You put a lot of time into being a better basketball player. Don’t let it all go for nothing by forgetting a very important detail. That detail is making basketball stretches a part of the beginning and end of every time you practice or play a game.
I have seen players injure themselves while practicing after not properly warming up. I have also seen players skip stretching and have off days. I have seen it happen enough to feel confident that those were not coincidences.
Stretching before and after you play or practice basketball has a couple of benefits.
- Stretching prior to playing helps you prepare your muscles for the stress and strain that will be placed on them as you play basketball.
- Stretching after you are done helps your muscles to warm down gradually and not go from warm and ready to cold in a short time span.
- The benefits of daily basketball stretches is that over time, you will increase your range of motion and flexibility.
Prior to stretching, get your muscles warmed up with some easy jogging, jumping rope, jumping jacks, or any other light movements that will get your heart rate up. As soon as you are warm, begin stretching.
It is possible to injure yourself while stretching, so go slowly. Ease into your stretches. No bouncing! You should be able to feel it working, but there should not be any pain. Hold each stretch for 20 seconds. Repeat each stretch for three x 15 second reps.
Following are some basic basketball stretches. If you have an injury, never perform any stretching without consulting a trainer or doctor. These stretches are for players who are free from injury.
Arms Hold your arms straight out from your body to the side. Move both arms at the same time in a circular motion Start out by making small circles and gradually make the circles bigger and bigger. As you do your remaining reps, reverse the direction that you are circling your arms.
Back Lie down on the ground, face up with your legs flat on the ground. Grab one leg below your knee and raise it to your chest. Remember, as with all of your stretches use a slow, easy pace. Your other leg should remain on the ground and as straight as you can keep it. When you get as far as you can go, gently lower it back to the ground and repeat the process with the other leg.
Calf Stand about two feet away from a wall. Lean against the wall with your forearms touching it. Keep your feet flat. Lean your head against the backs of your hands. Bend one knee so that it moves toward the wall. Keep the other leg straight. Slowly move your hips toward the wall. Hold that position for your 15 seconds, then do the same stretch with the other leg.
Groin Sit down and put the bottoms of your feet together. Pull your feet towards you slowly until you can comfortably grab them with your hands. Put your elbows against the inside of your knees. Gently push your knees down using your elbows.
Hamstrings are the muscles on the back of your legs between your knees and rear end. To do this stretch, take a seat on the floor. Straighten your right leg and point your right toes to the ceiling. Keep your left leg on the floor and flexed at the knee. Your left foot should be close to your right knee.
Slowly lean forward and reach out to your right toes with your left hand. You should feel the tension on your right hamstring. You might not be flexible enough to get all the way and touch your toes. The entire stretch from beginning to end should be 15 seconds. Repeat the process with your left leg. Alternate legs until you have stretched each one three times for 15 seconds each.
Shoulders From a standing position, place your left hand on your right shoulder. Using your right hand, slowly pull your left elbow toward your right shoulder. Your left hand will move off your shoulder as you pull the elbow towards it. Use the same procedure to stretch your right shoulder.
It only takes a short amount of time to do both warm-up and warm-down stretching. Having the discipline to do it every day will help you play better, will help you to avoid injury, and will help you to increase your range of motion.
Many players make the mistake of not concentrating on their stretches and I have seen that result in injuries from time to time. If you will take stretching as seriously as you do the rest of the work you put in on basketball, no one will have to convince you of the value of stretching because you will experience it.