What Physical Attributes Make Up a Basketball Player?
A basketball team uses five players on the court at different positions, allowing athletes of various body shapes and skill sets to work together as one team. However, while no two players are exactly alike in size, shape or skill level, players can always improve their on-court performance by developing key physical abilities.
Whether you are sprinting down the court on a fast break, driving to the basket for a shot or chasing down an opponent on defense, you must use speed to execute basketball's most crucial plays. However, the type of speed you need on the court is not necessarily developed by running endless miles. Basketball requires a player to start and stop throughout the game, forcing a player to accelerate, decelerate and change direction with equal proficiency. You can build this multifaceted speed by developing lower-body strength in the hamstrings and quadriceps. Practice sprinting from both standing and moving positions and run up hills or stadium stairs.
When you slide laterally in your defensive stance as you guard an opponent or weave through a series of screens and cuts on the offensive end of the court, you must apply your speed in many directions and in short, confined strides. Building your agility, or what basketball players call "quick feet," allows you to change directions and maintain speed on the fly. Basketball players rarely get to sprint at full speed with long strides, so practice building your agility by hopping off one foot in different directions, changing directions frequently during short sequences of sprints or zig-zagging quickly through cones or figure-eight patterns.
The kind of abdominal strength basketball players require cannot be developed simply by performing endless sit-ups or crunches. While these exercises can help you improve your game, you need multidimensional strength in your core muscles -- including your abs, obliques, hips and glutes -- to stabilize your lower-body as you change directions quickly and provide a strong foundation for upper-body movements such as shooting, dribbling and passing. Develop core strength through twisting, rotating exercises such as bicycle kicks, scissor kicks or medicine ball throws. Building this brand of core strength improves your coordination and agility, making you a stronger player in all facets of the game.
Building your leaping ability allows you to do much more on the basketball court than just dunk the ball. While the slam dunk is one of the game's most exciting plays, you more often need several quick, strong jumps -- such as when you rebound, defend a shooter or put back an offensive rebound under the hoop -- than one soaring leap. Develop your leaping ability by improving strength in your hamstrings and quads through time-tested lifts such as squats, lunges or leg presses. As you develop lower-body strength, apply that strength in a sport-specific workout by jumping repeatedly off both one and two feet using a net or hoop as a target.
Andrew Reiner has covered scholastic and collegiate sports since 2007. He has written for "The Record Delta" in Buckhannon, W.Va., winning first-place awards from the West Virginia Press Association for sports news writing, sports feature writing and sports columnist, among others. Reiner earned a Bachelor of Arts in communications and integrated media from Geneva College in Pennsylvania.