Fitness Tests for Basketball

Testing is essential for the development of a basketball player. Initially, the purpose of testing is to gather baseline data on fitness components such as speed, power, endurance and strength. This will help determine the athlete's strengths and weaknesses relative to the demands of basketball, and assist in identifying what training and activities are required to improve their game.

As with most team sports, there are many components of fitness that are important for success. In basketball, the various components of fitness are close in their relative importance. Having a very good aerobic fitness level is a very important attribute, and on the other hand being very quick and agile is also very important. 

I have also listed and described the fitness tests that are performed at the NBA pre-draft camp and as part of the Basketball SPARQ.

The tests listed below are my suggestions for a basketball player, which reflect the all-round fitness requirements for basketball.

Fitness Component Example Tests Comments
Aerobic Fitness The shuttle run (beep) test would usually be the most appropriate test for testing a basketball team. It is not the only test, and many others are also suitable. You can find information on many other aerobic tests here. Aerobic fitness is a very important component of fitness for basketball. The test should be performed indoor on the same surface that the game is played on. 
Flexibility The sit and reach test can be done for lower back and hamstring flexibility.  Flexibility is important in terms of being injury free and being able to move freely around the court. Flexibility tests of other body areas that used in the game would also be suitable.
Strength and Power The vertical jump test can be performed to measure leg power. Maximal strength tests for specific exercises should be conducted.  Vertical jump ability is very critical for basketball. The technique for the test may be changed to incorporate a step to be similar to the jumping technique used in the game. Strength and power tests should also be done to determine strength levels and to monitor strength changes in conjunction with training programs. 
Speed Sprint time over 20m, with split times for the first 5 & 10m should be done if possible. Acceleration is very important in basketball. Most running is conducted over a short distance. 
Body Fat Body fat can be measured using the skinfold method. If this is not available, monitoring body weight changes would give an indication of body fat changes, assuming no change in muscle mass. Excess body fat would affect the basketball player's ability to jump vertically, move freely around the court, and the extra weight will increase fatigue. 
Body Size Body size measurements such as height, arm span and hand span are important for success in basketball. With junior athletes, these measures can be used for talent identification. More about body size for basketball.
Agility The 505 agility test measures the ability to change direction 180 degrees. A 90-degree turn test would also be suitable for basketball. The ability to quickly change direction is very important for basketball. In addition to a simple agility test, you could also incorporate a ball into the testing as all movement on court is performed while dribbling the ball.


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