Active Stretching With the Memphis Grizzlies

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For the Memphis Grizzlies, flexibility isn't just about increasing range of motion. They also work on controlling their range and becoming more efficient with their movements, particularly before pre-game shoot-arounds.

That's when Grizzlies strength and conditioning coach Jason Biles has his players warm up with an active table stretch routine. Try 2 sets of 8 reps [both sides if applicable] of each exercise in the following plan, which gets high-flying Rudy Gay & Co. ready to ball. Hold each rep for two seconds.

Hip Rotation Stretches work the piriformis and hip rotators, which is important for basketball players, because most lack hip rotation, which interferes with the ability to cut and jump efficiently. In other words, you'll place extra stress on your knees and low back to move well.

• Lie face down on table; bend right leg 90 degrees, so bottom of foot faces ceiling
• Keeping hips and right thigh flat on table, externally rotate leg
• Partner, standing to right of table and holding lower part of your right leg, assists you to deepen the stretch

After the hamstring muscles have been active for a period of time, they shorten. We use the Straight-Leg Across-Body Hamstring Stretch to lengthen them, because it's specific to movements you perform quickly on the court. Give them a quick stretch, then return to the start position.

• Lying on back on table, keep right leg straight and bring it up, across body toward left shoulder, keeping hips flat
• Partner applies pressure at end of range

Coaching Points: Keep non-working leg straight and against table

We'll do Hip Flexor Extension movements because 99 percent of the guys have hip extension issues. Plus, since everything starts with your core, we try to work it as much as possible. And your core is more than abs; it's from your shoulder blades down through your hips—front and back.

• Lie face down on table
• Bend right knee 90 degrees so bottom of foot is facing ceiling
• Squeeze glute to lift knee and thigh off table
• Partner places left hand on back of pelvis and right hand on femur to apply pressure by helping you lift leg

Coaching Points: Partner assists at end of stretch // Do not arch back

The rectus femoris, one of the quads, is a muscle that if tight can contribute to patellar tendonitis, which is why we work it pre-game with the Hurdler's Rectus Stretch.

• Lie face down on table; place left foot flat on ground and keep right leg extended behind you
• Keeping thigh on table, curl right heel to butt
• Partner, standing opposite of working leg, holds lower leg and applies pressure to push heel to butt
• Release leg to start

Coaching Points: Keep upper body relaxed // Engage core muscles // Squeeze glute // Partner uses left hand to stabilize pelvis and right hand to apply pressure

The ankle area constantly tightens up. We address ankle stability and correct it throughout the season with the Gastrocnemius-Soleus Stretch. Because your body moves in segments like a chain, tight ankles affect your knees, hips and low back.

• Lie on back on table so feet, right above ankles, hang off table; flex feet
• Partner, standing at foot of table, grabs bottom of foot and applies pressure toward shin

Coaching Points: Keep knees straight throughout exercise // Rest foot on top of partner's forearm


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Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: BASKETBALL TRAINING | STRETCHING | COACH | EXERCISE