Basketball-A Running Sport

It has been said, “You don’t play basketball to get into shape, you get into shape to play basketball.”

Basketball is a beast of a sport to be “in shape” to play. Both football and baseball rely on short bursts of power followed by longer periods of rest. There are also specialized positions that dictate what type of athlete plays in each. Soccer is a sport with a lot of running, but can be geared more toward 50% effort for 60% of the game, with all out sprints for about 20% of the 90 minute game. Basketball can be much different depending on your teams style of play. But to be the best, you must be able to sprint the floor, be quick side to side on defense, jump high, and be strong enough to play through contact.

In this post I want to talk about off season running. As a player, this is the part of basketball conditioning that I hated more than anything else. But the longer I play and stay around the game, the more I realize that running is so important! While you can reach a certain level of fitness through playing and working on your own, it is very hard to do this in the off season. Playing a high quality, intense 5 on 5 game during the summer is pretty hard to do. Think about it. When was the last time you were at your local rec center and guys were playing all out defense all over the court the entire game? I would say this never happens. Getting out and shooting on your own and working out also will get your heart rate up, but it is easy to settle into a “comfort zone” when building skills.

Adding some interval training three times a week to your summer routine will give you a head start on the season, build speed, strength, prevent injury, and will make the rest of your game easier. Being able to run the court when others are tired will get you layups and good looks at the basket.

Getting Faster

Working up to doing multiple short bursts of 100% will challenge your body to get faster. This type of training as opposed to long runs of 60% effort, think a 5K, will recruit your fast twitch muscle fibers. Research has shown that each person has a set amount of fast and slow twitch fibers as well as some that seem to be able to go back and forth. By working at high intensity for shorter time periods, you will get these transition fibers to act as fast twitch, thereby maximizing your explosiveness!

Injury Prevention

If you work your way up and establish a base of conditioning through the summer, you will be less likely to come down with things like shin splints and tendonitis in your knees. These two injuries are a case of doing too much too fast! Once these conditions manifest themselves, they can be very hard to get rid off without complete rest.

Sample Workout

In running, it is very important to work your way up slowly in intensity in order prevent injury. Before getting to the main part of any workout, do a proper warm up. Dynamic stretching a foam rolling are both great options.

If you haven’t been doing much or any running, you should start slow! Here is a way to build yourself up, staying on each step for at least three workouts.Do these workouts three days a week with at least a day of rest in between each workout.

Step One-30 second sprints at 90%, 4 sets with 30 second rest in between each sprint.

Step Two– add four sets of 15 second sprints at  80% before doing the 30 second sprints. Rest for 15 seconds after each 15 second sprint.

Step Three-add one 45 second sprint after the set of 30 second sprints.

Step Four-add one 60 second sprint after the one 45 second sprint.

Step Five– The Ladder- 10 sec sprint-10 sec rest-20 sec sprint-20 sec rest-30 sec sprint-30 sec rest-45 sec sprint-45 sec rest-60 sec sprint-60 sec rest.

Once you can go up the ladder, turn around and go back down the ladder, starting with the longer sprints and finishing with the 10 second sprint.



Basketball is a game of stopping, starting, long sprints and short sprints with limited recovery. Interval training will prepare your body and mind for the challenges that the game will through at you.