Preseason Conditioning: 11 Easy-to-Implement Drills to Improve Player Speed

The 2012-2013 basketball season is fast approaching, which means it’s perfect time for players to get working on improving their speed, quickness, and agility.

In this week’s player development feature, follow along with renowned strength and conditioning expert Alan Stein as he leads you through nearly a dozen speed and quickness drills that are easy to implement, specifically geared toward basketball players, and extremely effective. 

Overview and Tips

Speed is moving from point A to B as fast as possible, such as the full length of a basketball court. But it’s not just about a full sprint. It’s important to be able to back pedal and side sprint at full speed as well. The goal of these drills is to improve player speed. It’s not to focus on running mechanics and technique. Therefore, put more focus on effort and practice running as fast as you can.

Tips: Make sure your ankles, knees, hips, and shoulders are facing the direction you are sprinting. Also, keep your arms at 90 degrees and generate movement from the shoulder, not the elbow. Have a slight forward lean when you have reached full speed and look straight ahead. Ensure plenty of recovery time between reps.

Speed Drills: Part I

Drill 1: Speed Progression: Slow to Medium to Fast Progression – Start by running to the first set of cones slow, then medium to the next set, and then fast to the last cone. Have the cones set 10 yards apart down the length of the court.

Drill 2: Speed Progression: Change Tempo – Basketball features a lot of change in tempo. Therefore in this drill, work on going slow to fast to slow to fast.

Drill 3 and Drill 4: Slow to Medium to Fast: Backpedal – These are basically the same two drills as before but now you will be going backwards. Keep the chest over the knees and over the feet going back.


Speed Drills: Part II

Drill 5: Sprint to Backpedal – It’s key that you are able to change direction at full speed. Start in a sprint and then when you get to first set of cones, turn into a backpedal before peeling off.

Drill 6: Backpedal to Sprint – Now it’s just the reverse of the previous drill

Drill 7: Sprint to Backpedal X 2 – Now things get harder by making this transition every time we reach a set of cones. So the rep will be sprint to backpedal to sprint to backpedal.

Drill 8: Sprint to Right Shoulder Look Back – It’s important that players are always able to make a side run at full speed. Have your shoulders square in one direction while running a different way. The drill goes from a forward sprint to looking back over the right shoulder.

Drill 9: Sprint to Left Shoulder Look Back – This drill is the same as before, but now you are looking over the left soulder.

Drill 10: Right to Left to Right to Left – Every time you hit a set of cones, look over a different shoulder.

Drill 11: Sprint to Deceleration X 3 – Sprint and as you reach a new cone, decelerate until you come to a full stop. Do that at each cone series. Keep your hips nice and low.


The previous drills can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “130 Pro Power Speed, Quickness, and Reaction Drills.” To browse our entire Strength and Conditioning catalog, click here.

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