Basketball season is right around the corner and will be here before you know it. Summer ball at all levels is wrapping up and teams are starting to solidify and get organized work in. While on-court skill development is still a major key to your individual and team success, I want to stress the importance of off-court skills.
Specifically, I want to talk about power and explosiveness. Having this trait as a hooper is going to be one of the factors that can set you apart from your competition. Building this explosiveness into your game is best done off the court—in the weight room. Once developed, it can be applied to your on-court skills, and that's when the magic happens.
Why is it so important to be powerful? Well, simply put, if you want to create separation (on offense) or close distance (on defense) you're going to need ways to explode from point A to point B as quickly as possible. For instance, beating your defender off the dribble with a vicious first step or sliding into position at the last second to take a charge. Those are two of the many ways your improved power and explosiveness can come in handy.
Common Basketball Movements
Before we get into how to make you more explosive, let's look at some of the most common fundamental movements of the game—jumping, cutting and sliding. These are by no means a ranking of the most important aspects of the game, but just a general movement patterns that all basketball players perform.
You jump to shoot, dunk, lay-up and (although you shouldn't) to pass. You jump to defend shots, block shots, rebound, deflect passes and dive for loose balls. The ability to jump both vertically and horizontally is important to becoming a great player. More specifically, the ability to jump quicker than your opponent and/or higher or farther than the opponent.
We can also call this change-of-direction or planting. You cut when you crossover dribble. You cut when you get crossed over. You are constantly cutting, planting and changing direction from front to back and side to side all game as you move without the ball during your motion offense or as you defend an offensive player. To be able to change directions faster or get to a spot before your opponent is going to be a huge win for you.
Being able to slide laterally is an essential part of defense, but it's also a great tool on the offensive side of the ball. Posting up a defender and blocking out both requires powerful sliding movements. Those small cuts and relocations require sliding. Getting into position on defense or sliding into position to take a charge also require mastery of the slide.
Build Power That Translates
Dumbbell Vertical Jump
The DB Vertical Jump is one of my go-to power exercises. It's easy to coach, easy to perform, extremely safe and yields high success rates. You can use this like you'd use Olympic lifting variations to get a similar benefit with a bit of a lower learning curve and risk ratio. Another variation is the Trap Bar Deadlift Jump, which is probably a slight progression upward from this DB version.
This will help build total-body power, but is very specific to the jumping ability mentioned above. You can learn how to perform this by watching the video in the player at the top of the article.
Two-Foot Box Jump to One-Foot Landing
This is another one of my favorites for power but it also gives you a chance to work in some true balance training. One of the best ways to improve your balance is to get stronger, believe it or not. Instead of using wobbly, unstable surfaces, you should focus on getting stronger in unilateral positions. This is going to give a much better result and carryover to sport and life.
Using this two-foot jump into a one-foot landing will also help give you the motor control needed to plant, cut and change directions on the court. Jumping onto the box and sticking a great landing is going to have a serious translation to your game.
Loaded Lateral Bounds
Lateral Bounds are a staple in a speed, agility and quickness program, and they are especially great for developing lateral explosiveness. Adding some band or bungee resistance is going to take your bounds to the next level and deliver amazing results. If you can't use bands due to training alone, you can load the movement with a counteraction medicine ball.
Bounding is also great for enhancing body awareness and balance, which can also come in handy on the court. Make sure to work these bounds, and all of the suggested exercises, into your programming moving forward.
There's one thing that's going to make all the above-mentioned exercises and basketball movements a whole lot easier and effective—a strong core!
To change direction, jump or perform any athletic movement at a high level, you're going to need a sturdy center of mass. This core stability will help you transfer energy during your jumps, cuts and slides. It will also help you stay healthy and resilient during your career.
The X-Factor exercise to put it all together is the Dead Bug, which offers core stability, motor control and breathing enrichment.
Let's get one thing clear, though. There are many ways to create a powerful performing body, and all of them have a prerequisite of mastering the fundamentals of strength training. In other words, crawl before you walk. Once you are ready to employ these advanced techniques, program them accordingly and let the gains begin!