The college basketball season has begun and we wrapped our pre-season training last week.  It was one of the best pre-season’s we’ve had – it had a lot to do with how hard our guys and girls worked and the way the training program was laid out.  I wanted to share how it was organized to give you an idea of my thought process and how it was structured into an actual program.

The NCAA allows Strength and Conditioning sessions to cover 6 hours a week in the pre-season/off-season periods.  We have used all of this time in the past, but this year decided that we really didn’t need that much time for training because we were in much better shape coming into pre-season this year…this was evident through our pre-season conditioning which is the beep test.  The numbers were much higher than they were last year, and came to the conclusion that we didn’t need extra wear and tear on their bodies in terms of volume.  Our coaches are also allowed to work with the team an additional 2 hours a week for skill development.  These sessions aren’t a walk in the park and are very intensive.

We split our training into 4 days/week – 2 lower body strength development days and 2 upper body strength development days – we also did some sort of conditioning every day.

Here is our week, laid out:

Monday – Lower Body Strength Development Day + Alactic Capacity (Sprint Work on the court)
Tuesday – Upper Body Strength Development Day + Cardiac Output- this progressed to Alactic Capacity as we got closer to practice
Wednesday – OFF
Thursday – Lower Body Strength Development Day + Cardiac Output – this progressed to Cardiac Power as we got closer to practice
Friday – Upper Body Strength Development Day + Cardiac Power

Each session was roughly 60-70 minutes.
Our warm-up, core and prep work took about 10-15 minutes and planned for 30 minutes for our strength work.  The volume was fairly low for the strength work as our primary objective in the pre-season is to increase our conditioning levels to handle the demands of practice.  We did 2 quad sets – everything in the first quad set was done for 3 sets and the second quad set was done for 2 sets.

This is what we did on Mondays/Thursdays:

A1. Deadlift variation
A2. 2 Leg Jump
A3. Pullup variation
A4. Hip Flexor or Ankle Mobe

B1. 1 Leg Squat variation
B2. 1 Leg Hop variation
B3. 1 Leg Bend/Hip Dominant variation
B4. Core

A1. Push Variation
A2. Upper Body Plyo – MB Throw
A3. Pull Variation
A4. Thoracic Mobe

B1. Push Variation
B2. Pull Variation
B3. Push Variation
B4. Pull Variation

We also ended our lower body days with a hip/glute circuit and our upper body days with a scap circuit.

As for conditioning, we typically start with 1-2 impact days/week and progress to doing 3-4 impact days/week as we get closer to the season so that we progressively increase the joint loading as practice comes around.

We also don’t do a ton of lactic work as basketball isn’t a lactate based sport – it’s an alactic-aerobic sport meaning that there is huge demand on the aerobic system to produce energy, but there are many explosive movements that demand energy derived from the phosphate system.  There are instances where lactate will be produced  but I don’t want my athletes over reliant on this energy system to produce energy – they will often get lactic work during individual sessions when there are only 4 athletes to 1 coach.

Mondays would be our big on the court sprint day (what most basketball coaches think conditioning should be).  We would do “11’s” and “22’s”…an 11 is a down/back in under 11 seconds and a 22 is down/back 2x under 22 seconds.  We make it timed to hold our athletes accountable and if somebody doesn’t make a time, we add another rep…so we can get 100% effort on each rep.

Tuesdays would be our circuit day.  For the first 3 weeks, we would break the team into 3 groups and perform non-impact work for 5 min @ each station.  One station would be Bikes (hill ride against heavy resistance), another would be battle ropes (:15 sec work, :15 sec rest) and the last would be slideboards (:15 sec work, :15 sec rest).  For the last 3 weeks, we did stations where we would alternate b/w an impact station and a non-impact station…we would work for :10 sec, rest for :10 sec and repeat 4x before rotating; these are the stations we performed:
1. Sideline Sprint to Backpeddle
2. Tire Block out/post up
3. Lane Agility
4. MB Throws
5. Def Slides
6. Battle Ropes

For the first 3 weeks on Thursdays we would do a KB circuit at the end of our strength training sessions.  The circuit would include swings, goblet squats, 1 leg SLDL’s, 1 Arm Presses, 1 Arm Rows and Burpees.  The next 3 weeks we went to 4 min stations: Bike (heavy resistance), Jump Rope, Short Shuttle (5 yds – Sprint/Backpeddle/Def Slide/Def Slide).  Every station was done continuous except the short shuttle, which was done with a partner – I go, you go.

And Fridays were our hill Run day.  We have a big hill that leads up to our arena; It’s 1.4 miles up and down and more of a mental challenge than anything.  Our athletes really took upon the challenge to get after the hill and work at it.

That’s our pre-season training program laid out for you – I hope it stimulated some thought and gave you some insight into how we do things.  The effort put into the program is the big determining factor in the success that it will lead to…and we are hoping for successful seasons this year!


This post has been overdue – the last month has been very busy finishing up post-season training, getting summer programs ready, presenting at the NSCA Northeast Conference and then getting prepared for summer training sessions.

My new group of interns started this past weekend and they have been asking some great questions so far.  The first one that was asked was about my periodization scheme.  This was a great question that sparked some really good conversation amongst us all.

Periodization is essentially having a plan (I wrote a two piece article on Periodization of Sport that you can find in our resources area) and really guides you as a coach on how you plan on progressing your team.

If you have to apply a name to the model I use, it would be called a concurrent undulating model.  In a concurrent scheme, we are going to address many qualities simultaneously..speed, power, strength, and conditioning.  The opposite of this model is the Block model where concentrated loadings are used and one primary quality is addressed.  This model is used for higher level athletes (training age of at least 3 years) where their rates of improvement are not as great as when they were beginners.  The athletes that I see need work in many areas and are not high level by any means.  With the concurrent model, I find that we can address many qualities at once, but one will be emphasized more than the others.  So there is a concentrated loading to address one quality more than others, but we still want to include threads of other parts of our training throughout the off-season.  The way I look at training is that everything is a skill and needs to be learned and if you want to get good at a particular skill you have to continue to address it….but when you want to get really good at a particular skill, then you will want to focus more of your time and volume to that area…that’s where we have a certain emphasis per phase.

The undulating part  of the model describes the non-linear way that volume is assigned week to week.  We know that volume is the key indicator when it comes to overtraining and this is the variable that we want to manipulate to increase the stress on the body so we can cause an adaptation and increase overall work capacity.  Here is how volume is manipulated with a 4 week phase:

Week 1 – BASE WEEK – moderate volume
Week 2 – LOAD WEEK – high volume (increase intensity as well)
Week 3 – LOAD WEEK – low volume (increase intensity again)
Week 4 – UNLOAD WEEK – lowest volume – (allows supercompensation to occur and allows athlete to progress)

In an off-season program progression from the post-season to the pre-season we assign a certain percentage (time/volume) towards certain areas…below is a rough estimate on how I much time/volume we allocate to a certain quality:

Post-Season Phase 1 Phase 2 Phase 3 Phase 4 Pre-Season
Hypertrophy 50% 35% 25% 15% 5% 5%
Strength 20% 30% 40% 40% 35% 15%
Power 10% 10% 10% 15% 25% 25%
Speed 0% 5% 10% 15% 15% 20%
Conditioning 20% 20% 15% 15% 20% 35%

Our goal in our post-season phase and phase 1 is to improve lean muscle mass, and develop an aerobic base and start to address some speed and power.  As we progress, we start to emphasize more strength, speed and power development and our conditioning decreases so we can really focus on these other areas.  As we get closer to the season, the emphasis shifts to speed and power as these are the qualities we want to “peak” as we get closer to the season so we are prepared for pre-season.  And our pre-season phase (which is really the 3-6 weeks before the actual start of the season) is heavy on conditioning, speed and power as we want to be sure we can handle the rigors and demands of the competitive season as well as having our bodies prepared to handle the high forces at high velocities that their bodies will undertake during competitive sports.

The nature of this post was to enlighten you a little bit to the way my mind works when it comes to periodization and how I progress my athletes through an off-season.


Our pre-season training is just about complete (for hockey) and it’s still going for basketball but I just wanted to share some important thoughts I had for this very, very important time period in the macrocycle.

I like to call this time period the pre-pre season. It’s actually the 3-4 weeks (6 weeks in men’s basketball) before actual practice occurs, which is often known as pre-season (period before games begin). This is often the most physical stressful time period of the year as the overall volume of training, plus specific individual skill improvement is at it’s highest.

The goals of this time period are to prepare the team to practice at a high level and have the work capacity to be able to make it through practices where coaches can work on putting in systems and plays. They shouldn’t worry about having to get their athletes “in shape” because that will take time away from actually developing as a team from a technical and tactical perspective. I want my athletes to be able to make it through 2-3 hour practices 4-5 days/week with a high level of energy, enthusiasm, effort, and encouragement. They need to be in very good general shape (high work capacity) to be able to handle these stresses and recover for them to continue the practice as well as possible.

Here are some other pre-season training guidelines that I like to follow:

1. Emphasize conditioning and work capacity to be able to tolerate a high work load and recover.

2. Emphasize full range of motion work along with soft tissue work.

3. progress from 2 days of impact or non-specific conditioning progressing to 4-5 days of impact or specific conditioning.

4. Figure out your priority and train that piriority.

5. Include team building exercises and activities into training.

6. Prepare the athlete and team for the mental and physical stresses that will occur during the season.

These are just some things to consider when preparing your athletes and teams for the upcoming season once the off-season is over.