Weight training is a preferred method of working out for basketball players. Strength exercises for basketball are very important because it takes a great deal of strength and athleticism to be successful in basketball. It doesn’t just require brute strength, though, it requires accuracy and skill and speed. Using proper technique when weight training is a must because improper technique can lead to serious injury.
Alignment of the Spine
When practicing strength exercises for basketball, it’s very important to keep the spine aligned in a straight line as much as possible. When a particular exercise requires bending or twisting so that the spine is not in alignment, perform these motions carefully and deliberately, exercising as much control as possible, then return the spine to alignment as soon as the motion has been completed. When the spine is not held in proper alignment, increased strain on the spine increases the risk of back injury, but you are at greater risk for injuries to the neck, hips and knees as well.
Weight training typically involves lifting weights, of course. Lifting weights is a great way to build muscle, increase strength and even improve flexibility. Lifting improperly poses serious risk of injury, however. When you lift something heavy, it puts strain on the muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints used to make and support the motion. Sustain a serious injury to your back or knees and your basketball career may be over in an instant. Even minor injuries to your back or knees can be painful and may require extensive, expensive treatment. When performing strength exercises for basketball, lift with your legs, not your back.
When lifting weights or doing other strength exercises for basketball, avoid quick, jerky movements. Yes, when you shoot a basket, you move quickly and suddenly. There are workout techniques that allow you to practice and prepare for that sort of explosive movement, such as plyometric exercises. However, when working out with weights, fast, jerky movements greatly increase your risk of injury and they do not benefit you in any way. You want to lift weights with slow, controlled movements, maintaining proper technique every step of the way.
When thinking about proper techniques for weight training, don’t forget to think about breathing. Obviously we need oxygen when we’re exercising, but it’s more important than that. Proper breathing techniques deliver oxygen and nutrients to hardworking muscles, increasing strength, endurance and stamina and reducing the risk of injury.
In general, you should breathe out when performing the most difficult part of an exercise and breathe in as you relax or return to your starting position. For instance, if doing sit ups, you should exhale while sitting up and inhale as you lie back down. Don’t hold your breath while exercising, because that deprives your muscles and organs of much needed oxygen.
Use of Free Weights
Many experts recommend using free weights instead of machines for weight training because free weights are more affordable, more accessible, allow for the performance of a greater variety of exercises, utilize more muscles at one time, increase coordination and improve balance and stability. These are all good things, of course, but technique becomes even more important when doing strength exercises for basketball with free weights because most exercise machines provide structure that forces the athlete to utilize proper technique, or at least reduces the number of technical mistakes the athlete can make. When working out on a machine, the machine limits the movements you can make. When working out with free weights, you must impose limitations on yourself. Have a qualified personal trainer or exercise physiologist demonstrate the proper techniques for you and watch you a few times to make sure you’ve got them down.