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Basketball Conditioning and Weight Loss

Basketball is much more than just shooting hoops. Conditioning is a necessity to be a complete athlete. By training and preparing physically to improve overall fitness, strength, and endurance, players can perform better and attain a more favorable body composition that could prove beneficial, both in and out of the competition season.

Despite being in incredible shape, even four-time NBA Champion Steph Curry still does conditioning exercises focused on speed and agility to prepare for games. So whether you’re playing in the big leagues or simply enjoy basketball, some degree of weight loss may help make conditioning exercises more manageable and efficient. In the long run, conditioning can help with weight management, thereby enhancing overall athleticism. Here’s how the two are linked:

The link between weight and basketball performance

According to a Strength and Conditioning Journal report, basketball players can run up to 7,500 meters per game and perform up to 1,000 actions. Most notably, they jump an average of forty-five times. Given the bursts of strength and speed needed in a game, jumps figure prominently in conditioning drills.

However, excess fat mass may prove to be a deterrent to optimal jumps. In an International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications pilot study, researchers found that the lower the fat percentage, the better a player’s vertical jump, concluding that body composition could indirectly predict Conditioning and Weight Loss
Speed and agility are other cornerstones of basketball performance. Quick and agile players can move better laterally, quickly react to changes in direction, and effectively defend their team. Sports research indicates that players spend 31% of their actions shuffling laterally, emphasizing the importance of agility in conditioning.

Once again, however, higher fat mass proved to affect agility negatively. Per a 2023 Applied Sciences study, athletes with higher body fat scored lower on speed and agility tests. The researchers noted that excess fat can increase the energy cost of movement, affecting both speed and overall endurance.

Injury prevention is another reason conditioning is important. However, a Sports Medicine-Open review notes that higher body fat increases the risk of overuse injuries among basketball players. Thus, weight management may be an essential step for athletes, both as a focus in the conditioning process and as a driver for improved performance in the game itself.

Weight loss during conditioning


  • Cardio-focused conditioning

Body fat loss can be incorporated into basketball conditioning by focusing on cardiovascular exercises emphasizing continuous movement. This may include high-intensity interval training (HIIT), full-court drills, various jumps, and dribbling or shooting drills.

These efforts may result in visibly improved in-game performance. In 2020, Nikola Jokic sought the help of the Denver Nuggets strength and conditioning coach to shed excess weight and lost twenty to twenty-five pounds. While it’s unclear whether weight loss directly contributed to his performance, Jokic’s scoring average increased in the 2020 playoffs to 24.4 points, up from 19.9 in the regular season.

  • Coach and community support

For many, basketball is a community sport rather than a professional endeavor. The same can be said for a weight loss journey, where players may benefit from accountability buddies to stay committed to conditioning and fitness.

By looking up “weight loss workshops near me,” players could access expert coaching for practical advice, plus a community of members to discuss common challenges and solutions. These workshops also offer virtual support to maintain momentum if players can’t come in person due to rigorous conditioning schedules. Groups provide a healthy sense of competition as well.

The Miami Heat is notorious for intensive group conditioning, where body fat is measured periodically. Pre-draft players and even seasoned veterans must undergo these tests, fostering a culture of continued progress.

  • Enhanced nutrition

Basketball is a physically demanding sport. Thus, players must fuel their conditioning and weight loss efforts with nutrient-rich diets for enhanced performance. It’s crucial not to evade entire food groups; instead, it’s important to opt for balanced nutrition that suits you and your conditioning program.

Go for a balanced approach that provides energy for conditioning, lowers the risk of getting benched due to sickness, and enhances in-game play. Four-time NBA champ LeBron James told Business Insider that he eats chicken breast and pasta before a competition, outlining how the carbs help his endurance on the court.

He consumes a shake with twenty-six grams of protein right before the game. While the ideal diet may be different for every player depending on your baseline muscle-fat ratio and activity levels, protein is vital to building muscle mass, which aids in general weight management.

With diet, exercise, and adequate support, players can achieve a body composition that gives them a better shot at victory.

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