Dominate the Competition: Basketball Upper-Body Plyometrics

This off-season, learn the best basketball upper-body plyometrics exercises to add to your workout for a more explosive game.

Jump Shot

At every level, basketball is becoming more competitive as athletes find new ways to train. At present, the key to staying ahead of the game is through plyometric exercises.

Most athletes view basketball plyometric exercises as jumping drills for lower-body power, but there are also plenty of upper-body plyometric drills. These develop the power you need to make quick passes, finish at the basket and increase your range from beyond the arc.

It's important to have a solid foundation of strength before attempting these exercises. Because plyos require maximum speed and effort for every repetition, performing them incorrectly can lead to injury. Learn how to build your strength base with my previous article, Dominate the Competition: Basketball Strength Training Program. Once you've got that under your belt, try the following program. Consult the chart at the end to add this blend of beginner, intermediate and advanced basketball-specific upper-body plyometric exercises into a twelve-week, off-season training routine.

Do not use this as a complete substitute for a strength training program. Perform the basketball plyometrics workout twice a week with at least 72-hours of rest between.

Beginner Plyometrics

Medicine Ball Standing Chest Pass

  • Stand 10 to 15 feet away from partner with feet shoulder-width apart
  • Start med ball at center of your chest with elbows out sides
  • Step forward and push the ball to partner as fast as possible
  • Partner catches ball, brings it to his chest and passes it back

Medicine Ball Overhead Pass

  • Stand 10 to 15 feet away from partner with feet shoulder-width apart
  • Start med ball behind your head with elbows bent at 90 degrees
  • Step forward and swing the ball forward to pass it to partner
  • Partner catches ball, brings it behind his head and throws it back

Medicine Ball Vertical Wall Pass

  • Stand 3 to 5 feet away from a high wall with feet shoulder-width apart
  • Start med ball at center of chest with elbows pointed down
  • Bend hips to quarter squat position
  • Jump up and throw ball as high as you can against wall
  • Catch ball off wall with arms extended.
  • Immediately bring ball back to chest, quarter squat and repeat

See LeBron James perform these drills.

Intermediate Plyometrics

Ball Drop

  • Lie on bench with feet flat and arms extended
  • Partner standing over you drops med ball into your arms
  • Immediately bring ball down to chest and push it back into the air
  • Partner catches ball; repeat

Medicine Ball Overhead Slam

  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, legs straight and hips forward
  • Start med ball behind your head with elbows bent at 90 degrees
  • Rapidly bring ball over head and slam it to ground while bending hips and knees
  • Grab ball on the bounce and repeat

Note: Some medicine balls bounce back very high and very fast. Be sure to catch it quickly from the first bounce to avoid injury.

Medicine Ball Side Pass

  • Stand about 10 feet from partner with feet shoulder-width apart and knees and arms slightly bent
  • Start med ball in front of hips
  • Bring ball to side of right hip, turning left foot in toward right
  • Left shoulder should be above right knee
  • Twist to front and throw ball forward to partner as fast as possible
  • Repeat on left side

Advanced Plyometrics

Medicine Ball Reverse Wall Pass

  • Stand five feet away from wall with back to wall, feet shoulder-width apart, heels slightly off ground, knees straight and hips forward
  • Start with med ball directly over head and arms fully extended
  • Bring ball forward and down while bending knees and hips and lowering heels to ground
  • From this position, immediately extend hips and knees while throwing ball over your head into wall
  • Watch for ball on its way back from wall to avoid injury

Clapping Push-Ups

  • Begin face down on ground with palms flat, arms straight and shoulders directly over hands
  • Engage abdominal and leg muscles to keep body squared up, and contact ground with bottom of toes
  • Bend arms and lower body until you are a few inches off ground
  • Push yourself up and clap your hands before landing with palms flat on ground
  • Land with a slight bend in your arms

Platform Push-Ups

  • Begin in push-up position with small boxes (two to 24 inches, depending on your strength level) two to three inches outside each arm
  • Push up and catch yourself with palms flat on boxes and elbows slightly bent
  • Lower by bending elbows and perform Push-Up with hands on boxes
  • Bring hands back to ground one at a time to return to starting position

12-Week Off-Season Program

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