Sports Performance

Keys to Training Basketball Players of All Levels

Adam Annaccone
Adam Annaccone
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March Madness and the NBA playoffs are right around the corner. Basketball players of all ages will watch some of the best teams compete for the title. To be the best, athletes need to train like the best.

The sport of basketball requires a significant amount of skill, agility, and speed in linear, lateral, and rotational movements. Performance programs that solely focus on muscle hypertrophy or muscular strength will inadequately prepare an athlete for the demands on the court. Therefore, it is essential to develop sports performance programs, which optimize an athlete's skill, agility, and speed, while also limiting the risk of injury.

The OPT Model and Basketball

OPT Model Hypertrophy

The OPT model is the perfect guide for developing basketball-specific programs. As mentioned, basketball requires linear, lateral, and rotational movements. A player must be able to generate speed and power while moving efficiently and maintaining stability. Therefore, personal trainers should develop programs with a focus on stabilization, strength, and power in a multi-planar environment.

Stabilization Phase

The goals of the stabilization phase of the OPT model are to improve muscle imbalances, improve stabilization of the core musculature, prevent tissue overload, improve the overall cardiorespiratory and neuromuscular condition, and establish proper movement (Clark, Sutton, & Lucett, 2014). For basketball, this phase will help increase stability control by emphasizing low-to-no weight, low sets, and high repetitions.

Stability programs should contain flexibility, core, balance, plyometrics, SAQ, and resistance training and be implemented 2-4 times per week for 4-6 weeks (Clark, Sutton, & Lucett, 2014). The following is an example of a program specific to basketball. The exercises can be adjusted, but it is important to note that the main focus is control and stability, so training should place the athlete in a position to which they need to maintain stabilization while performing the exercises in a slow and controlled manner.

Basketball Stablization Program

Strength Phase

The strength section of the OPT model consists of three phases: Strength Endurance Training (P2), Muscular Development Training (P3), and Maximum Strength Training (P4). In each of these phases, the main focus is to increase stability while increasing strength. Fitness professionals will need to decide which phase is most appropriate for the needs of their client as they develop their annual and monthly training plans. Each phase should be utilized for a period of 4 weeks.

Once an athlete has completed one phase in this section, it is recommended they cycle back through a 4-week Stability Endurance Training program (Phase 1) (Clark, Sutton, & Lucett, 2014). The table below provides key components of each of the three phases.

OPT Model Phases

Sample Strength Programs for Basketball Athletes

Strength Endurance Training (P2)

Strength Endurance Training

Muscular Development Training (Chest, Shoulders, Triceps) (P3)

**Note: this phase can be divided into body segments**

Hypertrophy Training

Maximum Strength Training (P4)

Maximum Strength Training

Power Phase

The final section of the OPT model is power. This section is divided into two phases: power training (P5) and maximal power training (P6). In these phases, basketball athletes will develop the power and high force production necessary to compete on the court.

This section of the OPT method is essential for increasing vertical jump and explosiveness (Clark, Sutton, & Lucett, 2014). These phases should each be completed for 4-weeks, and proper rest should be given between each exercise.

Power Training (P5)

Power Training

Maximal Power Training (P5)

Maximal Power Training

Other Variables

A proper program is an essential step in optimizing performance, but it is not the only step. Athletes should ensure they are following sound nutrition, sleep, mental health, training load, rest and recovery, and other essential recommendations to take their game to the next level.


Basketball is a highly skilled and agile sport. The demands and forces imposed upon an athlete are not just linear but come from a multitude of directions. The programs outlined in this blog will help a basketball athlete of any age and level prepare like the best.

See also: Corrective Strategies for Basketball


Clark, M., Sutton, B. G., & Lucett, S. (2014). NASM essentials of sports performance training. First edition revised. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

The Author

Adam Annaccone

Adam Annaccone

Dr. Adam Annaccone is the Program Manager for Sports Science at Children’s Health Andrews Institute in Plano, TX responsible for developing services, programs, and protocols utilizing the latest technology for the departments of orthopedics, rehabilitation, and performance. In this role, Dr. Annaccone collaborates with a team of professionals, including Orthopedic Surgeons, Physical Therapists, Athletic Trainers, Performance Coaches, Neuropsychologists, and Administrators, to enhance clinical practice and outcomes. For over 15 years, Adam has worked as a Board Certified and Licensed Athletic Trainer, a Corrective Exercise Specialist and Performance Enhancement Specialist with a range of organizations from amateur to professional. He is an Independent Contractor for several NBA players and other professional athletes, providing movement assessments and targeted neuromuscular manual therapy and corrective/performance exercise programs and serves as a consulting practitioner for the Dallas Mavericks. Additionally, Adam is Adjunct Faculty for George Mason University in the Exercise, Fitness and Health Promotion Department and the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences. He is also a consultant for the newly formed Sports Therapy Academic Program at Ono Academic College in Tel Aviv, Israel. Prior to moving to Texas, Dr. Annaccone spent three seasons with the NBA Phoenix Suns organization on their highly regarded sports medicine staff, serving as Performance & Recovery Specialist/ Assistant Athletic Trainer. As a distinguished presenter, Adam has provided over 60 presentations, both nationally and internationally. In 2013, he was recognized by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) with the NATA Young Professionals’ Committee National Distinction Award. Adam has been an active member of the profession of athletic training, serving on various local, regional and national athletic training committees; most recently serving as the District Representative for Texas and Arkansas for the NATA Government Affairs Committee. He received his Doctoral degree from Indiana University of PA in 2017, a Master’s degree from Clarion University in 2006 and completed his Bachelor of Science degree in Athletic Training at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA.


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