Every great basketball player understands the importance of their vertical jump. It is the defining trait for most basketball players.
This means that basketball players must focus on their leg strength. There are several exercises that target all the lower body muscles at once.
Isolation exercises may be ideal for players who need to develop certain areas of the body. In any sport, balance is key.
Most of these exercises require some form of resistance training. Progressive overload can increase strength in the legs over time.
Proper form is essential to the quality of the workout. Therefore, you must practice proper form to get the most out of your workouts.
1. Standard Squats
Most of the power that basketball players need to launch from the ground is generated from the quads. A variation of squats can strengthen the quads and other supporting muscle groups.
It’s best to start with a warm-up using just the bar. Make sure that the knees are shoulder-width apart for a standard squat.
Keep the back in a neutral position and slowly bend the knees. Make sure that the back is straight during the entire squat.
Lower the knees until they reach a 90-degree angle. With both knees at a 90-degree angle, quickly return to the starting position.
This is to build explosive power. Use heavier weights and lower reps.
Basketball players should know their one-rep max for squats. The one-rep max is the theoretical amount of weight that a player can squat only once.
Squat 70-80% of your one-rep max to push the muscles. Workouts should be between 6-8 reps and performed for 2-3 more sets.
Many basketball players do not fully develop their hamstrings. Performing squats more regularly can give players an advantage in their vertical jump.
The benefit of squats is that they strengthen the entire body. This reduces the likelihood of injury.
2. Lateral and Linear Lunges
Players use similar motions to lunges in a game. These types of exercises are good for opening the hips and stretching the legs.
Lunges help a player to explode from the ground more quickly. There are several variations of lunges that can achieve this including side lunges and single leg squats.
For a linear lunge, start with both feet together. Take a large step forward and bend the knees at 90-degree angles.
Bring the leg back to the starting position. Repeat this process with both legs and make sure that the hips are protruding forward.
For lateral lunges, start in the same position with both feet together. Take one large step laterally or to the side.
Bend the knees as far as you can. Make sure that both heels are on the ground.
Return to the original position. Alternate both feet and keep a steady pace.
Jumping lunges are another substitute for linear lunges. Players can practice their balance and vertical jumping potential.
You should add more resistance once balance and form are no longer an issue. Keep any additional weights in the hands and close to the hips or chest.
3. Single Leg and Med Ball Exercises
Single leg exercises allow a player to balance out both legs. Most single leg exercises target the core, hips, and legs.
It is common to perform single leg exercises with a medicine ball. These types of exercises are sometimes called med ball slam exercises.
Start with your feet shoulder-width apart, facing parallel to the wall. Hold the med ball in front of you at chest level.
Quickly rotate the torso and throw the med ball against the wall. Be prepared to catch the ball because a med ball generates a lot of force after hitting a surface.
Med ball exercises like this are good for improving core strength and hip mobility. Repeat med ball exercises for 2-3 sets on each side.
An agility ladder requires players to step in and out of the ladder as quickly as possible. Agility becomes crucial when a player needs to fake out their opponent.
Shuffle through the ladder without touching the edge of the box. For resistance, use a waist strap with a partner holding a cable that is teathered to the waist strap.
4. Hip Flexor Stretch
The hip flexors push and pull the leg muscles. A strained or inflamed hip flexor can severely limit a player’s athletic performance.
Lunges are the most effective exercises for stretching the hip flexors. This is because these types of movements generate an opposing force that reverses the tightening in hip flexors.
Start in the lung position with the knees at a 90-degree angle. Push the pelvis forward while keeping the torso in the same position.
For a more advanced stretch, place the hands above the head. While still pushing the pelvis forward, bring the torso back and hold this position for 20 seconds.
This is a sensitive stretch, so make sure that you do not overstretch the hip flexor.
Players may find a different version of hip flexor stretches to be easier. Some of these stretches include the spider-man stretch, pigeon stretch, and kneeling hip flexor stretch.
A foam roller can also be used to increase hip flexibility and loosen tight muscles. Apply pressure with the roller by sliding the hip area against the roller.
Focus on activities that can increase flexibility and allow for more range of motion. Do not force a deeper position if it causes you pain or discomfort.