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The Definitive 6-Week Guard Workout

  • Author:
    By Alan Stein, CCS, CSCS
  • Date:
    May 6, 2015

Here is a six-week training program for a point guard or 2-guard that emphasizes first-step speed and overall strength and explosiveness. Below is the weekly schedule, followed by the specific exercises that correspond with the schedule:

Monday: Upper Body Lift No. 1 and Conditioning
Tuesday: Agilities and Lower Body Lift No. 1
Wednesday: Off
Thursday: Upper Body Lift No. 2 and Conditioning
Friday: Agilities and Lower Body Lift No. 2

Strength Training

Sets: 1-2 sets per exercise
Reps: Reach muscular fatigue between 8-12 reps
Rest: Rest one or two minutes between exercises

Upper Body Workout No. 1

  1. Chest fly
  2. Bench press
  3. Pullover
  4. Pull-ups
  5. Lateral raise
  6. Shoulder press
  7. Rear delt raise
  8. Seated row
  9. Tricep extension
  10. Bicep curl

Upper Body Workout No. 2
  1. Pulldown
  2. Shoulder press
  3. High row
  4. Incline press
  5. Seated row
  6. Chest press
  7. Low row
  8. Decline press
  9. Upright row
  10. Dip

Lower Body Workout No. 1
  1. Squats
  2. Leg curl
  3. Walking lunge
  4. Hip adduction (groin)
  5. Lower back extension
  6. Calf raise
  7. Abs

Lower Body Workout No. 2
  1. Leg press
  2. Straight Leg deadlift
  3. Step-ups
  4. Hip abduction
  5. Wall sit
  6. Calf raise
  7. Abs

Here are some drills that will help improve agility, quickness and reaction time.

Drills: Pick 3 drills each workout
Time: Perform each drill for 20 seconds
Reps: Perform 5 reps for each drill
Rest: Rest 60 seconds between drills

Ball Drop
Benefits: Footwork, hand quickness, eye-hand coordination
Reps: 30 seconds
Sets: 4-6
Rest: 60-90 seconds

  1. Stand arms length away from partner in defensive stance
  2. Partner holds tennis ball in each hand
  3. Sprint to ball after partner's throw
  4. Catch ball before second bounce
  5. Toss back to partner and sprint back to starting position
  6. React and sprint to next throw from partner
  7. Partner should vary distance, direction and speed of throws

Coaching Point: Your partner should vary the hand he uses on throws and constantly change-up the pattern. For example, throw left hand, left hand, left hand and then right hand because it's much more unpredictable then throwing left hand, right hand, left hand. This forces you to react faster and improve your first-step.

Block to Block
Benefits: Lateral quickness and agility
Reps: 12-15 seconds
Sets: 4-6
Rest: 60-90 seconds

  1. Stand in lane in athletic position between the blocks
  2. Partners kneels at top of key behind three point line with two basketballs
  3. Partner rolls one ball to either block
  4. Defensive slide to block, tap ball back to partner, slide back to starting position
  5. React to next roll and repeat

Coaching Point: Don't ever cross your feet and make sure to stay low with your chest up and your hands up and active. You have to stay low to the ground so you can reach the ball and tap it back to your partner. Your hands should be in front and active like they are in a game so you can catch a pass or grab a rebound. If your hands are in by your sides you can't do these things in a game and you can't perform this drill. And most importantly, work hard. Your intensity of effort during this drill is crucial.

Star Drill
Benefits: Reaction and short burst quickness
Reps: 15 seconds
Sets: 4-6
Rest: 60-90 seconds

  1. Place five cones around three point line
  2. Perform athletic movement such as backboard taps, or defensive slides from block to block
  3. When partner calls number of cone, sprint to cone and sprint back to starting spot
  4. Continue performing original movement
  5. React to partner's next call and sprint to and from cone
  6. Repeat

Coaching Point: Adjust the drill by sprinting to the cone as if you are closing out on a shooter. Chop your feet as you get close to the cone, get low and keep a hand up to put a hand in the imaginary shooters face. Then sprint back to the start. You can also change the movement pattern used such as sprinting to the cone and then backpedaling back to the start. Each different movement helps work another part of your game.

Highest Point
Benefits: Focus and explosiveness
Reps: 1 jump
Sets: 10-12
Rest: 5-10 seconds

  1. Player stands in a solid box out position as if about to rebound
  2. Partner tosses two (to four) different colored balls into the air (you can use painted whiffle balls, racquet balls, or tennis balls for this drill.)
  3. Partner calls out a color
  4. Player vertically jumps to catch the corresponding colored ball at its highest point

Coaching point: Player should stay in a low athletic stance and keep their hands up and active. They should try and keep the caught ball above their shoulders once caught and return to their original stance as quickly as possible.

2 Ball Pick Up
Benefits: First step and lateral quickness
Reps: 1 sprint (plus additional ball pick-ups)
Sets: 10-12
Rest: 30-60 seconds

  1. Player faces forward and assumes a push-up position (with partner behind)
  2. Partner rolls tennis balls (in the direction the player is facing) one at a time (with about a one second delay in between rolls) at varying angles and speeds
  3. Player sprints to the first ball, picks it up and turns around (to face partner), assumes a defensive stance and then slides laterally to pick up the second oncoming ball

Coaching point: Player should spring to his/her feet as quickly as possible and sprint directly towards the first ball rolled. They should pick it up with the closest hand and turn to survey the next ball.

Color Match Up
Benefits: Concentration and agility
Reps: 1 series of match ups
Sets: 6-8
Rest: 15-30 seconds

  1. Four different colored cones (red, blue, green, and yellow) are arranged in a square about 5-10 yards apart
  2. A non-matching colored ball is placed on each cone (red ball with yellow cone, green ball with blue cone, etc.). You can use painted whiffle balls, racquet balls, or tennis balls for this drill.
  3. The player is placed in the middle of the square with eyes closed
  4. Partner says "Go" and tosses the player a 5th ball (any color)
  5. Player opens his/her eyes, catches the colored ball, and sprints to the same color cone
  6. Player then takes the colored ball from that cone and sprints to the same color cone, etc.
  7. Continue until all of the colored balls match the colored cones

Coaching point: Players should stay low and in an athletic stance and use short choppy steps to close out to the cone. To make competitive see who can match up the correct balls and cones the quickest.

The primary goal of your conditioning program should be to get in peak basketball shape. There is a huge difference between being fit and being in basketball shape. Being able to run three miles is great for cross-country but not necessarily for basketball. Basketball is a game of starting and stopping and jumping with varying bouts of very high intensity activity. Your conditioning workouts should mimic this. You should aim for each workout to incorporate drills that include sprinting, cutting, back pedaling, defensive sliding, and jumping. The more game-like the drill, the better. You must go all out every rep of every drill in every workout to truly reach your conditioning potential.

There are two reasons why you should participate in a comprehensive conditioning program; the first is for injury prevention. It is important acclimate your body's muscles and joint structures through the specific motions used in basketball. If your conditioning program only incorporates straight-ahead sprinting (a typical track workout), you will not sufficiently prepare the hip, groin, and ankle areas, all of which are high-risk areas for basketball players. The second reason you need to condition is for performance enhancement. A proper conditioning program establishes a solid fitness foundation and will reduce your mental and physical fatigue toward the end of a game.

A good portion of every game is played in a defensive stance and thus a well-designed conditioning workout should reflect this. You must be trained to stay in, and move from, a solid defensive position for several minutes at a time. Sprints are only a part of the overall program. To get into great basketball shape, your conditioning program must be:

Energy system specific. Your conditioning drills need to be short to medium in duration (15 seconds to two minutes) and very intense with limited rest.
Movement specific. Utilize basketball movement patterns: sprinting, back pedaling, defensive sliding, and jumping (limit jumping and emphasize defensive position). Stress changing direction (agility) and the importance of being able to plant off of either foot. Emphasize being in a low and athletic stance at all times with hands up.
Progressive. You need to increase intensity, increase volume, and/or decrease rest. Your workouts should get progressively harder.

Drills: Pick 4 drills each workout
Time: Perform each drill for 45 seconds
Reps: Perform 4 reps for each drill
Rest: Rest 60 seconds between drills

Zig Zag
Start in one corner of the court. Sprint to the closest elbow, reverse pivot, and defensive slide to where mid-court and the sideline intersect. Then drop step and sprint to the next elbow, reverse pivot, and defensive slide to the corner baseline. Lastly back pedal (hands held above your head) back to the starting point. Repeat for the desired time or reps.

Full Court Z
Start in one corner of the court. Defensive slide (facing away from the court) up the sideline to mid-court, drop step, and sprint diagonally to the opposite corner (on the same baseline) from where you started. Then back pedal (hands held above your head) to the corner of the far baseline. Then jog the baseline and begin the drill again from this corner.

Start in one corner of the court. Sprint diagonally across the court to the opposite corner, drop step, and defensive slide (facing the court) to the other corner. Sprint diagonally across the court to the opposite corner, drop step, and defensive slide (facing the court) back to where you started.

Up the Alley
Start at one elbow. Sprint straight ahead to the far baseline, defensive slide to the close sideline, back pedal (hands held overhead) the length of the court, and then defensive slide to the lane and repeat for desired reps or time.

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