Basketball, perhaps more than any other sport, is perceived as a game of natural physical gifts. Being tall helps, of course. Having long arms—what broadcasters these days call “length”—makes for good defense. And some players seem like they were born able to jump through the roof.
So yes, all those traits play a role. But basketball also demands quickness, lateral movement, and explosive power—all of which a player can develop and improve. Even the most physically gifted athletes will struggle to keep up and react quickly on the court if they lack strength in these areas.
Plus, focused training can help reduce the potential of getting hurt. Basketball produces injuries such as sprained ankles, sprained ACLs or MCLs, and chronic back issues that come from playing a physical sport on hard surfaces. “You have to get the lower body stronger so it can absorb force,” says trainer Ken Croner, a former Butler University basketball player and owner of Munster Sports Performance in Munster, Indiana.
Here are 10 basic exercises that will improve your lateral quickness and explosive power while reducing risk of injury.
Pete Williams is a NASM-certified personal trainer and the author or co-author of a number of books on performance and training.