Everyone knows that basketball players earn their fame with lights-out shooting, impossibly smooth dribbling, and the occasional earth-shaking dunk. But look past the fireworks—or play a quick pickup game at the park—and it's pretty obvious that basketball is a fast-paced test of vertical leaps, and pure gut-check endurance. And if you want to hang tough with the best players, that means having the speed, strength, and agility of the best players.
So in a new twist on a classic game, we tried combining some old-school basketball training with a one of the best disciplines out there for raising the bar on your physical ability: CrossFit. We turned to Kurt Roderick, C.S.C.S., USAW-ASPC, co-owner & head coach at Crow Hill CrossFit in Brooklyn, for his take on CrossFit-style training on the hardwood.
"Basketball demands intervals of extreme explosive movements, quick cuts and changes of directions," says Roderick, a Level 3 CrossFit coach. "Athletes need to foster the power, speed, agility and coordination to jump, run, and cut. They also need to develop the strength to push off defenders and get to the basket."
Roderick designed workouts around three fundamental aspects of basketball movement: quick cuts and rebounding, aerobic capacity and all-out power, and sprinting and jumping. Each of those fundamentals features three workouts: one for beginners, one for intermediate athletes, and one for top-tier ballers. (Well-conditioned athletes can also perform the "beginner" workouts before or after a skills-focused practice session to improve fitness without pushing their bodies to the absolute limit, Roderick notes.)
Remember to warm up and perform dynamic stretching before each workout, and check with your coach or trainer before attempting any new exercise—particularly the Olympic lifts listed below. If you're unfamiliar with classic CrossFit moves like the thruster, clean, or snatch, make sure you ask a knowledgeable trainer to teach you how, and practice them separately before attempting them in a workout setting. And, as always, make sure you set aside time after the workout to stretch, recover, foam roll, properly rehydrate, and get a good recovery meal.
Fundamenal I: Quick Cuts and Rebounding
"These workouts are designed to simulate fighting for rebounds, cutting to get open, and the tempo changes of a competitive game," Roderick says. "This will help develop those change-of-direction skills needed to be on top of your game."
Beginner: 8 ROUNDS of:
- 3x burpees to 6” target
- 4x 20ft Shuttle Run
- REST 30 sec.
Intermediate: 12 ROUNDS of:
- 3x burpee pullups (pull up bar 6” beyond reach)
- 4x 20ft shuttle run
- REST 30 sec.
- 3 burpee to bar muscle-up
- 4x20ft shuttle run
- REST 30 sec.
NOTES: The burpee should be performed as a strict pushup into an explosive squat jump.
- For beginners, just jump to a target that is 6” past your reach (like a pull up bar) that you touch with both hands.
- For intermediate athletes, jump to a bar that is 6” beyond your reach and do a pullup. Use the jump to help your pullup.
- For those fire breathers out there, go all the way to the top: Jump into a bar muscle-up, and "slam dunk this work out," as Roderick says.
Go to the next page for Fundamental II: stamina >>>