AUTUMN. Maximise movement quality, functional strength and power with 4-rep sets of complex, high-demand exercises like one-leg squat-rows, kettlebell swings, and cable pushes, aiming to recruit maximal muscle fibres for strength without muscle mass gain. This strength will positively affect your power output as you train for jump performance on the court. Also take time to perfect technique with long hold postural exercises such Supermans on a gym ball or on all-4’s, to condition the smaller muscles that protect the joints through complex movements. Yoga postures will achieve these stabilisation goals as well as enhancing your agility through development of functional flexibility.
WINTER. As the playoffs start, muscular endurance with good movement quality is essential to get through the game schedule without injury. In January, a phase of low-load, high rep circuit training in the gym will reduce the load in the muscles and tendons but increase their durability. Dynamic gym ball exercises will build on the static stability you developed in the autumn, so look at using jack knifes and pikes again, and ball rollouts for pure lower abdominal strength and stability. Maintain a weekly medicine ball session including static throws and combining plyometric movements with receiving and throwing balls to closely replicate the playing environment.
SPRING. As the training and playing demand peaks in the spring, the time limitations in the gym mean you have to prioritise work on muscles that are vulnerable to injury with this increased load. Double leg lifts and gym ball jack knifes will reduce the imbalance around the hips that will develop through repeated squatting and jumping. Try to select or modify exercises so that your core stability is challenged; use gym balls and kettlebells to unbalance the body. Slow-tempo reps (4-6 seconds per rep) will make sure that smaller muscles around the joints are also involved in the movement, rather than just the largest muscles, and this will promote stability in the joints, reducing risk of injury.
SUMMER. Address any rehabilitation needs first, using corrective exercises through June and July to restore balance in all the joints, particularly to recover from impact forces in the lower body. Take time to develop a regular yoga practice, as this will stabilise and mobilise, making your movement more smooth in the long run. In July, use boxing and agility drills combined with light jumping and receiving and throwing light medicine balls to keep functional movement patterns in all directions. Performing slow, light load cable exercises standing on one leg will produce exceptional core strength and stability in the legs and spine. In August 3 sets of 12 reps will build some muscle mass.
LATE SUMMER. Speed up the movements in the gym in late August and early September, and in mid September switch up to 3 sets of 6-8 reps for strength-endurance. Cable pushes and pulls, squats and overhead lunges will form a good basis for the key exercises, and kettlebell swings and overhead lifts will condition the core and integrate the body for injury resistance. As the season starts, reduced gym time means you’ll need exercise selection that optimise results and leave you with energy for on-court training and performance. Make sure you include a weekly dynamic gym ball session to enhance dynamic joint stability, including exercises like jack knifes, hip extension bridges and side crunches.