Basketball requires a multitude of skills, high levels of concentration and top-tier physical fitness. Aerobic exercises like jogging, stationary bicycling, jumping rope and swimming are some of the best ways to build your strength and stamina. You will improve the way your body takes up and uses oxygen so that you'll have the ability to play each game at maximum intensity until the final buzzer sounds.
Begin every practice by jogging a few laps around the gym or outdoor court. To make the jog less monotonous, dribble a basketball while you run, keeping your head up and eyes focused on your forward field of view, as you would when dribbling up court in a game. Also practice a few ball-handling moves like crossovers, through-the-leg jukes and behind-the-back changes of direction.
Stationary bikes offer the upside of endurance training without the downside of high-impact stress on knees and other joints. They're a good tool for cooling down after practice or a cross-training workout in between games. Spend about 30 minutes to an hour on the cycle pedaling at a steady pace.
You can also do intervals in which you alternate sprints with recovery in a 1:2 or 1:3 ratio. Interval workouts should be shorter than steady-state workouts because they are more intense.
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Elliptical machines combine the workouts of a treadmill and stair climber, offering the benefit of increased resistance training for strengthening your calves, biceps, pecs and forearms. There is less impact than running on a treadmill or climbing stairs, but the same benefit of a good sweat.
Jumping rope is an excellent way to build cardio fitness and work your all-important calf muscles. Make sure to stay on your toes, and don't get carried away with speed and wear yourself out too quickly. The goal is to improve your endurance and build strength, not tax yourself to the limit. Throw in a few quick-step foot combinations, like a boxer, to improve your dexterity and coordination. Limit yourself to no more than three sets, five to 10 minutes each set.
Swimming is another excellent low-impact aerobic exercise for basketball players. Swimming is a full-body workout, and the chances of pulling a muscle or putting excessive pressure on a joint are greatly diminished.
Don't restrict yourself to just swimming while in the pool, however. You can use the pool for plyometric exercises to enhance the quickness and responsiveness of your muscle function. All the standard plyometric exercises, such as squat jumps, split squat jumps, tuck jumps and lateral jumps, can be done in the water, with far less strain on your back, knees, feet and ankles than the same moves performed on land.
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