Basketball is an extremely competitive and demanding sport. Stress resulting from overuse, careless play or the lack of a good strength and conditioning program can lead to various injuries. In fact, according to the British Columbia Injury Research and Prevention Unit, one out of every four high school basketball players (male and female) suffer at least one injury per year, reducing their playing and practice time.
High school athletes suffer the most injuries, particularly 15- to 19-year-old men and 10- to 14-year-old women. The overall injury rate is slightly higher for women than for men, and women suffer the most severe injuries requiring surgery. One of the most common injuries, minor ankle sprains, have the potential to severely limit an athlete’s performance. (Try these exercises to help prevent them.) Sustained ankle trauma, which is more likely to occur if you’ve already experienced a sprain or worse, may result in scar tissue that restricts the ankle’s full functional range of motion. The resulting limited movement creates stress along the kinetic chain, eventually causing another common basketball injury: low back strain.
The repetitive movements of basketball often lead to muscle overuse and result in injury. Internally, overuse is manifested in continuous strain, breakdown of healthy tissue and muscular imbalance. Externally, the resulting injuries often occur in the lower extremities and may include inflammation, tendonitis or fracturing of the knee, patella, lower leg, ankle, heel or foot.
Importance of Warm-Ups
Joint mobility exercises and dynamic warm-up movements—executed while barefoot—stimulate the muscles that basketball players typically injure. For example, in the Washington Bible College men’s basketball warm-up routine, beginner-level exercises allow neuromuscular coordination to develop, while more complex exercises stimulate a greater hormonal response and a larger recruitment of muscle fibers, which prime the body for activity.
Here is a sample of WBC’s injury prevention routine:
- Foam Rolling — 1×5 minutes
- Band Work — 1×5 minutes
- Quick Jumping Jacks — 1×10
- Quick Seal Jumps — 1×10
- Quick Hyland Jumps — 1×10
- Quick Lunge Jumps — 1×10
- Jog forward (full court)
- Jog backward (full court)
- Skip forward, swinging arms (full court)
- Skip backward, swinging arms (full court)
- Lateral Hops, swinging arms (full court)
- Lateral Kicks (half court); switch to Lateral Leg Lifts (half court)
- Carioca (half court); switch to High Step-Overs
- Various footwork line drills
- Knee Hugs, walking on balls of feet (to half court)
- Knee Hugs, skipping (to the baseline)
- Step Lunges (to half court)
- Backward Lunges with opposite hand touching opposite heel (to baseline)
- Quick Straight-Leg Kicks, clapping hands under legs (to half court)
- Slow Straight-Leg Kicks with opposite hand touching opposite heel (to baseline)
- Prisoner Squat Jumps (in place) — 5 reps
- Prisoner Squat Jumps (to half court)
- Prisoner Squat Broad Jumps (to baseline)
- Repeat Prisoner Squat Jumps sequence, switching sides at half court
- Buttkicks (full court)
- Heel Over Knee Running (full court)
Use a wooden stick or PVC pipe.
- Stick Displacements — 5 reps each side
- Trunk Rotations — 7 reps each side
- Side Bends— 7 reps each side
- Stick in Air Side Bends — 7 reps each side
- Squat With Stick — 4 reps
- Overhead Squat — 4 reps
- Lateral Squat — 4 reps each side
- Rotate foot behind opposite leg (holding stick) — 4 reps each side
Jump Rope Complexes
According to the Jump Rope Institute, bones need physical stress to support density and strength. Jump rope exercises are important because they strengthen the muscles that support the tendons and ligaments of the knees, feet and ankles, thus strengthening the shins, quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes—all of which lead to increased calf muscle endurance and leg coordination, vital qualities for basketball athletes.
- High Knees
- Hip Turns
- One-Foot Hops Forward and Backward
- Ankle Hops
- Pogo Jumps
- Broad Jumps
- Lateral Shuffles
This sample dynamic warm-up routine targets the hands, hips, ankles and other important areas of the body that are regularly used and stressed. Basketball places tremendous demands on the body, and you must take aggressive steps to prevent injury. Try my workout plan for better gameplay and less time recovering from injuries.
Kelvin King Jr. is an adjunct professor and a strength and conditioning coach at Washington Bible College (Lanham, Md.), where he is responsible for the programming and physical development of the Cougars’ men’s basketball and women’s volleyball players. He also provides consultative advice to athletes and clients in the general population. King Jr. is NASM-PES, Crossfit Level 1 and YFS Level 1 certified. He has a bachelor’s degree in exercise science/health and fitness/physical education from Norfolk State University and a master’s in public administration from Bowie State University.