With summer over and school in full swing, you still have several weeks before your first official practice.  If you haven’t been doing anything to prepare for this coming season, you better get started!

It is crucial that you are doing everything possible to get in great basketball shape.  Whether you are a question mark to make the JV team or a potential All-American, being in anything less than outstanding basketball condition is unacceptable.  Your conditioning level is something you have complete control of, and thus if you are not in great shape, look no further than the mirror.

Basketball is a high intensity game played at a very fast pace… so going out and running 3 miles every day will not get you in basketball shape.  It is also a game of reading and reacting, quick changes of direction, and several movement patterns (sprinting, jumping, defensive sliding, and back pedaling)… so running 10 reps of 100 meters will not get you in basketball shape either.  To get in, and stay in, top basketball shape you need to participate in a series of progressive, game-like drills!

To get into great basketball shape, your conditioning program must be:

    * Energy system specific (high intensity/short duration, drills should last :15 - :60)
    * Movement specific (sprint, back pedal, defensive slides, jumping)
    * Progressive (increase intensity, increase volume, decrease rest)
    * Competitive (compete against teammate or clock)
    * Fun (try to find drills you enjoy doing; you will work harder if you are having fun)

The most effective way to get into basketball shape is to take a comprehensive approach:

Nutrition and rest:  Your body is like a race car and it needs to be properly fueled to work at a maximum level.  You need to try to get 8 hours of sleep each night to make sure you are well-rested enough to give 100% at every workout.  You also need to make sure you drink tons of water to stay hydrated.  Even the slightest bit of dehydration can affect performance on the court and in the weight room.  You also need to eat your normal 3 meals a day plus 3 additional high powered snacks.  Two of the most important times to fuel are first thing in the morning (breakfast) and within an hour after working out.  Here are a few great foods you can start your day with to give you energy: pancakes, waffles, bagels, cereal, oatmeal, and fruit.

Strength training: If your body is a car, your muscles are the engine.  Proper strength training will increase the size/strength of your muscles (giving you a bigger engine!).  If your muscles are stronger, they can produce more force, which means you will be able to run faster and jump higher (and you will also be less likely to be injured).  Here are a few guidelines:

Training Frequency:  2-3 workouts per week

Training Duration:  40-60 minutes per workout

Training Volume:  1-3 sets per exercise, 10-15 total exercises per workout

Training Intensity
:  Perform each set to a point that no other “quality” repetitions are possible (the “muscle failure” mentioned in my last blog post)

Repetition Ranges:  8-15 repetitions per set (reaching muscle failure prior to 8 repetitions means the resistance is “too heavy” and increases orthopedic stress)

Equipment:  Utilize what is available - free weights, machines, manual resistance, etc.

Workout tips:  To make your workouts as effective and efficient as possible, you should utilize compound movements like squats, lunges, step-ups, leg presses, pull-ups, bench presses, rows, and shoulder presses.

Here is a great weight room challenge to try this pre-season – lift 60,000 lbs in 60 minutes. 

You multiply the weight times the number of reps you perform to get total poundage.  So if you bench 135 lbs 10 times, you would have 1,350 lbs.  Only 58,650 lbs to go!  You simply keep a running total of weight times reps and then add up everything at the end.  You are more than welcome to keep a running total to see where you are at all times, but I recommend using a calculator so you don’t waste much time!

Here are a few ground rules to make this challenge as effective as possible:

    * No leg press (too easy)
    * No calf raises (too easy)
    * Only full range of motion reps count
    * Pull-ups are the only bodyweight exercise allowed (your weight being the weight for the exercise)
    * Utilize free weights and dumbbells as much as possible to keep things universal
    * When using dumbbells, it’s the total weight (bench pressing with 40’s = 80 lbs)
    * Start the clock on your first rep and end the workout in exactly 60 minutes

What will your strategy be?  Try to lift lighter weights for more reps?  Heavy weights for fewer reps?  Alternate upper body and lower body exercises?  Run through several exercises in a row with no rest?  You may want to record and add up a “normal” workout first to gauge where you stand before devising a strategy.  This can easily be turned into a team competition!

Conditioning: The primary goal of your conditioning program should be to get in peak basketball shape.  There is a huge difference between being fit and being in basketball shape.  You are not a track athlete and not a marathon runner; so don’t train as such.  You should aim for each workout to incorporate drills that include sprinting, cutting, back pedaling, defensive sliding, and jumping with appropriate work to rest rations to maximize intensity.  The more game like the drill, the better!  You must go all out on every rep of every drill in every workout to truly reach your conditioning potential.

One thing that unites every player in the world this pre-season is the power to choose.  You have the right to choose how you will train this pre-season.  Every one of us is a product of the choices we make on a daily basis.  Wherever we are in life, we are there as a result of the choices we have made.  If you are happy and successful, it is because of your choices.  If you are unhappy and miserable, it is also because of your choices.  Same goes for pre-season training.  When the season is here, if you are in great shape it is because you made the choice to be in great shape!

One of my favorite quotes of all time is:

“Keep doing what you’ve been doing and you’ll keep getting what you’ve been getting.  If you don’t like what you’ve been getting than quit doing what you’ve been doing!”

If what you did last year didn’t work well, don’t do it again!

What kind of choices are you making now to start the pre-season?  Are you choosing to get plenty of sleep at night?  Are you choosing to eat breakfast every day?  Are you choosing to work hard in the weight room?  Are you choosing to run every sprint/drill as hard as possible?  Are you choosing to be enthusiastic and supportive of your teammates?

These are all choices.  Your answer to these questions will dictate the success of your pre-season as well as the type of player you will be.

My next two blogs will continue to focus on the pre-season (Pre-Season Training II and Pre-Season Training III).  I will also add a weekly “Montrose-ism,” where I will share many of the insights and intricacies that I have learned in the last seven years as the head strength & conditioning coach.  These Insights have helped build one of the top high school basketball programs in the nation!

I posted my fall schedule at www.StrongerTeam.com.  Please come say hello if you attend any of the clinics I am working!

As always, for daily coaching points, motivational quotes, and videos of the “exercise of the week,” please follow me (and subscribe) to:





Train hard.  Train smart.

Alan Stein