With the excitement of the NCAA Final Four it seems appropriate to write a blog about why many basketball players don’t workout outside of playing and why they should be doing more off the court, especially in the off season. So often, when basketball players are in their off season they are doing one thing to get ready for preseason: playing pickup. Don’t get me wrong, playing pickup to prepare for your season is great when it comes to basketball skills, but there is so much more that could be done to get you better prepared. There are a variety of reasons that basketball player’s don’t want to work off the court and this can range anywhere from not wanting their shot to change, to believing that they’re training everyday by playing and don’t need the extra time in the weight room.
Many players believe that if they lift weights it is going to change their shot. When a player lifts their legs, there is fear that their shot may change, whether it a result of sore muscles or from the increase in muscle mass. It is the same thing with their upper body; if you lift and you’re sore the next day and try to shoot, it may alter your shot. These are all true possibilities, but is avoidable if you are lifting appropriately. Knowing what days you’re going to be playing, knowing what kinds of lifts to do and knowing the amount of weight you are using will all play a role in lifting productively. A players’ shot is a fine motor skill that isn’t going to be changed, it is learned from repetition and will only benefit and seem more effortless when lifting is done along side.
Playing pickup has the same basketball skills as a regular season game so many players believe they are getting better and quicker just by practicing daily. What players aren’t improving by just playing is their movement skills. For example pickup games are usually set at a slower pace and require less defensive lateral movement. So much of basketball involves moving in each and every direction; linearly, laterally and crossing over. Linear movement is done often in everyday life but lateral and crossover aren’t used daily which means you aren’t as proficient in those movements. When playing at a slower pace you are not using those movements at full speed and aren’t getting any quicker. Using your time off the court working on those different movements will get you a step faster, whether it’s playing defense or getting the first step offensively against your opponent.
One last thing players don’t realize the importance of off the court is their mobility. Mobility is how well the body moves. As talked about in the above paragraph, so much of basketball involves moving. When a player lacks mobility they aren’t able to get as low as possible in a defensive position and be able to move out of that position in any direction needed; left, right, forward, backwards or diagonal. Working on your mobility gives an advantage that can’t be gained by only playing 5 on 5.
The importance of basketball players training off the court is huge! The belief that it can hinder your performance or that you can make improvements just by playing has been believed for years, and is incorrect. Advancements in athletic and muscular information proves that off court training not only builds your strength, but helps improve your power, movement and quickness and when practiced correctly will only make you a better all around athlete.