To knock off the top dog in the league, you've got to come ready to play. That means not just preparing yourself mentally, but also priming your body to perform to its maximum capacity from start to finish.
For basketball players, a proper pre-game warm-up should increase core temperature and blood flow to the muscles and should include exercises that engage the hips, quads, hamstrings and calves.
These goals cannot be achieved through simple static stretches—i.e., holding a stretch for an extended period of time. Engaging the muscles must be done with active stretching—moving through a stretch to a full range of motion, holding the position for a brief count, then returning to start position—all performed in a controlled manner. “Flexibility isn’t just increasing the range of motion; it's controlling a movement and being efficient with it,” says Jason Biles, former strength coach for the Memphis Grizzlies.
Active stretching helps Zach Randolph, Mike Conley and the rest of the Grizzlies bring their A-game every time they step on the court.
To produce greater elasticity in the muscles, perform each active stretch for a specified rep count, usually six to 10. Biles says, “Active stretching is specific to movement on the court, where you may perform a movement quickly, get a quick stretch to it, and then return to your starting position.”
Avoid a sluggish start to your game by going through an active stretching routine before your pre-game shootaround.
Here are four pre-game active stretches favored by the Grizzlies. Perform two sets of eight reps [both legs if applicable], holding each rep for two counts.
Transverse-Adduction Hamstring Stretch
Coaching Points: Keep hips flat and working leg as straight as possible // Keep non-working leg straight
Hip Flexor Extension
Coaching Point: Do not arch back
Hurdler’s Rectus Stretch
Coaching Points: Keep upper body relaxed // Engage core muscles // Squeeze glute
Coaching Points: Keep knees straight // Rest foot on top of partner’s forearm