Off Season Age Related Strength Training for Basketball Athletes

What type of strength training program is best for basketball players?

How do I structure a strength training program for my basketball athletes?  Should the design differ based on the age of the athlete?  When should vertical jump training be incorporated into a basketball strength and power training program?  Is it best to train post players differently than the guards?  These are all important questions that must be addressed when planning for the most effective strength training program for basketball players.

What differences in training must be addressed to account for age differences?

It is important for young athletes to master strength training basics in an effort to prevent future injuries and to increase athletic performance.  Perfected techniques in the basic movement patterns like the squat, hip hinge, and split squat will lead to a safer and higher learning curve for the youth athlete.  These movements should be mastered during early teen development and will provide a solid foundation for creating speed, quickness, and agility.  CHECK THIS OUT!!!

Once the athletes have entered high school, basic strength training should still be emphasized and power training may begin to be stressed.  Athletes at this stage will possess a wide variety of strengths and weaknesses due to maturity levels and genetic make up, but if the correct training was provided earlier in their athletic endeavors, skill levels should be fairly constant across the board.  All athletes at a given age in this program could begin with similar routines which now must include significant power training including specific vertical jump training.  EXAMINE THIS NOW!!! 

It’s true that there will be some huge differences in natural strength and athletic ability, but it must be understood that athletes need to be presented the same opportunities, for no experienced strength specialist or sport coach can predict how quickly and thoroughly some athletes will develop.

College athletes still must focus on basic skills and techniques early in their training since most of them came from different backgrounds and will demonstrate varying skill levels.

Diagrammed below you will find an off season strength training schedule for 3 age levels of athletes – early teen, high school varsity, and college.  You will notice some similarities when comparing the routines since fundamentals in strength training must remain at the forefront at all levels.  All sets should be performed with at least 1 repetition left in the bank.  Do not lift to failure in any given set!


Early teen strength training for basketball


Note:  technique for all exercises must be coached adequately using body weight before program begins with resistance

Best if performed in this order.  Power exercises should always be performed first after a dynamic warm up!

This routine should be performed 2-3 times per week

  1. Dynamic warm up
  2. Quick jumping (ankle flexion jumps) drills
  3. Creating tension in abdominals and gluteal muscles   1 x 10
  4. Front Planks     3 x 15 sec  (create maximum tension)
  5. Dynamic hip abduction stretch     1 x 10 each leg
  6. Goblet squats     2 x 8
  7. Hip hinge instructional drill with PVC pipe
  8. 2 arm kettlebell swing or Romanian deadlift     2 x 10
  9. Push ups (knee, incline, or military) Type based on strength level     2 x 10
  10. One arm rows     2 x 8 each arm
  11. Military press     2 x 5
  12. Pull ups or assisted pull ups using machine or bands     2 x 5

Notice that many instructional drills are provided before the actually strength training drills.  This is necessary at this level to insure that athletes are exhibiting excellent mobility and using perfect form in their strength exercises.


Off season High School Varsity strength training for basketball


Note:  Perform the exercises in the given order with power exercises placed at the beginning of the workout.  May have to perform instructional drills as was done with the early teen athletes for some or all athletes depending on previous experience

This routine can be alternated with another well designed routine emphasizing exercises similar in nature, but including some unilateral exercises and a vertical push and pull.  3 strength training workouts should be performed weekly.

  1. Dynamic warm up
  2. *Post players – rebounding drill with medicine ball using bands or Vertimax apparatus
  3. High hang pulls     3 x 5
  4. Jumping trap bar deadlifts     3 x 5
  5. Goblet squats     2 x 8
  6. Front squats (kettlebells, dumbbells, or barbell)     3 x 5
  7. Romanian Deadlifts     3 x 5
  8. Bench press     3 x 5
  9. One arm rows (dumbbell or cable)    3 x 8 each arm

Off season college strength training for basketball


Note:  Perform the exercises in the given order with power movements coming first

An alternate workout can be created with 3 strength training sessions being performed weekly.  It would be wise to include some unilateral exercises in the alternate workout.  These are full body workouts

  1. Dynamic warm up
  2. Underhand Vertical Medicine Ball throws (ball should be thrown as high as possible and land behind athlete)     3 x 6
  3. Hang snatches     3 x 5
  4. Goblet squats     1 x 10
  5. Front squats     2 x 5
  6. Back squats     1 x 5  75% 1RM, 1 x 5 85% 1RM
  7. Deadlifts     1 x 5 65% 1RM, 1 x 5  75% 1RM, 1 x 5 85% 1RM
  8. Military press     3 x 5
  9. Pull ups (weighted if necessary)    3 x 5
  10. Dumbbell curls     3 x 8
  11. Close grip bench press     3 x 8


Whether it be for youth, high school, or college, workout designs should center around key movements and should progress from simple to more complex with a foundational component included in every workout so that the proper form is always emphasized.  It is very important that both bilateral and unilateral exercises are included in warm ups and in the strength training programs.  The illustrated programs are mainly using bilateral exercises, but it has been noted to include unilateral movements in alternate workouts. All the progressions listed are designed to provide the best age related strength training which should enhance the athletic performance of the basketball athlete.  Further excellent information regarding youth athletics can be found here >>>>>>



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