WSBB Blog: Max Effort Lower Exercises for Basketball Players
The sport of basketball is unique. You must possess a high level of speed, agility, and explosiveness to be effective. One trait that is not often associated with basketball players is absolute strength. Basketball is often misunderstood as a low contact sport, where the need for brute strength isn’t near the level needed to excel in sports such as football or wrestling. However, as anyone who has played basketball at a high level will tell you, the sport of basketball involves as much contact and brutality as any.
Whether you are attempting to drive the lane or box out an opponent to get a rebound, having the ability to apply absolute strength and dominate your playing space is as important in basketball as it is in any other sport. Knowing this, the question becomes which strength training exercises contribute the most to the basic skill set and strengths needed to be a competitive basketball player? Fortunately, Westside Barbell has the answers for you.
An exercise that comes up repeatedly when discussing weight training and athletic performance improvement, the sumo deadlift contributes greatly to hip and leg strength, lateral force production, and jump performance. The sumo deadlift will develop strong and healthy hips while increasing hamstring, glute, and quad strength and size. For basketball players, not only will this increased lower body strength contribute to their ability to be powerful and athletic, players will benefit from added knee stability as a byproduct of properly developed hamstrings and quads.
At Westside, we use sumo deadlifts as both a main and accessory exercise. For basketball players, we recommend using sumo deadlifts for both as well. We recommend working up to a top set of one to five reps when used as the main exercise. When used as an accessory exercise, we stick between eight to ten reps. Variations of the sumo deadlift are used, most notably deficit pulls, block pulls, and rack pulls. These variations can be performed using bands or chains to alter the training effect.
When training basketball players, a strength coach must reduce the amount of wear and tear associated with the shoulders. Considering their sporting demands, basketball players already put a lot of demand onto their shoulders by shooting, passing, and rebounding the ball. To be clear, we are not advocating for avoiding direct shoulder training, however, we support saving your shoulders when you can while training exercises that are not shoulder-specific. This is where Hatfield squats come into play.
The Hatfield squat is an excellent option for all athletes to get the lower body stimulation associated with squats without incurring the strain and pain associated with constant conventional barbell squatting. The Hatfield squat also allows the athlete to use handles to maintain upper body balance and stability, focusing on executing each rep with as much force as the legs allow. This exercise is diverse in its use, being a great option as a main or accessory exercise. When performed as the main exercise, we recommend working up to a top set single or triple. As an accessory exercise, we recommend rep schemes between ten and fifteen. Hatfield squats can be an excellent strength endurance tool when higher rep ranges are employed.
When building athletic ability and strength, box squats are one of the most beneficial exercises an athlete can select when creating a lower-body Conjugate training program. The box squat provides the best of both worlds, the training effect of heavy barbell squats combined with the force production building capabilities of a seated box jump.
If you think about it, the box squat is essentially a weighted jump. The barbell and the accommodating resistance provide external load, while the movement pattern of a box squat is very similar to the form used to complete a seated box jump. This makes box squatting the primary option when selecting max effort lower squat exercises for basketball players. Coaches can program the box squat to accomplish almost any lower body strength training goal by changing the bar or accommodating resistance load.
Supertraining; by Dr. Mel Siff
Science and Practice of Strength Training; by Dr. Vladimir Zatsiorsky and Dr. William Kraemer
Westside Barbell Book of Methods; by Louie Simmons