• Josh Gray

Physical Demands of High School Basketball




Basketball is a vertically based court sport with many stop and go actions where players can easily cover a few miles in a game. A result of this statistic is that many coaches are under the belief that basketball is an aerobic sport, which results in them incorporating mile runs and other long slow distance running into their conditioning program. For this reason, I am going to break down the game the from a physiological perspective, and hopefully by the end of this article, coaches will see that basketball is not as aerobic of a sport that many think it is. This article will target the high school basketball game although the concepts could apply to all levels.


The average possession of a high school basketball game is 16 seconds. There are 1,000 changes of movement (Change of direction, shuffle, jump, backpedal, etc.) every 4 seconds on average, and up to 60 jump movements per game (although most are not maximal). Only 34% (10 minutes) of the game is actual playing time. 56.8% of the game is spent on low intensity movement such as jogging, walking, or standing,


If the average possession last 16 seconds, with a change of movement every 4 seconds, how is your training/conditioning programs reflecting this? Are your athletes sprinting, cutting, shuffling, jumping, and reacting to each other like they would in a game, or are they running mindlessly in straight lines up and down the court, or worse off running laps around the track? Does the duration of the conditioning match the duration of playing time or length of a possession or are you just repeating what you had to endure as an athlete?


Do you think that players are getting tired or worn out from 10 minutes of total playing time in the game, or is it the cumulative effect of 8-10 hours of weekly practice with extra conditioning on top of that, usually with no logical explanation? In order to properly prepare an athlete for a sport/competition, a coach must know and understand the physical demands of their sport and design their practice and training programs based off that information.

Fun Fact: The average vertical jump is 27.7 inches, and 19 inches in the WNBA. I know this article is based off high school statistics, but I figured this would be good to add. Vertical jump is a good way to express raw power but as we can see from these facts, it is not the end all be all to be great at the sport. There are multiple reasons for this, but they are out of the scope of this article.



Josh Gray

BS, CSCS, NASM CES, USATF 1

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