Off-season Training for Optimal Basketball Performance

Mar 28, 2016

Why Off-Season Strength Training Can Improve Your In-Season Basketball Game

We often hear about the gruelling practices, hours of drills and skill development, and the exciting games that showcase an athlete’s top performance. But what is the real secret that creates the most successful players (and teams) during the basketball season? The short and simple answer is: off-season strength training. There are three main reasons that basketball players should participate in off-season training. These include increasing strength and lean muscle mass, preparing the body for training volume and intensity of the upcoming season, and correcting muscle imbalances to reduce the risk and severity of injury. Altogether, these aspects of off-season training improve athletic performance.

Increasing strength and lean muscle mass during the off-season is a vital component of improving as a player during regular season. Strength can be developed through consistent weight training with lower repetitions and heavier weight. The more strength a player has, the more force they can produce. In turn, this means they can jump higher, run faster, and out-play their opponents. Along with developing physical strength, strength training in the off-season increases an individual’s lean muscle tissue. This increases the ability of an athlete to produce power and improves their neuromuscular efficiency. The player will see improvements in muscle recruitment speed and overall stability during movement.

Off-season training is also very beneficial when it comes to preparing for the anticipated volume and intensity of the upcoming season. When athletes discontinue their training in-between regular seasons, there is a decrease in their strength, endurance, and performance. This is called detraining; defined as a decrease in performance if specific training is not continued at a minimum level of intensity, duration and frequency. By continuing to train in the off-season, even at a lower intensity and volume, the athlete allows their body to recover, while also holding on to their athletic abilities. As a result, their base level of strength and performance remains higher than the players who do not participate in off-season training.

Finally, correcting muscle imbalances during off-season strength training is the number one way to reduce the risk and severity of injuries during regular season. Basketball is a physically demanding sport! By making the muscles, ligaments and tendons of the entire body stronger, it is less likely that injuries such as strains or sprains will occur. Often during regular season, players will continually perform the same movements in the same planes (sagittal, frontal and transverse). Therefore, any motion that is not regularly required from the sport may be more likely to lead to injury. The off-season training can be an excellent opportunity to work on those less used movements.  This ensures that if they are performed, the athlete is strong in every direction of movement, and is more likely to avoid injury.

All of these reasons outlined above show that off-season strength training is beneficial for basketball players, and can help them become the most competitive athlete they can be. It gives players the upper hand during the regular season. They will increase their strength, becoming a greater force to be reckoned with on the court, they will have a higher base level of athletic abilities than the players who do not participate in the off-season training, and finally, they will be decreasing their risk and severity of injuries by strengthening all components of their body. Ultimately, this will allow athletes to perform at their very highest level.

Amy Barca, BKin

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