The Crucial Missing Element in Your Basketball Warm Up
Proper alignment and hip drive is the key to optimum performance on the court. This short, alignment-based warm up restores full range of motion, allows the core to fire efficiently, and powers strength in the hips.
Whether you’re playing in a pick-up game or the NBA, basketball requires jumping, sprinting, rotating, and maneuvering laterally from side to side. It is truly a total body sport at all levels—moving the body in all the different ways it was designed to move. But because basketball is a fast, all-out endurance sport—where every jump, juke, and lunge is intended to be quick and powerful—there are endless opportunities for injury. That’s why it is crucial to prepare the body to play.
“The most common complaint in basketball is the ankle,” says Brian Bradley, Director of Elev8d Fitness. “And that usually means that someone is driving with their upper back and spine.” Instead, he explains, power should drive from the hips. The below exercises are sequenced specifically to stack the eight load-bearing joints (shoulders, hips, knees ankles) and activate the powerful hip flexor muscles. “The hips then tell the femur, which tells the knees to tell the ankles. It’s a cascade effect,” explains Bradley. “You stabilize and mobilize the ankles from the hips down.”
You’d notice the warm up is very hip-focused—designed to activate 100% of the hip flexors and restore symmetry in the musculature. The cooldown is designed to bring the body back to neutral alignment after intense play. Don’t forget to move slowly and deliberately through each sequence—form is everything when it comes to alignment!
Squat to Walkout Pushup | 15x
- 1. Stand with your feet a couple of feet apart, pointed straight, and bend your knees until you are in a squat position, your arms extended directly in front; hold the position for a second.
- 2. Drop your hands to the ground and walk them forward until you are fully extended on your hands and feet, hips up, shoulders pulled back—the plank position.
- 3. Do a push-up then walk your hands back in and return to the squat position.
Spiders | 8x
- 1. Facing the bench and bend over and place your hands palms flat.
Pinch your shoulder blades together.
- 2. Jump so that both feet land outside your hands.
- 3. Hold a squatting position on the bench for a second before jumping back to the ground.
Bent Knee Da Vincis | 8x per side
- 1. Spread your legs until your feet are a couple of feet apart, pointed straight ahead, and extend your arms directly to the side, palms facing forward, fingers spread apart.
- 2. Bend your knees into a squat position with an arch in your lower back, then flex your torso sideways one direction before flexing it the other direction, keeping your head and hip stable and using your spine for the movement.
Saint Louis | 45 seconds
- 1. Stand at a wall and walk your feet out to just past your knees, lowering your hips until they are six inches below your knees, keeping your back pressed against the wall.
- 2. Interlace your fingers behind your head and keep your elbows against the wall.
- 3. Raise your toes and roll your pelvis forward, thus creating an arch at your lower back. Hold.
Over Under Switch | 8x per side
- 1. On your hands and knees, pop up onto your hands and feet with your knees bent.
- 2. Lift your left leg and drive it under your body, through the gap between your right leg and right arm, and finish on your hands and feet facing up, your back to the ground.
- 3. Lift your left hand and swing it over your body and land on your hands and feet, now facing the ground. Repeat process for allotted amount of time.
- 4. When finished with left leg, from the original starting position, lift the right leg and drive it under your body, through the gap between your left leg and arm, and finish on your hands and feet facing up.
- 5. Lift your right arm and swing it over your body and land on your hands and feet, facing the ground. Repeat process for an amount of time equal to what you exercised the left foot and arm.
Flutter Kicks | 25x
- 1. Lie on your back and place your hands palms down near your pelvis.
- 2. Lift, or crunch, your elbows and upper body off of the ground and hold.
- 3. Lift your feet and, keeping your legs locked straight, flutter your feet quickly up and down, keeping your toes pulled back for half the allotted time then pointing your toes forward for the remaining half.
Full Cobra | 1 minute
- 1. Get into plank position on your hands then drop knees and hips to hover off of the ground.
- 2. Pull shoulders down and pinch shoulder blades together and hold position.
Cat and Dog | 10x
- 1. Get on your hands and knees.
- 2. Beginning the movement at the hip, roll your back slowly upwards so that it finishes in a rounded position like a mad cat, your head down and chin tucked.
- 3. Again, beginning the movement with the hip, lower your back into an inverse arch, your head up, your shoulder blades pinching toward each other.