Strength Training

Pro Tip: The Five Habits of a Professional Basketball Player

By Jay Ramos

As an athlete in this generation, you have access to the greatest tools imaginable. From injury rehabilitation, to progressive strength training, to new diet techniques to basketball innovation. Everything is out there for you to maximize who you are as an athlete.

But do you?

Playing professional sports doesn’t mean you prepare like a professional, but I can definitely say from experience that those who have professional habits and act like professionals have a better chance of succeeding and reaching their potential.

So let’s talk about you, since you want to be a basketball player.

Whether it be making that varsity cut, earning a college scholarship or becoming a pro, are you doing everything you can to ensure that you reach these goals? And secondly, are you doing everything you can as EFFICIENTLY as you can to reach these goals.

Here is a list of five professional habits that give you the right to say you #TrainLikeAPro, from someone who has worked with multiple NBA athletes.

basketball training

The Five Habits of a Pro:

1) Strength/Conditioning Training: Without a stable foundation, you’re athletic upside is incredibly limited. You want to have an explosive first step, than why do you never work on lower body strength? Want to jump higher, right? So why is your core flabby? You’re body is everything. A solid, strong, lean body will help you feel more confident on the court, prevent injury, and help performance. Having a consistent strength routine in season, and a progressive strength routine in the offseason, is a necessary habit for a Pro.

And as far as conditioning, we just go ahead and lump these two together, because if you can’t get up and down the floor, what good is there in being skilled? Want to press people on defense? You can’t have it both ways. Conditioning has to be a priority. Want to be the type of player who finishes fourth quarters? Better be in better shape than everyone else. Having a conditioning regimen is paramount.

2) Speed, Agility, and Quickness (SAQ) Training: Once you have been through stability training, and progressed to strength training, it’s time to do some explosive work. Everything should have a basketball purpose. A good way to start is with our free workout and upcoming programs, but having a component of SAQ Training to keep your basketball athleticism sharp is a good way to build another advantage on the court.

Speed is your ability to move fast, agility is you’re ability to react and change directions in small spaces, and quickness involves your burst. All three work together and to promote an explosive basketball body.

3) Skills Training: A strong, agile body can push through skills workouts even more efficiently, and this third step is where your game can take off. It’s about efficiency. Professionals train smart and make good use of their time. This means a balance between skill development and game repetition.

Definitely pound that ball out and put up volume shots, but you have to also direct your attention to repeating game scenario’s. When I worked with NBA player Scotty Hopson last summer, we spent most of our session getting repetition on two particular pivot moves to help his isolation game.

Of course he needed to get his shots up, but don’t be the player that goes in the gym and shoots around all day. Be focused and game specific.

4) Diet: Yea sorry, you have to eat right. Or not, but don’t say you’re the hardest worker if you don’t do it all and complement your training regimen with the right diet.

That’s right, a diet is part of #NoDaysOff and #OutWork. How about that? You should have a high protein, high on complex carbohydrate diet.

If you’re really serious about you’re game, don’t eat McDonald’s with your teammates before a game. Don’t eat pizza everyday at lunch with soda. In fact, never drink soda and try to avoid pizza entirely. You want to be great? Everyone would be if giving up tasty, fatty food was easy.

There are several diet protocols to follow, and I suggest following one to keep you organized. Saying your trying to eat right and following a loose diet never works for consistency. When clients consult me on diet, it usually is one that feeds an athlete appropriately.

5) Study The Game: With all the work you have put in on the court, in the weight room, on the track and in the kitchen, now it’s time to step in the classroom. You should have two film sessions a week. One evaluating you or your teams performance, which I’m sure many coaches have anyway for the whole team, and one studying professional and college basketball games. Challenge yourself to ask questions, learn defensive zones, think about player tendencies.

Basketball IQ is as much a skill as any ability you process on the court. You can never stop learning.

In Conclusion:

We like to use the motto #TrainLikeAPro at Next Level Basketball, and from my perspective working with professional athletes, shortcuts to greatness don’t work. If you want to conduct yourself like a professional, like anything else in life, it takes a real commitment.

With the ‘Five Habits of a Professional Basketball Player’ I promise you will have a competitive advantage. Be consistent for a period of time and it will be readily apparent. Three or four aren’t enough. Do them all.

Jay Ramos is a professional basketball trainer and performance enhancement specialist with Next Level Basketball. He is currently constructing a basketball athleticism program called ‘Speed, Agility, and Quickness’ that will be out in 2014. Check out the preview at