Strength Training for Beginners to Prevent Basketball Injuries

Strength training is a key to staying injury free during basketball season. STACK Expert Z Altug presents a guide for beginners starting a full-body program.

Brandon Jennings Squat Row

Strengthening your full body is the key in guarding against the most common basketball injuries. Add the following exercises to your training program today.


Sets/Reps: 3-5x6-second holds (10 seconds rest between)

  • Stand tall with shoulders pulled back and chest out
  • Place your hands behind your head
  • Push forward with about 25 to 50% effort
  • Next, place your hands on the right side of your head and repeat
  • Switch to the left side
  • Place your hands on your forehead for the final exercise


Sets/Reps: 2-3x10-15

  • Stand tall with shoulders pulled back and chest out
  • Take an elastic band
  • Start with your elbows by your side bent to 90 degrees with your palms facing the ceiling
  • Hold the band with your hands about hip-width apart
  • Pull the band apart so it is slightly past shoulder-width


Sets/Reps: 2-3x10-15

  • Stand tall with shoulders pulled back and chest out
  • With a set of dumbbells, curl and press overhead


Sets/Reps: 2x5

  • Attach a rope to the middle of a 12-inch dowel with a light weight hanging off the end
  • With your arms extended at chest height, hold the dowel with both hands facing the ceiling
  • Slowly turn the dowel (like you are revving up a motorcycle) to raise the weight up to the dowel
  • Lower it back down.


Duration: 2 to 5 minutes

  • Stand tall with shoulders pulled back and chest out
  • Train your hand muscles by using therapeutic putty, which comes in various consistencies
  • Perform a variety of squeezing and pull-apart exercises with your fingers and hands

Low Back/Abdominals

Sets/Reps: 2-3x10-15

Complete the drills in this article:  Build Strong, Athletic Abs With This Workout

Sets/Reps: 2-3x10-15

  • Stand with an elastic band around your ankles
  • Slowly raise your leg out and slightly back to target the muscles on the side and back of your hips (gluteus maximus and gluteus medius).
  • Keep your hips level and don't overarch your back
  • Lightly hold on to a rail or wall for support


Sets/Reps: 2-3x10-15

  • Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart
  • Looking straight ahead, slowly squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor while raising both arms out in front of you like you are guarding an opponent
  • Keep your knees behind your toes and maintain a normal arch in your lower back
  • Once you master perfect technique using your own body weight, progress to using either a weighted vest or a kettlebell hanging at arm's length between your legs
  • Finally, progress to a barbell on top of your shoulders once you have mastered excellent squatting form and established good core stability


Duration: 2 to 5 minutes

  • Standing on a wobble board with both feet
  • Slowly move the board forward and backward, side to side, and, finally, in a circular motion (clockwise and then counterclockwise).
  • Once you have good form and stability, progress to a single leg balance/strengthening sequence


Sets/Reps: 2-3x10-15

  • In a seated position, place your bare foot on a towel so it can slide easily on the floor (no carpets)
  • Slowly scrunch up the towel using one foot; then straighten the towel
  • If this is too easy, place a small weight at the end of the towel
  • Once sitting is too easy and both feet can scrunch the towel equally on both sides, progress to standing

Additional ways to prevent injury

  • All athletes should be thoroughly screened before and after each season to address specific problems (1)
  • Always warm up properly before a workout or game
  • Train with good posture to prevent muscle imbalances
  • Eat a healthy diet to get adequate nutrition for recovery and tissue repair
  • Get enough sleep every night to make sure you are recovered
  • Train for muscle balance and symmetry from the right to the left side of your body
  • Train proper jumping and landing techniques

Veteran players may need to incorporate aquatic training to reduce joint loading forces. They may also need corrective exercises to address muscle imbalances that have accumulated from years of relying on their dominant side.


(1) Dallinga JM, Benjaminse A, Lemmink KA. "Which screening tools can predict injury to the lower extremities in team sports?: a systematic review." Sports Medicine. 2012;42(9):791-815.

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