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Speed drills for basketball players

"Speed kills" is phrase many sports personalities use when commenting on an basketball athlete's quickness. Players who can evade opponents, slip through guards or transition into defense without missing a beat become valuable to their team. Some coaches say that quickness can't be taught, but others believe you can train for increased speed. Here are some drills and exercises you can practice to give you an edge over the rest of the competition:

Foot chops - This drill works your athletic position. Start by placing your feet shoulder-width apart. Then, as quickly as you can and in short steps, bring your feet together. Perform two sets, exercising 30 seconds per set.

Crossover steps - Performing this drill helps you build transition speed when an opponent is faster than you. Take a step to one side, with your knees anticipating the direction in which you want to head. Your hind leg travels across your lead leg in short, quick steps. Reverse your direction to work the other side of your body.

Mountain climbers - This plyometric exercise strengthens your core and fast-twitch muscles in your hips and legs. Begin by placing both hands on the ground. Extend one leg backward so you end up in a starting block position. Try to keep your hips down and your abdominal muscles tight as you move your hind leg forward and your front leg back in a single motion. Then switch your legs as quickly as you can. Perform two sets of this exercise at 30 seconds for each set.

Backpeddle to sprint - Do this drill with a partner. Start on the sideline with your back facing center court. Have your partner stand and face you. Begin to backpeddle halfway across the court and then cross over your legs. Try to transition smoothly into a sprint by maintaining balance between the backpeddle and cross over.

Wind sprints - This timeless basketball drill focuses on pure speed up and down the court. Some athletes and coaches make the mistake of placing this drill last in practice. However, you must train or speed at peak condition, not when you are tired. Sprint down the length of the court and back. Rest for at least four times longer than it takes to complete a set. For example, a five-second sprint should require 20 seconds before you begin again.

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