Having your team in top physical shape is also an excellent way to increase your performance on the court. However, I am also opposed to overtraining and like to limit when conditioning takes place. To help clarify, I consider conditioning to be improving the aerobic fitness of athlete by increasing stamina, quickness, and energy. Tomorrow, we will focus more on weight lifting and strength. I want to preface this post with the fact that I am not a doctor and encourage every coach to consult with a doctor or athletic trainer when designing their program.
In order to maximize efficiency with conditioning, I like to focus on conditioning during just two segments of the year:
Fall- I like to really push my players to get better through a tough but realistic program that starts out slow and gets to be very tough toward the end of fall.
Winter- A lack of emphasis on in season conditioning has sometimes doomed teams. If you lose the conditioning that was built up during the preseason partway through the year, you will be at a disadvantage.
A couple of key focuses for your program are to incorporate distance running, sprints, and balance work. Here is a rationale behind each of these choices:
Distance Running- You do need to build up your overall cardio conditioning and running laps is an excellent way to do this. In the fall I will spend one day a week on the track. During the season, I will not spend any days on the track.
Sprints- We add on sprints every week and during the fall we start small and work our way up to a large amount of sprinting by the end of fall. During the season, I will incorporate a sprinting aspect into each practice.
Balance- I am a huge advocate of yoga and other balance work. If you incorporate this into your workout program it is beneficial to contract with a skilled professional to guide this part of your workout.
Teams who are in shape and able to continue an up-tempo pace for the duration of a game have a huge advantage over their opponents. It does not come without hard work though and you need to put the work into the preseason conditioning program in order to see the benefits.