Serious basketball coaches are always looking for ways to get an edge on the competition – to gain an advantage. It’s why you spend so much time researching methods of training that will make your players faster and stronger – and jump higher – without taking up too much time to get results.
That’s why I believe that running hill sprints (which includes running bleachers and stairs) is a must for any basketball player.
This is because hill sprints provide a number of benefits to the basketball athlete. Here are the Top 6:
1. Hill sprints provide the perfect combination of strength and speed training.
It’s like lifting weights and sprinting at the same time. The hill gives resistance to your athlete’s sprints, making them more difficult while being shorter in distance and duration. Including hill sprints in your training program can bring great results in as little as 15 minutes 1 or 2 times per week.
2. Hill sprints build stamina.
Endurance is something that every basketball player needs – but it is a special kind of endurance. If you want your athletes to perform at their peak, then low, slow distance types of cardio just won’t work. Their endurance training needs to mimic the demands of the game. Those needs being – short bouts of intense exertion broken up by periods of lower intensities.
Hill sprints provide just this type of interval training. They will take your players’ hearts and lungs to intensities far greater than those found in jogging or traditional types of endurance training. Their body will become used to reaching these higher levels, and recovering quickly in between the “sprints.”
More and more scientific studies are showing that VO2 Max (the traditional measure of aerobic endurance) is improved as much – or more- by using high intensity interval-type exercise like hill sprinting.
Want your team to have their “wind” at the end of the game? Hill sprint.
3. Hill sprints increase ankle strength – helping to prevent one of the most common injuries in sports – the ankle sprain.
Ankles are made stronger due to the need to push off harder when sprinting up the hill. Because of the incline, more drive is needed than when sprinting on a flat surface. Improved ankle strength also leads to the ability to push off harder during the game – benefiting a player’s important “first step” and lengthening their stride when sprinting in a breakaway on the court.
4. Hill sprints increase basketball players’ speed and explosiveness.
This is because hill training promotes two key factors in running faster and jumping higher. First, it forces proper knee lift – essential for driving the legs downward and back for more force. Second, hill sprinting makes the sprinter dorsi-flex their foot while running. The closer the toes are brought to the shin, the more force they can apply on ground contact. Think of dorsi-flexing as loading your foot – then unloading it into the ground – pushing you forward.