Kristen Gilroy's Blog

Physiological Demands of Basketball

Here is my 5-8 pg Research Paper.  The prupose of this paper was to prove that ASEP’s and my assesment of the high levels of both the anaerobic adn aerobic energy systems needed in basketball to be accurate.

“One thousand changes of movement patterns, changing on average every 2 seconds” (Drinkwater, 4). This describes the intensity level for the sport of basketball. Basketball is a sport of very frequent changing movements patterns that last for the whole duration of a game, usually forty minute game. “Players have to repeatedly generate momentum and overcome inertia with frequent starts and stops” (Drinkwater, 4).

In order to perform the demanding tasks need to play basketball, the body must rely heavily on the anaerobic system. The anaerobic system is an energy system that does not use oxygen. To exercise anaerobically means that you are working at such a high level of intensity, that the cardiovascular system can’t deliver oxygen to the muscles fast enough. Because muscles need oxygen to continue exercising, anaerobic exercises only last for short periods of time. For example, the duration of an anaerobic exercise could be mere seconds, or 1-2 minutes, but nothing longer than that. In terms of basketball, the anaerobic system aids athletes’ in their ability to react quickly in their movements, and change directions on a dime.

However, not only does basketball require a high intensity level from the anaerobic energy system, it also uses the other energy system, the aerobic system, almost just as much. In contrast from the anaerobic system, the aerobic system does require oxygen. Furthermore, aerobic exercise is of relatively low intensity (high enough to elevate the heart rate to between 60 and 80% of its maximum), and it increases the body’s demands for oxygen and adds to the workload of the heart and lungs, strengthening the cardiovascular system and helping to develop endurance. The duration of aerobic exercise is defined as continuous exercise that lasts for 20 to 60 minutes. Since a basketball game is continuous movement for forty minutes, players must be able to maintain their endurance level throughout the competition. That is why it is extremely important that basketball players are not only anaerobically fit, but aerobically fit as well.

In order to verify ASEP’s and my beliefs that the sport of basketball uses a combination of both the anaerobic system at a high intensity level, and aerobic system at a medium to high intensity level, I conducted some research. Through my research I was able to find five scientific articles on studies that provide evidence proving ASEP’s and my assumptions about the physiological demands of basketball to be valid.

In the first article Design and Interpretation of Anthropometric and Fitness Testing of Basketball Players, the author, James Drinkwater, explains how “basketball players require high levels of fitness to maintain high levels of intensity” (Drinkwater, 4). According to Drinkwater, not only is the anaerobic fitness essential in basketball, but so is aerobic fitness as well. However, in his article, Drinkwater points out how the value of aerobic fitness has been questioned when it comes to basketball. Therefore, Drinkwater decided to conduct a study of both male and female Australian junior- national level basketball players in attempts to prove the importance of aerobic fitness in basketball. The findings of his study showed that the Australian basketball players improved their aerobic fitness from the beginning of the season and scored higher on their test of aerobic fitness than their state-level counterparts. Furthermore, additional studies have also “indicated improvements in aerobic fitness over a basketball season, pointing out the need for adaptation of fitness parameters to the physical demands of basketball” (Drinkwater, 6).

Some more evidence that shows the importance of aerobic fitness in basketball is “the importance of oxygen recovery of creatine phosphate” (Drinkwater, 6). If basketball players have the fastest creatine phosphate resynthesis rate than they will be the aerobically fittest individuals. Lastly, fatigue from heavy physical activity has been shown to impair performance of motor skills, cognitive functioning, and choice reaction time (Drinkwater, 6). For instance, “since a more aerobically fit athlete has a lower heart rate for an absolute workload than one that is less fit, it is possible that the fitter players may make quicker, more accurate decisions as they are less fatigued for that workload” (Drinkwater, 7). Although some may question the value of aerobic fitness to basketball performance, the ample evidence provided in Drinkwater’s studies, justifies both the physical and cognitive gains to including aerobic exercises in your basketball program.

The second article that focuses on the importance of both energy systems in basketball, especially the aerobic, is Dependence of Intensity of Specific Basketball Exercise from Aerobic Capacity. This particular article focuses on how high level aerobic exercise may be beneficial for basketball players because increased aerobic capacity enhances recovery from anaerobic performance. In an a effort to prove this, a study was aimed at “assessing the relationship between heart rate response during specific exercise of basketball training and the data of aerobic fitness from cardio respiratory exercise testing” (Gocentas, 1). The data collected from ten high-level basketball players suggests that better aerobic fitness is indeed beneficial for basketball players due to the fact that these players were able to perform basketball- specific exercise far more efficiently.

The next article, Physical Attributes, Physiological Characteristics, On-Court Performance, and Nutritional Strategies of Female and Male Basketball Players by Gal Ziv and Ronnie Lidor, also supports ASEP’s and my beliefs that basketball uses a combination of both energy systems. According to Ziv and Lidor, “Although basketball is not an endurance sport per se, having high values of cardiopulmonary functions is important for players to maintain a high level of activity during the entire game, on both offense and defense” (Ziv & Lidor, 5). Evidence collected from numerous studies of both male and female basketball players demonstrated the importance of cardiopulmonary function, and ability to maintain high aerobic capacity during the entire basketball season. Another study conducted in this article was on the ventilatory threshold. The ventilatory threshold (VT), which is thought to be related to the anaerobic threshold, is an important measure of aerobic endurance. For example, “High VT allows athletes to maintain higher work intensities for longer durations before fatigue appears” (Ziv & Lidor, 7).

Besides talking about how the aerobic system is essential for basketball despite the beliefs of some, Ziv and Lidor also explained why the anaerobic system is seen as the main energy system in basketball. For instance, it is generally accepted that possessing anaerobic power is crucial in basketball because it requires the production of work over a short period of time. One of the major tests used to test anaerobic power in basketball players is the vertical jump test. “Vertical jumps are amongst the most prevalent acts performed in basketball because players are constantly jumping on both defense (boxing out and rebounding) and offense (shooting and rebounding)” (Ziv & Lidor, 9).

The fourth article, Physiological Demands of Competitive Basketball, also supports the notion that basketball uses both energy systems. In the sport of basketball, “players cover about 4500–5000 m during a 40-min game with a variety of multidirectional movements such as running, dribbling, and shuffling at variable velocities and jumping. To execute such movements during performance, both aerobic and anaerobic metabolic systems appear to be involved throughout a game. However, it has been conventionally thought that anaerobic metabolism is the primary energy pathway in playing basketball, and thus, anaerobic conditioning has been emphasized in practice” (Narazaki, Abstract). As a result of the over emphasis of the anaerobic system, and less focus on the aerobic system in basketball, Narazaki decided to conducted a study aimed at “assessing physiological responses of competitive collegiate basketball by measuring oxygen consumption (VO2), HR, LA, and perceived exertion (RPE), as well as performing a time-motion analysis in practice games” (Narazaki, Abstract). The results from Narazaki’s study once again prove the importance of aerobic conditioning for basketball players.

Lastly, Time Motion Analysis and Physiological Data of Elite Under 19 Basketball Players During Competition, explains a time-motion analysis study that was done in attempts to “identify the physiological requirements of modern basketball in order to prescribe and develop an appropriate physical training program” (Abdelkrim, Abstract). From Abdelkrim findings, he concluded that since the rule changes in 2000, players now play at a slightly higher intensity than before. In addition, he also found that “plasma lactate determinations show a large contribution from the anaerobic energy systems towards the end of the halves. Analysis by playing position shows the greater cardiac and metabolic efforts in which guards were involved compared with centers. And lastly, reduced performance occurs during the second and fourth quarters for players in all positions” (Abdelkrim, Conclusion). Once again, all of Abdelkrim’s findings support ASEP and my own beliefs about the high degree of both the anaerobic and aerobic systems basketball requires.

In conclusion, all five articles that I found during my research prove ASEP’s and my assessment of high levels of both the anaerobic and aerobic energy systems to be necessary for the sport of basketball. Due to the fact that most people are aware of how essential a high level of anaerobic fitness is in basketball, the five articles all conducted studies to prove how important aerobic fitness also is. The results gathered from the five studies all proved their hypotheses to be accurate. Thanks to these studies, coaches can now develop training programs that put a greater emphasis on aerobic fitness, while still working on the anaerobic side, which is a must in basketball.


Works Cited

Drinkwater, Eric J., David B. Pyne, and Michael J. Mckenna. “Design and Interpretation of Anthropomtrie and Fitness Testing of Basketball Players.” Sports Medicine 38.7 (2008): 565-578. SPORTDiscus. EBSCO. Web. 5 Apr. 2010.

Gocentas, A., A. Landor, and A. Andziulis. “DEPENDENCE OF INTENSITY OF SPECIFIC BASKETBALL EXERCISE FROM AEROBIC CAPACITY.” Papers on Anthropology 13.(2004): 9-17. SPORTDiscus. EBSCO. Web. 5 Apr. 2010.

Narazaki, K., et al. “Physiological demands of competitive basketball.” Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports 19.3 (2009): 425-432. SPORTDiscus. EBSCO. Web. 5 Apr. 2010.

Ziv, Gal, and Ronnie Lidor. “Physical Attributes, Physiological Characteristics, On-Court Performances and Nutritional Strategies of Female and Male Basketball Players.” Sports Medicine 39.7 (2009): 547-568. SPORTDiscus. EBSCO. Web. 5 Apr. 2010.


Abdelkrim, Nidhal Ben, Saloua El Fazaa, and Jalila El Ati. “Time-motion analysis and physiological data of elite under-19-year-old basketball players during competition.” British Journal of Sports Medicine 41.2 (2007): 69-75. SPORTDiscus. EBSCO. Web. 5 Apr. 2010.


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