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Train Like a Basketball Pro

Train Like a Basketball Pro

There is something about the sound of a basketball bouncing off the hardwood that makes us want to be a better athlete. Visions of Michael Jordan dunking from the free throw line, LeBron James hitting an improbable shot, or Steph Curry nailing a three pointer from the fifteenth row come to mind. We palm the orange leather and dribble it, each bounce leading to the next until we find a spot, our spot, and pull the trigger. The fingertips spin the ball and we watch as it arcs perfectly into the net – only to grab it and do it all over again.

Basketball is one of the best displays of fitness and human athleticism. The running, jumping, and cutting that takes place puts forces onto and into the body that only the best can handle. The precision and dexterity of a controlled dribble, a refined shot, or a perfect pass show how repetition for the brain and body can create perfection.

An everyday athlete can harness the powers of basketball to improve their fitness, strength, and skills. All it takes is a push to get better, a basketball court, and a few small pieces of equipment. If you are a basketball player, then these are the drills that will take your game to the next level.


  1. A-Skip to sprint progression –

Begin this drill by performing an A-skip, a plyometric drill that works on hip and knee drive of the sprinting pattern. Emphasize up and down power, or verticality, with each stride. At a set mark (use a cone and vary the distance every few repetitions) break into a hard sprint until you reach the other side of the court.

In basketball a sprint does not begin from a set position such as baseball or football, or blocks such as track. Instead, you are moving in towards a location (the basket) and deciding to apply maximum effort into a sprint to finish a play. Training the body to act similar to how it would act in a game is going to lead to a positive transfer of skills to performance.

  1. First five steps –

The most critical part of speed on a basketball court is acceleration. Unlike a football field or a track – there enough space to flash “top-end” speed. Thus, training the first five steps of your acceleration is imperative to increasing your speed on the court. Here are 3 quick keys:

  • Small Steps become big strides (don’t over stride in the beginning, more contact with floor means more speed development).
  • Take off like a jet from a runway. Don’t stand up too tall, but don’t stay too low. Think of progressively lifting your chest as you open up your stride
  • Swipe the floor, don’t punch it. Imagine there are pieces of paper on the floor that you want to swipe behind you when you run. Your goal is to move forward, not up.


  1. M-Drill, V-Drill, Side-Shuffle to Sprinting the ARC

All of the aforementioned drills can be done with simple cones as place markers.

Each drill presents a unique scenario for your agility to be challenged. The M-drill focuses on acceleration and immediate redirection in multiple planes whereas the V-drill is a simple drill that emphasizes stopping on-a-dime and one-cutting in the appropriate direction. Each of these drills trains the muscles of the feet, legs, core, and hips. Moreover, the brain is trained as it computes how to best transfer force and complete the tasks ahead optimally.

The side-shuffle to sprint is an incredible drill that applies directly to basketball by emphasizing the defensive position. The side shuffle keeps you working on your ability to move in the frontal plane. Once you’ve completed a particular number of repetitions (3 to 4 trips should be enough), stop your shuffle where the 3-point line meets the baseline and immediately sprint the arc to the other side of the baseline.


  1. Ladder Drills

A simple agility ladder can provide as many as a hundred different possible footwork combinations. Training these odd patterns can translate directly to better performance in-game, better conditioning, and a safer set of ankles and knees to play on top of.

Adding in other equipment such as cones and sprint zones can practically simulate a game of basketball. Furthermore, the addition of basketball dribble to any footwork drill will immediately challenge the basal cortex of the brain and force you to improve your hands and feet together.

A simple icky shuffle, lateral hops, high knees, and jack progression is enough for a beginner to challenge themselves.


The easiest of all of the exercises is endurance. The best way to accomplish your basketball endurance is to keep playing basketball at the best of your ability level. Emphasize getting back on defense, and pushing hard on offense. Take as few plays off as possible.

If you are looking to pursue some conditioning outside of the game itself, running laps around the gym that mix in sprints is an excellent method. Think about sprinting the sidelines and jogging the baselines, or vice versa for a set amount of time (10 minutes is a great start).

Basketball is a sport that so many people love, and yet so many people don’t utilize to its fullest in order to realize their best body. Whether you play for the love of the game, or love the way the game challenges your body – add these workouts in immediately and score with all your progress.

Don’t forget if your nutrition plan is not on point then you will not be getting the most out of your workouts. It is very important to fuel up before a workout and to eat something right after to help your body recover faster. If you are looking for some delicious nutritional options then check out Chef Robert Irvine’s Whey Protein baked bars and brownies. They come in many delicious flavors and they are perfect or on and off the court. Go To


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