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By Adam Petway, Director of Basketball Performance of The University of Arkansas Men’s Basketball. 

Here at Arkansas, we believe in training with a high level of specificity that has to carry over to the sporting activity. We feel that this puts our athletes in the best position to be successful on the court. We have helped develop several NBA and Professional athletes. We take great pride in being one of the top Universities in the NCAA for developing players. This development does not happen without the contributions of all staff members both technically and tactically.

Basketball is a game of multifaceted physical parameters. An athlete’s training must reflect these parameters to have successful carry over to the court. Basketball is played within a 94 by 50-foot hardwood surface. A basketball athlete must be able to accelerate, decelerate, and change directions efficiently within the context of the sporting activity. It is extremely important for a Basketball Performance Coach to train these movement patterns that occur in a competition so that the training has a high level of specificity to the game. This will maximize economy of the game movement for the athlete. Training with specificity allows the basketball athlete to provide context for the environment that they will be in on the court.

When training a basketball athlete, it is important to train with sound biomechanical principles and proper kinematic integrity. This is not only to improve performance but to mitigate the risk of injury during competition. When training specific biomechanics for basketball it is important to start at the foot. There are 26 bones and 33 joints in each human foot. That is almost a fourth of the bone and joint structure of the entire body. For this reason, it is extremely important for the foot strikes the ground with proper mechanics. We always start the workouts and training with foot/ankle mobility drills.

This is done to promote proper dorsi flexion, inversion/eversion, and pronation/supination of the foot. Once we have mobilized the foot we then focus on a three-dimensional mobilization of the pelvis.  We do this to ensure that our athletes can properly transition in and out of certain movement patterns that occur on the court. The last area we focus on in the prep for training is the thoracic spine. The thoracic spine is important for basketball athletes to expand the amount of space they can create through movement. It is extremely important for the basketball athlete to have the ability of the thoracic spine to flex, extend, and rotate properly. Mobilizing the body in all three-planes of motion is extremely important to maximize the efficiency of your basketball training session.

Once we have prepped the body for training it is important to select exercise menu items that mimic the demands of the sporting activity. When analyzing the demands of the game of basketball it is clear to see that the human body functions as an integrated unit as it translates through three-dimensional time and space. Training movements that occur on the court is vital for transfer of training. At The University of Arkansas we are very fortunate to have hoops and lane lines in our weight room for specific exercise selections. If you do not have that luxury these exercises can be performed on the court. The first is a depth jump at the rim. All that you need to perform this is a plyometric box and a hoop. We position the athlete on the plyo box right outside of the charge line facing the hoop. We have the athlete jump off the box and jump up and try to touch the rim as quickly as possible. 

This is a great way to give specific context and train elasticity in basketball athletes. As a coach, I look for minimal ground contact time and great ranges in the vertical displacement of the hips.  This movement is important in the game of basketball because the athletes must be quick on the second jump as much as the first when getting a rebound or trying to block a shot.  That is why the movement pattern is extremely important to train for the game of basketball.

Another important aspect of training the basketball athlete is frontal plane movement. This is moving laterally side to side. This is important in defending dribble penetration and hedging ball screens. There are several ways to train frontal plane movement. We have several different methods of training frontal plane movement, but we feel that it always starts with a good base stance. After this has been established, proper joint angles and force application through the ground is necessary to translate laterally. These kinematic landmarks must be hit to have efficient movement. Once these landmarks have been established you can challenge these movements by adding some resistance. We will use loaded slides at the waste or use a weighted implement in the hands.

 

I hope this provides you with some context on how to train with high levels of specificity in the game of basketball. I will say this with one caveat. These specific exercises should be performed in congruence with your traditional resistance training exercises to maximize performance on the court.  Relative strength and power qualities must be obtained, as well as being efficient movers, to truly maximize the potential of each athlete.  If you have any further questions on training parameters for basketball, please feel free to e-mail me at petway@uark.edu.

 

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