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How to Build Your Endurance on and off the Court

Basketball requires specific endurance skills. Be strong in these categories to achieve your basketball dreams. The word "Endurance" originated to describe someone’s ability to bear suffering. Think of all the ways we need endurance: finishing a difficult task, sticking to a hard workout, or following through when you want to give up.

Endurance measures how we handle hardship and pain. Its main root word is endure. What can you endure? What should you not endure? Sometimes, we endure the wrong things that end up hindering our purpose. In Malcolm Gladwell's fascinating book, Outliers, endurance is a key factor for success. He states, "What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while." This seems obvious but how much do we adhere to this simple advice and make sure that our every day habits are the best for our goals?

Here are daily ways you can build the habit of endurance. 

Muscular Endurance

What it is?
The amount of time you can physically engage in an activity without growing tired or losing quality of performance.

Why it is important?
You can play your sport better for longer periods of time.

How to get more of it?
Strength Training: Having a specific weight lifting/resistance training regimen helps build muscular endurance. Increasing weight and reps helps build strength but also your body's ability to endure pain and discomfort longer. 

Session Intensity: Setting goals for intensity can help you build muscular endurance. Incrementally improving your sustained intensity and focus will really add up in the long run. Think big, start small.

Rest and Recovery: Building endurance requires equal attention to rest as to intensity. Allowing adequate recovery time between workouts gives your body time to rebuild and recover, making you stronger for the next round.

Mental Endurance

What is it?
The amount of time you can mentally engage in an activity without losing focus or quality of performance.

Why it is important?
Focus is so important because it builds our long term memory.  "Through our single-minded concentration ….. we can transfer much of the information, thimbleful by thimbleful, into long-term memory and forge the rich associations essential to the creation of knowledge and wisdom." (an excerpt from Wired article written by Nicholas Carr entitled The Web Shatters Focus, Rewires Brain)  In sports, your mental endurance is actually more critical than your physical endurance.

How to get more of it?
Improve Intensive Focus: Focus is a habit and a skill which can be improved like any other habit. Focus is finite. Eliminate all distractions and only focus on one task. The average mind can usually only sustain 7 minutes of this highly lazered intensity. Time yourself. See how long you can totally focus without letting up, getting distracted, or being pulled out of the intensity.

Rest and Recovery: The brain requires mental rests from stress, noise and distraction and needs sleep. Constant media stimulation through TV, music, phone and gaming is exhausting for the brain and wears down your mental endurance. You need time for silence, rest and quiet to unplug and rejuvenate.

Visualize: Visualization is a big push for us at NBC because of all the incredible research on what careful, intentional visualization can do for you. Try it. It will change your game.

A Life Lesson In Endurance

In Alaska, a famous endurance sporting event is the Iditarod, a dogsled competition across 1,160 miles usually lasting 8-10 days in temperatures well below freezing. We watched an example of dogsled training in Skagway this summer. The handler had two dogs he showed to us. One was a big powerful dog with a ton of energy and enthusiasm. The other was a smaller dog, who was very quiet. He asked us who the better choice for lead dog was. We all picked the boisterous bigger dog. He put the dogs in the harness, the quiet dog stood calmly and never made a sound. The bigger dog leapt forward and pulled against the harness and bellowed over and over again. Several other dogs were added to the team and they raced around the training track. He asked us to observe the dogs. The big dog was panting hard, tongue lolling out. All the other dogs were breathing hard except for one—the quiet, lead dog. This dog didn’t even pant. The race around the track hadn’t even fazed her. The handler pointed to the lead dog and said, "When you are going 1160 miles you need to pick dogs who can endure." He told us the dog in the lead was a veteran racer who understood the importance of endurance and the need to harness energy. 

Practical Application

Spend your energy on things that matter
We use up valuable energy squabbling with siblings, arguing and fighting. We waste energy worrying about what might happen. We take away the power of our energy by distractions and time suckers. Focus your energy on your dreams, on building your body, brain and love for life. Harness your energy to spend it on what matters most.

Talk less, do more
Research shows the more you talk about what you are going to do before you do it, the less you will do it. Instead, write down your goals and post them where you can see them. This will be much more powerful than telling everyone before you do something.

NBC Basketball Camps

NBC Camps is committed to the growth and development of athletes who aspire to excel at basketball. NBC Staff work to educate students on best practice on and off the court. Staff believe that talent is not a static trait but can be significantly improved through intentional work, mentoring and camp programs. If you love basketball enough to work hard, we want you at NBC Basketball Camps.  Find out more at

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