The basketball season is about to swing into high gear and soon the finest NCAA athletes will be on display in the March Madness tournament. Those of us tuning in will likely end up itching to go and play as well, it happens with every sport when it’s in-season – we see it enough that we need to go out and have a go ourselves. But for the youngsters training for their own college career hoping to make their mark or the older generation trying to get fit and become a recreation league powerhouse, where does weight training fit in and how can it benefit shooting, dribbling and the rest of the game?
Training For The Court
✓ Perfect Practice
The main way to improve in these two areas on the court is practice, and I mean perfect practice at that. The majority of people trying to do so will deteriorate after a number of shots or a certain distance of dribbling.
Once perfect practice is interrupted you are essentially practicing the wrong way to perform these skills. This is where weight training can be beneficial, as muscular endurance is needed in order to competently perform these skills. By training in the gym at a medium rep range you can increase your ability to practice for longer, with better technique.
✓ Coordination & Explosiveness
Coordination and explosiveness are also big factors in dribbling. There is no better place to gain these two attributes than in the weights room. Olympic lifts like the snatch, cleans and push jerks firstly work coordination, but also the ability to suddenly explode, which is needed in order to move from stationary to a fast-paced dribble and beat your man.
Exercises For Basketball
✓ Medicine Ball
A medicine ball work can be highly beneficial for basketball players through coordination work, but the weight can also be used to push your limits. Being able to explode chest passes with a heavy medicine ball means the basketball won’t cause you any problems when you need to pass over distance.
✓ Box Jumps
Box jumps and standing broad jumps will also help with this as well as the ability to jump during the game which is of paramount importance. It’s important for players to continue to progress their plyometric training, these exercises will allow them to really focus on the movement and measure progress unlike on the court where jumps cannot be measured and difficulty cannot be set – it’s simply jumping to out jump the opponent and catch the ball.
Working the quad and calf muscles is also important for a basketball player. Lunges and calf raises should be included to provide strength in the explosive movements performed.
✓ Arms & Shoulders
Strength built in the gym including the arms and shoulders will also prevent the dreaded air-ball. Just like in golf, the biggest regret from a basketball player is usually not giving it enough juice. We’ve all been there, you take the long range effort, it’s perfectly in line with the basket and it starts to drop a little too soon.
You know that a little more explosiveness from your legs, a little more force from your triceps and it would have been a beauty, but alas it wasn’t to be. Strength will ultimately give you the ability to hit those shots even when you are tired at the end of game.
It doesn’t matter how well you train, if you’re not eating right then you won’t make the progress you could. This means you need to eat the right nutrients, and the most important nutrient for muscle development is protein. You can get most of your protein from your diet, but if you’re struggling to consume enough (1-1.5 g per lb of bodyweight), then why not try these supplements:
With 21 g of protein per serving, this fast absorbing protein source provides the perfect post-workout nutrition. It also contains 4.5 g of BCAAs to enhance protein synthesis, helping your muscles to recover. Available in a great range of flavors this should be your go-to protein shake whether you’re leaving the gym or the court.
Sleep is essential for recovery, but you can enhance that recovery by providing your body with a slow release protein source. Each serving contains 24 g of protein which is slowly absorbed by your body as you sleep. This will help to promote muscle growth and repair, helping you to feel ready to train again the next day.
Creatine is one of the most well-researched sports supplements, and it works! Creatine helps provide your muscles with energy during exercise so you can workout for longer. This should definitely be part of your stack. Taking just 5 g a day can benefit your training.
Take Home Message
Whether it’s explosive work, coordination or strength, the modern day basketball athlete needs to be in the weight room pushing their limits in order to be more successful on the court. Being challenged by difficult movements and weighed down produces the endurance needed to operate on the court when tiredness sets in. Simply practicing will not prepare you for that. By pushing the limits in the gym you will achieve a higher level on the court in practice and in games.
Strength has become a much more important part of the game. This is most emphasized by Lebron James who is a powerhouse when compared to the great players of the past. 6ft 8”, 249lbs built more like a football player than a typical basketball player. If guys want to compete with him they need to be bulking up in order to handle the physicality of the game in today’s era.