Serious basketball coaches are always looking for ways to get an edge over the competition – to get an edge. This is why you spend so much time researching training methods that will make your players faster and stronger – and jump higher – without taking too long to get results.
That’s why I think running hill sprints (which includes bleachers and stairs) is a must for any basketball player.
This is because hill sprints provide a number of advantages to the basketball athlete. Here are the Top 6:
1. Hill sprints are the perfect combination of strength and speed training.
It’s like lifting weights and sprinting at the same time. The incline gives resistance to your athlete’s sprints, which makes them more difficult while being shorter in distance and duration. Including hill sprints in your training program can give great results in as little as 15 minutes 1 or 2 times a week.
2. Hill sprints build endurance.
Endurance is something every basketball player needs – but it’s a special kind of endurance. If you want your athletes to perform at their peak, then the short-distance types of cardio just won’t work. Their endurance training should mimic the demands of the game. These needs being – short periods of intense effort interrupted by periods of lower intensity.
Hill sprints provide precisely this type of interval training. They will lift your players’ hearts and lungs to far greater intensities than those found in jogging or traditional types of endurance training. Their bodies will get used to reaching these higher levels and recovering quickly between “sprints”.
A growing body of scientific studies show that VO2 Max (the traditional measure of aerobic endurance) is improved as much – or even more – by using high-intensity interval-type exercises such as hill sprinting.
Do you want your team to have its “wind” at the end of the game? Sprint uphill.
3. Hill sprints increase ankle strength – which helps prevent one of the most common injuries in sports – an ankle sprain.
The ankles are reinforced due to the need to push harder when sprinting up the hill. Due to the incline, more training is required than when sprinting on a flat surface. Improved ankle strength also leads to the ability to push harder during the match – which benefits a player’s important “first step” and lengthens their stride during a breakaway sprint on the court. .
4. Hill sprints increase the speed and explosiveness of basketball players.
In fact, hill training promotes two key factors in running faster and jumping higher. First, it forces a good knee lift – essential for pulling the legs down and back for more strength. Second, hill sprinting allows the sprinter to flex the foot while running. The closer the toes are to the tibia, the more force they can apply in contact with the ground. Think of dorsiflexion as loading your foot – then unloading it into the ground – pushing yourself forward.
The explosiveness is also manifested in how hill sprints can increase your players’ vertical jumps – a key measure of power. Jumping is really the same as sprinting – pushing your body forward (or up) against gravity. The more power you can generate from your legs while pushing, the further or higher you will go.
5. Hill sprints provide a safe way to train your athletes.
In addition to protecting your ankles, hill sprinting also protects your athletes from other types of injuries. The last thing you want to do is injure your athletes while conditioning.
Hill sprinting provides safety in two ways: First, the slightly shorter stride length when performing a hill sprint is a great way to protect the hamstrings. Most pulling and hamstring strain results from overextension – something that rarely happens during hill sprints.
Second, hill sprints can reduce the hits to the legs of your players. Studies have shown that even a slight note added to sprints can reduce the impact on a runner’s legs by up to 25%. Shin splints, foot problems, and sore knees can be drastically reduced by going up the hills for your sprints.
6. Hill sprints as mental training
Along with all the physical benefits of hill sprinting, they also promote mental toughness and goal setting behavior in your athletes. Looking up the hill can be intimidating when your players are tired and nearing the end of their sprint session. Using the hill as a metaphor, you can show them the importance of having a goal (the top of the hill), taking the necessary steps to reach it (one step at a time up the hill), and celebrate their success when they reach their goal (their own Rocky imitation on top of the hill). Looking back after their training, your athletes can feel the satisfaction of accomplishing something that may have seemed like an impossible obstacle.
With all of these benefits for your basketball team, adding hill sprints to your training routine should be high on your to-do list. It’s no coincidence that we found out that NCAA Player of the Year Kevin Durant has made hill sprints a key part of his training. You can develop your own “special” readers in the same way.
Make your athletes stronger, faster, better conditioned, injury resistant and mentally tough with this “old school” training. You, your team and your fans will be glad you did.