A solid warm-up and stretching routine is a big part of any professional basketball player’s life. By loosening up your muscles, you prepare them to withstand the heavy impacts and the rigorous wear and tear that accompanies a basketball game. Thanks to this, you’re far less likely to get injured during and after a game.
Besides, warming up and stretching makes your muscles more flexible and active, boosting your performance during an actual game. But unfortunately, most amateur players completely ignore this aspect of the game.
If you don’t let your muscles know that they’re about to engage in an intense physical activity, how are they suppose to perform to their full potential? If you aren’t sure how to stretch before a game yet, here are a few exercises to help you warm up.
1) Split Rotations
This exercise targets both your spine and your hip flexors; two muscles that are constantly engaged during a basketball game.
All you have to do is split your legs, with one leg in front of the other. Make sure you’re comfortable in this position; there’s no need to overextend yourself. Now, slowly rotate your torso to the right, hold it for a second, and return to the initial position. Repeat this exercise on your left side as well.
This exercise will improve your response time during a game, helping to more effectively maneuver and change directions.
2) Side Lean
This exercise also targets your spine but focuses more on the hips, rotator cuffs, and latissimus dorsi, located on the sides of your body, under the arms. It helps to improve the reflexes in your arms while enhancing your ability to change directions quickly.
Split your legs a little more than shoulder width apart and raise your left arm above your head. Now, gently lean to the right while looking in front and keeping your hips facing forward. You should feel a gentle stretch on the side of your body. To deepen the stretch, extend your raised arm towards the ground.
Almost everyone is familiar with the lunge, but if you aren’t, it’s not too late to learn. Simply split your legs, placing one leg in front of the other. Now, lean forward till your back leg is nearly straight and you feel a stretch near your groin area. Make sure that the knee of your front leg does not cross your toes as this can result in an injury.
Hold this stretch for at least 30 seconds before switching to the other leg.
This exercise is extremely effective in preventing hip injuries. It loosens up your hip flexors, making it a lot easier for you to sprint across the court if needed.
4) Toe Touches
This simple stretch is guaranteed to loosen up your hamstrings, keeping them safe during a game. Loose hamstrings will also give you a better vertical jump during a game.
To properly touch your toes, you must raise your arms above your head and lean forward and then down, keeping your knees straight the whole time. You also want to keep your chest open and your head up, to ensure that your back is in a straight line as you reach the ground. This will give you an intense stretch on your hamstrings while additionally stretching your lower back as well.
Even if you’re unable to touch your toes, reach as far as you can and try to grab your ankles.
Train Your Stretches
Along with practicing your skills, it’s important to improve your flexibility as an athlete. It will allow you to do a lot more with your body while keeping you safe from injury.