Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science
School of Exercise and Health Sciences/Centre for Exercise and Sports Science Research
Competition-specific conditioning for tournament basketball games is challenging, as the demands of tournament formats are not well characterized. Purpose: To compare the physical, physiological, and tactical demands of seasonal and tournament basketball competition and determine the pattern of changes within an international tournament. Methods: Eight elite junior male basketball players (age 17.8 ± 0.2 y, height 1.93 ± 0.07 m, mass 85 ± 3 kg; mean ± SD) were monitored in 6 seasonal games played over 4 mo in an Australian second-division national league and in 7 games of an international under-18 tournament played over 8 days. Movement patterns and tactical elements were coded from video and heart rates recorded by telemetry. Results: The frequency of running, sprinting, and shuffling movements in seasonal games was higher than in tournament games by 8–15% (99% confidence limits ± ~8%). Within the tournament, jogging and low- to medium-intensity shuffling decreased by 15–20% (± ~14%) over the 7 games, while running, sprinting, and high-intensity shuffling increased 11–81% (± ~25%). There were unclear differences in mean and peak heart rates. The total number of possessions was higher in seasonal than in tournament games by 8% (± 10%). Conclusions: Coaches should consider a stronger emphasis on strength and power training in their conditioning programs to account for the higher activity of seasonal games. For tournament competition, strategies that build a sufficient aerobic capacity and neuromuscular resilience to maintain high-intensity movements need to be employed. A focus on half-court tactics accounts for the lower number of possessions in tournaments.