Basketball conditioning refers to the exercise regimen required to play the sport at a competitive level. The nature of the sport requires potential players to have a unique combination of speed, strength, and stamina. Proper basketball conditioning will address all of these areas in addition to focusing on leaping ability and short-burst power. All of these attributes must be balanced with the sport-specific skills such as shooting and ball-handling, which are necessary for a good player to have and must be maintained by consistent drilling.
Every basketball conditioning regimen should include exercises that are meant to improve both speed and stamina. Basketball requires players to sprint down the court from end-to-end often with little stoppage in play, but it also requires them to maintain that intense level of physical activity for long periods of time. It is necessary then for basketball fitness regimens to include plenty of sprinting along with running for longer distances so both areas are properly addressed.
Strength was an often overlooked attribute in basketball conditioning in the past, but the game has developed to the point that the best professional, college and high school players must be strong enough to withstand the physical rigors of the sport. Basketball requires a great level of agility as well, so too much bulk can be detrimental. As such, an aspiring player should include weightlifting in his or her fitness regimen, but he or she should lift lighter weights at higher repetitions. Following this type of regimen and concentrating on doing each lifting exercise to a full range of motion should give potential players the required strength without sacrificing agility.
Power in terms of short-burst running and jumping are crucial to a well-rounded basketball player. Great leaping ability helps a player get shots off, grab rebounds, and be a better defender. Jumping exercises like broad and squat jumps can address this need. Speed in short bursts can be addressed in drills that also incorporate game skills like shooting and ball-handling.
Individual drilling on specific aspects of the game can improve a player's conditioning while also sharpening his or her skills. Shooting, ball-handling, rebounding, and defensive slides all can be improved with drills that also achieve the goal of improving overall fitness levels. For instance, a dribbling drill done at full speed between pylons placed at various spots on the court will improve a player's ball-handling ability as well as improving their stamina and speed. Drills like these, along with game play, are the best way to improve basketball conditioning while keeping skill levels high.