By Jason Stewart

I recently accepted the position of head varsity boys basketball coach at San Dieguito Academy in Encinitas. Since accepting this offer in August, I’ve been urgently hustling to assemble a staff, put together a game schedule and get familiar with my team.

Recently, we were participating in a very popular “Fall Ball” high school basketball league. This is a great opportunity to begin the process of getting to know your prospective players for the upcoming competitive season. Getting to know players consists of assessing talent as well as character traits. Coaches can tell who has been preparing for these moments. I believe there is a part of competitive nature that is classified under “conditioning” and being in “basketball shape.”

It should be said this component of competitiveness is very closely tied to a person’s “drive” or “will to win.” For those of us in the working adult world, we know it’s the person willing to work hard when others aren’t willing to put out the same effort that makes you stand out above the crowd. Conditioning is that detail in all sports.

Basketball shape is unique from other sports like football or cross-country and track and field. Basketball requires speed, quickness, agility, flexibility, stamina, leaping and bounding all in combination with a specific lung capacity. Basketball shape is hard to achieve, but if you’ve ever seen a basketball player sculpted in peak shape, it is beautiful.


I want to extend an invitation for you to keep tabs on San Dieguito boys basketball program as we move toward the winter basketball  season. The basketball schedule is posted at

How do I get in basketball shape?

01 Ditch the long distance running routine.

Yes, long distance does help with your lung capacity. However, basketball requires you utilize what’s called “quick twitch” muscle memory to make explosive moves in any direction at any given time. Instead of running three miles on a flat surface, try running a series of shorter sprints where speed and power can be developed and measured at a higher rate. Combine running and sprinting all in the same routine.

02 Take it easy on the weights.

Being strong is necessary in basketball. Lifting weights is suggested. The question is what type of lifting is best for basketball players? Basketball players’ workouts have more emphasis on varied reps with less weight than on lifting the athlete’s maximum weight as many times as possible in one set. The later refers to what football players might do to increase their strength rapidly. Football players tend to be more massive. Basketball athletes need to have a more elastic power, proving to be strong and limber in all situations. Using weights in combination with yoga would be a good idea. Some basketball players utilize pilates classes that consist of a heavy dose of core building exercises that improve balance, which translates to strength.

03 Get some rhythm.

Basketball is made easier if you are familiar with fluid motions. Make an effort to get your body used to blending moves together. Quickness in your feet and hands allow for explosive, creative and spontaneous moves that may be required at a moment’s notice. Work on your flexibility consistently. It might not be a bad idea to go dancing. Dancing to rhythm and blues music helped me in my younger years. I would also say Zumba and dancing to Latin-based music would be ideal. I’m not saying if you grew up dancing to hard rock or country that you can’t be a great basketball athlete. It’s only to say those who dance to music with a more rhythmic, fluid-flowing melody may find certain maneuvers easier than those who did not.

04 Practice at game speed.

Practice!?! Yes, practice at game speed always. Plenty of players play in basketball gyms and on local playgrounds all over the country. However, if you are not consistently moving at game speed, then your lungs and your legs are not moving at the pace required when the season comes. Another benefit to competing at game speed is that when you’re moving fast, you invent new moves. One thing I remember about my youth was making spontaneous moves that made the crowd and my opponents make that “Ooooo” sound. Most of the time these moves are not planned. They just happen because you have to react to the moment.

Plato said, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” I also once heard it said, “Necessity is the mother of creativity.” In basketball, when you and an opponent are moving at full speed, a lot of creativity is needed.

Jason Stewart can be reached through his website at www.ProUniversity.Net or by email at