Wrist & Forearm Exercises for Basketball

Portrait of mid adult man standing on one leg holding a basketball

The wrist and forearms are important muscles to develop because they contribute to basketball's major offensive skills, shooting, dribbling and passing. Since every player in basketball plays both offense and defense, your ability to handle the basketball can make you either an asset or a liability to your team. Wrist and forearm strength will help you develop your skills as well as your ability to make plays quickly, which is essential at higher levels of play.

The Goodbye Wave

This is a unique exercise for the wrist and forearm because it utilizes a motion that athletes rarely exercise but is very useful in the game of basketball. Start by standing up and extending your arms and hands straight up to the sky. Lock your elbows and shoulders and move your arms as little as possible throughout the exercise. Hold your hands as if you are holding a basketball, with your fingers bent slightly. Then flick your wrists so your hands go backward and spring forward without effort. Do this motion repeatedly until your hands and wrists go back and forth like rubber. This motion requires muscle effort, and it will test your coordination and concentration in order to do it correctly for two minutes. This motion will help with releasing the ball from your hands, which is the motion you use in shooting and passing, according to the website Nitty-Gritty Basketball.

Weighted Jump Rope

Several manufacturers make weighted jump ropes of varying weights and lengths. Some ropes have weights in the handles and some feature a rubber tube filled with a weighted material in place of a rope. When you jump rope, the muscles in your wrists and forearms propel the rope in a circular pattern for you to jump through. A jump rope workout will strengthen your wrists and forearms, make your hands quicker and also improve your vertical leap. All of these attributes are key for a basketball players athleticism. You will select the weighted jump rope that is right for you based on your size, strength and fitness level. If you are coaching elementary or junior high school athletes, a rope of only a few pounds will strengthen the players wrists and forearms. If you are a high school or college athlete, make sure your rope is long enough for you to jump through and the weight is challenging enough to tire out your wrists and forearms after jumping for over one minute.

Ball Dexterity Drills

A great way to strengthen your wrists and forearms is by performing ball dexterity drills with a basketball. Ball dexterity drills are motions you complete while handling a basketball that are not useful during a game, but help to increase your strength and ball handling ability. Begin all drills by holding the ball correctly, with your fingertips and never in the palm of your hand. Ball slaps work by slapping the ball from hand to hand. Ball tips are a drill you do by bouncing the ball back and forth from hand to hand, on the tips of your finders. The figure eight drill is more complicated. Start with your legs shoulder width apart, holding the ball directly below your pelvis. Next, direct the ball around the outside of your right leg, and around the back of your leg. Then transfer the ball from right hand to left hand as it goes between your legs. Bring the ball to the outside of your left leg and back around to the starting point to complete one figure eight. You can also use a weighted basketball for any of these drills to increase resistance.