Best Basketball Fitness Drills for Kids
Basketball is turbulent and great fun, it fuses skills, tactics and instinct. If you’re unable to train with your team right now, I bet you’re frustrated!
I’ve got pro tips to ensure you use your forced rest period to come back a better player. It’s easy to focus on the positives of this all-action sport, and the boosts it gives to your reflexes, flexibility and jump height. Good news is, it’s safer than soccer and lacrosse*. But still, let me take you through some specific basketball injuries. If you do your smart prep now, you’ll have a much longer and better playing career ahead of you!
Knee and ankle
Sudden changes of direction, side shifts, jumps and landing… 63% of total basketball injuries are knees and ankles**.
Your legs are great at supporting weight and awesome with upward forces. But when we change direction quickly, our foot keeps pointing forward, glued to the ground by your shoes’ grip, while the rest of our body is already oriented in some other direction. If the torque applied is too great, either ankle or knee risk busting.
When you throw, catch, pass or ram into each other you use your shoulder. It’s called a ball-and-socket joint – it offers a huge range of seamless motion to our arm.
This comes with a cost: stability.
A few tiny muscles surround and embed the top of your arm, the humerus. They can’t always prevent dislocation, as I discovered with a 100 kg player on top of me and my right shoulder held up by a basketball on the ground…. It’s a long recovery time from that moment of severe pain!
You jump, you get the basket, you land. Think of the impact from the ground, it transfers up through knees, thighs, and eventually ends in the lower back region where it is absorbed by the spine.
Your spine comes with shock absorbers called vertebrae. But jerky jumps and violent landings can exhaust the long, thin muscles which keep the vertebrae in check. That gives lower back pain.
That’s the anatomy. Let’s get ready to tackle basketball again soon! I’ve handpicked great drills for young basketball players which are safe to do solo and which will give you a longer playing career.
A. Wall sit while you extend one leg out as high as possible. Switch legs every 5 seconds for 40 seconds. Repeat 3 times.
B. Try to hold an arabesque for 40 seconds. Balance on one foot and try to reach out as far as you can with arms and the other leg. Losing your balance? Build up starting from 20 and increase every day you try.
C. Repeat the glute bridge 10 times. Lie on your back with legs bent and arms wide and push against the ground to lift your hips as high as possible. Hold for 10 secs each time.
Position yourself in a plank, then start slowly tapping your chest with alternate hands. Keep it very stable and controlled. Keep doing this exercise for 40 seconds, for 3 times in total.
Enhance your posture with this exercise:
Face a wall a few centimetres away with arms up and completely straight. Try to come down into a squat without making any contact with the wall and avoiding falling backward. Try to achieve 15 good repetitions.
*Mihata, L. C. S., Beutler, A. I., Boden, B. P. (2006) “Comparing the incidence of ACL injury in Collegiate Lacrosse, Soccer and Basketball Players”. American Journal of Sports Medicine, Vol X., 456-468
**Andreoli, C. V., Chiaramonti, B. C., Biruel, E., Pochini, A. C., Ejnisman, B., Cohen M. (2018) “Epidemiology of sport injuries in basketball: Integrative systematic review.” British Medical Journal of Sport and Exercise Medicine, 18(12).
Baechle, R. T., Earle, W. R., (2008) Essentials of strength training and conditioning 3rd edition. Champaign: Human Kinetics
Mangine, G. T., Hoffman, J. R., Wells, A. J., Gonzalez, A. M., Rogowski, J. P., Townsend, J. R., Jajtner, A. R., Beyer, K. S. (2014) “Visual tracking speed is related to basketball-specific measures of performance in NBA players.”, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 28(9), 2406-2414
Naismith, J. (1996) Basketball: Its Origin and Development, London: Lincoln and London.
Tucker, L. (2015) An introductory guide to anatomy and physiology 5th edn. London: EMS Publishing
Woolstenhulme, M. T., Griffiths, C. M., Woolstenhulme, E. M., Parcell, A. C. (2006) “Ballistic stretching increases flexibility and acute vertical jump height when combined with basketball activity.”, Journal of Strength and Conditioning research, 20(4), 799-803
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