Rebounding, jumping, shooting, and playing defense require a decent level of strength and power. A basketball player in great condition should demonstrate the endurance to run tirelessly on the court and should possess the strength to engage in the physical battles beneath the basket. There is no doubt that strength training plays an important part in building up the power to meet demands on the court (Fulton, 1992). College basketball has emphasized strength training to a great degree because it increases overall strength, flexibility, and lean body mass (Fulton, 1992). The implementation of strength training in order to increase vertical jumping ability, thereby enhancing overall sport performance, appears well founded (Renfro, 1996). This explains why college coaches prefer their players to stay involved in strength training even under the restrictive practice schedule of the NCAA.

In Taiwan, however, coaches of women’s basketball teams did not traditionally support the idea of strength training. They distrusted it (as some American coaches do, too), viewing it as a threat to players’ flexibility, athleticism, and shooting touch (Mannie & Vorkapich, 2000). Taiwanese coaches want their players to be quick and strong, but without strength training. Can such an objective be achieved?

Working since last March with the coaches of Taipei’s national women’s basketball team, the researchers observed an interesting fact. Female players with team Cathay, the perennial Taiwanese champion, were generally stronger and more “physical” than other players. The Cathay team was the only Taiwanese women’s team with a strength-training routine, so the researchers decided to study strength training in basketball more closely, designing for a rival Taiwan team called Yatung a lifting program reflecting sound basic strength-training principles.

Strength Training and Basketball

Groves and Gayle (1989) surveyed the top 100 men’s college basketball teams using data from a USA Today poll, and found that 98% of these schools had a pre-season weight-training program. In-season weight training was employed by 75% of the programs; 88% used off-season weight training for team members, and 64% used summer weight training. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) showed that a school with in-season weight training was likely to rank higher than a school without it. While the correlation does not indicate that strength training leads to wins, but does help explain, perhaps, why 87% of coaches and athletic directors endorse strength training for their teams.

Grove and Gayle also studied physiological change in 8 college players who engaged in a year-round training program (1993). Several findings resulted from repeated ANOVA testing. First, the players experienced a decrease in the proportion of body fat. Second, lean body mass was significantly increased, although body weight did not vary much over the course of the year. Finally, players on average experienced improvement of some 27.5 lb in the bench press but did not improve significantly in terms of the height of their vertical jumps. Fulton (1992) conducted research on the combined effects of strength training and plyometrics training. In contrast to Grove and Gayle’s findings (1993), a player in Fulton’s study on average improved vertical jumps by 4.5 in following 18 weeks of training; an average player furthermore added 45 lb to his bench press performance and experienced improvement of 4% on the I-test (a test of speed and agility).

There is no data to support concerns that strength training is detrimental to shooting in basketball. Shoenfelt (1991) tested the effect of an 8-week strength-training program on the accuracy of free throws, studying 14 female collegiate players divided into two groups. Every other day, one group engaged in weight training and the other in aerobic exercise. Results showed that the immediate effect of weight training was no more detrimental (or beneficial) to free throw accuracy than the immediate effect of aerobic exercise. Kerbs (2000) studied an entire women’s basketball team, measuring free throw and speed spot shooting accuracy 8 hours after a morning weight-lifting routine. According to the study results, accuracy did not differ significantly between days when the weight-lifting routine was followed and days when it was not followed. The results, then, indicated that these players could continue with a regular lifting program on game-day mornings without losing shooting accuracy.

The results of these studies indicate that basketball players experience more advantages than disadvantages from strength training, even on game days. The conclusion reached is that strength training for basketball players is beneficial to their overall development as athletes.

A typical strength-training program for women collegiate basketball players resembles one for men’s team players (Owens, 1998). General exercises (such as the squat and the split-squat) are often used to strengthen the muscles involved in jumping and running (Renfro, 1996). Certain upper-body exercises focusing on strength, flexibility, and coordination have been examined for their effects on rebounding (Stilger & Meador, 1999). In general, a strength-training program’s goal is to increase players’ power, not just size. Sessions should be designed to prevent muscle accommodation—and boredom; they should also take into account the individual player’s particular weaknesses (Owens, 1998). Hitchcock (1988) proposed that four criteria of importance in devising a strength-training program for women basketball players: specified goals, work assigned based on performance, an equal workload, and communication with the players.

Wilmore and Costill (1994) offered a prescription for basic strength training for basketball players based on four factors: mode, frequency, duration, and intensity; the concept is illustrated in Table 1. The present researchers devised a strength-training prescription for Taiwan’s Yatung women’s basketball team that similarly incorporated the mode, frequency, duration, and intensity factors (see Table 2).

Table 1

General strength-training prescription for basketball players

Factors Emphases References
Mode use of major muscle groups: leg, hip, back,

abdomen, chest, shoulder, upper arms*


major exercises: bench press, lat-pull, inclined/declined dumbbell press, squat, abdominal curl, leg curl/extension, good morning exercise, power cleans, hang cleans, upright and T-bar row*


*Olympic-style lifts preferred


Mannie & Vorkapich, 2000



Davies, 1993; Earles, 1989; Fulton, 1992; Johnson, 1989; Mannie & Vorkapich, 2000; Renfro, 1996; Zucker, 1989



Owens, 1998


Fre-quency 3–4 times (sessions) per week, on alternate days*




*in season, 5 times weekly with shorter sessions


Earles, 1989; Fulton, 1992; Johnson, 1989; Mannie & Vorkapich, 2000; Zucker, 1989


Owens, 1998

Duration training period divided into “seasons,” each lasting about 8–10 weeks; pre-season may be as brief as 6 weeks*



each session is 1.25 hr – 1.5 hr ; 3 sessions per week*


30–45 min per session; 4 or more sessions per week*


*no more than 4 hours per week

Fulton, 1992; Groves & Gayle, 1993; Johnson, 1989; Owens, 1998; Shoenfelt, 1991; Zucker, 1989


Fulton, 1992; Mannie & Vorkapich, 2000


Owens, 1998



Hitchcock, 1988; Zucker, 1989

Intensity in general, 3 sets of each exercise including 3–12 repetitions per set*



off-season for hypertrophy and endurance—60–75% 1 RM; early season for strength—70-85% 1 RM; in season for maximum strength—3–5 RM, or >90% 1 RM*


*Variation within a week, e.g., Monday 8–12 RM, Wednesday 6–8 RM, & Friday 3–5 RM

Earles, 1989; Fulton, 1992; Owens, 1998; Mannie & Vorkapich, 2000


Davies, 1993; Earles, 1989; Fulton, 1992




Earles, 1989; Johnson, 1989; Owens, 1998; Zucker, 1989





Table 2

Experimental strength-training prescription for Yatung players

Period Exercise Intensity Sets/Reps Frequency



bench press, shoulder press, knee extension, knee curl, squats, front/ side lunge, power cleans, bicep curl, good morning exercise, situps 70–75%> 1 RM 3 x 8–12;

3 x 25–30 for situps







bench press, shoulder press, knee extension, knee curl, squats, front/ side lunge, power cleans, bicep curl, good morning exercise, situps 80–90%> 1 RM 3 x 5–8;

3 x 30–40 for situps




in season,


bench press, shoulder press, knee extension, knee curl, squats, front/ side lunge, power cleans, bicep curl, good morning exercise, situps 85–95%> 1 RM 3 x 2–3;

3 x 35–50 for situps

2–3 times/week; NOT on game days



Since the late 1970s strength training has become popular among college basketball teams worldwide; however, strength training is just now emerging among Taiwan’s basketball players. The present researchers suggest to coaches and sport administrators that, in order to benefit the players, they

  1. work to educate Taiwanese coaches about the uses of strength training, putting to rest any misconceptions
  2. promote proper strength-training methods, for example introducing them in secondary schools and the high school basketball league
  3. support additional research examining physiological and psychological effects of strength training on elite Taiwanese players



Davies. (1993). Strength training for basketball at Maclay High School. Journal of Strength and Conditioning. 15(2), 37.

Earles, J. (1989). Implementing an in-season JV strength program for female athletes. Journal of Strength and Conditioning. 11(3), 32–34.

Fulton, K. T. (1992). Off-season strength training for basketball. Journal of Strength and Conditioning. 14(1), 31–44.

Groves, B. R., & Gayle, R. C. (1993). Physiological changes in male basketball players in year-round strength training. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 7(1), 30–33.

Groves, B. R., & Gayle, R. C. (1989). Strength training and team success in NCAA men’s Division-I basketball. Journal of Strength and Conditioning. 11(6), 26–28.

Hitchcock, W. (1988). Individualized strength and conditioning program for women’s basketball. Journal of Strength and Conditioning. 10(5), 28–30.

Johnson, A. (1989). West Virginia University preseason basketball conditioning program. Journal of Strength and Conditioning. 11(1), 43–46.

Kerbs, B. (2000). Effects of same-day strength training on shooting skills of female collegiate basketball players. Microfilm Publication. Eugene, OR: University of Oregon.

Mannie, K., & Vorkapich, M. (2000). Off-season and preseason strength conditioning for basketball. Scholastic Coach and Athletic Director. 70(3), 6–11.

Owen, J. (1998). Strength training for basketball: Building post players. Journal of Strength and Conditioning. lang=FR>20 lang=FR>(1), 16–21.

Renfro, J. G. (1996). Basketball specific squats. Journal of Strength and Conditioning.18(6), 29–30.

Shoenfelt, E. L. (1991). Immediate effect of weight training as compared to aerobic exercise on free throw shooting in collegiate basketball players. Perceptual and Motor Skills. 73(2), 367–370.

Stilger, V., & Meador, R. (1999). Strength exercises: An upper body proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation rebounding exercise. Journal of Strength and Conditioning. 21(6), 29–31.

Zucker, A. (1989). Men’s basketball off-season Phase I strength program. Journal of Strength and Conditioning. 10(6), 39–40.

Author Note

Dr. Richard C. Bell is the chair of sport management at the United States Sports Academy. Steven Chen is a doctoral candidate at the United States Sports Academy.

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