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01 Января 2004 Журнал "FIBA Assist Magazine"

Виды спорта: Баскетбол

Рубрики: Профессиональный спорт, Спортивные технологии

Автор: Holmberg H. C.

Technology And Basketball Training

Technology And Basketball Training

Technology And Basketball Training

H. C. Holmberg, the Head Physiologist for the Swedish Olympic Committee, was the former head coach of the Swedish national cross-country skiing team. As a cadet and junior, he also played for Sweden’s National basketball team, later going on to coach in the Second Division.

It is well known that basketball is among the most physically demanding of all team sports. Numerous researchers have demonstrated that both aerobic and anaerobic energy systems play an important role during the course of a full-court match. There is a wide range of work intensities during a game, from continuous sprinting baseline to baseline in an up-tempo game to standing almost motionless on the foul line while shooting free-throws. The best way to measure the work intensity and metabolic response of players in team sports is to monitor heart rate and take measurements of blood lactate concentration. Commercially-available heart-rate monitors transfer heart rate signals from a transmitter belt worn on the chest to a wristwatch, from which the athlete can see a continuous display of heart rate. These monitors are practical for endurance athletes in skiing, cycling, and running, allowing them to follow their heart rate during training or race situations and guide their exercise intensity. However, in team sports such as basketball, this precise monitoring is impossible because players are forbidden to wear wristwatches during competition due to the inherent risk of injury. Hitting an opponent with a hard plastic wristwatch can cut or bruise a player.

In order to gauge exercise intensity of basketball players, the important questions of exercise physiologists include: What are the benefits of following basketball players’ exercise intensity level in real time? If there are benefits, how could such monitoring be performed without injuring a player?


Before beginning training sessions for the Eurobasket 2003 Championship, the Swedish national team requested assistance from the Swedish Olympic Committee to investigate the overall physical status of its players. This was accomplished by performing several special tests in the research laboratory. The results were then used to help develop practical exercise guidelines for the on- and off-court training of the players.

Again, a critical question was how to determine the specific physical intensity level at which the player trained and played basketball. As exercise scientists, this request motivated us to better understand the physical demands required by the elite-level basketball player. We contacted a Swedish research-based company, Activio (www.activio.se), that has developed a telemetry system for heart rate monitoring. Using their equipment, we were then able to monitor training and practice games online without putting any players at risk of injury. The heart rate data was presented online on a laptop, making the exercise intensity information from all players easily accessible. To monitor exercise intensity, each player wore a standard heart rate transmitter belt on the chest, complemented with an additional light-weight unit (50 grams). Using radio technology, this unit sent heart rate data continuously to a receiver connected to a courtside laptop computer (see picture, the unit).

This space-age system makes it possible to perform on-line analysis during physical activity. In a practical sense, this allows an assistant coach to continously follow the exercise intensity of a particular training session or game. On the screen, he can choose to follow the heart rates of the five active players on the court and simultaneously follow the recovery rate of the substituted players sitting on the bench. All heart rate data is automatically stored in the computer, which simplifies the data administration process. Diagrams and tables can be presented to the coach and the players as immediate feedback .


After carefully analysing the physiological capacity profile of the national team, our main goal was to significantly increase the players’ aerobic capacity while maintaining muscle strength, speed, and jumping ability. A critical question was whether the currently prescribed on-court basketball training was intensive enough. We felt that the aerobic demands of the upcoming Eurobasket 2003 tournament were going to be very high. There would be many games played over a few days and maintaining the team’s current stamina and performance level over that period would be a major priority.

We decided to perform heart rate monitoring during training on- and off-court as well as during practice games. In addition, we monitored blood lactate concentration to better determine fatigue levels. The heart rate monitoring was initially used to determine a good intensity level during the general off-court aerobic training. Prior to Eurobasket 2003, the team used interval training with a heart-rate intensity of 90 percent to 95 percent of their maximum heart rate three times a week. These running workouts included 4 to 5 intervals of three to four minutes duration, with three minutes of active rest between each sprint interval.

Of equal importance was the need to precisely monitor the training load during hard training days and recovery days. This would allow us to personalize and follow the training loads of each player. The new heart rate monitoring system allowed us to follow the players on-court during training and also during the practice games. On the display, we received information directly on how many minutes different players spent in different heart rate intensity zones.

By using this system and getting fast feedback in real time, the players were well informed. By knowing that they were training in the correct heart rate zone proved to be a good motivation tool for the players.

Our research determined that many of the players showed different recovery patterns after hard games and recovered with diverse time patterns after more intense up-tempo parts of the game. It was obvious that after such periods, prolonged fatigue directly influenced the number of turnovers and individual shooting percentages. Based on our recent experience with the national team, we now believe that with the help from an online telemetry system it will be easier to coach and to judge individual playing time during games. Picture 2 shows the heart rate curves of two players from one of the practice games prior to the Eurobasket 2003 Championship.

We also found that ordinary training is not sufficient for developing the necessary aerobic capacity for basketball players. The total number of training hours for a Swedish top player is approximately 10 to 12 hours a week, and this includes strength training and low- intensity shooting drills. The fact that basketball players in Sweden do not work as full-time professionals requires them to be extremely time-efficient. Heart rate analysis of exercise intensity helps us to better balance how many hours in off-court training each player should perform each week. This has proven to be very effective during a season where different players perform various workloads depending on their playing time. To keep all players at optimum cardiac output, we used our heart rate analysis to determine which player needed extra training sessions. It turned out that those players who didn’t get much playing time in the games needed the extra work to compensate for their overall lower workloads. Modern technology in a modern sport?

Today, Sweden may not be among the world’s basketball powers but we think that the Swedish team prepared as well as any for Eurobasket 2003. One main objective was to develop scientifically-based training methods for individual and team practice sessions that would enhance aerobic and anaerobic capacity. We achieved that goal.

Basketball is considered to be one of the most developed sports in the world when it comes to learning and analysing technique, performing tactical analysis, and for using game statistics. It is our belief that the use of modern medical technology can also be an important tool to help optimize physical training, taking the game to a higher level in the process.

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