The Best Basketball Conditioning Drills

Get in shape for basketball season with five sport-specific conditioning drills from STACK Expert Ramon Williams.

There is a huge difference between being in shape and being in basketball shape. A simple treadmill run, bike ride, or swim will not prepare your body for the fast-paced demands of the basketball season. To be ready for the first day of tryouts or practice, and to maximize performance, you need an off-season conditioning routine two days a week, followed by on-court basketball conditioning.

Basketball Conditioning Drills


The best basketball conditioning drills use sport-specific skills and exercises to prepare players for the movements they will perform in games. The athletes get accustomed to performing basketball skills (dribbling, shooting, etc.) while exhausted, thus enhancing their late-game performance. Here are some basketball conditioning drills that fit the bill:

17, 13, 9, 6? - Sprint/Free Throw Challenge

Benefits: Improves free-throw shooting under pressure and fatigue

  • Athletes run the width of the court 17 times within a specified duration. Generally, high school boys should be able to do this in 70 seconds, girls in 75 seconds.
  • After the run, each player shoots two free throws. Coach records the number of makes and misses for each round of free throws.
  • After a two-minute rest, run the width of the court 13 times. Boys should be able to finish in 55 seconds, girls in 60 seconds. Each player takes two free throws.
  • After a one-minute rest, run the width of the court nine times. Boys should be able to finish in 40 seconds, girls in 45. Each player takes two final free throws.

For every round above 70 percent, deduct one sprint length on the last run of six. For example, if the team shoots over 70 percent for all three rounds of free throws, they won't have to run anymore. However, if they shoot under 70 percent, they have to run six more widths of the court.

NBA Lane Agility Drill

Benefits: Boosts acceleration and agility

  • Begin on the baseline on the right side of the lane.
  • Staying outside the lane, sprint to the top right corner of the free-throw line, shuffle to the left corner, backpedal to the baseline, and shuffle to the starting position.
  • Shuffle to the left side of the lane, sprint to the left corner of the free-throw line, shuffle to the right corner and backpedal to the starting position. High school boys should shoot for 10-14 seconds, girls for 11-15 seconds, depending on position.

Dribble Suicide Drill

Benefits: Improves agility and ball handling while fatigued

  • Starting on the baseline, sprint dribble to the near free throw line and back.
  • Sprint dribble to halfcourt and back.
  • Sprint dribble to the far free-throw line and back.
  • Sprint dribble to the opposite baseline and back.

Full-Court Dribble to Layup/Jumpshot

Benefits: Improves ball handling and scoring while fatigued

  • Begin at one end of the court.
  • Dribble the full length of the court and make a layup or jump shot as quickly as possible.
  • Get your own rebound, dribble to the other end of the court and shoot.
  • Go back and forward three times as quickly as you can to complete six total scoring attempts.

Baseline Cut to the Basket, Catch, Layup/Jump Shot

Benefits: trains change of pace, back door cut, and scoring while fatigued

  • Beginning under the basket, jog to the wing of the 3-point line.
  • Change pace, sprint back door, take a pass and score (layup or short jump shot).
  • Grab your own rebound, pass it back to the passer and perform the same movement on the opposite side.
  • Perform five times on each side as quickly as you can. Set a goal for number of makes, depending on your ability.

Check out my other basketball articles to get in serious shape: