Basketball performance training for adults – part 2

by | July 17, 2018 | Fitness, Health, Sport performance

In part 1 of this series, we looked at common injuries in the sport and how to prevent them. We also looked at how to warm-up in order to perform like a rock-star. 
In part 2 of this series, we’ll look at two more components that encompass high-performance basketball for adults. 
This includes speed training and power training. 

Speed and agility training

Basketball is a fast game. 
It includes straight-away sprints,
changing direction, 
turning on a dime, 
and stopping on a nickel. 
Therefore, we need to address all aspects of speed training in order to effectively prepare for the demands of the sport. 
Speed training can be broken down into 2 parts – acceleration and top-end speed. 
Top-end speed is the top speed you can get up to, acceleration is how fast you can get there. 


Acceleration happens more commonly in sport than top-end speed. 
As in, most of the magic happens in the first 10 yards of a sprint. 
This is the acceleration phase and maximizing it will separate you from the competition. 
To train for acceleration, you need to focus on a few things:
Short distances
Toe up, heel up, knee up
Putting adequate force into the ground
Applying that force in the right direction
And serious body leans /angles
Let’s look at each one of these a little more closely. 

Short distances

Acceleration only happens for 15-20 yards, any longer and you are getting close to top-end speed. 
So, to get the most out of your training, and to stay relevant to your sport, acceleration distances need to be short…like 5, 10 or 15 yards. 

Toe up, heel up, knee up

The knees will have to get up way higher than you’re used to.
This helps ensure that you are putting adequate force into the ground. 
The knee up and heel up cues go hand-in-hand. 
In regards to the toe-up cue, You want to “pull your shoelace up to your shin” in order make your ankle a rigid spring that will bounce off the ground. 
If the ankle is loose and the toes are down, the force you put into the ground may be lost, 
You’ll probably crush your toes. 
So, when accelerating, think toe up, heel up, knee up. 

Putting force into the ground

Do you remember Newton Laws from high school physics class? 
Well, he taught us that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. 
So, when you apply force into the ground with your legs, the amount of force you apply is equal to the amount of force the ground applies back to you. 
That force propels you forward with every step.
So, it goes without saying that if your legs are stronger and you can put that foot into the ground harder and faster, the harder and faster your rebound and the harder and faster you will accelerate. 
Here’s how we coach this to our athletes:

Applying force in the right direction

We are trying to take advantage of the same law mentioned above but this time we are talking about the direction you apply the force instead of the amount of force you apply. 
The foot should drive down and back with the right amount of force to effectively drive you forward down the court. 
The “down and back” action creates more horizontal force. 
If you are putting force straight down, you are wasting energy bouncing up and down instead of a straight ahead. 
Here is a drill we use to ensure that our athletes know how to push down and back:


Serious body leans/angles

In order to effectively drive down and back and put force into the ground, you need to lean. 
Like as close to 45 degrees as possible.
You are trying to create a force vector that propels you horizontal rather than upwards. 
Again, If you are putting force straight down, you will bounce upwards. 
We don’t want that. 
You want to be propelled forward…like a racehorse. 

Top-end speed training

Due to the constant change in direction, speed and type of running, it’s rare that you’ll reach top-end speed when you’re playing, 
You still need to know how to do it. 
Top-end speed comes down to 2 major skills. 
The first is arm action and the second is leg action. 
Arm action may be the one thing you can implement the quickest that will yield the greatest return. 
The arms balance out the powerful action of your legs when you run, so you need to have a smooth coordinated action of your arms to ensure you put the right force into the ground. 
Also, if you consider your legs as your engine, the arms act as the gas pedal for your legs. 
So, you need to have your arms on point. 
The path the arms should take when running is from “cheek-to-cheek”, 
that is they should be moving from the cheek on your face to the cheeks of your backside. 
Another way to look at it is to move from “lip to hip”, 
or even, “eye socket to pocket”. 
Here is a drill we use to ensure our athletes’ arms are moving down the right path. 
The leg action in top-end speed is a little tougher to manage but here a few points to remember:
Keep your knees up
Stay on the balls of your feet
Pull your foot backwards
Don’t kick your leg outwards
Your foot should land 4-6” in front of the downside leg
Keep your ankle rigid and your toes up
A simple drill is to sprint 15 yards on the balls of your feet with your knees up high

Agility training

Often times, when people think of agility training, they picture a bunch of ladders and cones on the ground and athletes moving through these implements. 
Now, these tools may serve a purpose and I am not coming down on them, 
but when it comes to actual sport performance, agility is more than just ladders and cones. 
Agility is the ability to stop and start, 
speed up and slow down, 
to change direction
and to changes modes of movement. 
It is this ability to rapidly change your orientation relative to a defender that allows you to break away and drain a three, 
It is the ability to stop on a dime, change direction and sprint back in the opposite direction that prevents turn-overs from becoming lost games, 
It is agility that allows you to closely mirror your man.
When we think of agility, we first need to consider the fundamental movements that comprise agility. 
As in, what are the basic patterns of movement and how do we train them. 
The first pattern of movement is lateral movement or the ability to move from side to side. 
We coach these movements using the lateral shuffle, 
the lateral cross-over, 
and the two-step shuffle. 
Next, the nature of basketball is that you will be on defence for (hopefully less than) half the time. 
So, you need to be able to move backwards to effectively stay with your man. 
Finally, we need to know how to effectively transition between different positions. 
This includes moving from forward to backward, 
Backward to forward
and changing direction 
The combinations are endless, what really matters is the foundations of what makes up these combinations. 
So, practice these fundamental movements and you’ll be gliding around the court like a hot knife through butter. 

Power training

What is the one skill other than shooting that most people think of when it comes to basketball? 
Jumping up for rebounds,
Jumping for a lay-up, 
and dunking on your boy. 
It’s all about the vertical. 
And the vertical is all about power. 
Power is a function of speed and strength. 
So, you need to be able to move something quick and you need to use a lot of strength when you do it.
Jumping is moving your body upwards using the strength generated by your legs and doing so with speed. 
For the purpose of this article, when we talk about power, we are going to talk about jump training and medicine ball throws. 
But, before we JUMP into it, we need to know how to land properly. 
This not only prevents injuries, but it also allows you to more efficiently transition from one position to the next. 
If you’re landing in an inefficient position with your knees caved in, your head down and your back rounded, you aren’t going to be able to power out of that position, 
You will lose precious time.
You’ll get embarrassed by your opponent, 
and your jockstrap might end up in the rafters. 
Once you feel comfortable with your landing technique after doing a few weeks of mini jumps, you can progress.
Here are a few moves you can do to increase that vertical:
And of course, to further make you into a basketball powerhouse, you can do some medicine ball training. 
Here are some great moves to further build your power and athleticism


Getting back onto the court is an awesome way to lose fat, 
get back in shape 
and be a solid role model for your kids.  
But, it needs to be done the right way. 
Increasing your speed and power are two ways to make your transition back into the game that much more fun. 
Just imagine how much more you’ll want to play when you have more speed, higher jumps and more agility. 
It will be like being a kid again! 
Growing up doesn’t need to suck, 
it can be fun. 
It just takes a few steps in the right direction. 
The time is going to go by anyway, you might as well spend it doing something you love, 
as best as you can. 

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