Basketball Off-Season Strength & Conditioning – Part 1
By Mike Robertson, Robertson Training Systems
With all of my work, I get a lot of questions from basketball coaches as to how to structure their off-season training. Like most questions, “it depends.” However, as a general guideline, let’s say you have a 12 week block for some structured off-season training. Then you would ask yourself:
“What is it that you want to try to do? What do you try to accomplish and how do you approach that?”
Generally, 12 weeks (or about three months) is a “normal’ off-season for many coaches/players/teams. At a minimum it just gives us a nice frame of reference. Typically, I’d break that down into three blocks.
Accumulation – 4 weeks
Force – 4 weeks
Speed, Power, Explosiveness – 4 weeks
The first one is called an Accumulation Block in the strength and conditioning world. You’re just trying to rebuild not only their conditioning base but their movement base. A lot of times things come up over the course of a season right? I’ve played only a basketball growing up and you know if you can make it through four or five month season unscathed, good for you. A lot of people don’t, they’ve got a lingering ankle issue or a knee issue or a hip issue or maybe a back issue.
A lot of times those first four weeks are all about getting an athlete moving again, just reintroducing him/her to the all different movements both in and out of the gym. Try to clean up their movement pattern, any underlying issues that may have cropped up over the course of the year. We’re going to try and clean those up, by getting them moving more smoothly again.
Then just rebuilding work capacity because I’m always shocked, like even if you only take a week or two off, conditioning tends to go a little bit faster than most of us would like. You’ve got to rebuild your base, at the end of every offseason: your strength base, your conditioning base, and your movement base. You take those first four weeks and you just start to get everything set up, it’s like setting the table for the rest of the off-season.
The next block is really what I call a Force Block. This is where you’re really focused on, “Let’s push some weight here, let’s start developing to some speed or some power!” It’s all about developing strength and creating more force; trying to move some weights, trying to get stronger – trying to put more force into the ground.
General strength – that’s a big piece of that second block – a lot of kids are just underdeveloped and they’re just not strong enough. In my opinion there’s not a big enough emphasis on really sound strength training principles and teaching athletes to move well and push a little bit of load. It doesn’t have to be like a powerlifter (squat, bench, and deadlift). You know what I think, some people take this too far and they’ve got all of their athletes training like powerlifters. That’s not the case, but there is absolutely safe and effective ways to get kids strong that are going to help them not only stay healthy over the course of the year, but that will improve their performance.
The last block is, you know, bringing all of those pieces together. So, now your strength training or your heavy weights, take a little bit of a back seat or kind of goes on the back burner – and now you’re really focused on speed, power, and explosiveness. You just think it’s like a stair-step approach, you the foundation, and then you build some force output. You get these kids stronger and in the last piece, you bring the speed and the power back into the equation.
Those are kind of the three big areas that I’m going to look at with regards to my programming and laying out that off-season training.
Mike Robertson is the President of Robertson Training Systems and the co-owner of Indianapolis Fitness and Sports Training (I-FAST) in Indianapolis, Indiana. Mike has made a name for himself as one of the premier performance coaches in the world, helping clients and athletes from all walks of life achieve their physique and sports performance goals. Mike has worked with a vast variety of athletes and basketball players ranging from youth through professional. In addition, Mike has been involved with the IYCA (International Youth Conditioning Association) both on an advisory level and as a speaker at seminars.