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Rate of Force Development - A Key to Being Explosive


Odds are that if you're reading this then you're a basketball player looking to get more powerful/explosive.

So let me be brief. You need to train your ability to develop force fast, also known as RFD.

What Is RFD?

Rate of force development (RFD) is what it sounds like --- the rate at which an athlete can produce force.

Why Care?

In sports, especially basketball, the difference between winning and losing a play is milliseconds and inches. Whether that is who can jump off the ground higher and faster to get a rebound, or the player who can put more force into the ground more rapidly to accelerate faster for a loose ball, the faster you can produce force the better.

In terms of strength & conditioning, higher RFD is directly linked with better jumping and sprinting (Walker, 2016). So it's a key ability that you needs to be trained.

What Increases RFD?

Three things seem to improve RFD (Walker, 2016):

  1. Increases in muscle-tendon stiffness.

  2. Enhanced muscle force production via changes in muscle fiber type (type I to IIA).

  3. Increases in neural drive during the early phase of the stretch-shortening cycle (SSC).

How Do I Increase RFD?

This is the main dish that you came here to read. For trained or athletic subjects, the only types of training that have been shown to elicit RFD improvements are resistance training and ballistic training (Walker, 2016). With that said, even in trained or athletic subjects I'd still include plyometrics, balance training, and Olympic lifts and their derivatives, each for the following reasons. Note that the plyometrics and balance training are most specific to athletes trying to improve jumping or sprint speed.

  • Plyometrics are an excellent way of increasing muscle-tendon stiffness, especially extensive plyos such as hops, skips, and pogos, as well as intensive shock methods like depth jumps.

  • Balance training, especially on one leg, helps develop co-contraction around the ankle joint, which in turn helps build muscle-tendon stiffness.

  • Olympic lifts are one of the best ways to heavily load an object while still keeping relatively high velocities. Due to technique being so important for safety when performing Olympic lifts, like cleans and snatches, the learning curve can take a while. Fortunately, Olympic derivatives like mid-thigh clean pulls have been shown to also create high RFD (Thielen, n.d.).


Using these training styles in your strength & conditioning programming is vital if you are serious about maximizing your athletic potential, particularly as a basketball player. I'll include at the bottom of this post several videos for examples of the training styles. The videos will be in the order of the training style referenced above (resistance, ballistic, plyometrics, balance, and Olympic lifting).

Til next time.



Thielen, S. (n.d.). What is rate of force development? Sanford POWER: Sports & Athlete


Walker, O. (2016, March 9). Rate of force development (rfd). Science for Sport.

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