7 Exercises to Improve Your Basketball Skills

Whether you’re a college athlete or a weekend warrior, strengthening the muscles you use for basketball can boost your performance as well as help prevent game-related injuries. For tips on how to workout when you’re not on the court, here are seven exercises to help improve your basketball skills.

1. Squat Jumps

Basketball requires a player to stay low and move forward, backward, and laterally while shooting and rebounding. To help improve this technique, try using squat jumps in your workout routine. To perform a squat jump, start with your feet shoulder-width apart, back straight, and your arms straight out in front of you. Then, slowly bend your knees and lower your hips until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Next, immediately jump as high as possible, moving your arms downward. Land with both feet on the ground and slowly lower yourself into another squat position before performing another jump.

2. Jump Rope

Jumping rope not only increases stamina and endurance during a game, but it also helps you to move quickly and stay agile while developing your ability to jump. And as long as you have a basic jump rope, you can perform this exercise anywhere from inside your home to a public park.

To be a good athlete on the court may require an investment in some off-the-court cross training.

To be a good athlete on the court may require an investment in some off-the-court cross training.

3. Linear or Lateral Lunges

Lunges can help open up hips, strengthen core muscles, and allow players to exert powerful moves out of a lowered stance. To perform linear or lateral lunges, stand with your feet together and step one foot forward about 2-3 feet for a linear lunge, or about 2-3 feet to the side for a lateral lunge. Then, squat down until both knees make a 90-degree angle. Stand back up, bring your foot back in, and repeat using the alternate foot or moving to the other side. You can perform the lunges with or without weights.

4. Military (Overhead) Press

The military (also known as overhead) press can help build strong shoulder muscles which are important for free throws, 3-point shots, and even cross-court “buzzer beaters.” To perform a military press, pick up a barbell, kettle bells, or free weights and hold them at shoulder level. Then, slowly push the weight(s) up over your head until your arms are extended, but not to the point of locking your elbows. Finally, slowly lower the weight(s) back to shoulder level and repeat.

5. Medicine Ball

Medicine balls are one of the best pieces of workout equipment for basketball players, especially since working with a medicine ball can mimic all of the natural movements and actions of working with a basketball. One exercise to try out consists of standing about 3-feet in front of a wall and tossing the ball explosively against the wall from chest level. You can repeat this several times and add a variation such as catching the ball and backpedaling about 20-feet before sprinting forward again and repeating.

Medicine balls are a great tool to build your strength for basketball.

Medicine balls are a great tool to build your strength for basketball.

6. Push-Ups

Push-ups can help strengthen the muscles used in passing a basketball from player to player and can develop shoulder strength that’s necessary for 3-pointers, free throws, and buzzer beaters. Just be sure that you’re using the correct form when performing this exercise.

7. Pull-Ups

Pull-ups can develop bicep and tricep strength while simultaneously working core muscles. While strong biceps and triceps are not a vital part of ball handling for basketball players, the resilience and flexibility in these muscle groups are essential. And since pull-ups can develop several muscles at the same time, it can be a better option for basketball players than weight training.

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