Basketball Strength Training: 5 Pro Drills
To play your best in basketball, strength and conditioning training should be part of your routine. Try these five drills for basketball strength training.
When Amanda Zahui B. steps on the basketball court, she brings her will, her confidence and her strength. As a center for the LA Sparks, Zahui B. keeps her 6’5” powerhouse frame in peak shape with regular strength training: “You need to be in great shape in order to play on this level — there are so many big, tough players in this league. But also to stay healthy, because we put a lot of stress on our bodies.”
For players at every level, basketball strength training can help protect you from injury and jumpstart your recovery after a tough game.
Watch: 5 Basketball Strength Training Drills with Pro Baller Amanda Zahui B.
Even during a busy game schedule, Zahui B. stays committed to a rigorous training routine. She gets inspired by her teammates to give her all to everything she does, from basketball weight training to practices:
“I've always had great players on my team, especially on my position. So I’m trying to get better at it every single practice. Even if I know that some players might be better than me and they might play more than me, I’m still trying to outwork them in practice.”
Ready to add some power to your ball playing? Try these five drills to build your muscle strength. For three of these moves, all you need is a basketball — you’ll need two basketballs
for the other two. Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of each drill:
1. SQUAT HOLD
Gameplay goals: This is a great drill to get your core and lower body heated up and strengthen your lower body.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and the ball between your knees.
- Drop into a squat position while squeezing the ball in your knees, keeping your chest up and your hips low.
- Hold this position for 20 seconds. Optional: After your 20-second hold, do 10 squats in place.
For even more muscle activation, have your coach or teammate gently apply pressure to your shoulders or back while you hold a squat.
How many: 2 sets of a 20-second hold
Tips on form: Protect your back by engaging your ab muscles and keeping your spine straight, with your chest out and your shoulders relaxed.
2. PLANK SERIES
Gameplay goals: Plank holds are a great way to work on your core so it’s stable and can better absorb impact. Adding contact and movement to the plank hold will force the athlete to engage their full body and make it more difficult.
- Start in a plank position, on all fours with your feet together and your hands on the ball.
- Keeping your body stable and flat, pull your belly button into your spine and flex your core.
- Hold a plank on the ball for 20 seconds. For your second set, a teammate or coach can apply weight while you hold your position. Optional: Follow each 20-second plank with 10 pushups off the ball.
How many: 2 sets of a 20-second plank
Tips on form: Keep your back straight in line with your hips and your shoulders relaxed.
3. SINGLE LEG HOLDS
Gameplay goals: Players operate on one foot a lot during a game. Single leg strength and reaction drills can improve your balance, helping you stay strong and react quicker.
- Stand and balance on one foot. Hold this position for about 10 seconds, then close your eyes and hold for 20 seconds.
- Open your eyes and have your coach toss the basketball to you while you remain balanced on one foot.
- Catch and toss the ball 10 times while trying to stay balanced on your single foot.
How many: 2 sets on each side
Tips on form: Keep a slight bend in your knee on your standing leg and activate your core muscles to help you stay balanced.
4. POWER REBOUNDING SERIES
Gameplay goals: Rebounding is a huge part of the game. If you can react faster than your opponent, you’ll have the advantage.
- Stand in front of the backboard with a basketball in your hands. For this drill, you’ll make five tosses before each shot at the basket — first on two feet, then on one foot.
- Start with five tosses at the backboard, bouncing on both feet and tossing the ball with both hands, then shoot for the basket.
- Next do five single-foot, single-hand backboard tosses, followed by a shot: again, that’s five tosses before you shoot.
- Follow with reaction finishes off the glass. Your coach will toss the ball off of the backboard, then you react to rebound and finish.
How many: Make 10 baskets
Tips on form: Use your lower body to explode to the backboard while extending your arms to keep the ball as high as you can.
5. TWO-BALL CORE BATTLE
Gameplay goals: This is a full-body exercise that will help with your core strength and get your competitive juices flowing. You can make this drill as hard or easy as you want, and even compete with your teammates.
- Start in a squat position with one ball between your knees and one ball in your hands with your arms fully extended in front of you.
- Have a teammate or coach hit the ball in your hands while you hold it in place for 20 seconds. The more force they put into it, the harder you’ll have to work to keep the ball still.
How many: 2 sets of 20 seconds each
Tips on form: Maintain a good squat position with your chest up and your glutes activated. Keep your arms straight out and squeeze both basketballs as much as you can.
For stronger blocks, steals and shots, try adding these drills to your practice schedule a few times a week. Along with strength training, become a triple-threat on the court with dribbling drills and shooting drills for basketball.
The Strength to Win: How Zahui B. Brings It All to the Court
“The mental side of it is huge in every aspect of the game,” says Zahui B. When she started playing at ten years old, she relied on confidence more than talent, “I was just tall. Fell in love with the game the first practice. Didn't know how to make a layup, didn't know nothing about basketball.” Even as a pro, Zahui B. stays competitive by staying motivated to play and to train:
“Am I always confident? No. I'm not. I struggle with it at times. But it's all about wanting it.”
Her advice for players at every level is to find their confidence — and don’t be afraid to fake it ‘til you make it:
“If you think that someone's better than you, they already got that advantage. Even if you are the underdog and you walk in like, ‘Nah, I'm going to rock you,’ most likely you are going to rock them! At least — worst-case scenario — you gave it your best and they were just better than you. But they didn't work harder than you.”
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