Basketball Conditioning Drills & Workouts for the Individual Athlete Wanting to Get in Great Shape
As a basketball player, there are certain things you don’t have much control over. You don’t control what your teammates do, you don’t control your coaches, and you certainly don’t control the officials.
However, you can control how much work you put into your game and your basketball conditioning. You can put in the time practicing free throws, dribbling drills, and improving your conditioning. Many players don’t want to put in the extra work it takes to be great, especially if this means working on running and basketball conditioning drills. You can set yourself apart by showing up to practice in great shape. Learn about some basketball conditioning drills you can do on your own below.
What Does Basketball Conditioning Mean?
Being in shape is essential to be able to perform well in sports, but being in cross-country shape isn’t the same thing as being in basketball shape. To be in basketball shape, you need to have endurance and repeat short bursts of speed running or shuffling down the floor. This is very different from running three miles in cross country.
A high school basketball game is 32 minutes long, so you must be prepared to be running and defending for an extended period of time. At the end of the game, you still want to have the legs and the wind to be able to handle the ball, score, and play tough defense. The final minutes of the game often decides who wins or loses, and you don’t want to be too tired to get the win.
Below, you can check out several different drills to work on your basketball conditioning to make sure you are in great shape for your next game.
You'll find four categories of drills below...
Conditioning/Cardio Drills with a Basketball
As discussed above, basketball involves a lot of sprinting up and down the court. While you are running up and down the court, you might as well multi-task by working on your skills at the same time.
That means you can improve conditioning while improving ballhandling, shooting, and/or finishing skills.
Check out these basketball conditioning drills you can do with the ball in your hand:
1. Full-Court Dribbling & Layup Drill – The full-court layup drill is exactly what it sounds like. You will start at the baseline and dribble the length of the court and shoot a layup. Then, you will grab your rebound and shoot a layup at the other end of the floor. You can continue circling the court this way until you make a certain number of layups or for a set time limit. Be sure to do this drill twice, once on the right side, and once on the left, so that you can work on dribbling and shooting with each hand. You can also work on your 1v1 moves by setting up cones and making dribbles moves each time you reach a cone.
2. Dribbling Cone Weave – For this drill, you can set up cones in a “z” or a zig-zag pattern. Dribble to each cone, then crossover, and switch hands each time you reach a cone.
3. Two-Ball Dribbling – Two ball dribbling is another way to work on cardio and ballhandling. With two ball dribbling, you have a basketball in each hand, and you dribble the length of the court. You can alternate the dribbles, dribble one ball high and one ball low, or you can even weave through cones while dribbling two balls.
4. Cone Grab Layup Drill – This is another drill you can do to work on cardio as well as shooting. You will need two cones, and you will put one cone at the top of the key and another at the elbow. Start underneath the basket will a ball, and dribble out to the top of the key around the cone and toward the second cone. As you pass the second cone, pick it up with your off-hand, and finish the layup with your other hand. This drill can help you improve your layups as well as your conditioning.
5. Arc Layup Drill – For this drill, you will need five cones as well as a basketball. You will set up the five cones anywhere along the three-point arc. Then, you will start underneath the basket, dribble around the first cone, and go take a layup. After you shoot the layup, grab your rebound and dribble around the next cone for a layup. This gets you used to dribbling full-speed and taking layups from different angles, which can help you improve your conditioning as well as your shot.
6. Sideline Sprint Shooting Drill – With this drill, you can set a basketball on a chair somewhere within the three-point arc. Then, you will start at any area of the sideline and sprint to the ball, pick it up, and take a shot. This drill will get you cardio in the running to the ball, and it will also help you focus on taking shots at game speed.
7. Man in the Hole – If you have a partner, this can be a great drill to work on conditioning, ballhandling, and defense. With this drill, you will start at the baseline with your partner. One player will be on offense, and one player will be on defense. The offensive player will dribble the ball, trying to get past the defensive player while he tries to stop the offensive player. When you get to the other side of the court, turn around and start again.
As you can see, there are endless conditioning drills that you can do with a basketball in your hands. We just listed a few drills, but you can check out more drills right here.
You can turn almost any skill drill into a conditioning drill by running between reps or going full speed. These drills will help you get in great basketball shape, but they will also help you improve ballhandling or shooting. When possible, it's best to do basketball conditioning with a basketball in your hand.
Next, let’s talk about some running drills that you can do to get in great shape for basketball. When it comes to running drills, you want to keep in mind that intervals can help you get into basketball shape. Intervals involve running hard for a short period of time, followed by a short period of rest or recovery. These intervals are repeated to help build up endurance. Check out a few running drills below that can help you mimic what happens in a basketball game.
8. Minute Sideline Sprints – One common basketball conditioning drill is sideline sprints. This exercise requires you to run from sideline to sideline as many times as you can in one minute. With this exercise, some people have a specific number of times you have to hit the sideline, like 17, but if you can’t quite reach this number right away, you can start lower and work up to 17.
9. Suicides – Suicides are a common running workout in basketball. For this conditioning drill, you will start on the baseline of the basketball court. Then, you will sprint to the free-throw line, touch it, and sprint back to the baseline. Next, you will sprint to the half-court line and back. Then, you will sprint to the far free-throw line and back. Finally, you will sprint to the other baseline and back. You will do all of this without stopping to build up your endurance and work on your sprinting.
10. Full-Court Partner Sprints – If you have a teammate who wants to get in some basketball conditioning, you can do this drill together. You and your partner can alternate sprinting the length of the court and back. While you are running, your partner can rest. When you finish, your partner can start so that you are pushing each other to go as fast as you can.
Those are just a few examples of running drills that you can do without a basketball. These running drills are beneficial because they can help you get in game shape. You are building up your endurance with these drills, but you are also working on changing direction and stopping and starting, which will happen during the game.
Conditioning Drills with No Running Required
When people say they need to do cardio or conditioning, everyone immediately thinks of running. It is true that running is a popular way to get conditioning in, but it is not the only way. If you are looking for some conditioning drills with no running required, check out the options below.
11. Exercise Bike – If you don’t want to run for your cardio, you can always hop on an exercise bike. When you are using an exercise bike to get in shape for basketball, you might want to try different intervals where you go really hard for a short period of time, and then go slow for a bit while you recover. Then, you can repeat the interval process.
12. Aqua Jog – An aqua jog is simply running in the pool or another body of water. When you are running in water that is at least up to your chest, it builds resistance and gives you a great cardio and muscle workout.
13. Swimming – If you are already running a lot, or you are looking for a different type of cardio, you can try swimming. Swimming is a great way to work different muscles and still build up your conditioning.
14. Jump Rope – Jump rope is another great basketball conditioning drill because it works on your lungs as well as your legs. You can find many different jump rope drills like single foot jumps, hopscotch, side to side jumps, and more. You can jump rope for a set amount of time or until you get a certain amount of jumps in.
15. Battle Ropes – Battle ropes are a great way to get a great cardio workout while also working your back, chest, lats, and more. There are probably a set of battles ropes at your gym, and if not, you can buy some online. When training with battle ropes, have a few moves that you plan to do during a set amount of time. For example, one battle rope drill is simply moving the ropes up and down as fast as you can. You can also move the ropes side to side, or move the ropes in circles.
The drills above offer you a lot of benefits, and they can help make sure you are not overdoing it on the running. Check out these conditioning drills if you are looking to take a day off of running, but you still want to get in more cardio.
Conditioning Drills with No Running and No Equipment
If you find yourself stuck at home with no equipment, there are still some drills you can do to help you get in better conditioning for basketball. Check out some of these drills right here.
16. Burpees – Burpees are a drill to combine strength and aerobic conditioning. To do this drill, you start in a standing position; then you move into a squat with your hands on the ground. Next, you will kick your feet back into a plank position. Then you will jump back up to the squat position and then stand up. This exercise works many muscles in your body, and if you do several in a row, you are also building up your conditioning.
17. Mountain Climbers – For this drill, you need to get in the top of a push-up position. Then, you will hold your upper body still as you pump your legs in a running motion. This can help you work on your conditioning as well as your ab strength.
18. Lunges – Lunges can build up your leg strength as well as your conditioning. You can simply lunge across the room and back, or you can lunge in place, jumping to switch to the other side, which can add a challenge.
19. Speed Skaters – This is another cardio exercise you can do with no equipment and very little space. A speed skater is when you start from a standing position and take a step to the right while moving your left leg behind you. Then, you will take a step to your left with the left foot while moving the right leg behind you. You can continue going back and forth, picking up speed and even hopping from side to side if you can. Do this for 30 or 40 seconds, take a break, and then do it again.
20. Jump Squats – Jump squats are another way to build up your strength, endurance and improve your vertical jump. Start in a standing position, and then, bend your knees and push your hips back into a squat. From your squat position, push off and jump up as high as you can. Repeat the drill to work on conditioning and leg strength.
These are great drills to get your blood pumping and your lungs burning without even leaving your living room. These are also quick drills that you can incorporate into your day to get in better shape.
Bonus Tip: Avoid Overtraining
Above, we listed over 20 basketball conditioning drills that you can do. These drills range from just running to drills with a basketball and even drills with no equipment required.
The idea is that you can pick a few of these drills to try out a few times a week to improve your basketball conditioning. However, it is important to avoid overtraining. You should not be doing all of these drills every day of the week. Overtraining can lead to fatigue, but it can also lead to injury, which is something every good athlete wants to avoid.
To avoid overtraining, be sure you are aware of what you are doing to stay in shape and pay attention to how your body feels so that you are not overdoing it. For example, if you play soccer in the off-season from basketball, that is a good workout to help keep you in shape. On days when you are doing soccer workouts, you don’t have to overdo it on basketball conditioning. Finding the right balance of challenging yourself, but not pushing yourself too hard is essential.
Breakthrough Basketball is your resource for drills, skill workouts, and athletic training. We have a lot of great resources that can help you step up your game and your team’s game. If you are looking to make yourself the best basketball player you can be, you should check out our Athletic Development Workout Program.