Doing a proper warm-up before any kind of sporting activity is essential but it is even more important in a physical demanding sport like basketball. Over the years, coaches have tried different methods to improve the performance of basketball players. One aspect that is hugely overlooked is the importance of a proper warm-up or the important part it has in boosting the performance of the players.
And this raises the unavoidable question of what’s the proper way to warm-up a player before competition. For years in a row, it was mutually accepted that a brief warm-up with some stretching while being static is the best way to go. But is this method the best one or even beneficial? Can it really prepare the muscles for the intense action of a basketball match or is there an alternative?
Before we jump into the subject, let’s take a moment and analyze the basic ways to warm-up. First of all, you have the static stretching that is basically only applying a bit of tension that you hold for 20 seconds. Then we have the cardiovascular exercises that involves the large muscles, it provokes a boost in temperature and a bit of sweat. Finally, we have the dynamic approach of the warm-up which involves ballistic movements that are being done within a controlled and safe environment.
The idea of a cardiovascular exercise to warm-up sustained for up to 10 minutes until a bit of sweat starts to appear is a good one. It brings the body’s core temperature to a level that also makes the muscles, ligaments and tendons less stiff and prepares the body for the match that will follow. To achieve this type of warm-up there are several ways. You can either tell the players to jog, do some back pedaling or any other activity that will work on the same muscles that will be used in the actual game. If you’d like you can ask them to jump rope for a few minutes any other footwork pattern. But jumping rope should be part of any warm-up routine simply because it does a great job both with the legs and for the player’s upper body. Another strong point of this kind of warm-up could be the fact that it prepares the player’s mind for the competition that will follow. It gives each player the time to focus, be mentally prepared and concentrate only on the match. Of course, this includes leaving all distractions aside like any school or relationship issues. Once again, the cardiovascular routine is very important, so it should be kept serious and clear of any goofing around.
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Now that the mind and body are warmed warmed-up, you can proceed to the next step and do the dynamic exercises. And the reason we’re opting for the dynamic version of warm-up and not the basic stretching while standing routine is that keeping the players moving also keeps the muscles warm. If you don’t keep them moving, you lose up to three degrees in core temperature. The dynamic approach to warm-up routine continuously activates the joints and muscles in a more precise way than the static stretching. Another big benefit when it comes to a dynamic routine for warm-up is that it helps heighten coordination, motor functions and it arouses the nervous system.
These processes are extremely useful with young players that are still discovering their bodies. Even so, the most important part about the dynamic approach for warm-up is that it gets your mind ready for the mission ahead. Indeed, the body is very important since there’s were all the work happens, however, the mind plays an equally important role. Actually, mental preparation should be a must in the prepping routine for any kind of sport. Opposed to standing stretches routine, the dynamic exercise keeps the player focused rather than daydreaming while standing still and losing all the momentum created in the warm-up before.
Examples of dynamic warm-up movements that can be used for basketball players
If you’re looking for specific exercises that can be easily applied with basketball players before the match, we’ve made a list of some things you can try. Each of these exercises should be kept for a half of a court and can always be followed by some easy jogging towards the starting point in order to keep the muscles warm. When setting up this dynamic exercise schedule try to put together as many exercises that stimulate most of the body’s muscle groups evenly. This includes the, quadriceps, hamstrings ,calves or Achilles tendon. Variety is also very important as you don’t want your players to become bored of the exercise and lose focus. You can just pick four to six of the following:
With your knees slightly bent, bounce off the toes. The thing is to get more range progressively and increase the area of motion as you approach the end of the exercise. The motion looks and feels quite similar to the one you make while jumping rope, but you will only move progressively in front.
This is a common exercise practiced from the early school years. It is basically a form of running with the extra of raising the knees higher than in a usual run. You need move those feet quickly and get the knees at least above the waistline. Also, during this exercise players need to be remembered that the ankles, hips and knees must be kept facing towards the direction of running.
An exercise quite similar with the high knees running, the butt kicks also implies normal running, but your thighs have to be perpendicular in relation to the court as you lift those heels up towards your bottom. Once again, the trick is to keep moving your feet as fast as possible. And again, just like with the high knees, remember to always keep your hips, knees, shoulders and ankles consistent with the direction of running.
Now things are getting a bit more complicated, but there’s no rocket science still. While moving on the side to the left, players need to cross their left foot in front, then do a step with their right and cross with their right in the back. Make sure to get as much movement from your hips as possible while still moving your feet fast.
In the normal walking pose, put your right hand on your left ankle and the left one on the left knee. From this position pull your ankle and knee in, close to your chest then make a step and then repeat the operation with the opposite leg.
In this exercise you have to run backwards while keeping your body leaned forward with your shoulders over the toes in order to keep from falling. While doing this you have to reach as far as possible. This exercise will help warm-up the flexor muscles in your hip.
While you walk forward, approach the left knee to your chest then take a step and repeat the same thing with the other leg. This is excellent for hips and gluteus maximus and it really helps to prevent injuries.
This one is pretty much self-explanatory, you need to keep one left straight, kick it upwards in front and try to touch it with the opposite arm. Then switch legs and repeat the exercise. An excellent method to improve hamstring flexibility and get ready for the match.
When walking straight forward, you need to pull the left heel close your bottom and then make a step. Then repeat the movement with your other leg and repeat to get a relaxed quadriceps and warmed-up hip flexors.
While keeping your right leg straight and left foot pointing to the sky, reach down using your opposite hand and try and touch the toes. After you’re done, make a step and then repeat the exercise using the other leg. This exercise increases lower back flexibility and also helps with your hamstring.
Over the Fence
While facing the other way to the way you are going, keep your left knee raised high and then rotate it towards behind like you’re trying a backward walk. Then imagine that you’re stepping over a made-believe fence to complete the exercise. Alternate legs and keep it going until you reach the half of the court.
While being face-down touching the court with arms stretched out on the sides of the body and palms downwards, bring your right heel towards your left hand and keep the shoulder and glute to the ground. Another great exercise that will stimulate most muscles in your body and get you ready for the match.
So there you have it, nobody says that there’s a certain drill or warm-up exercise that will guarantee awesome results. But if you know how to combine these basic moves and keep the whole exercise interesting, you will be able to get the most out of your players on the basketball court.
About the author: William Benetton is a sport blogger and writer.
He loves writing on many kinds of sport and has recently launched his own project vuelta.club.