Basketball Resistance Training

Woman standing with basketball, portrait

Basketball requires players to be agile, fast quick and -- most important -- explosive. Resistance training allows athletes to train for explosive power and build strength to improve speed. In contemporary basketball, athletes are bigger, faster and stronger, primarily due to year-round training both on the court and in the weight room. Building a structured workout plan incorporating resistance training with on-court practice and conditioning provides the best results.

Resistance Training Defined

Resistance training is a form of training that uses a form of resistance beyond a normal activity. Some of these methods include free weights, weight machines, resistance bands, rocks and even body weight. A resistance training program can be structured for many activities such as body building, general fitness, rehabilitation and, in this case, sports training. Resistance training is commonly misused as a term with powerlifting or body building, when in fact both are unique sports, and resistance training is just one method to train for both of those sports. Resistance training is safe method of training and is actually safer than playing the sport of basketball itself.

Power vs. Strength

Two commonly confused words, strength and power, actually have very different definitions, especially in athletics. Strength is the ability to move an object, where power is how fast you are able to move that object. In basketball, you want to be able to snatch a rebound or dive after a loose ball and be the first one to get there. That is where power comes into play.

If you are trying to box an opponent out or post him up, then that is where strength comes into play. Both are important to the game, but each position may require more of one than the other. A point guard does not need to develop the strength to box out a center, where the center doesn't need the power to move as quickly.

Olympic Lifts

Core lifts will build the foundation of your resistance training program. Olympic lifts include the clean and jerk, the snatch, and any other variation of the two lifts such as the high clean, high pulls or dumbbell snatches. Olympic lifts train both strength and power, and are exceptionally useful to basketball players because they train explosive power in the triple extension motion. Triple extension is termed for extension at the hip, knee, and ankle. This motion is used in jumping as well as the push off, or drive phase, in running. Unlike squats, Olympic lifts provide power in the triple extension motion, training neuromuscular and muscular components to fire faster and stronger, producing a greater response in force.

Other Free-Weight Resistance Exercises

Other resistance exercises structured around the Olympic lifts fill out the rest of your resistance training program. These exercises are used to build muscle strength and power in areas that the core lifts where unable to train. They can also be used to train joint areas for stability to prevent future injuries.

Resistance band or tube training works well to build your stabilizing muscles, and also increase to soft tissue within the joints of the shoulder and elbow to prevent a chronic overuse injury during the season. Other resistance exercises used for training basketball players include the bench press, squats, push press, shrugs, upright rows, curls, leg curls, pull-downs and skull crushers.

Resisted Jumping

Plyometrics takes advantage of body-weight resistance to train the muscle. When a muscle becomes overloaded, it begins to stretch like a spring. When that muscle contracts, the spring is released, adding force to the contraction. This trains the muscle for both hypertrophy (growth) and the neuromuscular components use to activate the muscle.

A jump-training device uses resistance bands attached at the hip, thigh, and arm to provide resistance. This motion trains similarly to Olympic lifts, but with less resistance, providing more power output. A weighted vest may be used in the same fashion. But it should be noted that all three of these training exercises induce large amounts of fatigue and are unstable on the leg joints, particularly the knee. These exercises should be at the beginning of a workout to reduce the risk of injury.