Some of my favorite team-wide conditioning tests/workouts. If you have one that you do with your team that you really like, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I received several emails from coaches and have added my favorites. New drills are in bold.
Players run 4 lengths (2 down-and-backs) in 22 seconds. 22-second rest. Go again. 22 reps.
Used by the Boston Celtics during their pre-draft workouts, 3 minutes go on the clock and the player tries to run as many lengths as possible in that time. The Celtics always conduct the drill at the end of workouts. Link to a story on the workout. Record: 31 from Delonte West. Tip: Have a counter for each guy.
Beep Test / Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test
One of my favorites although it’s a bit more complicated than the others listed here. It’s a series of 40m runs synchronized with an audio track. As the drill goes, players are forced to run faster to make the time. If a player misses the “beep,” he receives a warning. On his second miss, he’s out. Click on this link for full explanation + this link for audio.
Figure 8 Conditioning Test
I got this one from Joe Gallo, head coach at Merrimack College (D2). See below for the diagram, but in this drill, a cone is set up on each foul line. A pair of cones needs to be set up for every 2 players. Player A steps up to the right of the cone at the bottom of the diagram with 30 seconds showing on the clock. On the coach’s “Go,” he races towards the opposite side of the far cone and runs around it to begin to make a figure-8 path. He is attempting to see how many lengths (not figure-8s) he can make in 30 seconds. It it is important to have a coach at each station charting his final tally. As you can see on the diagrams, decimal benchmarks will need to be noted (7.25, 7.5, 7.75, etc.). An in-shape college basketball player should be getting above 7 each time. As soon as his 30 seconds is done, the coach records his tally as his teammate readies to go for his first set. Each player will go 8 times total. You will average a player’s 8 attempts together for his final score.
Clippers’ 6 6’s
Another one I picked up from the pre-draft process, this drill requires 6 repetitions. A player steps to the line and runs 6 lengths of the court (3 down-and-backs) and then takes one minute to rest before going again. He will do it 6 times. Guards need to complete each rep in 32 seconds while bigs are given 34 seconds.
20 in 20
20 minutes. Players run a suicide at the top of the minute and have the rest of the minute to rest. This would be one to build up to – starting with 8 in 8 and building up to 12 in 12 and 16 in 16 on the way to the ultimate test.
18-minute drill I got from Jody Bailey, assistant coach at University of New Orleans. It consists of 40 (as in 40 minutes of a college basketball game) running segments (paired with 40 rest segments). Each running segment consists of a player running a down & back. The time needed to complete the run isn’t hard at first (17 seconds paired with 17 seconds of rest), but gets increasingly harder (the time needed drops 1 second every 5 runs).
1st 5 = 17 seconds, same time for rest
2nd 5 = 16 seconds
3rd 5 = 15 seconds
4th 5 = 14
5th 5 = 13
6th 5 = 12
7th 5 = 11
8th 5 = 10.5
NBA Combine Testing
Conduct all the drills used in the NBA combine. This doesn’t have the “shared suffering” aspect of the others, but there are some positives in having a huge database to compare players’ scores/times along with the “cool” aspect. I think this is a good one to do in the spring right before they leave.
Celtics Ladder (Partner)
Partner workout. 5:45 on the clock. Partner A runs 10 lengths (5 down-and-backs) before high-fiving Partner B who does the same thing. Once Partner B is done, he high-fives partner A who runs 8 lengths. 10, 8, 6, 4, 2. Try to finish in 5:45.
Got this one from my former boss at Maine, Bob Walsh. Players partner up and have 9:45 to finish the workout. Each person runs 1 eight-length sprint, 2 six-length sprints, 4 four-length sprints, 6 two-length sprints. Partner A runs his eight-length sprint and then comes back to high-five Partner B who does the same. When Partner B finishes, Partner B starts his first six-length run (calling out “1st Sixth”), drill continues until both players have run 4 two-length sprints.
Run one mile as fast as possible. 1-minute rest. Run 800m in half the mile time. 1-minute rest. Run 400m in half your 800m time. 1-minute rest. Run 200m in half your 400m time.
One Mile Run (Track)
Old school approach. Not the most transferrable to the game, but not necessarily wrong. There is value in its simplicity. Guys know the drill and they know the number they need to be at so they can work all summer to get there. At the college level, I’ve heard some teams requiring each player to run a 6:30 mile before they’re able to start practice.
Gassers (Football Field)
16 minutes. Players run 110 yards (one end-zone + the field) at the top of the minute and have the rest of the minute to rest.
10 Hill Climb (Treadmill)
Speed set at 10.5 with the incline at 10%. A player starts running at the top of the minute and runs for 25 seconds. He has the rest of the minute to rest before going again. You can have two players going on one treadmill (one player going at the top of the minute, the other going at :30 of each minute).
-Idea I got from Scott Cross (TCU): For agility work, put a cone at halfcourt for each player in any running drill conducted on the court. On every sprint, the player needs to circle the cone (you can have the player do it every time he passes the cone or only do it in one of the directions).
-Idea I got from Buzz Williams (Virginia Tech): You can add a level of complexity/confusion by putting certain stipulations on it. Here’s an example: You have a team of 13. You tell them that every 30 seconds (EMOM + :30 each minute), you need 7 guys running a “22” (2 lengths in 22 seconds). You repeat the instructions again clearly and then give them 60 seconds to sort it out (If it’s an even-numbered group, you can do one more than half — 8 guys if it’s a team of 14).
-A restriction like “hands off your knees” can certainly some policing from a staff that first year, but it’s a great way to teach mental toughness and after a while, you see players start coaching each other. It can become a great cultural piece with older guys instructing younger guys, “We don’t do that here.”