Basketball Ballistic Training for Explosive Power

Most athletes will do some kind of weight training to help enhance their performance on the field, court or ice. Basketball players are no different.

Inbound_PassOne form of conditioning called power training is an excellent way to hone in on sport-specific training that can accelerate your game to the next level. While building strength in the gym is important for overall performance and endurance, when your goal is to increase speed, you’ll find that simply bulking up is not enough to make you faster in the game. Power training conditions your muscles to rapidly respond with the maximum amount of energy within the shortest amount of time.

When you’re in a static, controlled position like when you’re lifting weights, your maximal force is much higher than when you’re dribbling a ball or preparing to explode into a slam dunk. In fact, the higher your speed, the lower your maximal force. In terms of maximal lifting strength, this explosive kind of power peaks at the 30% 1RM mark, which is considerably low.1,2,3 When lifting a weight, the most power output occurs right at the initial phase of the contraction and then diminishes as you complete the movement. While this effect will help you become more powerful, for the seasoned basketball player, this will only take you so far before you plateau.

So how to you develop this kind of explosive power?

The first thing to bear in mind is that power training is for people who have been training for a couple of years already and have developed a solid fitness and strength level. If you are a beginner and engage in explosive exercises like ballistic training, your rate of injury far outweighs the benefits you will incur from this type of training.

Power training for basketball players means training with a medicine ball and performing such exercises like ballistic jump squats, which have shown to increase vertical leap by 18%.4

Basketball Ballistic Training

You’re going to be working at 30% 1RM, so choose the right medicine ball (5 – 13 lb) to achieve this load requirement. Choose 2 to 3 exercises from the list below and these will form your ballistic training circuit. You will perform 10 to 20 repetitions of each for 1 to 3 sets, resting for 2 to 3 minutes in between each. These should be incorporated into your training program 2 to 3 times per week. To truly reap the benefits from this type of exercise, make sure your movements are explosive and powerful.

Plyometric Push-Ups
I think we’re all familiar with this one. Perform a regular push-up, only catch some air on the way up, making sure you’re in the proper position for your landing.

Slam Dunks
Start by holding the ball behind your head and your feet hip-width apart, then slam the ball down as hard as you can, catching it off the bounce to repeat so you can keep the momentum going.

Squat and Toss
Holding the ball into your chest, squat down then push yourself off the ground, tossing the ball above your head as fast and hard as you can. Your feet should leave the ground on this one.

In the starter’s position, holding the ball on the ground, propel yourself forward bringing the ball up to your chest to toss and chase after it without stopping. Switch up your starting leg to work both sides.

Overhead Back Toss
Start by holding the ball above your head and your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, bringing the ball down between your legs, lower down into a squat, then propel yourself up to toss the ball over your head behind you as hard as you can. This exercise works best with a partner.

Overhead Slam Toss
Facing a wall with knees braced and one foot slightly forward, raise the medicine ball above your head and then slam it down against the wall, catching it off the bounce to repeat so you can keep the momentum going.

One Arm Overhead Toss
In a squatting position with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, pick the ball up off the ground with one arm and toss up above your head as fast as you can.

Lateral Toss
With your side to the wall, bring the foot closest to the wall slightly in front of the other. Throw the ball from your opposite hip for an underhand toss against the wall, catching it off the bounce to repeat so you can keep the momentum going.


1) Knuttgen HG and Kraemer WJ: Terminology and Measurement in Exercise Performance.
J Appl Sport Sci Res. 1987, 1:1-10

2) Newton RU, Murphy AJ, Humphries BJ, Wilson GJ, Kraemer WJ, Hakkinen K: Influence of Load and Stretch Shortening Cycle on the Kinematics, Kinetics and Muscle Activation that Occurs During Explosive Upper-Body Movements.
Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1997, 75 (4):333-42

3) Garhammer J: A Review of Power Output Studies of Olympic and Powerlifting: Methodology, Performance Prediction and Evaluation Tests.
J Strength Cond Res. 1993, 7 (2):76-89

4) Wilson GJ, Newton RU, Murphy AJ, Humphries BJ: The Optimal Training Load for the Development of Dynamic Athletic Performance.
Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1993, Nov; 25 (11):1279-86

Originally published @ FITLODE.COM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s