How Strength Training Will Elevate Your Game
It is great to have the fundamentals, have the ball on a string and be a lights out shooter. But not spending enough time in the weight room could be holding back your game. Unlock your full athletic ability to maximise your performance.
Becoming more athletic is increasingly important in today's game, with some high school girls even being able to dunk now! Improving power in your legs is essential for attacking the basket and rebounding at a higher level. Exercises focusing on leg muscles such as squats, romanian deadlifts, and lunges are great at building lower body strength. As well as this, taking these exercises and incorporating them into a plyometric workout is even better for increasing your explosiveness. Instead of doing squats, try jumping squats, or box jumps. However, there are even more basic ways for young athletes that you may not have thought of. For example, skipping is a very easy yet effective way, especially for young female athletes, to increase their vertical. The repetitive jumping strengthens many leg muscles, especially the calf (gastrocnemius muscle), which is arguably the most important for increasing your vertical jumps. Skipping is also a great way to improve foot speed and agility, again aiding in enhancing explosiveness.
Improving your core stability is also essential to be able to play at the next level, where the game is faster and the players are tougher. Being able to take pressure whilst dribbling and stay on track is vital in addition to being able to take contact and still finish at the basket- these are just some of the benefits of a strong core. Most people, when trying to strengthen their core go to standard ab exercises: sit ups, the plank, leg raises etc. Whilst these may help a bit, they are not the best exercises as they focus on the rectus abdominis (six pack muscles) rather than the core as a whole. Weighted bounds, which are lateral jumps a couple of feet apart with a low to medium weight, focus on stability and using the core to control the body, and this translates directly to the game. Another benefit of these is that they aid in ankle stability- a win-win exercise! While the plank may be a good exercise it is a stationary exercise and not the best for a basketball player. Adapting this exercise, and doing walking planks, is better as adding movement engages the whole core.
It can be difficult to get in the weight room during the season, due to lack of time or lack of energy. Many of the exercises I've mentioned such as skipping and lateral bounds can be done at home and not all the exercises I've mentioned are high intensity exercises. They can be done several times a week, not in a long intense workout, but in isolation. For example, skipping for 5 minutes every day or doing 10 minute core workouts a couple of times a week can have a massive impact on your game- don't underestimate it!
Check out my instagram page @caitlincollier.fitness for workouts and exercise advice including more plyometric and core workouts.