The Role of Athleticism in Today’s Game

Sep 30th, 2014

Category: Uncategorized

The Role of Athleticism in Today’s Game

There was once a time when basketball players could focus solely on mastering their skills. If they put in enough hours on the court they would have a shot at a college scholarship/playing pro ball. Well, in 2014 that’s unrealistic. The game has transformed. Over the years the NCAA and NBA went from highly skilled guys to FREAKISHLY ATHLETIC, highly skilled guys.

Of course, even in the 1960’s there were a handful of great athletes, but nothing like what we have today. In the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s the game was more about skill. Back then it was rare to see a point guard dunk. In today’s game almost every point guard in the NBA can dunk.

In 1984 Orlando Woolridge threw down the first in-between the legs dunk in a dunk contest followed by Isaiah Rider who popularized this dunk in 1994. Today there are numerous point guards who can throw down through the legs dunks– Lillard, Nate Robinson, John Wall, Brandon Jennings and several others.

(If you’re interested in an in-depth description of the evolution of jumping view my old article on the topic by clicking Here)

Every year the game gets more athletic. Players get faster, stronger, quicker and jump higher. Each year we sit back and watch highly skilled players fall lower and lower in the draft. We wonder how these proven players aren’t getting selected higher. Well, it’s because of three words– athleticism, length, upside. Throughout the first round of the NBA draft you will hear these words over and over and over again. Why? Because that’s the requirements of today’s game!

Now, I’m not saying you MUST be tall and have long arms (it helps, but undersized guys still make it). However, I do believe that coaches and GMs need guys that meet today’s athletic standards. No matter how much they like a players offensive skills, if the player isn’t athletic they are seen as a defensive liability.

I know NCAA coaches who have LOVED a players game as far as dribbling, passing, shooting, IQ, etc. but looked the other way when it came to recruiting. I always wondered how a coach could love a players game and still not be interested in signing them. I’ve come to realize that coaches look for athleticism first, skill second. A coach can have a bad shooter on the floor if they make up for it in other ways, but a coach cannot have a player who’s a defensive liability.

A player could have amazing skills but if they lack lateral quickness/explosiveness how could they guard a division 1 player? And if the coach believes a player will be a defensive liability due to below average athleticism, how can the university confidently invest their money in this player? They can’t. And that is why mastering your basketball skills is no longer enough.

Of course, I’m not saying that skills training should be overlooked. I am saying that a proper strength and conditioning regimen is absolutely essential for any player who is serious about playing at a high level. You need to consistently improve both skills and athleticism.

As far as training goes I usually recommend a ratio of 2:1 skill to strength and conditioning ratio. This means that for every 2 hrs you spend on the court you need 1 hour in the weight room or doing plyo’s, agility, etc.

This ratio will change depending on a players needs and age. At the youth level, kids are in their “skill development prime” so I recommend a 3:1 ratio of time spent on-court to strength training ratio.

Sometimes I’ll have a high school player who is highly skilled but lacks strength and/or athleticism. In this case we may do a 1:1 ratio of time spent on the court to time spent in the weight room. It all comes down to the individual player and their specific needs. Rarely will I advise MORE time spent in the weight room than on the court.

Regardless of your specific needs, EVERY basketball player should be simultaneously improving their skills and athleticism. Fortunately, major gains in a players athleticism can be attained through a proper training program. The PJF System- Vertical Jump and Explosiveness program is ideal for players of all ages who are serious about improving their athleticism. The program is so much more than simply improving your vertical jump. It is designed to improve ALL aspects of athleticism that are crucial in todays game. To become a part of the program for only $67 click Here!

Train Hard, Train Smart, Get Results.

Paul Fabritz, BS EXW, CSCS, NSCA-CPT, ACE, FMS

Add a comment

Your email address will not be shared or published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: