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Coaches Network: Easing Into Preseason Conditioning

  • Date:
    Aug 14, 2015

Whatever level you coach, preseason is about more than just practice – it starts with conditioning. Since that’s something every coach needs to prepare for, we asked members of the USA Basketball Coaches Network to share their thoughts on the subject. This week’s question: 

When your players first arrive at the start of preseason, how do you evaluate their conditioning? How do you work them into a training routine as they get back from offseason?


Eric Flannery, head coach, St. Edward High School (Ohio)

We evaluate our players’ strength and conditioning throughout the offseason. In Ohio, where I coach, we are limited in the offseason to a certain amount of days we can coach the game, however, we can use as many days for strength and conditioning. August is a "dead period" for us, in which no contact is allowed, for coaching or strength and conditioning.

We evaluate our players at the end of the season, at the end of July, and then when they return to school in September. We test our players in the mile for time and have them max out with various strength exercises.  

When they return to school in the fall, we can see where they are and if they have been keeping up with our program. After these evaluations, we then give them specific goals that we would like them to achieve during the preseason prior to our first games. We will slowly build up our conditioning as a team from September through December to get their bodies physically ready for the season.


Sue Phillips, head coach, Archbishop Mitty High School (Calif.)

At the beginning of the preseason (or during the first week of September), we evaluate our players in the following areas: 10-yard dash, pro-agility, stationary vertical, hang clean, 10x100-yard sprints with 40-second recovery, and 3x300-yard shuttles with 5-minute recovery. 

For the next eight weeks, our players weight train four days a week. Our strength training cycle for the preseason is a building phase that also includes ACL injury prevention exercises. Two of those weight-training days will include open gym, where college coaches come through to evaluate our players.

During that 8-week building cycle, we will also test them once a week in the 100-yard and 300-yard sprints. We never exceed 2.5 training hours per day inclusive of dynamic range of motion for warm-up and static stretch for cool down. Each player is assigned goal times for the 100s and 300s based on stature, position, and year in school. Workloads should be monitored on an individual basis to ensure a proper work-to-rest ratio. Keep in mind that preseason training should be designed to enhance performance and reduce the risk of injury. 


Don Showalter, head coach, Iowa City High School (Iowa)

Conditioning and weight training are our most important details in getting our players ready for the season. Since our state rules restrict coaches from directly working with players on the court until the first day of practice we emphasize the conditioning, weight training and agility starting in September. This gives us 10 weeks to get our non-fall sports participants in shape for the basketball season.  We start out with distance running two days each week and sprint work two days a week. We give the players Friday off so they can attend our football games.  We lift three days a week as well starting with a program that builds up as we progress throughout the fall. We utilize our weight trainer at our school to give our players the proper program. We feel in 10 weeks we can have the players in great shape to start the season.


Brian Robinson, head coach, Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School (N.C.)

The way we have evaluated our players’ conditioning is during the second and third days of our workouts. We have learned that on the first day, our players are excited about being back with their teammates and most of the time, if they are not in condition, they are running off of emotion. The second and third days, if someone is lacking in conditioning, it begins to show more clearly once things become more routine and settled.

Many times, the fear of letting the team down gets the players to self-train themselves back into shape. However, we bring in a certified trainer in the preseason to workout the girls properly as our supposed expertise is teaching basketball not conditioning players. We, as coaches, don't want to go overboard with the conditioning too fast or under-condition the players, as we could do more harm than good, thus we get someone in who is certified in that area.


Mike Jones, head coach, DeMatha Catholic High School (Md.)

The start of our preseason work always is exciting. High school players grow so much in the offseason, it is great to see the changes that their bodies -- and their game -- have gone through. Guys that have worked hard in the offseason are easy to pick out because they are eager to show it.

We put our guys through a conditioning test to gauge what kind of shape they are in. We take measurements and do some on-court testing. We usually start our preseason work two months before our first practice. This does provide plenty of time to get guys where we want them -- though you can really show your commitment by showing up in shape already. 


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