Fitness Basics for Basketball


You’ve been playing basketball for a while now, and you’re starting to take it more seriously. You really want to take your training to the next level. You feel that if you could just jump higher… or run faster… or have better stamina… or have a quick first step… if only that, your game would be on a much higher level. But how do you do that?

How do you train for any of that?

Sure, there are hundreds if not thousands of programs all over the internet for all of that stuff, and some of them will work great for some people. But you are an individual. You have your own strengths and weaknesses. You have your own unique body mechanics. You have your own unique physiology. The most effective program for you would be one that is personalized to you. In the future, I will write precisely how to make a good exercise program for you, but in this article, I will outline the basic fitness qualities, and how they relate to basketball.
Cardiovascular Endurance

This is the technical name, but it goes by many other names as well (such as “stamina” or “wind” or “gas”, etc.). A game of basketball places significant demands on your cardiovascular system. But here is something you may not have known: there are 3 different energy systems. The first energy system is the aerobic system. This is the system you use for long-duration endurance activities. Things like long-distance running, biking, swimming, etc. all rely very heavily on this energy system. Any activity that lasts 2 minutes or more will place a high demand on this system.

The second energy system is the anaerobic lactacid system. This is the system responsible for relatively short duration activities at relatively high intensities. Things like 400-800 metre sprinting fit the bill. Any activity that lasts 20-120 seconds will have a very high reliance on this system.

The third energy system is the anaerobic alactacid system. This is the system responsible for very short, maximal intensity activities. Things like a shot put, a vertical jump and a 60 metre sprint are all examples that rely heavily on this system. Any activity that lasts 0-20 seconds will heavily rely on this system.

I should note that at any given moment, regardless of what activity you are doing, all three energy systems are contributing to the activity. The only thing that changes depending on activity is the relative contribution of each system.

In a sport like basketball, there is a reliance on all 3 energy systems, and it is important to develop all 3.


Speed refers to your top-end speed. The ability to run cross-court places high demands on speed. Unfortunately, there are a lot of garbage programs on the internet in regards to speed. The reason is that speed training should not be difficult. It should be effective. This will be discussed in greater detail in future articles.


Quickness and speed are not the same thing. Quickness, which is also known as “acceleration” is really just how fast your first 3-5 steps are. Quickness is important to develop in order to get off the line very quickly and surprise some opponents.


Agility is the ability to change directions quickly. It is trained with the same principles as speed training. And very similar to speed training, there is a lot of bad information on it, and poor advice.

If you are a complete beginner to weight training, this is going to give you a lot of bang for your buck. A very basic strength training program will improve speed, and agility and quickness. Enjoy your beginner stage while it lasts, because eventually, you’ll have to start to work directly on speed and agility and acceleration to improve, but just in the beginner stages, basic strength improves everything else.


Flexibility is your range of motion around a joint. It is the ability of a muscle or group of muscles to stretch. Just like many of the other qualities, there is a lot of misinformation about this one as well. How much should you stretch? Is there such a thing as too much stretching? Should different people stretch different amounts? Should you stretch all muscles, or just some of them? Should you stretch statically or dynamically?

These are just a few of the questions I’ll be covering in the future.


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