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Best Exercises for Basketball Players

Basketball is particularly demanding on the body, meaning great players must remain in their best physical condition with the best exercises for basketball players

By Fred Eugene ParkPublished 6 years ago 8 min read
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Sports players and teams recognize the importance of bringing science and medicine into the game to optimize performance. With different players requiring different performance attributes and exploiting different skills, athletes often gear their workouts specifically toward certain objectives. From core exercises for soccer players to upper body workouts for baseball players, basketball is no exception to this rule.

Since they're playing a sport that is particularly demanding on the body, great basketball players must remain in their best physical condition to assure that they can face the rigors of a full season. Requiring a great deal of body power, stamina, speed, and joint health, there are specific workouts that will offer basketball players the best preparation and conditioning for the game. Removed from the time of "bigger" guys like Shaq, one of the best NBA players, who perform in less-than-peak condition, through pain and wear, today's players and administrators recognize the basic inherent benefits of proper strength and conditioning, for speed, agility and explosive play and the potential negatives of neglecting these things. In order to achieve such peak physical condition, it is crucial to develop an effective exercise program.

Whether you are in high school, college or just enjoy playing with friends, you should approach playing with the proper conditioning. To be in top playing shape, you need to build core, upper body, and especially leg strength. The best exercises for basketball players work on the key areas necessary to thrive in hoops without straining or needlessly injuring yourself.

Strength is one of the most important aspects of basketball fitness, making up one half of "strength and conditioning." With so many games in the season, players must assure that they strengthen their body to avoid injury from the repetition and hard impact that is common in such a fast paced sport.

One of the best exercises for basketball players to develop overall body power is the deadlift. Engaging the glutes, hamstrings, quads, thighs, lower back and upper neck muscles, the deadlift is an exercise everyone should be doing in the gym because it's a great time saving and multi-purpose lift that is consequently great for athletes or anyone just trying to make sure that their whole body is conditioned. However, you want to make sure that your hips, and indeed your legs in general, are up to this task, lest you incur injury. When performing deadlifts, stand with your legs shoulder width apart to avoid injury. If you have problems with your "hip mobility," you should perform hip mobility exercises before other exercises and on days when other muscles are recovering. Remember, don't skip leg days!

Too often people forget the crucial importance of the legs in any truly complete exercise program. The legs are the suspension of the body. Providing the "explosive power" necessary for dunks, rebounds and other jumping motions, the muscles and joints of the legs are the struts of the basketball body. The most effective exercises for basketball players will focus largely on the legs. The hips, knees and ankles must, therefore, be strong and flexible to assure both the best range of motion and power to launch abnormally tall men into the air. Without conditioning these joints and muscles, you risk greater injury risks due to the physical brutality your legs face in this sport.

Perhaps one of the best workouts to engage and strengthen these crucial pivot points is the clean high pull. By performing clean high pulls, you add weight to the process of flexing and extending these joints, bolstering the surrounding muscles and improving the carrying capabilities of these joints. With this added strength and stability, you will find it easier to jump with great height and suddenness.

One of the most important considerations in great basketball exercise is upper body strength. In a sport of dribbling, slam dunks, shooting the ball, and just general constant arm motion, it is critical to keep the shoulders in tip top shape. As the most important pivot point of the arm, strong shoulders will allow players to use their arms to the best of their skills.

As a caution, you should make sure that your shoulders and body are in proper shape for this exercise, otherwise, you risk doing damage to your spine. Make sure that you can stand with each leg straight and that you can lift the weight while standing. If not, a good prep for eventual overhead pressing is push-ups and simple bench presses. If you find that you need to hyper-extend your lower back to raise your arms all the way up, consider the above alternatives to strengthen your shoulders enough, over time to prepare your shoulders for overhead presses.

Without the ability to jump to great heights, one will not excel in the sport of basketball. Players need to be able to catapult upward without warning to catch others off guard, especially when recovering rebounds. In such scenarios, the most critical moment is the second jump, wherein the player must generate as much height as possible to yank the ball from a shot that has been missed.

One of the best exercises for this skill is the power lunge, wherein, you lunge from a standing position, with feet spread at a walking distance, down to one knee. Assuming we start with the right leg forward, bend the left leg so that the knee is on the ground and the left foot lines up with the front knee. Another great exercise for the leg muscles and joints, this process will help to make you more explosive and resilient when chasing rebounds.

As has been stressed, the importance of leg strength and conditioning is crucial in basketball. With the majority of long term and lasting injury in the sport occurring in the hips and knees, you must strengthen the muscle groups in the areas to minimize the damage and avoid short term injuries that could cause you to lose playing time. When performing exercises intended to work on the leg muscles, it is equally crucial to assure that you do not put strain on your spine, as these are the most painful and debilitating injuries for any player.

With a front squat, you can work on all of your leg muscles, but especially on the glutes and quads. With the glutes just above the legs and the quads comprising most of the thighs, strength and stability in these muscle groups are keys to stamina, jumping, and agility. The front squat, unlike the back squat, is positioned forward enough to straighten the posture, making it safer for the back.

Because many of the most exciting and critical moments in basketball involve pulling motions (such as rebounds and rough offense), it is important to condition the muscles that handle such extensions and movements. With the upper back playing a crucial role in the strength and functionality of the arm muscles, you must keep those muscles in great shape to keep the load and strain off of your spine. Additionally, the biceps must be in peak form to recover rebounds and to remove the ball from another player's extended hand.

These muscles are best served by doing simple chin-ups, one of the best exercises for basketball players. With this simple, old-school exercise, you will take steps to assure that your rebound game is on point. If you have a very difficult time doing chin-ups, you should work on the necessary muscle groups in preparation and perhaps start with a spotter to assist you in completing your chin-ups.

To add to the above benefits of doing chin-ups, it may be a good idea to also consider the working on grip strength. The principle of grip strength focuses on the muscles of the hand, and their ability to grip with force in difficult situations. While chin-ups work the upper back and biceps to improve your overall pulling strength, there is an exercise you can do to add the element of grip strength to your workout.

In a towel grip row, you lift yourself from a flat reclined position until your chest reaches the bar. However, rather than pulling on the bar itself to raise your body, you wrap small towels over the bar and pull on said towels, forcing the gripping muscles of your hands and arms to work harder than simply lifting oneself with the actual bar.

Is the front squat not dynamic enough for you? Wanna add some bells and whistles to it to make it more complex? Why go to an entirely different exercise to change things up when you can modify one you are already doing to serve new and different areas of the body on top of the ones it already helps. As you have probably figured out by now, jumping higher is one of the most common and important aspects of basketball training and it is critical to develop the muscles that will allow you to improve both in height of jump and physical durability.

Start with the same position you would in a front squat, but hold dumbbells in each hand at your sides. When lowering into squat, push your hips back into a seated position with the weight born by the heels and the spine straight and jump as high as you are able and land as smoothly as possible back into a squat.

Have you ever wondered if one of your legs is stronger than the other? If so, you have probably also figured out that this would cause a bit of imbalance and unsteadiness on the court. When you are moving around the court, dribbling the ball and trying to keep control of the ball, the last thing you want is to lose your balance. However, there are certain exercises you can do to assure that both legs are firing on full and that one isn't going a little harder than the other.

With dumbbell step ups, you can actually fine tune a bit more than many other exercise by working one leg at a time. Dumbbell step ups are a lower body exercise that allows you to work the joints in your lower body without requiring as much involvement of or burden to the spine.

So we have covered the biceps with several different exercise, but we don't want to forget to build strength in the triceps. While not as critical to direct performance as the biceps and upper back, the triceps are one of the so called "glamour muscles," which people work to look strong and imposing. If only for the purposes of self esteem, developing these muscles will make the player more confident and seem more intimidating, adding to their bag of talent and skill to complete the package.

A barbell press-curl starts out like an ordinary barbell curl; standing and curling the bar toward the chest, but instead of lowering the bar immediately, the lifter hoists the bar over their head in a press like fashion. This exercise, if done properly, will keep your arms looking jacked, even though they already are from all of the other exercises you are doing.


About the Creator

Fred Eugene Park

Fred Park is a writer, singer and guitarist with a deep passion for music, sports and history. Fred graduated from Purchase College in 2016 with a BA in history.

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    Fred Eugene ParkWritten by Fred Eugene Park

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