Why is it important for a basketball player to weight train? Simple, basketball is a physically demanding sport in which the player must be a complete athlete: strong and explosive while exhibiting fine motor skills when shooting, passing, rebounding, and dribbling. Basketball players must be conditioned to the demands of the sport. Weight training has been shown to increase the strength of muscular contractions, speed, and flexibility. The result is a stronger and faster player. Unfortunately, some players (high school and collegiate) do not understand the importance of strength training. In addition, those who do train seem to ignore the importance of lower body and core strength focusing entirely on upper body aesthetics. A basketball player must be able to efficiently run, shuffle, jump, and cut. All of these movements are performed primarily through the use of the ankles, knees, hips and core. In reality, players should possess the proper strength, power, flexibility, balance, coordination, and quickness to effectively compete on the court.
I’ve included 20 basic training tips for basketball players and coaches looking to get a competitive edge on their opponent.
1. Always start your weight room and on-court workouts with a general warm-up which is designed to raise your core temperature and increase blood flow to the muscles. Ten to fifteen minutes of jogging, form running, or active/dynamic flexibility drills are an excellent way to warm-up. Make sure your athletes take the warm-up drills seriously. Proper warm-up can reduce the chances of injuries.
2. Train the muscles of the core (hips, abdominals and low back). The core is the link between the upper and lower extremities. Without a strong core, athletic performance is limited. Forces generated from the legs and hips can be transferred into efficient movements when the core is solid and strong. This translates into running faster and jumping higher.
3. Train the core in a sports specific manner (on your feet). Medicine ball drills (i.e. chest pass throws, side throws, overhead throws, etc.) are an excellent way to strengthen the core and develop total body power.
4. The majority of training should include exercises that are closed-chain (standing on your feet), multi-joint (i.e. squats, squat jumps, lunges) and multi-planar (i.e. lateral lunges, 45° lunges, lateral step-ups).
5. Do exercises that focus on single leg strength and power. Players typically run and jump off one (1) leg to make lay-ups, make sharp running cuts, and to play defense (i.e. defensive slides).
6. Strengthen the muscles of the posterior and lateral hip (i.e. hamstrings and glutes). These muscles play an important role in rebounding, boxing out, blocking shots, and taking jump shots.
7. Train movements not muscles. The kinetic chain which consists of the nervous system, the muscular system, and the articular system (joints) must work interdependently to provide efficient movement. Strength training goals should focus on improving athleticism and movement on the court.
8. Drills to improve reaction time, footspeed, and eye-hand-feet coordination (i.e. stealing a ball from an opponent) should be included in your workouts.
9. Common injuries in basketball occur at the ankles and knees. Lower body exercises are crucial in reducing injuries in the lower extremities. Remember, athletes train to reduce the chances of injuries associated with their sport.
10. Use a variety of equipment for training (i.e. bodyweight, weighted vest, medicine balls, bands, manual resistance, dumbbells, barbells, slideboards, agility ladders, etc.). They all provide a training stimulus for improving on-court performance.
11. Incorporate exercises to improve the strength and the range of motion at the ankles. Most players tend to play with their ankles taped or with ankle braces which can lead to a lack of mobility.
12. Players should learn how to land and distribute ground forces from joints to muscle. Learning how to land on one (1) leg in multiple directions should be included in a training session once the athlete has mastered landing on two (2) feet.
13. Perform a static stretch routine after each workout session to:
1. Increase flexibility
2. Delay and lessen the on-set of muscle soreness.
14. Drink a post-workout shake consisting of protein and carbohydrates after each training session to re-fuel the body.
15. Drink plenty of water and remain hydrated. A lost of 2% of bodyweight due to dehydration can cause a 10-20% decrease in athletic performance.
16. Eat a minimum of three (3) meals per day consisting of protein, (good) carbohydrates and low fat for energy and to maintain or increase lean muscle tissue. However, it is recommended that athletes have at least six (6) meals a day.
17. Absolute speed (or linear speed) is not necessarily important in basketball. Lateral speed and the ability to accelerate, decelerate, and change direction is crucial. Cone drills, slideboards, and agility ladders are excellent for developing lateral quickness and agility.
18. Research has proven that basketball is predominately an ANAEROBIC/FAST GLYCOLYSIS sport (non-endurance). Basically, it’s a game of brief but intense and repeated burst of action and the ability to recover quickly is vital for playing hard. Therefore, conditioning must mimic the energy demands of the sport. Sprinting drills, interval runs and shuttle runs should constitute the majority of training. Aerobic training or long distance running will have a negative impact on developing speed, strength and power.
19. Learn how to think and play under fatigue. Circuit training with a work to rest ratio of 1:1 or 2:1 is a good training method at accomplishing this task.
20. Proper rest is needed to recover from strenuous workouts. Athletes should aim to get at least seven (7) hours of sleep at night.