Basketball is a physically demanding sport that differs depending on positional role in the sport. Each position is designated a specific job in the game to execute. These differing jobs result in different ways players’ bodies are built specifically for the role to accommodate the positional needs. Point guards require versatility in skill to be able to perform varying tasks throughout the duration of the game. Point guards are responsible for controlling the pace of the game, in addition to performing physically taxing actions that contrast from other positions’ physical and physiological characteristics, requiring specific training to meet their individual needs, such as in a male collegiate point guard with no previous injuries?. By evaluating physical and physiological characteristics of point guards, measures can be taken to improve their performance and prevent potential injuries.
Being that collegiate basketball is an up-tempo, high-energy and high-paced sport that requires players to perform a variety of skills at an advanced level, it too consequently requires a player to tap into and utilize various aspects of their physical and physiological characteristics. While participating in basketball, most players regardless of position, will perform and use physical characteristics such as vertical jumping, speed, use of change of direction and agility abilities, slide-shuffling and shooting the basketball, respectively. In addition to this, these physical characteristics could be performed in combination with one another oppose to solely individual. For example, the sport of basketball could demand or require a player to perform a short-run sprint followed by a vertical jump and or sprint towards one end of the court and back utilizing COD and agility abilities followed by a vertical jump or shot. Being that there’s a significant unpredictability factor involved in basketball, it would be beneficial for one to train and practice for as many physical aspects involved as possible.
Consequently, the training program designed for a basketball point guard will test and analyze a majority of the above-mentioned physical characteristics. Research studies such as Roberts, Pierce, Hawkins, and DeMello’s (2016) have helped influence our reasoning for testing physical characteristics such as vertical jumping ability, agility and running speed, respectively. According to the research article The Effects of a Pre-Season Physical Conditioning Program on the Physical and Physiological Characteristics of Collegiate Level Basketball Players (Roberts et el., 2016), it was expressed that important physical characteristics and or factors to test and analyze a basketball player for should include running speed, agility and vertical jumping ability (Roberts et el., 2016). The study also tested and analyzed basketball players standing vertical jump, short-run, vertical jump and full-court sprint abilities (Roberts et. el, 2016). Additionally, the research article Profiling in Basketball: Physical and Physiological Characteristics of Elite Players by Ostojic, Mazic, and Dikic (2006) too, contributed in strengthening our decision to test and analyze our players vertical jumping abilities. In the article, it tested and analyzed the vertical jumping height relating to 5 teams of elite Serbian basketball players who competed for the professional First National League (Ostojic et el., 2006). Through research, they found that the more vertical jump power and force a subject generated, the greater the vertical jump height they achieved (Ostojic et el., 2006). Thus, in correlation with their findings as well as Roberts et el., it is necessary to also test and analyze players’ vertical jumping abilities.
In regards to physiological characteristics, a study found that point guards have larger workloads compared to other positions (Pojskic, Separovic, Uzicanin, Muratovic, Mackovic, 2016). Their results showed point guards performed higher in aerobic power and anaerobic capacity tests than other positions; in addition to scoring the lowest on the anaerobic power test. The results could be due to their specific responsibilities in the game including: shooting and rebounding, which necessitates power; defense, which requires strength and balance; dribbling, which requires agility; and running, which entails speed, respectively. The intense nature of the position results in a positive correlation with a high VO2 max, which permits point guards to recover quicker for repeat sprint ability in order to transition between defense and offense and cover large amounts of distances. These findings suggest that point guards do not produce as much power as post positions due to their positioning on the perimeter of the court, which does not require as much jumping and power. However, this supports that point guards have high aerobic power and aerobic capacity allowing them to continuously run while still being able to handle short bursts of high intensity activities.
In addition, point guards were found to have the highest lactate concentration levels and highest heart rate amongst other positional roles according to a study ( Stanjanovic, Stojiljkovic, Scalan, Dalbo, Berkelmans, Milanovic, 2017). This is also due to the fact that point guards cover more distance than centers and forwards, with moderate speeds mixed with bursts of high intensity over short distances (Stojanovic et al.). Great variations in intensities result in point guards having high lactate concentrations due to increased dependence of rapid glycolysis for energy endowment. Additionally, activities required of point guards also contribute to the position having the highest heart rate. Furthermore, higher heart rates in point guards could also be due to longer playing periods with fewer substitutions, in contrast to post positions, who play shorter periods of time. However, reduced intensities in each game quarter can result in a decline in physiological response as the game progresses, possibly due to a decreased concentration of muscle glycogen (Stojanovic et al.).
Injuries will always be expected when playing the game of basketball. According to a study by the The International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, most male collegiate level basketball players experience injuries involved in the lower extremities (Lewis, 2018). Such injuries that male basketball players encounter are inverted ankle sprains and knee injuries (such as an ACL, Meniscus, MCL tear or strain). The mechanism of injury of a lateral ankle sprain is a result of severe plantar-flexion and inversion, damaging the anterior talofibular ligament as well as the calcaneofibular ligament. Examples of an ankle sprain involving a point guard can occur after a jump shot or during a drive to the basket, landing and inverting the ankle on the defender’s foot or improper foot placement. The mechanism of injury for a tear/sprain in the knee joint can be due to valgus forces in the knee or contact when coming down from a layup/dunk or battling for a rebound. Such examples can be a tear or partial tear of the anterior cruciate ligament, medial meniscus, medial collateral ligament or in the worst case all three. An injury to the knee can be career ending according to article published by The Journal of Athletic Training in which as few as 14% of male basketball players with ACL reconstructions are limited to playing time if not unable to return to the sport (Brumitt., Hutchison, Houck, Isaak, Engilis, Loew, … & Arizo, 2018). Pivotal evidence in the study done by The International Journal Of Sports Physical Therapy stated that point guards experienced a greater rate of LQ injury than their forward and center counterparts (Lewis, 2018). This indicates that the point guards experience greater stress on the lower extremities than anyone else on the court while playing the basketball.
Field & Lab tests are needed to recognize the areas that athletes excel in and need improvement in. Four areas will be tested on this project: speed & agility, high-speed strength, anaerobic performance, aerobic performance. Based on the National Strength and Conditioning Association guidelines, tests should be performed in the mentioned order. Also, each athlete will be presented with a health and injury questionnaire to anticipate and adjusts the tests accordingly.
Speed and agility play a big role for the guard position. A research study by Alemadroglu (2012) reported a moderate correlation between T-Test and 37 m and sprint times. Therefore, T-Test is a valid and reliable test. This test involves movement referred to as the stretch-shortening cycle (SSC) (Haff, Triplett, 2015). The T-Test is performed with four cones as follows: Cone “A” is the start line, then 10 yards out is cone “B,” and cones “C” & “D” are on opposite sides of cone “B”, 5 yards apart making a “T” figure. The athlete follows the A-B-C-D-B-A sequence (B-C-D-B must be performed shuffling). The best of 2 trials is recorded.
There are many different ways to test high-speed strength, however, the emphasis will be on the vertical jump test. A 2016 study by Soslu, Ozkan, Goktepe, Kelimeler shows a strong correlation between strength and vertical jump performance. The vertical jump test is performed with a commercial Vertec device. The athlete must stand with flat feet on the ground with the dominant shoulder 6 inches towards the stand. The athlete must then perform a countermovement, flexing the knees & hips, then jumping as high as possible, extending the dominant arm to mark the highest point. The best out of three trails to the nearest 0.5in or 1.0cm is recorded.
Studies by Abdelkrim et al. and Stojanovic et al. concluded that point guard position players perform more anaerobic bouts resulting in high levels of lactate concentration than centers and forwards. For this reason, there is an emphasis on the Wingate (WAnT) test. This test has been shown to be a strong predictor of sprinting abilities (Soslu et. al). To perform the WAnT test, a cycle ergometer is needed. The bike is set with the equivalent of 7.5% of athlete’s body mass in weight resistance. When the athlete reaches 160-170 rpm, the resistance is dropped. The athlete must complete a 30 second sprint. The peak (PP) and mean (MP) power is automatically recorded by the computer.
A 2014 study by de Araijo, Machado-Gabatto, Papoti, Camargo, Gobatto, described the needs of aerobic capacity to aid anaerobic performance over the course of a whole game. The Yo-Yo Intermittent recovery test was studied by Castagna (2008) and concluded that it is a valid basketball-specific test for assessment of aerobic endurance. For the test, a 20-meter course is marked with an extra 5-meters behind the start line. The athlete will sprint the 20-meter length forward and back. An auditory signal should match the time in which the athlete returns the start line mark. The athlete will jog the last 5-meters and wait until the second sound for the next trial. The pace will increase every trial and will end once the athlete can no longer maintain the pace.