Preseason Basketball Conditioning Drills

Preseason Basketball Training
Endurance Training for Basketball Players
By F. Dwain Lewis and Douglas Sanderson

Basketball cannot be played in low gear; that means a team must be in prime condition for the opening game or pay a penalty.

Preseason basketball training obviously is the remedy, and we have developed a physical fitness program that is rough but gives a player a feeling of accomplishment. It is a stiff enough drill routine to cause less-motivated players to cut themselves from the team and leave the workers.

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Goals of Our Basketball Conditioning Program
Basketball Conditioning Workout

We believe our program helps us in three ways: (1) in building strength and endurance by isometric, isotonic, and drills; (2) in injury prevention; (3) in team discipline. We have not had a muscle sprain, shin splint, or a case of blisters in a two-year span with this program.

The basketball drills are done in the order cited below to allow for maximum organization efficiency and to provide rest intervals.


In the first week of the two-week drill period, the players perform exercises at three-quarters speed for 30 seconds and at full speed for the final 30 seconds of the one-minute drill.

In the second week there is no letup, and all drills are performed with maximum effort for the whole minute.


The program takes about 35-40 minutes daily, approximately the length of time a player would work in a game.

It is organized in such a way that the first 20-minute period aims at strength development, while the final 15-20 minutes stresses endurance (basketball practice planning).

Basketball Conditioning Exercises


Standing position, right leg over left leg, left hand over right shoulder. Bend over and pull down, touching toes for 30 seconds. Reverse feet and hands for 30 seconds.


The player assumes a sitting position against a wall, with knees at right angles and hands not on the knees. The player’s back in its entirety should be touching the wall.

Leg pressure is applied pushing back against the wall, ranging from about three-quarter effort the first few sessions to maximum in the second week.


The player assumes a standing position with legs as wide apart as possible, feet parallel and stationary. Pressure is applied by the legs trying to bring the heels together.

Ground resistance puts most of the pressure on the medial thighs. Widen the legs for the last 30 seconds.

Finger Push-Ups

From the splits position, the player assumes a push-up position on fingertips. The minimum is ten the first day, with one added each succeeding day.

Ankle Rotation

The player lies on his back and places both hands under his buttocks. The legs are raised about 6 inches and both ankles are rotated in the same direction, with as little leg movement as possible.

This drill also serves as an excellent conditioner for the stomach muscles.


One player lies on his stomach with his legs bent at the knees, at right angles. Another player kneels behind him and pulls against his heels, while the man on the floor resists.

This is a two-minute rather than the usual one-minute drill, because the men exchange places immediately to repeat the exercise.


This is the reverse action of the pull drill. The prone player is in the same position, but the second man pushes against the upraised feet rather than pulling. The men exchange positions.

In both pulls and pushes, the floor man should not be allowed to rest his head in his hands. His knees should be in contact with the floor or ground.

Rag Tag

One player assumes a defensive stance, with one hand on the shirt of the offensive player. The other hand stays behind feeling for a screen.

The offensive man slides right, left, forward, backward, trying to lose the defensive man, who attempts to maintain contact.

Shadow Boxing

Two men spar open-handed for quickness with no solid hits. They are instructed to try not to blink or duck away.

Emphasis also is placed on proper footwork for balance and in refraining from crossing the feet while sliding.

Leap Frog

Two players alternate jumping over each other, with legs spread as wide apart as possible when going over. One partner must go over twice to change direction and keep the drill in a small area.


Players perform 180-degree jumps as quickly as possible, getting maximum height every time. Direction must be switched to avoid dizziness. Turns are increased to 360 degrees the second week.

Up and Back

The player performs a standing broad jump forward and backward, with feet kept parallel.

Each jump should be a gathered maximum effort to encourage balance and good jumping motion.

One-and-Three-Quarter-Mile Run

This exercise is based on the premise that athletes who can run a mile-and-three-quarters under 12 minutes are in excellent shape for basketball.

The times are recorded each day and adjusted daily according to what the coaches think the player should achieve, which is usually five seconds lower than the previous effort.

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