I am compelled to join in the rant against prolonged conditioning, specifically as it relates to running. I believe in threshold levels of cardiovascular fitness to compete, but this must be put in context. A high school game is 32 minutes long. On a typical team that plays 8-9 guys in a rotation only 3-4 of these players are likely to play more that 24 minutes of the game spread over 1:15. The remaining 4-6 players in the rotation will play 16 minutes or less over the same time. Weighing in deadballs, half-time, time-outs and quarter breaks, high school basketball is not burdensome from a cardiovascular stand point. The excessive amount of conditioning is the result of two things.
One, an old school mentality, of conditioning as a boot camp. This overlooks the fact that most decent high school players, play year round anyway with the season, summer ball and AAU. Many of those that don’t are actively engaged in another sport like baseball or football. The players are not out of shape and in need of dramatic conditioning.
Second, short-sighted rules from high school officials. In Florida, our FHSAA, limits fall activities to “open” gym, and conditioning out of season, and even prohibits “open” gym during the two weeks immediately before the season starts. If a coach wants to have his players working together in the offseason, he must turn to weight training and conditioning by excessive running. This does not help players develop skill, and this is a tragedy. Players need to be able to shoot, dribble and pass, because these are the things that happen alot in a basketball game, not run the mile under a designated time. The prohibition against allowing coaches to work with their players on these skills is without merit or plausible explaination. Further, it creates a cottage industry for “coaches” training players on basketball skills that could be developed by the high school coach for free. This is problematic because it disadvantages kids that cant afford to pursue this coaching, and it puts an economic investment (with expected return) on those that invest in these ancillary services.
None of this is in the interest of developing better basketball players, which is the function and purpose of the basketball coach.
Basketball requires fitness and strength. Weight training is an essential component of player development, but from a fitness perspective, as our previous blog attests to, as much or more can be accomplished with an intense, well-structured skill work out.