Upper Body Strength for Basketball

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Undoubtedly, lower body power and agility are crucial for basketball. But because the game is played in the air as much as on the ground, you also need strength and stability above the waist. Korey Goodwin, director of performance at Athletes' Performance Las Vegas, in conjunction with other AP locations and trainers, recently helped more than two dozen NBA hopefuls—including four ballers from the '07 National Champ Florida Gators—improve their physical prowess to make the leap from college ball.

To work his trainees' upper bodies, Goodwin uses a combination of the Half-Kneeling Chop and Half-Kneeling Lift. "They work the middle of the back, shoulders and core simultaneously," he says.

Working these muscles together trains the athletes' bodies for the demands of the game. "Maintaining core stability while using upper body strength carries over to when guys are driving to the hoop, elevating and then needing to control themselves in the air," Goodwin says. "This also applies to when they go up for a board. They need strength and stability, so they don't flop around like wet noodles."

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By Chad Zimmerman

Undoubtedly, lower body power and agility are crucial for basketball. But because the game is played in the air as much as on the ground, you also need strength and stability above the waist. Korey Goodwin, director of performance at Athletes' Performance Las Vegas, in conjunction with other AP locations and trainers, recently helped more than two dozen NBA hopefuls—including four ballers from the '07 National Champ Florida Gators—improve their physical prowess to make the leap from college ball.

To work his trainees' upper bodies, Goodwin uses a combination of the Half-Kneeling Chop and Half-Kneeling Lift. "They work the middle of the back, shoulders and core simultaneously," he says.

Working these muscles together trains the athletes' bodies for the demands of the game. "Maintaining core stability while using upper body strength carries over to when guys are driving to the hoop, elevating and then needing to control themselves in the air," Goodwin says. "This also applies to when they go up for a board. They need strength and stability, so they don't flop around like wet noodles."

Goodwin's athletes perform these two lifts twice a week. Start with 2 sets of 10 reps. As your strength improves, build up to 4 sets of 10 reps.

Half-Kneeling Chop

• Kneel on left knee with high pulley machine directly to right
• Place right foot flat on floor, one to two feet in front of left knee
• With both hands, about 12 to 14 inches apart and near right hip, grasp rope attachment connected to high pulley
• Pull rope down and across body until left hand is by left hip and right hand is near right shoulder
• Keeping left arm and elbow next to side of body, punch out with right arm
• Repeat for opposite side

Half-Kneeling Lift

• Kneel on right knee with low pulley machine directly to right
• Place left foot flat on floor, one to two feet in front of right knee
• With both hands, about 12 to 14 inches apart and near right hip, grasp rope attachment connected to low pulley
• Pull rope up and across body until left arm is fully extended overhead and right hand is near right shoulder
• Punch up with right hand until both arms are fully extended overhead
• Repeat for opposite side

Key Coaching Points

• Squeeze the glutes of your kneeling leg throughout the exercise
• When you lift or chop, keep your shoulders square, so your spine DOES NOT rotate
• Perform each rep slowly and controlled, for about 4 seconds to maximize the intensity


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: BASKETBALL TRAINING | STRENGTH TRAINING | UPPER BODY