Basketball Agility Training: Part Two!

Everyone wants to perform better and become a winner, but are these same individuals and teams willing to put in the work? Here are more drills that you can do to really improve your skills on the court.
Part Two

To go back to part one, click here.

Commitment, dedication, team-work, are the words that are thrown around nowadays with reckless abandon. So much so that these words have lost meaning to many athletes and coaches. Everyone wants to perform better, become a winner, but are these same individuals and teams willing to put in the work? Who is willing to find a court and perform drills for hours while their peers aren't going? Who is willing to ask their coach for help and additional time to develop their game? Which coach is willing to put forth the same effort and dedication that they expect from their players or team?

Talk is cheap. We all have been in situations where we hear others talk about all they will achieve. When it comes down to the game, the moment, they are far from their lofty promises. No athlete makes me prouder than one who comes to work every day, focused, deliberate and full of the fire, the attributes that will make them great. These athletes are usually humble and realize they will allow their performance to do the talking.

To accomplish these goals though, one must make a commitment to winning and becoming a more accomplished athlete. In the first installment of this series, I listed a few aspects of the Wheel of Conditioning, range of motion and agility training. Now it is time to approach two more important concepts: work capacity (also known as general physical preparation, GPP) and specialized physical preparedness (SPP).

GPP & SPP Drills

GPP and SPP have been covered significantly in prior articles so I won't delve too much into the theory. The purpose of GPP is to provide a balance in the development of various physical qualities such as strength, range of motion, speed and endurance. It is also crucial in developing a foundation for more intensive training methods such as plyometric training. GPP skills create the basis for SPP. It should then be obvious that SPP focuses on work that is more specific to the sport. This may include some specific skill development or applying some specific qualities in a similar sporting action. An example activity is the drop step drill with the medicine ball listed below.

Burpee With Medicine Ball

This drill does not automatically become more basketball-specific because we implement a ball or perform it on a basketball court. We need to make this distinction because too many times I find people promoting "sport-specific" training with the simple modification of a piece of equipment from their sport. For example, I viewed a training video for hockey and their form of squats specific for hockey was placing a hockey stick on the person's back instead of a bar. Wish I was kidding, but it is true.

The purpose of using a medicine ball is to accomplish the following:

  • Provide a somewhat unstable surface to increase body awareness.
  • Use a small form of resistance during the jump phase.
  • To help the athlete develop the habits of looking up and reacting to where they are located, plus exploding to the basket instead of straight up.


Burpee With Medicine Ball

Medicine Ball Drop Step + Screen and Pivot

This drill series is an absolute must for all players. It is drills like this one that combine game knowledge with a conditioning activity that often yield the most information to the coach on the level of preparation of the athlete. Being able to jump out of the gym is great, but playing the game without purpose can easily make a great athlete a liability.

  1. Start at a low post-position, ideally on the second block.
  2. Begin in a post-up position, wait for 3 seconds and go set a screen as though performing a cross screen.
  3. Set the screen and pivot and imitate the offensive player going to the high post. This would cause the screener to pivot off the left foot and come back to the low post.
  4. Angle your body to set a defensive man on your back on the high side. This should automatically cause the offensive man to prepare for a drop step move.
  5. Once back on the low block and signaling for the ball in the baseline, pass the ball for the appropriate move.
  6. The offensive player should take a 45-degree step toward the basket, thus replicating placing the defensive player on their back. Take a power dribble (two hands between the legs) and explode toward the basket.


Medicine Ball Drop Step + Screen and Pivot

The medicine ball used should be light enough to allow great speed of movement without "muscling up" the ball. For contrast, alternate sets with a basketball. As I have mentioned in previous articles, the medicine ball is often used to trick the nervous system into performing the movement faster when the drill is performed with a basketball.

Other Forms Of GPP and SPP

Other forms of GPP and SPP would include the following:

  • Various jump rope drills
  • Unweighted GPP activities such as jumping jacks, split shuffles, star jumps, etc.
  • Medicine ball circuits with special emphasis on backward and forward medicine ball toss and rotational throws
  • Tip drills with medicine ball
  • Mikan drills with medicine ball
  • Power drop step, touch baseline, speed dribble for full court lay-up

Partner Medicine Ball Handball

This is a favorite drill of my athletes and mine. Two to three athletes work on a single solid wall. Using an appropriately sized medicine ball the game is simple. One-person throws it against the wall in a random place and the other(s) have to get to the ball and toss it off the wall before the ball bounces twice. This helps with reaction time, first step quickness, all the benefits of medicine ball training. Plus, it is a lot of fun!!

Conclusion

Hopefully, it is becoming evident that the possibilities are endless for effective drills. In all the drills, special care should be given to the quality of work being performed. Even though GPP and SPP can be immensely demanding physically and mentally, one should not continue to perform the drills if technique has broken down. This causes bad habits and faulty mechanics to develop.

Do not fall into the trap of performing work without a purpose. Far too often, coaches incorporate drills out of tradition more than science. Make sure you maximize the time practicing by addressing not only all aspects of the Wheel of Conditioning, but your individual needs as well. Younger players especially should take time performing a wide array of drills. It is far too common for young players to fall into the impression they will play their entire career as one position or another.

In the final installment, we will cover some strength and skill drills that will help our construction of an effective program.

Click here for part one.

E-Mail me at AAPJosh@aol.com with questions or comments.