Nellakir continue with our tips on performance and this week, fitness.
In basketball power usually refers to an athlete’s ability to use maximum strength in the shortest possible time. This is an area that weight training can be most beneficial, any program should be carefully planned and supervised by a coach or trainer. I advise against the use of heavy weights because they tend to build up weight and a muscular physique while. basketball players should develop quick power to aid jumping and speed. A player should assess the maximum weight he can carry on a particular exercise, and then use half this weight for a series of eight to ten repetitions in the quickest time possible in sets of three.
The weight training routine should be repeated on alternate days. In the first week and effort should be made to reduce the time taken to complete the series. In the second week the weight may be increased by 5kg while still completing the series in the shortest time. The process of increasing weights gradually is maintained so long as the time to complete the series is not increasing.
Unless a player is undertaking a specific course planned for him by a qualified instructor, the only exercises he needs to do involving weights are half squats and heel raises. In other exercises body weight is enough resistance. Sometimes, however weight training can help recovery after injury.
Quickness, endurance, flexibility and power
In basketball we are primarily concerned with improving quickness, endurance, flexibility and power. Training and playing is often enough exercise to develop and maintain these qualities, but where weaknesses are apparent there are specific exercises to improve them.
You will note I refer to ‘quickness’ rather than speed. A player’s ability to respond quickly to changes is his quickness and is an obvious advantage in such a fast moving game as basketball. To develop this quickness, agility drills, short sprints and ‘reaction drills’ are good on court drills to use.
Endurance is the quality that allows us to make a continuous effort and to recover quickly so the effort can be repeated. Endurance is not directly related to muscle strength, it is more a measure on how efficiently the heart and lungs can work to deliver oxygen to the muscles. Whenever time allows, long distance running should be included in your training scheme to improve endurance as well as normal on court basketball training in off season sessions. Build up the distance gradually starting with a two kilometre run three times a week and increasing the distance to between six and -10 kilometres three times a week during your six weeks pre-season program.
All effective training schemes are built on the principle of overload. In each session you should try to run that little bit further or that little bit faster, or just tackle one more repetition of an exercise. Without overload there can be no progress. This means you must increase your effort in exercising if you want to improve. Keep an accurate record of your training program so t your progress can be measured. Record the distance and time of your run and always try to reduce your time. When you feel you cannot reduce your time then the next step is to increase the distance. The same principle applies to your exercise and weight training.
Fitness demands that all the joints must move freely and the muscles that control them must be equally free for movement. The muscles must be able to contract easily and stretch to their limit so they are able to exert maximum power. A well balanced progressive exercise will improve flexibility. Exercises involving held stretches will help muscle strength and flexibility. With a simple exercise like touching your toes there should be a slow steady stretch and not a rapid stretch. If there is any weakness in a joint or muscle, the quick strain could cause an injury.
The most important point about any training scheme is consistency. Once you stop training de-training begins. You will lose some of the flexibility and endurance you have built up. So, regular and constant practice is essential, building up your daily routine gradually. Remember when training has been interrupted through injury or illness, don’t try to resume at the same level you left off, or you risk further injury. Unfortunately the rate of regaining fitness is not the same as the time spent away from training. If you have missed a week of training it will likely take two weeks to regain the same level as before the interruption.
The following exercises are useful for basketball conditioning and flexibility. All are capable of being used in the home environment.
Half squat alternated with heel raises. I am not in favour of using a full squat as it may place excessive strain on the knee joint. It is recommended that a plank of timber, or similar, about 50mm thick be used to set the heels on during half squats and the toes on during heel raises. These exercises are used primarily for improving jumping skills. Body weight is sufficient resistance to start a program using three sets of 10 repetitions alternating exercises. Weights attached to a bar may be used to increase the resistance as endurance and strength improves.
Sit-up alternated with press-up (using inclined bench if available) Three sets of ten repetitions alternating each exercise. Sit-ups are used to increase strength and endurance in abdominal muscles. When doing press-ups which help improve strength and endurance of shoulder and chest muscle some of the repetitions should use finger tips as well as l palms of the hands.
Burpee, alternating with star jump. The burpee has similar benefits as press-ups but also improvise flexibility. Hands are placed on the floor directly below the shoulders with knees tucked in next to the elbows. The hands and arms remain still as the feet are rapidly pushed back r to the full extended position so you are now in position to execute a press up. Without moving the hands and arms the knees are quickly brought forward to the original position.
The star jump improves flexibility of legs, arms and waist. Start in a normal standing position with hands resting at the sides and feet close together. Jump and shift the lags wide apart simultaneously raising both arms out and up so hands reach well above the head. Before landing the hands return to their starting position and the feet move together shoulder width apart. When landing the knees should bend slightly cushion the impact and prepare for another immediate star jump. Three sets of ten repetitions of each alternating exercise will improve flexibility and endurance.
Preparation is the basis for success in any field of endeavour, not just basketball. But like a coach is expected to prepare his team by practicing skills and rehearsing team methods, the players must also be prepared physically to take advantage of the thing learned in training. They must be fit and fuelled and be well aware of how to do both to maximise their performance.
In a well designed basketball program training for basketball it should not be necessary to improve player’s fitness and condition. The drills scrimmages and matches should normally be enough to maintain peak fitness unless the program is interrupted by injury or sickness. But because many clubs lack facilities and the opportunities for full scale practices are limited, players may need to work on their fitness and conditioning on an individual basis.
Teams playing at the highest level will usually have the services of highly skilled and qualified fitness advisors, medical practitioners, sport’s scientists and other professionals, but the vast majority of players do not have access to these services. Nevertheless peak fitness can be achieved and maintained if players follow a regular conditioning program and a balanced diet and lifestyle.
To get the best out of their natural assets, players should respect their bodies. Care should be taken to avoid handicaps that will reduce efficiency. Top performance in basketball is the result of peak fitness development through a planned training routine that includes adequate rest, proper diet, appropriate exercise, medical attention and the absence of excesses. A balanced diet includes a daily intake of enriched or wholegrain bread and cereals, meat, meat substitutes or fish, milk fruit and vegetables.
Players should be primarily concerned with maintaining their normal body weight. Any marked change in normal weight should be considered serious and medical advice sought. The cause of sudden weight loss may be deficient diet which a doctor can remedy, or it could be something more complicated which if treated promptly may enable the player to resume training sooner than otherwise possible.
There is ample evidence that smoking serves no useful purpose. It irritates the delicate membranes that line the lungs and causes coughing. Smoking can aggravate bronchitis, cause lung cancer, narrowing the blood vessels and shorten the breath. Breathing capacity is most important tor athletes. If the utilisation of oxygen in the body is hampered, as it is in smokers, the athlete’s stamina and performance must be affected.
Common sense indicates alcohol and basketball do not mix. Drinking alcohol can affect mental and muscular efficiency and regular drinkers often suffer nutritional shortages through neglect of a balanced diet. I have often told the joke about the wife who did not know that her husband drank until he came home sober one night. This analogy also applies to the athlete who does not know how fit he can be until he no longer drinks or smokes.
The pre-game meal is a contentious subject. There is overwhelming evidence that players should avoid eating for three or four hours before a game or training if they wish to achieve maximum performance. Some players say they dislike playing on an empty stomach and may eat just before a contest. I am amazed how some of these players get through the game and, of course some do suffer with stomach cramps or discomfort.
The desire for food is usually a nervous reaction. This is precisely why players should avoid eating immediately before a contest. It can take four to six hours for a meal to digest and even longer of the player is unusually tense or nervous before a major event. Any digestive problems can be magnified during the physical demands of a basketball game. It is much better to go into the game under-fed than over-fed. I usually suggest players eat the type of meal they prefer at least three hours before a contest.
When it comes to the pre-game meal it is recommended by sports scientists and nutritionists to eat foods that are high in carbohydrate. Spaghetti, pancakes, toast and honey are just three simple examples. These foods are easily digestible and provide the body with a ready supply of energy for the activity to come.