How You Can Best Prepare for a Game of Basketball

A proper warm-up can help you get ready for this rigorous sport

How You Can Best Prepare for a Game of Hoops

Contributor: Morgan Oberle, MD

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Fall means basketball season and playing hoops means a lot of twisting, jumping and foot-planting. These moves can create a lot of stress on your ankles, knees, and hips and require a high level of coordination to be completed successfully. These moves can also put you at risk for many injuries which you would want to avoid.

A proper warm-up can help basketball players prepare for this rigorous sport and help you remain injury-free. In basketball and in all sports, it’s important to take the time to warm up and stretch before each practice and every game.

Warming up

The general warm-up phase elevates your body temperature. Begin with joint rotations. These permit your body to move more easily by lubricating the entire joint with the fluid, called the synovial fluid, that is between your cartilage.

Start by performing 10 circular movements with your ankles, knees, hips, trunk, shoulders and neck. Then do an activity such as skipping or defensive slide movements to increase blood flow to the muscles. After this, warm-up stretches will get your blood flowing and prepare your body for physical activity.

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Improved coordination

Flexibility is an important component of basketball that players often overlook.

When performed on a consistent basis, a warm-up and stretching routine provide improved coordination and greater efficiency of your muscle movements. These are very important parts of a regular exercise program.

In basketball in particular, as you gain flexibility you can reach higher toward the basket and increase your stride. This is called functional flexibility. There are three phases necessary to improve your functional flexibility. They are:

  • Static-active flexibility (also called active flexibility) — the ability to assume and maintain extended positions without external help. For example, lifting your leg and keeping it high helps increase stride length to make you faster.
  • Static-passive flexibility is the ability to assume extended positions and then maintain them using your weight, the support of your limbs, or some other support. One example is placing your leg on a bench or a seated toe-touch.
  • Dynamic stretching is the ability of the muscles to move through a range of motion, such as seated windmills, leg swings, walking lunges and straight-leg walks.

The repetition of the warm-up routine will not only help you prevent injuries and increase flexibility, but also develop a mind body connection that is important for shooting. When you start shooting the ball, you mind sends a signal via the central nervous system to your muscles to perform the movement. By performing repetitive movements, you train your central nervous system to respond in a more efficient manner.

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This mind-muscle connection is used in all parts of basketball including when you perform ball handling, and when you pass or shoot. So don’t forget to give yourself the proper amount of time to warm up and stretch before each game.

Once you have done all this, you are ready to hit the court running!

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