March Madness is almost here—an exciting time for basketball fans. But for those who are playing basketball in adult leagues year-round, improving your skills and staying healthy is not limited to one month a year. Incorporating these exercises, which focus on fitness components essential to basketball, into your fitness routine will help keep you at the top of your game.
Continuously running up and down the court taxes your aerobic system. A great way to increase endurance is through interval runs. Use the Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) Scale to help you determine your intensity. Run at a vigorous pace for two minutes (RPE 7-8) and then jog at a lighter pace (RPE 2-3) for one minute. Repeat the intervals for 20-40 minutes.
Playing both offense and defense requires coordination. Clifton Harski, Head Coach and Director of Programming for Fitwall, and an avid basketball player, likes using the three hop lateral speed skater to enhance footwork skills and to improve lateral power. Because this exercise requires weight transfer from one foot to the other, it also increases ankle strength and balance.
Agility, the ability to make cuts toward the ball and away from defenders, requires sudden changes in directions. Clifton uses the 45 lunge combo because it helps to mobilize the hips and conditions your legs for those quick changes.
Power is necessary to jump to grab a rebound. While box jumps are a great tool to improve your vertical jump, try skater hops to improve single-leg power. A note of caution: All to often, athletes spend the majority of their time training for explosive movements. The acceleration (up) phase of this exercise is going to improve power in your glutes and quadriceps. However, often neglected is the decelerating (down) phase of the jump. Practicing proper landing technique while coordinating the hips, knees and ankles to work together is key to preventing injuries.
Core strength is also a vital component to help you maintain control throughout a game. Whether you’re pivoting or boxing someone out, your core needs to be strong, yet mobile. The star crunch 2.0 not only improves endurance of the core, it also increases strength in the adductors—the inner thigh and groin muscles that are often injured. While this video has the top leg elevated on the wall, placing it on a bench would also suffice.
Share these exercises with your teammates and you’ll be on your way to the championship!