Aerobic development for basketball...

Before I post my opinion on this subject, I will give some facts why aerobic development is important in basketball (also in soccer, football…)

First of all, basketball is a game of skill as any other game, but to apply the skill you need underlying abilities (more on this issue you can find in my Homoeostasis Performance Model). Ablities that are specific for basketball are mostly speed-strength and strength-speed, needed for agility (acc, cutting, dec), jumping ability, tossing/throwing etc.

But in the same time you need a optimal developed aerobic system, to allow faster recovery between short burst of high intensity activities (or HIIE). It is a fact that greater recovery rates are achieved in those athletes with greater aerobic capacity (mostly measured in VO2max). More on this topic you can find in Scott Vass (svass at this site) article „The Role of Aerobic Fitness in Recovery and PerformanceDuring High Intensity Intermittent Exercise (HIIE):Implications for the Training of Athletes“

Optimal aerobic development can actually protect you from the injuries, because developed capillar density can keep muscle warm, and refreshed from metabolic wastes. Also, optimal aerobic development can allow for more volume of speed work, because athletes would be able to recover between reps/sets and even training sessions more rapidly.

But how we can develop this recovery ability? It is a common sense to do HIIE (high intesity intermitent exercises – drills) with progressivly shorter rests, but this kind of training is highly CNS demanding, and it doesnt dewelop speed characteristics. Thus, this kind of training could be done later in PREP period, when all other abilities are well developed. This kind of training is mostly done with specific basketball (tactics) drills, thus killing two birds at the same time, so there is no need for special training session targeting speed with short rests (opinions?)

I said that this kind of recovery ability is highly dependent on optimal developed aerobic system. Key word here is OPTIMAL! Does this mean you should run for 10km as a distance runner? No! Also, optimal means that there should be an good relation of volumes of this work with other work (speed/strength/tech/tact). If you put too much emphasis on aerobic development, other speed/strength characteristics may fall down, also you will have less time and energy to do them. On the other hand, dont forget that there is a trade of between speed/strength and aerobic capacity. After all, the scores are done with speed and not with aerobic endurance.

Ok, after this short introduction I will post my opinions how this ability can be developed. They are sorted with significance/specificity from low to high.

  1. Continuous runnings and fartlek (20-30mins)
  2. In-place exercises (running, jumping, rope, step-ups, skipping…)
  3. Tempo running
  4. Specifical basketball drills and polygons

Continuous runnings and fartlek, can have their place in training especially with young athletes and during the early off-season, so dont say no-no at the instant.

In-place exercises should include easy jumps (jumping jacks and simmilar stuff), skipping, rope jumps etc. They should include as high as posible muscle mass to allow greater card/vasc response and oxygen demands. They are the option when you dont have place to do running. Try doing step-ups for 45s (about 20 step-ups) with 30sec of rest (repat for 3-4x), or jumping exercises in simmilar fascion. Between sets you can do strength circle (kalistenics) – push ups, abs, back, legs.

Tempo running can be done as Charly proposed (100+100+100…), but in most cases you dont have space (field) and weather conditions to do them, so you can do shuffles (with less than 75% of best time), for about 4x30m with 2x30m walking repeated for 3-4x. The problem with this is when you have a lot of athletes in the field (15-20) they must use field side line and not base line, so the distance is even shorter, so then you can increase rep numbers, for example 6x20m with 3x20m walking.

Specifical basketball drills can be use for aerobic conditiong. I must warn you to be very careful when chosing the drills, becasue you must use them in prolonged time, so athletes tend to use less good form, and you can re-learn them to do it in less preferable way. My common quote is „do them at 100% or not at all“. Example of poorly choosed drill is doing slide shuffles in defence stance for prolonged time with similar tempo pattern. In most cases stance form deteoriates, and athlete use less preferable stance and learn to do it in wrong way, so you will have hard time to de-learn them. Better option is doing 3-0, 4-0 actions with ball passing and dribling (commonly used in warm-up). Do them back-and-forth and wait for your team mates do the same. Easy tactics with prolonged duration can also serve for aerobic development.

Specific basetball polygons can also be used especially with children. Create some polygons consisting of running parts, jumping parts (zig-zag, touching-table…), kalistenics, etc. It is done in medium speed with great rest between reps and sets.

Between sets of all exercises, medball throws and kalistenics can be done.

The second question is how to apply this methods during a year period. Continuous runnings and fartlek can be done during the early off-season and fastly switching to tempo type work-out. Tempo running, in place exercises and specific basketball drills can be done during the whole PREP period, but as COMP period approaches emphasis should be put on technique/tactics preparation and thus specific basketball drills type of aerobic development. In COMP period, you can switch emphasis on tempo work to allow some variety if the time and game calendar allow.

Any critiques, recomendations are welcome.

very interesting post by the way

But how we can develop this recovery ability? It is a common sense to do HIIE (high intesity intermitent exercises – drills) with progressivly shorter rests, but this kind of training is highly CNS demanding, and it doesnt dewelop speed characteristics. Thus, this kind of training could be done later in PREP period, when all other abilities are well developed. This kind of training is mostly done with specific basketball (tactics) drills, thus killing two birds at the same time, so there is no need for special training session targeting speed with short rests (opinions?)

just to clarify, are you suggesting here that there’s no need for doing things like short sprints with very short recovery times? I think that this should be added because most basketball skills are practiced in a very short area (things like pull up jump shots, cuts to the hoop) and even if you do do them at a high intensity it doesn’t prepare you for the repeated up and down full court action of fast breaks.
Also, a question, Which type of exercise improves your recovery ability better(regardless of CNS demand): HIIE or one of the 4 options you talked about?

They should (or could) be done, but only when everything else fits in place - developed speed, acc, jumping, stoping, strength, power, technique/skill and that would be in later PREP period (pre-season).
Drills or sprints with shorter rest pause can be organized separatelly as a work-out, but I think that tactical/technical practice is enough for this.

For this same reason you can use simulated game practice or full court tactical practice, which is going to prepare you for the real deal, intead of repeated 20m sprints? what do you think? After all, in middle/late PREP period gross training time should be used for technical/tactical training and sprints volume is drastically reduced!

Definitevly HIIE with short rests! But even for that you should have a foundation - aerobic development, thus I am suggesting that you should firtsly develop optimal aerobic capacity using those 4 methods, and then engage into HIIE with shorter rest - which is hi int tactical training… After all, if you engage into HIIE with short rest premauturely in OFF and PRE SEASON, you cant optimally isolate (develop) speed characteristics, and if you use more specific exercises, you can enter into state of sport form prematurelly, so you must think on this too…
Tnx for the questions Adam! Keep it up… :slight_smile:

I’ve been doing short sprints with full recoveries & tempo. I feel great whenever I play BBall while everyone else dies off after the 1st quarter because of their poor training.

thanks for the clarifications duxx
I just so happened to be looking for information on aerobic development for bball so your post was very useful!

Exactly Blinky! Speed work + tempo work for improving recovery ability and general work + game practice! BTW how poor their training is? What do they do?

Glad to be helpfull! If you have any questions or suggestions please be free to ask/post!

Another question just came to mind:
Since VO2 max improves your ability to recover, would HIIE improve your VO2 max? or would it just do so to an extent and then reach a ceiling?

To be honest… …I dont know!
This issue is lacking in scientific research! But I think that you may have some point Adam.
BTW check this article:
There is a lot of “a must read” articles on this site…

I don’t know what they do… they probably just drink beer and eat hot dogs. :slight_smile: Honestly though I think they spend the majority of their time in the weight room using bodybuilding methods.

It’s amazing how badly I dominate in the 4th quarter. Meanwhile, their bulky ill-conditioned body’s aren’t up to the task.

Blinky, are you reffering to a basketball club or your street pals? Sounds too bad to be true… :eek:


The Influence of Aerobic Capacity on Anaerobic Performance and Recovery Indices in Basketball Players
Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 1999, 13(4), 407-411

The physiological requirements of basketball are reported to be met by both aerobic and anaerobic metabolism. Although the actual role that each energy system plays during a basketball game is not well understood, it is generally thought that anaerobic metabolism is the primary energy system used. Interestingly, a recent study reported that only 15% of the actual movement patterns in a basketball game could be classified as being of high intensity. However, it is these actions (i.e., quick changes in direction, explosive speed, and repetitive jumping) that are considered to be the critical components for successful performance. In addition, these anaerobic components have been shown to be high positive predictors of playing time, whereas aerobic capacity is reported to have a negative relationship with playing time in male Division I college basketball players. Therefore, a direct performance benefit of a high aerobic capacity may be questionable.

The results of this study did not support a significant relationship between aerobic capacity and recovery from anaerobic exercise in basketball players.

It was thought that aerobic capacity, although not having a direct performance benefit, would contribute to recovery from the high-intensity exercise common to basketball play. However, the findings of this study were unable to support this relationship. In addition, no other studies were found that have demonstrated such a relationship between aerobic capacity and recovery in anaerobic athletes participating in high-intensity activity.

It appears that once aerobic capacity is at a certain level, any increase above this level does not present any further benefit to exercise recovery. Interestingly, during this study the subject with the highest aerobic capacity had the poorest Fatigue Index.

The relationship between heart rate recovery and aerobic capacity has been demonstrated primarily after submaximal exercise. Thus, differences in exercise intensity may affect the mechanisms that control cardiodeceleration (relationship between sympathetic and parasympathetic activity).

The relationship between aerobic capacity and heart rate recovery may become more prevalent after greater bouts of high-intensity exercise. Although not examined, it would be interesting to evaluate whether this relationship would have become stronger if the bouts of exercise had continued. The game of basketball, although similar in metabolic demand (high intensity, intermittent exercise), is of much greater duration than the approximate 5.5-minute duration of the line drill. As the duration of high-intensity exercise increases, a greater demand from oxidative metabolism is experienced. Therefore, in a 40-minute basketball game, the role of oxidative metabolism in supplying energy for performance may be increased, possibly increasing the importance of aerobic capacity for exercise recovery.

The results of this study showed little to no relationship between aerobic capacity and recovery indices from high-intensity exercise in basketball players. Although the correlation coefficient between VO2max and (delta)HR in the line drill tended to increase after each subsequent sprint, the relationship never reached significance. Future research should examine whether this relationship becomes stronger with exercise durations more closely resembling that seen during a basketball game (i.e., 40 minutes).

Anecdotally, one of my higher level motocross/supercross athletes recently completed a six-week interval training protocol (an offshoot of Tabata) during which time he was able to raise all measures of anaerobic fitness. This was to be expected. What caught the testers completely by surprise was his astounding improvement in aerobic measures as well. His VO2 climbed from an already elite level of 61 ml/kg/min to 70 ml/kg/min - a 15% increase in aerobic capacity while performing no aerobic training. What he was able to accomplish in 6 weeks can take most athletes a year using traditional methods.

AggieLax tnx for the article…

The result from this study depends on

  • who are tested
  • are they homogenic/heterogenic group (SD of aerobic capacity)
  • How did the aerobic capacity was evaluated (VO2max, beep test)
  • what kind of HIIE was done
  • how the fatigue index was calculated
    Afer all I dont agree that other studies didnt find this relationship. It would be lovely that svass joint the discussion…

Exactly, we should pursuit for the optimal not the maximal values. BTW, it was shown that in homogenic group of athletes with higher VO2max, the VO2max didnt correlated with fatigue index very well as in heterogenic group with lower values, thus suggesting that this recovery ability is not primary improved with higher VO2max, and that VO2max shouldn be in optimal ranges, and to improve this recovery ability, other means should be introduced!

Could I have a reference on that?

Here it is:
Bishop D, Lawrence S, Spencer M. Predictors of repeated-sprint ability in elite female
hockey players. J Sci Med Sport 2003 6(2): 199-209.

“…The authors concluded that in a homogenous group of elite athletes, VO2 max. is not a strong predictor of repeated sprint ability…”

The Role of Aerobic Fitness in Recovery and Performance During High Intensity Intermittent Exercise (HIIE):Implications for the Training of Athletes, Scott Vass, 2004
For the whole article, PM svass
BTW, I will re-read his article, which is very freakin’ good and informative, and see if I missed something.

Rec league stuff, where you just show up and play. Some of the guys are really good though.

this is an excellent thread. well done duxx and thanks for the power running link. Looks a great site

Tnx Joconnor! I will give my best to update this thread along with sorting/systemysing/learning (new) stuff and ideas!
PowerRunning is an excelent site, take a week or two and read all the articles! I printed them all, in put them in a book…