Everything You Need to Know About Suicides in Basketball

Author: Pratik Ghadge


Basketball, a game of agility and endurance, demands peak physical conditioning from its players. Among the myriad of drills coaches employ to enhance their team's fitness, "suicides" stand out as both revered and dreaded. This high-intensity drill, known for its game-like movement patterns, is a staple in training routines worldwide.

Dive into our complete guide as we dissect the "suicides" drill, its benefits, debates surrounding its efficacy, and its place in the broader spectrum of basketball conditioning.

What are "Suicides" in Basketball?

Definition and Purpose

"Suicides" in basketball are a renowned conditioning drill, designed to push players to their physical limits and improve their on-court performance. The name itself, while intense, reflects the exhaustive nature of the exercise. The primary purpose of this drill is to enhance a player's stamina, speed, and agility, ensuring they remain effective even in the closing minutes of a game.

The Setup and Basic Instructions for the Drill

To perform suicides, players start at one baseline of the basketball court. On the coach's whistle, they sprint to the nearest free-throw line, touch it, and sprint back to the original baseline. Without pausing, they then sprint to the half-court line, touch it, and return to the baseline. This pattern continues with players running to the far free-throw line and then the opposite baseline, touching each line before returning to the starting point. This entire sequence constitutes one repetition of the drill.

Diagram and Video Demonstration of the Drill

While a textual description provides a basic understanding, a diagram offers a visual representation of the movement patterns in suicides. Players can easily follow the marked lines and directions, ensuring they perform the drill correctly. Additionally, video demonstrations, often available on sports training websites, provide a real-time view of the drill, allowing players to mimic the correct pace and technique.

Benefits of Running Suicides

Game-like Movement Patterns and Their Importance

One of the standout features of suicides is their game-like movement patterns, often seen in the performances of underrated NBA players. Basketball requires players to frequently change directions, sprint short distances, and quickly recover. Suicides emulate these movements, preparing players for actual game scenarios.

Improving Speed, Endurance, and Agility

Suicides are not just about running; they're about running with purpose. The drill aids in enhancing a player's speed, making them faster during fast breaks or when chasing down an opponent. Moreover, the repetitive nature of suicides builds endurance, ensuring players don't tire easily. Agility, the ability to change direction swiftly, is also honed, helping players dodge opponents effectively.

Enhancing Coordination and Defensive Sliding Skills

The quick turns and touches in suicides improve coordination. Players learn to synchronize their movements, ensuring efficiency and reducing the risk of injuries. Additionally, the drill indirectly aids in refining defensive sliding skills, crucial for guarding opponents.

The Debate: Are Suicides Beneficial?

Using Suicide as a Punishment

Many coaches employ suicides as a punitive measure for lapses in focus, tardiness, or other infractions. The upside is that it instills discipline and deters negligence. However, the downside is that it might foster resentment or dread towards an otherwise beneficial drill, reducing its effectiveness.

Using Suicides for Conditioning

While suicides are undeniably intense, some argue that they don't directly translate to improved basketball skills. Detractors believe that practice time could be better spent on drills that combine skill development with conditioning.

Alternatives to Suicides for Conditioning

Given the debate around suicides, many coaches seek alternatives. Drills like defensive slides, full-court layup drills, and zig-zag dribbling offer conditioning while also focusing on skill enhancement. These drills, while less intense than suicides, provide a more holistic approach to basketball training.

When to Run Suicides

As a Form of Punishment or Consequence

Using suicides as a form of punishment has been a long-standing tradition in basketball coaching. When players make mistakes, show a lack of focus, or breach team rules, coaches often resort to this intense drill as a consequence. The rationale is simple: the grueling nature of suicides serves as a deterrent, ensuring players think twice before repeating mistakes. However, this method has its critics, with some arguing that it might lead to a negative association with the drill and could potentially demotivate players.

During Basketball Tryouts

Basketball tryouts are a crucial time for coaches to assess the fitness levels and commitment of aspiring players. Incorporating suicides into tryouts serves a dual purpose. Firstly, it gauges the physical conditioning of players, and secondly, it tests their mental toughness. Those who persevere through the drill under such high-pressure situations often demonstrate a higher level of dedication and resilience.

As a Warm-Up or at the End of Practice

Starting a practice session with suicides can effectively elevate heart rates, preparing players for subsequent drills. Conversely, ending a session with suicides can be a test of endurance, pushing players to give their all even when fatigued. Both approaches have their merits, with the former focusing on immediate energy bursts and the latter on stamina.

Other Basketball Conditioning Drills

Defensive Slides

Defensive slides are a fundamental basketball drill designed to improve a player's defensive stance and lateral movement. Players start on one side of the court, maintaining a low stance, and slide sideways to the other end without crossing their feet. This drill enhances agility, strengthens leg muscles, and reinforces the importance of a solid defensive posture.

Incorporating Ball Handling, Rebounding, and Layups in Conditioning Drills

While conditioning is vital, it's equally important to integrate basketball-specific skills into training routines. Drills that combine ball handling with sprinting, or rebounding exercises followed by layups, ensure players improve their fitness while also honing essential game skills. Such drills mimic real-game scenarios, making the training more effective and engaging.

The Importance of Mixing Up Drills for Variety

Variety is crucial in basketball training. Repeatedly doing the same drills, like the full-court press, can lead to monotony, reducing their effectiveness. By introducing new drills or alternating between them, coaches can keep players engaged, ensuring they remain attentive and receptive during practice sessions.

How Many Suicides Make a Mile, Half Mile, and Quarter Mile?


Calculations Based on Court Types: NBA, College, High School, and Junior High

The distance covered during suicides varies based on the type of basketball court. For instance, NBA and college courts are 94 feet long, while high school courts are 84 feet, and junior high courts are slightly shorter.

Breakdown of Distances Covered in a Single Suicide for Each Court Type

On an NBA or college court, one suicide (comprising sprints to the free-throw line, half-court, the opposite free-throw line, and the opposite baseline and back) covers approximately 470 feet. On a high school court, it's about 420 feet, and on a junior high court, around 370 feet. Given that a mile is 5,280 feet, it takes roughly 11.23 suicides on an NBA court, 12.57 on a high school court, and 14.27 on a junior high court to complete a mile. For half and quarter miles, these numbers are halved and quartered, respectively.

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Final Thoughts

In the dynamic world of basketball, conditioning drills like suicides play a pivotal role in shaping athletes. While their efficacy is debated, their legacy is undeniable. By blending traditional drills with innovative training methods, coaches can cultivate players who are not only physically robust but also strategically adept on the court.


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