How To Stretch For Basketball Performance Benefits
Stretching can provide many benefits to basketball players including improved performance and injury prevention. There are two types of stretching that are beneficial to basketball players, dynamic and static.
Dynamic stretches are often used prior to training and games to prepare the muscles, nerves, metabolic and cardiovascular system for the basketball specific demands to come. These dynamic stretches must mimic the specific movements of basketball in order to be truly effective. Butt kick runs, leg swings and walking lunges are examples of dynamic stretches that should be included in your pre-game warm ups.
In addition to stretching range of motion can also be improved through basketball specific strength training techniques.
Static stretches on the other hand are best performed after the completion training and games. Static stretches are held for 30-60 seconds and are designed to help increase the range of motion of a joint and muscle action over an extended period of time.
Static stretching must be looked at as a long term investment into your future performance and health. This practice takes time to see results.
Benefits of Stretching For Basketball Players
- Reduced muscle tension
- Improved co-ordination
- Increased range of motion
- Prevent injuries
- Prepares the muscles, tendons and joints for the demands of basketball
7 Best Stretches Every Basketball Player Should Do
I am about to introduce you to 7 of the best dynamic and static stretches for basketball players. You may be surprised at some of the amazing performance benefits some of these simple stretches can provide to your basketball performance!
1) Static Hip Flexor Stretch: Run Faster & Jump Higher
As we spend our everyday lives sitting around our hip flexors tend to shorten. Tight hip flexors can alter lumbo-pelvic function and limit muscle activation potential around the hips.
In fact, loosening your hip flexors can add instant inches to your vertical jump. Just a small increase in range of motion of the hip flexors can improve glute activation and range of motion available in hip extension. Both of these factors are vital in achieving an impressive vertical jump. If you want to increase your vertical jumping ability then definitely spend time stretching out your hip flexors. This is one of the few static stretches that I find helpful prior to playing or training.
If you want to learn how to optimize your hip flexor function so that you can dominate on the court you should definitely check out this page.
Rules Of Proper Static Stretching
- Stretch to the point of moderate tension
- Hold for a minimum of 30 seconds
- Relax for 10-15 seconds and repeat stretch
- Perform 2-3 sets of each stretch on both side of the body
- Stretch in a smooth and controlled manner
- Breathe deeply and rhythmically while stretching
- Focus in on the muscles being stretched
- Static stretches best utilized post exercise when the muscles are warm. Some research has also shown that static stretching prior to exercise may reduce the strength and power potential of muscles which may hinder performance.
2) Dynamic Calf Stretch: Avoid On-Court Calf Strains
Calf injuries are one of the most common injuries in basketball. Calf strains are often slow to heal and susceptible to re-injury. Often this injury is a result of a poor warmup. The good news is that a simple dynamic calf warmup such as the one below can help prepare the calf muscles for the demands of basketball.
Rules Of Proper Dynamic Stretching
- Select dynamic stretches that mimic the movement patters of basketball
- Start with a small range of motion and gradually increase range as you warm up
- Ensure that movements are smooth over the entire range of motion
- Slowly raise the intensity of the dynamic warm up to also prime the cardiovascular and metabolic systems
3) Glute Stretch: Prepping The Powerhouse
The glutes provide the power for many athletic movements. In basketball, the gluteal muscles play a huge role in jumping power and explosiveness. Gluteal dysfunction is a common issue in many novice athletes who spend a good proportion of their time sitting down.
Prolonged sitting leads to shortening of the gluteal muscles and poor activation patterns when jumping. Do this stretch daily and within weeks you will feel freedom and power release around the hips.
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4) Dynamic Hamstring Stretch: Save Your Hammies
Sustaining a hamstring tear is devastating for any basketball player. A serious hamstring injury can have you out of action for months. Worst yet, hamstring injuries are known for their notoriously long rehabilitation time. Often if they are not rehabilitated properly they tend to become a reoccurring injury that becomes more severe as scar tissue accumulates. To help prevent a hamstring tear spend time in the gym ensuring that you get your leg muscles as strong as possible by following a well designed weight training program.
To learn more about strength training definitely check out our strength training for basketball post. Combining strong legs with an effective warm up can go a long way towards preventing a hamstring tear.
5) Dynamic Lower Back Stretch
The lower back is often a neglected area when it comes to stretching prior to basketball games. The lower back plays a vital role in linking the kinetic chain from the lower limbs up through the core which should be prioritized in warm up . A simple warm up such as Spine Trunk Rotations can help mobilize your lower back in preparation for the demands of basketball.
6) Dynamic Shoulder Stretch
It is also very important to spend the time warming up the upper body for basketball. Getting the blood flowing around the chest and shoulders will prepare the joints and muscles for the impact sustained when bumping around in the post and boxing out.
Warming up the shoulder and arms also "wakes up" the nervous system and improves proprioception which can help improve shooting touch. Just a simple arm circle routine such as the one demonstrated in the video below will do the trick!
7) Dynamic Leg Swings
Dynamic leg swings increase the range of motion around the hips in a dynamic fashion. Always start with a small range of motion and slowly build up the range as you warm up.
Full NBA Player Warmup & Stretching Routine
Below you will find the stretching and warm up routine used by NBA players during a Team USA basketball tour. This is a great resource for coaches who would like to implement a simple dynamic warm up routine as part of their game preparation.
1.Begin With Slow Controlled Motor Movements:
- walking knees to chest
- walking pull knees back
- opposite elbow to knee
- walking hips up and out
- straight leg kick with clap
2. Slowly Build Intensity Of Functional Dynamic Movements:
- light skips
- back pedal
- side hops with arm swings
- high skips
- long strides
3.Add Static Stretching Post Training/Game
- seated crossovers
- leg in, leg up, leg over
- figure 4
- prone on elbows/hands
- prone scorpions
- calf stretches R/L/both
Final Thoughts On Stretching For Basketball Players
Stretching and flexibility training prepares the body for the demands of basketball while also improving performance and decreasing the chance of injury. Investing in a 15 minute dynamic warm up routine before basketball and 15 minute static stretching routine post training or game will go a long way to keeping you on the basketball court for years to come.
The older you get the more time you should invest into flexibility training. Flexibility training should also be combined with an effective weight training program for basketball to help transform you into the ultimate athlete.