Basketball is a sport that requires not only the skills specific to the game itself but also outstanding athletic ability. As such, basketball conditioning drills should be tailored with that combination of sport-specific skill and athletic conditioning in mind. The conditioning aspects should be divided between short bursts of high-energy drills that improve a player's running and jumping, and longer, less-intensive conditioning drills that improve stamina. These drills should have at least a tangential relation to the main skills associated with on-court play including shooting, ball-handling, rebounding, and defense.
In terms of simple conditioning, basic cardiovascular exercises like running and sprinting should be incorporated in any drill. One basic drill that improves speed and stamina sets a player up at one of the baselines on the court and has he or she sprint to the closest foul line and back, then to the half-court line and back, then to the opposite foul line and back, and then all the way to the opposing baseline and back. This type of drill is effective at the end of a practice session, because it simulates the way a player will need to run hard in a game situation even after nearly four quarters or two halves of play. Jumping rope, broad jumps, and squat jumps are typical jumping exercises that will help both stamina and leaping ability.
Sport-specific basketball conditioning drills incorporate the skills necessary to be a good player with the exercise value of the drills. Shooting drills are effective in improving the marksmanship of a player even when fatigue sets in. Players can spot-shoot, sprinting to predetermined areas of the court, receiving passes, and getting up quick shots before moving to the next area. This will allow the player to work on technique and form even while moving quickly. Incorporating pump fakes before each shot in spot-shooting drills is a good way to simulate how to get a shot up under defensive pressure.
Ball-handling basketball conditioning drills are easily devised. A simple one is to place pylons at specific areas of the court and then have the player weave around them while dribbling at top speed. Not only does this improve stamina and speed, but it also helps the player with his ability to handle the ball in traffic. He or she should be made to use both hands while dribbling to ensure that he is able to go both directions quickly.
One excellent individual rebounding drill puts a player on one side of the basket. He or she then intentionally misses off to the other side of the rim, hustles to rebound the ball, then repeats the process over and over, which will teach quick rebounding and anticipation skills. Defensive basketball conditioning drills often focus on defensive slides. Players should assume a defensive stance, then slide back and forth between predetermined spots on the floor at top-speed. This will help stamina and get players used to the proper defensive form they should have while guarding a player with the ball.