I was recently researching basketball skills training and came across a young basketball player who was not only amazing on the court but also an amazing track star. He was breaking records in both sports at the age of eleven. What caught my eye was not just his insane skills, but the fact that some doctors had him tested only to find that his VO2max level was extremely high. Ok, what is VO2max and what does it have to do with why this kid is so amazing? Well, firstly, VO2max is the maximum capacity of an individual’s body transport and oxygen utilization during progressive exercise, which reflects the individual’s physical form. Now, the actual measurement of VO2 is entirely scientific and mathematical; what we want to know is what it really is and why it matters.
To put it in layman’s terms, it is simply the amount of oxygen your body absorbs during exercise, VO2max is achieved when oxygen uptake remains at a steady state despite an increase in the load of job. So, now we know what it is and why it is so important. Doctors and other professional athletes believe that measuring VO2 is the best measure of cardiovascular fitness and peak aerobic power. The reason being, oxygen is needed to breathe during exercise, and exercise increases the strength of muscles like the heart. Endurance training, like the track, can increase your VO2 max, but unfortunately strength training doesn’t increase VO2 as much as we all would like. It doesn’t hurt, but endurance training is the best.
Basically this 11 year old has the VO2 max measurement of a 20 year old marathoner, so he doesn’t hit that wall out of breath, “ I feel like I’m dying ” as fast as the remains us or, even better, it doesn’t reach it as fast as the 11-year-old average. Now why is her VO2 so high? Part of that has to do with his training in basketball skills and dedication to athletic training in general, but also genetics. Does that mean his VO2 will be off the charts when he turns 20? Not exactly, but it will certainly increase as long as he continues this kind of training.
Aerobic power is very important for basketball players because the game requires frequent periods of intense activity throughout the game and VO2max tests, among other tests and indicators, have been used to determine the athlete’s aerobic power and his / her general physiological state related to the formation of basketball skills. Although a good VO2max is sometimes characterized by genetics, it can be improved through endurance training.
French physiologist Veronique Billat created the 30/30 and 60/60 interval technique to help improve VO2max. This technique requires the athlete to warm up for 10 minutes, run as fast as possible for 30 seconds, and then adopt a steady jogging pace for 30 seconds. The athlete continues to alternate the 30/30 intervals 12 or more times. Once the 30/30 interval technique has been mastered and the VO2max improved, the athlete switches to 60/60 interval training, repeating the fast and slow movements for 60 second intervals.
With the improvements of VO2max, basketball players can dramatically improve their explosive power on the court and this can be a very important inclusion in the training of basketball skills for youth and adults. Once optimal VO2max is achieved, basketballers and many other types of athletes can enjoy the competitive advantage of the sport as they tire less frequently and outperform other players.