Benefits of Stretching for Basketball
Stretching is a crucial part of any routine and is essential in preventing injuries as an athlete. Often focus is put on fundamental skill development and conditioning and stretching is overlooked. If you are serious about playing basketball for years and years to come, it’s important to learn how to properly stretch all necessary muscle groups. Stretching will enhance your flexibility, prevent muscle soreness, improve the range of motion within your joints and increase the blood flow to your muscles. Our Nike Basketball Camp directors recommend dynamic stretches, stretches that require movement right before a practice or game. In your free time you should focus more on static stretches, stretches that require you to hold still for 20-30 seconds. Here are four basketball warm-up stretches commonly used at our youth basketball camps.
- Hip Stretch with a Twist - Start by getting your body into a push up position and bring your right foot forward. Position your right hand next to your right foot while keeping your hips low and your back flat. Take your left arm and twist your core to the left and extend your arm to the ceiling. Complete this twist 10 times and then repeat on the left leg. This stretch will open your hips and groin as well as stretch your core and upper back, all muscles that are engaged during basketball.
- Quad Pull Walk - Start by walking in a straight line. Grab your right foot and pull it behind you to your hamstring and keep your pelvis tucked forward. As you pull your right leg back, reach forward with your left arm and extend as far as you can forward so that your torso is parallel with the ground. Repeat 10 times and then switch to the opposite leg. Walking down the line will increase you heart rate thus preparing you for the game ahead all while decreasing any strains that you may have in your quadricep muscle. Keeping your pelvis tucked will activate your hip flexors and increase the flexibility to allow for pain free movement in any direction when playing.
- Triceps Stretch - Stand straight up and grab your right elbow with your left hand, lifting it over your head. Keeping your elbow in flexion and hold it for 15 seconds. This will allow the muscle to lengthen and relieve any muscle tension caused from shooting or passing the ball. Repeat on each arm 5 times. Static stretching fully extends the muscle and must be done after a game or practice to let the muscle recover.
- Standing Calf Stretch - Stand near a wall with one foot in front of the other and the front knee slightly bent. Keeping the back knee straight and your heel on the ground, lean into the wall and hold the stretch for 25 seconds then switch feet. If you wish to extend your calf muscle into a full range of motion, shift your front knee forward towards the wall until you feel the best stretch. Basketball requires a lot of running which creates an immense amount of stress on the calves so doing proper static stretches will relieve any calf strains you may be experiencing.
Develop a routine that works for you and you will see results. Stretching may seem unimportant, but in the long run you will see major results in your overall performance. Check out more basketball tips for all skill levels and get better this summer at a Nike Basketball Camp!