Athletes want to be faster, more agile, more flexible, less injury prone and ultimately have a performance edge over their opponent. One aspect of training that I believe to be often overlooked is the warm-up routine. As a young athlete I remember my coach making us do, what I then thought to be, an obscene amount of warm-up exercises. I now see the value of these exercises that I failed to see as a young athlete.
By following a short warm-up exercise routine you will improve your ability to out perform the competition. You can be faster and stronger with these few exercises. The warm-up routine I will recommend will allow your muscles to warm-up and actively stretch, sometimes called a dynamic warm-up, dynamic stretch or if used as a workout rather than a warm-up, bursting. While getting a good stretch on your muscle you are also increasing speed, flexibility, agility and bursting strength.
Most track athletes are used to this type of warm-up and exercise routine. As a basketball player you have more demand to be agile. You need to be able to quickly change direction, spin and stop. A track athlete is more concerned with reaching a top speed as quickly as possible.
Here is my recommended basketball warm-up routine. Start with a light jog for 10 minutes. I recommend running a slow mile to warm-up your muscles and your cardiovascular system. This should be done wearing some good basketball warm-up clothes, jacket and pant. Following this brief warm-up you should then go through your regular static stretching routine while wearing this same warm-up attire to keep your muscles warm. Hold each muscle stretch for 30 seconds to reach an optimal stretch. Now we can begin the active stretch and ballistic warm-up regiment.
Each of these dynamic exercises should be done from one foul line to the opposite foul line and then back to the starting position. This entire routine should take less than 10 minutes.
Butt Kicks: Kick you backside with your heels as fast as you can while only moving forward at a slow jog pace. This is a great quad stretch.
High Knees: Lift your knees as high and as fast as you can while slowly progressing forward.
Gazelles: This is one of my favorites, you bound as high as you can and while in the air keep your thigh parallel to the ground. You should feel like you are a leaping gazelle.
Hopping: This is like jumping a rope with out the rope, forward progression should be slow and controlled.
High Kick Walk: While walking forward bring your knee up toward your chest and then kick your leg out pointing your toes toward the ceiling. This is a great hamstring stretch.
Ken/Barbie Doll Running: With your knees locked sprint across the court. The running is done with only moving the hip and ankle joints.
It is important to remember that these warm-ups should be done with purpose and with good technique. After doing this warm-up routine you should feel slightly sweaty and more limber. If you constantly perform these simple exercises you should get quicker, more agile and reduce your risk of injury.
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