Basketball Training Facilities and the Student-Athlete Experience

March 21, 2013

It’s that time of year….March Madness is officially in full gear. In a season of talented coaches, epic upsets and star players, the average fan doesn’t often stop to think about the experience behind the scenes. What does a day in the life for a college basketball player look like? How do they balance school work with lengthy practices and high-pressure games?

This is where the evolution of the basketball training facility comes in. Over the past five years, there has been a virtual arms race, with universities competing within their conferences to provide student-athletes with high quality venues, incorporating the latest technology in performance training. Basketball training facilities have become a necessity for Division I programs, aiding them in recruiting and retaining the nation’s top talent. In addition, a beautiful building can serve as the foundation for a great experience- enticing recruits and creating a positive place to train, study and dine- essentially creating a home for the student athlete.

But what does the modern basketball training facility entail? The answer is a little bit of everything. A well-designed and comprehensive basketball training facility includes a weight room, training space, hydrotherapy and sports medicine, state-of-the-art practice courts, dedicated video editing and viewing rooms, taping areas and ample equipment storage. In addition, player lounges, study spaces with breakout rooms, dining, training tables and administrative space that houses offices for coaches and athletic staff are important aspects of the modern training facility. Many universities have also chosen to enhance their facilities by incorporating hall of fames and components that pay tribute to their histories.

Although most of the above features are incorporated into training facilities currently being designed, there is no set formula as each facility is customized to accommodate the specific needs of teams, their coaches and the trainers and meld with the campus’ existing architecture. Adapting facilities to meet the specific needs of a team is one of the most challenging and rewarding parts of designing a training facility. The other is seeing a team reap the benefits which include:

  • Impact on the day in the life of a student-athlete
    In many cases, we’re designing the first basketball training facility on a campus, so it’s a completely new experience for players, coaches and trainers to have a centralized home base to play, train and learn. In turn, student-athletes’ lives are impacted immediately. There is a newfound efficiency and accessibility that significantly impacts the day-to-day experience of individuals and the team. Players are able to access the building at any time, which allows them to do anything from  getting some extra shots up after practice, to meeting with tutors or hanging out in the teams lounge spaces to watch some film on their next opponent. Often times prior to the basketball training facilities being added, players have previously shared sports medicine facilities, training space and gym time with other sports on campus and have to adjust their schedules accordingly. Ultimately, a centralized home base enables student-athletes to make more efficient use of their time and truly enjoy student life in their free time.
  • Recruiting benefits
    It should go without saying that it is important to coaches and athletic departments that buildings are designed with the recruit in mind. A training facility should be impressive and uniquely representative of the culture, history and spirit of a team. In addition to coaches and staff being able to sell the impact of a centralized home for student-athletes and the efficiency provided to them by the facility, they should also be able to sell the experience itself, which the training facility allows them to do. We also frequently design with the path the recruit will walk in mind, carefully considering which spaces they will see along their tour, from where  they will first enter the facility to where they end (often in a coach’s office). It’s easy to see the value for universities who invest in basketball training facilities, as it allows them to remain competitive and attract 3, 4 and 5 star recruits who are often looking at a number of storied basketball programs with high-quality facilities.

K-State, whose new training facility opened this past October, is an excellent example of a university investing in the future of their basketball program with a new basketball training facility. Located adjacent to Bramlage Coliseum, the new facility has boosted K-State in a class of schools with some of the best amenities in the country. From a dual court with a divider wall that can be lifted to an impressive glass entryway with a touch screen display that provides information on the history of the team, uniforms and specific players, K-State’s new facility provides current and future student-athletes with an impressive, well-rounded experience. Training facilities over the coming decade will take their cues from buildings like K-State’s, incorporating the latest performance enhancing technology into beautiful and efficient spaces, in order to provide players with an experience that allows them to be the most successful athlete and student possible.


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