Getting Fit for Hoops

By : Kevin Reilly

Published October 9, 2000 on Inc.

Basketball has always been a game of quickness and agility but recently there's been a great more emphasis put upon sheer strength and power. Just watch the NBA and some of the sculptured bodies that appear on the hardwood. Want to know how to get fit … keep reading.

Utah Jazz' Power Forward Karl Malone captures all three of these components. He is quick and agile for a man 6'9" and 275 pounds. This guy looks like he could win the Mr. Universe contest, yet, he remains graceful after a long professional career.

Weight training has become a major part of basketball conditioning in recent times. The game has become much more physical. This requires its players to become larger and stronger.

A yearlong conditioning program is a must for the serious player from the high school years through the professional ranks. The so-called "weekend warrior" will also benefit from being in a better shape.

The main goals of conditioning at any level are to improve performance and reduce chances of injury. Flexibility is a major part of preparation for basketball. As previously mentioned this will aid in helping a player stay off the disabled list and also be more graceful and agile.

The most intense weight training should be initiated post-season and during the summer months. During the preseason and regular season, a maintenance program should be in effect to maintain strength without affecting performance.

An ideal program for basketball fitness should include activities that promote endurance, strength and flexibility:


In order to be a successful hoopster you have to be able to run and keep running for long periods of time. Like soccer, basketball is a continuous motion game. Players play both offense and defense. Training should involve short distances/sprints, longer runs as well as interval training that will combine various distances and short rest periods.

Other activities such as jumping rope and repetitive rim or backboard touches are important since the ability to jump is essential for rebounding and getting your shot off.

Most of all, playing basketball may be the best conditioner for game conditions. Nothing simulates the demands of the game than actually playing the game against the best possible competition.


The key here is overall balanced body strength. Obviously a few things are critical.

Good hands are keys to catching the basketball (quite possibly the most overlooked skill for young players). Strong fingers, wrists and forearms will aid in this simple, yet necessary task.

Leg strength will help in jumping and running. Toe raises will aid in calf development. Leg presses, extensions and curls will improve upper leg power and also balance strength between quads and hamstrings.

Shoulder, chest and arm weight exercises will provide upper body strength, which is key for players in allowing them to get position at the post or get open against a tough defense. These exercises should not be overdone. More emphasis should be placed on muscular endurance by using lower weights and raising the amount of repetitions.

Hopefully, proper conditioning can make you a more successful player who is stronger and faster and most of all able to remain in action by avoiding injury.