Jaylen Brown
© Jon Lopez / Red Bull Content Pool

How to get in shape for basketball

Being able to push limits without reaching fatigue in basketball is as essential as passing, shooting, and defense.
By Sean Wright
7 min readPublished on
NBA players like Cole Anthony exemplify how much work goes into being ready for basketball. “I just want people to respect how hard I work and how much I sacrificed to get here,” he said.
While fitness is important in the regular season it is pivotal in the playoffs. In game 6 of the 2022 NBA Finals, Celtics guard Jaylen Brown played 44 out of 48 minutes, scoring 34 points. That level of intensity requires him to keep his body fat down and maintain a consistent cardio routine, weight training, and nutrition.
Brown dribbles downcourt during a home game against the Atlanta Hawks on February 17, 2021. In the 2021 season opener in October, Brown ended the night with 46 points.

Brown dribbles downcourt during a home game against the Atlanta Hawks.

© Getty Images

How To Get in Shape for Basketball

If you want to develop your skills on the court, you can rely on an assortment of drills, but if you want to get in shape for basketball you’ll want to add exercises like these detailed below.


To do a suicide all you need is somewhere to run. If you choose a basketball court, start on either baseline, run to the free-throw line, and back to the baseline. Then, run to half-court, and back to the baseline. Now run to the opposite free-throw line and back to the baseline. Lastly, run from baseline to baseline. If you don’t have access to a court, use this template with similar distances anywhere you can run.
For best results, you should do 10-15 suicides, 3-4 times per week. Each suicide should be completed in no more than 35-40 seconds. Suicides help basketball players get in shape in a variety of ways. The main gain is the player gets used to running up and down the court nonstop, and making quick directional pivots.

Full Court Partner Sprints

Full-court partner sprints are easy. All you really need is a partner and space to run, but access to a basketball court is ideal. To begin, you and your partner should stand on the same baseline. Player 1 will sprint to the opposite baseline, touch the line, turn and return back to the starting point as hard as they possibly can. Player 2 will then do the same, while player 1 rests. Try to do 3 sets of 10-12 with 5 minutes of rest in between each set. Again, if you don’t have access to a court, mimic the distances and sets.
Players performing full-court partner sprints will be primed to repeatedly run the full-court in transitions and on fast breaks, which basketball games are full of.


These are a staple for basketball conditioning. This drill can be done alone or done with a full team. Each player will start on the sideline and sprint to the opposite sideline repeatedly. The goal is 17 times in no more than 70 seconds. You should perform 2-3 sets, with 3 minutes of rest in between each set. This drill helps improve speed in bursts.
A variation of 17s is 17s/13s/6s. To perform the variation you will first complete the 17s drill. But instead of 3 minutes worth of rest, you will get only 60 seconds. In the lost time, you will run to the sideline, and back, 13 times. Instead of 65-70 seconds, you’ll only get 45 seconds. After performing 13s, you’ll get 45 seconds of rest and then run sideline to sideline six times. When performing the set of 6 you will get only 30-35 seconds to complete the drill.

Barbell Military Press

To perform a military press you need a barbell or dumbbell. If using a barbell, start by holding the barbell a little below eye level and lift the weight straight up until elbows are locked out, and then back down. If you choose dumbbells, follow the same principle but move the individual weights at the same time. Your goal is to do 3 sets of 10-12 reps. Military press is an exercise that mainly focuses on the shoulders but builds overall upper body strength.
Strong shoulders are very important in shooting, and the military press will help you shoot late in games and from deeper spots. Also, when you are driving and rebounding, you often catch contact on your shoulders from opposing players. Having strong shoulders will help you withstand that contact.

Incline Press

To perform an incline press, you’ll need a workout bench and a barbell or pair of dumbbells. The players will lie on the inclined bench, grab the weight and lift it vertically until elbows are completely locked out and back down touching their chest, and back up again. The goal here is 3 sets of 10-12 reps.
The incline press motion involves players driving up the weight, which in turn helps improve shooting range. Late in games, when you’re tired, this exercise will help you because you’ll have more upper body strength and be able to get more shots off. The incline press helps forwards and centers down low when scraping for rebounds.

Weighted Squat Jumps

Squat jumps are one of the best exercises for building lower body strength. Squat jumps are usually done with dumbbells. Start with your hands by your side and a dumbbell in each hand, squat down until your knees and buttocks are parallel, and explode up, extending your legs completely, and jumping as high as you can. For best results, do 5 sets of squat jumps with each set lasting 20-30 seconds.
Weighted squat jumps will do wonders for a player’s vertical. They’ll also help improve basketball skills like rebounding, dunking, and shot-blocking.


Deadlifts are one of the most essential powerlifting exercises. Deadlifts mainly focus on building lower back muscles, hamstrings, and glutes. To perform deadlifts you will need a barbell or weights. You should start with the barbell on the floor in front of you and your feet shoulder-width apart. Next, you should bend at the waist, grab the barbell, and lift the weight up without bending your back. You’ll now be standing straight up with the weight placed around your lower abs. Lastly, you’ll bend at the waist again and return the weights back to the floor. For best results, you should perform 3 sets of 3-6 reps with about 1.5-2 times your body weight.
Deadlifts will almost immediately contribute to a player’s jumping and overall speed. Deadlifts are a compound exercise that works more than five muscles at a time. They will improve your flexibility and hip flexors, which are imperative for getting faster and jumping higher.


A healthy diet is key to maintaining fitness as it is the fuel your body runs off of. Basketball players need carbohydrates for energy and protein for building muscle. The ideal diet has multiple servings of fruits and vegetables. It also includes whole grains, seafood, and legumes like beans. Basketball players train hard and often, so they benefit by eating 4-5 meals daily and throwing in a snack or two. Healthy snacks like trail mix, yogurt, fruit, and energy bars are great for before and after practices and games. You should also aim to keep your overall fat intake low.


Jaylen Brown

Jaylen Brown

© Jon Lopez / Red Bull Content Pool

Rest is also very important for basketball players. You should dedicate 1-2 days per week to rest, allowing your body to recover from workouts. The off time and naps are when damaged muscles recover and your energy, or glycogen, replenishes. Rest also lessens the chances of overtraining which can cause injury, fatigue, and depression.


If you are starting from a moderately healthy condition, know that you can get yourself into basketball shape in about 6-8 weeks using these training exercises routinely. While it can be more beneficial to go to a gym or court, because you’ll have the proper equipment and a more focused mindset, it’s possible to get in great shape at home. No matter what position or what basketball tricks you possess, it’s all enhanced by being in shape.