The NBA is one of the most competitive sports leagues in the world. It’s also one of the most high-intensity leagues with a huge emphasis on players’ strength and endurance. To make the cut, NBA-caliber athletes must adhere to a stringent training routine year-round.
While most people realize how hard NBA players must work to stay in peak shape, few understand the actual training process. Let’s look at the things NBA players do to keep themselves in peak competitive shape.
NBA players’ offseason training
The most intense training usually occurs in the offseason. That’s when players get the chance to tackle whatever weaknesses revealed themselves during the season. One of the most famous offseason training regiments was Michael Jordan’s so-called “Breakfast Club,” a pre-dawn workout designed specifically to increase strength and build muscle.
Another player with an equally intense offseason training regimen is LeBron James. Allegedly, he works out five to seven days a week, while monitoring his diet. Cardio and strength conditioning are big parts of his routine. Yet James admits to taking versaclimber classes, too. (He can also be seen doing an unusual form of training involving a giant tire.)
Perhaps the only other NBA player with a self-improvement routine this intense is Giannis Antetokounmpo. He works tirelessly to strengthen his body and game. Each season, he returns with a new offensive weapon for his arsenal. Antetokounmpo takes his offseason training so seriously he refuses to participate in friendly workouts with superstars from other teams.
NBA players’ in-season training
Training routines relax somewhat during the NBA season. Many players avoid high-intensity workouts for fear of excessive fatigue, which could increase the chances of an on-court injury. Of course, a total lack of in-season training can also increase injury risks. The key is to integrate low-impact maintenance in a way that doesn’t increase overall fatigue.
In-season training often focuses on a player’s rhythm or on-court skills. Targeted skill sets may include things like dribbling, shooting, and/or defense. This training can shore up minor weaknesses on a game-to-game basis. The constant repetition also promotes consistency, helping a player continue to excel at their particular strengths.
Training also becomes more difficult in-season because players have far more demands on their time. From travel to media visits to meetings, NBA players have a lot on their plates. Still, most find a way to sandwich in extra training time, often early in the morning before team practices.
Pre- and post-game training
Another key type of in-season training involves routines that take place in the hours before games. Pre-game training makes up an important part of the rhythm of daily basketball life. Some teams and players take pre-game training highly seriously.
Antetokounmpo is a great example. He routinely works up a sweat practicing shots and dribbling before a game.
The 76ers are also known for their extensive pre-game regimens, which involve using things like massage tables, exercise balls, dumbbells, tension bands, and jump ropes. Philadelphia even brings their training materials on the road, setting up on the court to get valuable pre-game reps in.
Finally, it’s worth noting that many players do post-game training, especially if they’ve just had a tough game. Houston Rockets superstar James Harden recently had a late-night post-game training session after a game where he shot a dismal 1-for-17 from three-point range.
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