Any basketball fanatic knows: a vertical game is an important component. Jump shots, rebounding and blocking shots—all require players to have the power to propel themselves upward. To develop into a better overall player, however, it's smart to practice and hit the gym – but it needs to be done thoughtfully to maximize the benefits. Develop the capacity (strength and power) in the gym and practice the skills on the court with these CRI approved protocols.
Legs and Ankles: Develop the muscles that give you speed and balance
A professional basketball athlete would never tell you that the key to their success came solely from practicing on the court; lifting weights would be included, for sure. Working muscles like the calves, glutes, quads, and even areas of the back could significantly increase vertical jump height, as well as help control the body coming down.
“Weight training has played a big role in my athletic ability. It keeps my endurance and energy up when we have long days. The basketball season is very long for professional athletes and can take a toll on your body. Without weight training, I wouldn't be able to maintain my strength throughout the season." —LeBron James, two-time NBA Championship winner, 4-time MVP for the Cleveland Cavaliers—STACK Magazine
Lifting weights can not only improve a player’s performance, but also may reduce the risk of injury. After all, collision sports like basketball can be brutal on knees and ankles.
- Increase jump height for shots and rebounding
- Build muscles that are better shock absorbers for landing
- Strengthen the ankles for cutting and change-of-direction
- Strengthen critical ligaments and tendons of the lower extremity
TRY THIS UNIQUE BASKETBALL-SPECIFIC PROTOCOL
- Eagle Leg Press: 2:00 of continuous repetitions, slow and controlled @ Body Weight
- Immediately after, 8-12 explosive reps, pushing out as quickly as possible with a controlled return
- Next, 3 sets of 8-12 reps on the Eagle Calf Raise @ Body Weight
- After a 4:00 break, repeat 1-3 for a total of three times!
The Leg Press repetitions for time (rather than a certain number of repetitions) is great for developing endurance, and following it immediately with explosive repetitions has been demonstrated to significantly increase vertical jump height [link to CRI Case Study]. Following up the Leg Press with Calf Raises trains the ankle musculature to develop strength in a quasi-fatigued state.
Put your strength to work: Applied Movement Skill On the court
In addition to strength training in the gym, apply your increased function to the skills necessary on the court.
“Train for multi-directional quickness. Include quickness and agility drills with cones, working the transition from different positions and directions. Not much of basketball is played running straight ahead. Train to move in all directions.” –LeBron James' High School Training Plan—stack.com (in association with Yahoo Sports)
Given the fast nature of the game, it can be extremely difficult to hit that perfect shot—sometimes you have to do it literally on the run. That’s why practicing jump shots on the move can help improve your shot percentage. Plus, you can invite a friend—someone has to feed you the ball!
SKILL DEVELOPMENT DRILLS TO TRY:
- Stationary jump shots 5 sets of 10 jumpers
- 5 sets of 5 Pull-up jumpers, in front of a box
- Repeat 1-2 at three different locations on the floor
This drill is unique in that it trains your ability to hit not just spot-up stationary jumpers, but jumpers on the run. The placement of the box ensures that the athlete does not drift forward when pulling up for the shot – putting your newly developed leg strength and power to the test!