Build Conditioning Through Basketball Ladder Drills

Learn how to use basketball ladder drills to improve your conditioning on your court.

Basketball Ladder Drills

While football players condition during the off-season with Half Gassers and 300-Yard Shuttles, too many basketball players use the "play your way into shape" method. This approach is like cramming for a test. You might pass, but you won't remember the material. Similarly, lots of running crammed into a short amount of time can be harmful, leading either to overuse injuries or long-term losses in performance.

Protect yourself by starting early. Like football players, you should spend your off-season building up your conditioning base. I like to have my athletes perform Ladders, because they are easy to administer and easy for athletes to understand and perform. Most important, they provide great conditioning benefits.

Basketball Ladder Drills

Basketball Ladder Breakdown
A "link" is defined as a sprint from baseline to baseline. In my basketball ladder drills, athletes run several sets of links.

The following chart presents my target times. A link should take six seconds to perform. Two links should take 12 seconds, etc.

Links Time*
1 6 seconds
2 12 seconds
3 18 seconds
4 24 seconds
5 30 seconds
6 36 seconds
7 42 seconds
8 48 seconds
9 54 seconds
10 60 seconds
11 66 seconds
12 72 seconds

*Add two extra seconds per link for post players

For best conditioning results, I recommend using just odd or even links. For example, an odd Ladder workout would be: 3/5/7/5/3.

How to Run Basketball Ladder Drills
Break the team into two groups, "posts" and "perimeters." Perimeter players line up along the baseline while post players wait their turn.

The coach calls out the number of links to run in a particular set. If he calls "five," the perimeters sprint to the opposite baseline (one link), sprint back and touch the original baseline with their foot (two links), and so on until they complete five links. This should take 30 seconds.

The coach then has the posts run five links. Since the posts are bigger guys, and protecting their knees is a concern, two extra seconds are added to each link. Once they complete the session, the perimeters run the next link. This is the format for Basketball Ladder Drill.

The athletes work up to the goal for each session, such as seven. Once they make it to seven links, they then work down in ladder fashion (5/3/1).

Use a 1:1 work/rest ratio.

Progression
I like to go up one link per week, and switch between odd and even links every week.

Ladder Session 1
Athletes work up to seven links and back to down to one—a total of seven sprinting sets, with seven equal rest times.

Links Time
1 6 seconds
3 18 seconds
5 30 seconds
7 42 seconds
5 30 seconds
3 18 seconds
1 6 seconds

*Add two extra seconds per link for post players

Basketball Ladder Session 2

Athletes work up to eight links and back down to two—a total of eight sprinting sets, with eight equal rest times.

Links Time
2 12 seconds
4 24 seconds
6 36 seconds
8 48 seconds
6 36 seconds
4 24 seconds
2 12 seconds

*Add two extra seconds per link for post players

Check back in future weeks for more basketball-specific conditioning drills.

A strength and conditioning coach at the collegiate level since 2002, Jason Spray is currently the director of strength and conditioning for men's basketball and assistant director for football at Middle Tennessee State University, where he also aids in day-to-day physical and nutritional development. Spray earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from Middle Tennessee and is CSCS, SCCC, USAW, NSCA, NASE, FMS and CSCCa certified. He is also a USA Weightlifting Club coach and a certified physical therapy aide. Spray has trained athletes ranging from high school to professional and Olympic levels. He has been featured in Premier Players Magazine and is the head sports performance adviser for RSP Nutrition.


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: FOOTBALL | BASKETBALL TRAINING | SPEED LADDER DRILLS | NUTRITION | COACH | ASICS BASKETBALL | SPRINT | DRILL | STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING | LADDER DRILLS | FOOTBALL PLAYERS