Bodyweight Training for Youth Basketball Players

Youth Performance Training

 Three Components of Youth Performance Training

After having sent out the email this week that included a sample 4 day workout plan for basketball players, I was asked by some of the parents of my Elite Basketball Training family to provide workouts for players who were younger, not ready to go to the gym and could be done at home.  As a IYCA Youth Fitness Specialist I often find myself working with younger athletes, particularly basketball players, who have never worked with weights before and in many cases have not done any sort of athletic development training. Their inexperience combined with their young age, lack of physical development, and short attention spans pose an interesting challenge to training these athletes. Aside from the unique challenge, it is also a chance to get athletes at a young age and provide them with the fundamental building blocks of performance training, or build them from the ground up. With all of this in mind, it is important to develop an age appropriate training program that focuses on proper technique, a variety of skills, and is fun and engaging for the young athlete.

Bodyweight Training to Build a Solid Foundation

I have never understood why parents and coaches are so hesitant to have athletes strength train at a young age. In one breath they will say how weight training is bad for the physical development of a child, but then take their son or daughter to play in a weekend soccer tournament where they play in 5 games over the course of two days. How does this make any sense?  It doesn’t, and it is totally safe for youth athletes to be involved in a performance training program that is well designed and done with the correct coach. For us at Elite Basketball Training, we focus the majority of our younger athletes’ training on body weight exercises. This is based on the premise that unless you can control your own body weight you cannot control additional weights.  So exercises, like bounding, jumping, pushups, squats, lunges, rows, situps, etc dominate the landscape of our basketball performance training programs. Doing so will build a strong bodily foundation for these athletes, one in which they will be able to control their own body and develop the core strength and stability to handle heavier weights when the time comes to progress. That being said, I am a huge fan of the TRX Suspension Trainer Home Gym and use it regularly when training athletes of all ages. The TRX Suspension Trainer uses the athlete’s own body weight as the resistance and you can perform a multitude of exercises like the ones previously mentioned and more.  The best part about it is that you can take it anywhere you go. Use it at home, take it with you to the park, or even bring it on your next vacation. Ultimately, your training will never stop with this super functional piece of equipment, and it fits perfectly into our youth training system that we employ at Elite Basketball Training.

A Sample Youth Basketball Performance Training Workout

All of this being said, here is a sample training program that we would use in one of our basketball performance classes (with credit given to the IYCA):

Dynamic Warmup x 10 each

On your back: Leg Kicks, side to sides, rolling V’s

On your stomach: scorpions, knees to elbows, super mans

Standing: Leg swings front to back and lateral, jumping jacks, seal jacks

Explosive Training:

180 degree Jumps 2 x 10

Med Ball Chest Pass 2 x 20

Strength Work:

A1. Body Weight Squats to a box x 8, 8, 10, 12

A2. TRX Pushups x 8, 8, 10, 10

B1. TRX rows 4 x 8-12

B2. Body weight Lunges 4 x 8 each leg

B3. Planks 3 x 30 seconds


5 x 1 min As Many Cones As Possible

Set up 10-20 cones randomly around the gym. In five, one minute rounds have the athlete touch as many cones as possible. They must touch 5 cones prior to coming back to one that they have already touched. Try to maintain the number of cones touched over each round.

Stretching and foam rolling.

Tips For Youth Basketball Performance Training

  1. Use bodyweight training to build a solid foundation.
  2. Teach and stress proper technique.
  3. Incorporate a variety of skills.
  4. Make the workout fun and competitive.

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