For Basketball: How to Make Your Pre-Season Training Matter

Well, it’s that time of the year. School is starting up, the summer is winding down, and fall sports have officially started. With the change of season comes a new pre-season and this time of year at Driven is especially busy with basketball players looking to make the most out of their training. We thought it would be fitting to highlight five keys of a successful performance program for basketball players and what athletes should be doing to maximize their time, get great results, and prevent future injuries.

  1. Learn How To Warm-Up Properly
  2. Learn How To Jump & Land
  3.  Train For Hip Dominance
  4. Go From High Reps To Low Reps
  5. Train Aerobic, Anaerobic And THEN Glycolytic

1. Learn How to Warm-Up Properly

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How many athletes do we watch still warming up with the same old methods of “touch-your toes” stretching, jogging, or skipping the warm up altogether. There are two reasons why I feel athletes continue to neglect their warm-up: 1) They are tired of people harping on it 2) They are tired of doing it and not really feeling like they are getting something out of it.

To be fair, I get where the athletes are coming from. Everyone says how important warming up is yet they do not know or offer a better solution than the tried and untrue methods. These typical warm-ups are boring, ineffective and inefficient.

However, learning how to foam roll properly can make a huge difference in an athlete’s ability to train hard consistently. It can also alleviate the nagging bumps and bruises DURING a season. At Driven we teach athletes how to stretch with resistance bands and then use their new found flexibility during mobility drills that challenge flexibility and stability through long and various ranges of motion.

For these reasons our athletes enjoy and embrace the warm-up. And the results of longevity speak for themselves.

As your athlete looks to have a breakout season I encourage you to expand your horizons with this important topic. They will feel better, train better, and ultimately play better when it matters most!

2. Must learn how to jump and learn. From various positions, with different angles, on 1 and 2 legs. Then explosively and lastly with endurance.

In order to appreciate this point it is important to address the notion that just because athletes jump often does not mean that they are jumping properly. Athletes need to learn how to smoothly get into and land back into their hips. They need to be able to do so without knee caving, without rocking onto their toes, and without rounding their back.

After mastery, athletes need to push themselves so they can jump and land at game speed. They then need to do drills that challenge them vertically, horizontally, and linear off of one and two legs.

Lastly, basketball players need to condition these skill sets. Injuries happen when poor technique meets fatigue in random game scenarios. That is why the last piece of jump training is to condition it so the movement is engrained.

*Important Caveat: Basketball players are notorious for jump training too much! It is important to get the right dose but do not overdue it! Playing and practicing the game IS jumping so we do not need to put EXCESSIVE  amounts of stress on their knees through training.

3. Train for Hip Dominance:

This one is so important! Ask a basketball player (or any athlete) how to squat and they will show you something that looks like a squat. Ask a basketball player (or any athlete) what a hip hinge is and they will have no idea what you are talking about or how to do it.

A hip hinge is a movement pattern that encompasses weight shifting backwards so that you engage more of your muscles in your glutes and hamstrings instead of just your quads.

Being able to hip hinge properly gives athletes more explosiveness, allows them to get stronger safer, and provides a level of safety when the athlete goes into the game.

If a basketball player wants to achieve their potential they must learn how to do exercises that include the hip hinge. This will open up a level of athleticism they did not have while easing the stress that is on the knee joint.

*Exercises: Deadlift, Single Leg Deadlift, Single Led RDL, RDL’s, RFESS, Hip Thrusts

4. Go from High Reps to Low Reps

From right now we have about three months before tryouts begin so the question is how do you get the best results in this three month window. Here is how I plan for beginners in their training programs. (Most athletes are beginners because they simply do not spend enough time consistently training).

Start with higher rep schemes (8-12) the first month so that it gives the athlete a chance to put on more size through the repetitions. *Yes, “bulking” up is done through the higher rep ranges because you spend more time under tension. This allows the athlete time to learn the exercises, get in a lot of good volume, and strengthen the tissues of the muscle without straining them through heavy loads.

As the player works through their programs lower the rep ranges so they can get as strong as possible. That is the name of the game for pre-season training; getting athletes to become as strong as they can in this amount of time so that they can use that strength explosively. The lower rep ranges also trains the neuromuscular system to coordinate more efficiently.

If you follow this program design you will have taken an athlete from just being inexperienced through a heavy volume phase, an intermediate phase to begin to load the exercises, and then a loading phase that they can now start to really challenge their strength.

*For beginners a low rep range is not below 5-6. Athletes rarely need to do single or double reps in an exercise.

5. Train Anaerobic and Aerobic And THEN Glycolytic

Don’t worry, this isn’t that fancy of a topic so let me just explain. We need to focus on getting the athletes conditioned in a smart manner so it is actually useful come game time. There are three energy systems in the body: anaerobic, glycolytic, and aerobic.

Anaerobic: Under 10 seconds of work

Glycolytic: Under 90 seconds of work

Aerobic: Over 90 Seconds of Work

Here is what you need to know as parents and athletes.

Do sprints under 10 seconds then rest for two minutes so you enhance your anaerobic ability to produce speed repeatedly.

Job for 30-45 minutes WITHOUT getting tired. You DO NOT want to huff and puff doing these. The goal is to challenge your hearts ability to keep going while staying in this aerobic window. By expanding your aerobic capacity you then create a better recovery ability.

If you specifically train these two systems early on you will feel MUCH better when the coaches start making you run suicides. Suicides fall under that glycolytic window and it is the easiest system to train and the one that gets used the most.

So you might be thinking, if you use it the most shouldn’t you train for it? My answer, is it always best to teach to the test?

By developing your other two systems FIRST and then adding in your glycolytic work you have developed your horsepower (anaerobic) with a big window (aerobic) which means you are now able to withstand some chaos (glycolytic).

*Follow these conditioning guidelines and you will actually be in much better shape come the season! Stop just doing what you have always done and instead apply science to achieve your goals.

In Conclusion:

I hope this article gives you plenty of food for thought for your basketball players pre-season training programs. It may seem like a lot but it really isn’t. Each component has a place in a program that you must address. It is important to remember that basketball is a game in which all athletic components need to be on display simultaneously. Athletes must be fast, strong, flexible, conditioned, and powerful in order to dominate and win. I hope this article helps you do just that! 


Gary Vesper has been training athletes and adults for over four years and has built his reputation on delivering powerful results in a safe and effective manner. Gary and the Driven Team believe that a strong environment does matter, that relationships and support systems are critical, and that we are all capable of much more than we ever expected. Life is too short and experiences are too important to settle for average.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

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