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To improve your basketball performance takes hours of court-based practice, and lots of game experience. But to take your game to the next level, you need to get stronger. A stronger basketball player is a better basketball player, and you'll find that with increased strength you can grab more rebounds, make more blocks and hold your position better. Strength training can also aid in reducing injury rates, and improve mobility and flexibility, notes high school basketball coach Brad Winters. Workouts two or three days per week can help you achieve these goals.
You need your whole body to function as a single unit during games, so it makes sense to train in a full body style. Start your workout with one lower-body pushing exercise, such as squats or lunges, and one lower body pull, such as deadlifts or glute ham raises. Do five sets of five repetitions on each of these. For upper-body exercises, Erik Phillips, strength coach to Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash, advises performing exercises that work your lower body as well and require core stabilization. For your chest and shoulders, perform standing medicine ball throws or dumbbell presses lying on a Swiss ball. For your back and arms, try single-leg single-arm rows. Do three sets of 10 for each of these. During the off season, aim to increase your weights and reps every session.
In season, your strength training focus should change. In the off season and preseason, your focus should be on building strength and muscle mass, as you haven't got the demands of competitive matches or team training. When you're in-season, reduce your strength training volume and intensity. One or two strength sessions per week, using around 75 to 80 percent of your off-season weights will be ample for maintaining your strength throughout the season, while avoiding injuries.
Plyometrics involve accelerating a weight at great speed, to increase power and force output. This is demonstrated perfectly in a game where you have to leap to grab a rebound or jump as high as you can to make a block. Include either box jumps, vertical jumps, depth jumps or broad jumps at the start of each of your training session. Do three to eight sets of one to five reps. Strength coach Juan Carlos Santana of the Institute of Human Performance advises focusing on quantity over quality; each jump should be a 100 percent effort, and as soon as you feel your speed and power decreasing, you should stop the set.
While squats, deadlifts and upper body free-weight exercises all work your core to some degree, a little extra work devoted to the core is a sound idea. After each strength-training session, spend 10 minutes on core stabilization exercises such as planks, rollouts, Pallof presses and side bridges. Alternatively, you could do these all in one 30-minute workout per week. Core training isn't too draining or demanding, so it can be done in-season too.