Primary Muscles of Basketball

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Basketball games combine finesse and power and require players to be in peak physical condition to excel on the basketball court. According to fitness coach and Illinois Basketball Hall of Fame member Danny McClarty, modern NBA basketball players are larger and have more muscle mass than ever before, and a perfect example is a guy like LeBron James.

Players who engage in a sensible strength training program can improve all aspects of their game while increasing their fitness, muscle strength, range of motion, and reducing the possibility of injury.

Starting to work your important muscle groups like the core muscles, quadriceps and deltoids from the high school level can increase your longevity, strength and quickness as you progress into higher levels of the game, so it’s important to get started when it’s right for your body.

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Leg muscles are critical for playing basketball.

Guards can improve their explosiveness and have a quicker first step by strengthening their calves, hamstrings and quads. Leg muscles are also important when shooting a basketball; strong major muscle groups like the thigh muscles provide the boost needed to power a player off the ground and allow him to shoot the ball with proper fundamentals.

As you move further down the lower leg, calf muscles are critical for rebounding, as they provide the initial spring that lifts the toes off the ground.

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Upper Body

The upper-body muscles are used in basketball to shoot the ball along with providing strength to fight through players to get rebounds or absorb contact when dribbling and driving to the basket.

The shoulder muscles, chest muscles, and upper arm muscles biceps and triceps are all parts of the body that basketball players use during play. The triceps are a critical muscle when shooting long-range baskets such as three-pointers. Building triceps muscles helps players who shoot well from close distances but struggle with deep shooting.

In your lower arm, your forearm muscles are crucial for allowing a player to dribble quickly and have control over the ball, especially when sprinting or when up against a defender.

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A basketball player with a lot of core strength has an advantage over his opponent when it comes to getting into position to score. Abdominal muscles, oblique and lower-back muscles provide the foundation for changing directions and making sharp cuts.

This is critical for driving with the ball to the basket or attempting to move without the ball by a series of cuts. A strong core can also help players on defense maintain their position and stay in the proper defensive stance.


According to strength and conditioning coach Alan Stein, strength training does not stunt the growth of younger players and is appropriate for budding basketball players as young as 8.

Younger players can benefit from a training program that incorporates movements that work multiple joints. This can increase flexibility, core stability, and coordination in younger athletes along with making them stronger, so when their muscles contract during gameplay, they are not exposing themselves to avoidable injury.