What Muscles Contract During Basketball?

Basketball player shooting basketball in to hoop

Playing basketball can bring hours of pleasure, but it's also a great way to work out your entire body. All of your muscles work together in coordination to produce the elegant movements required in basketball. The muscles in your legs, your core and your arms are all contracting while you play basketball. Every muscle contracts, but different movements will use the muscle groups to varying extents.


The triceps are the most important muscles in the upper body for shooting and passing, followed by the shoulder and chest muscles. The triceps run from your shoulder to your elbow at the back of your upper arm. Contraction of the triceps muscles causes the extension of the arm involved in pushing the ball away from the body, such as when pushing the ball toward the ground to dribble.


The quadriceps are the powerful muscles at the front of your thighs. They are extremely important for sports since they determine how high you jump and how fast you run. In basketball, you use the quadriceps to jump, run and shoot. These muscles contract when you straighten your leg. Any time that your leg goes from a bent to a straight position, the quadriceps contract.

Hamstrings and Gluteus

The hamstrings and gluteus muscles are two muscle groups in your legs that contract when playing basketball. The hamstrings are the muscles at the back of your thighs, and they work together with your quadriceps. The gluteus muscles are your buttocks. The gluteus connects to the lower back muscles and to the hamstrings, which in turn connect to the calf muscles. The gluteus muscles contract when you run, jump and squat.


The calf muscles are located at the back of your lower leg. They contract in motions that require the extension of the foot, such as when your heel comes off the ground as you walk and run, or when you push off the ground to jump.


The core muscles are necessary to stabilize all the other muscle movements happening in your body. The core muscles include your abdominals, obliques and lower back muscles. These muscles are contracting all the time while you’re playing basketball. Even when you are just standing on the court, these muscles hold your body upright with good posture.

Forearm Muscles

You might be surprised to learn that important muscles responsible for flexing your fingers actually reside in your forearm. The flexor digitorum profondus runs from the elbow to the wrist where it connect to muscles in the fingers. This muscle helps generate the force required to push your fingers forward when shooting the ball. It works in conjunction with the triceps muscles which extend your arm.