"Coaches should recruit quickness, not height." - John Wooden
Watching the 2012 NCAA Tournament, I was reminded of one thing: how dominating quickness can be.
Aaron Craft, the short but nimble point guard from Ohio State, darted around the court on offense and was as pesky and annoying as could be on defense. His presence alone is typically game-changing regardless if he scores a single point.
Here's how you can do the same:
Improve Your Ability to Get in Position
While the term quickness can describe a variety of quick movements, one of the most under appreciated skills is your ability to get your body in proper position. In the game of basketball you often have to switch from a side shuffle to a back pedal, to an acceleration position without breaking stride.
Here are three exercises you can use as part of a warm-up to help improve that transition:
Develop More Core/Trunk Strength
No matter how you cut it, the ability of your trunk to stabilize is one of the most important aspects of athleticism. A strong trunk will help everything from strength, jumping ability, balance, and yes, quickness.
I consider there to be three basic functions of the core: resisting extension (getting pushed back), resisting lateral flexion (side-bending), and resisting rotation (twisting). The ability to control these three functions (sometimes in unison) will dictate your ability to keep your body in balance.
Add each of these exercises to your current routine:
- Greek God Press Iso (anti-extension)
- Side Plank/Weighted Side Plank (anti-lateral flexion)
- Landmine with Rotation (split stance) (twisting)
Improve Your Coordination and Foot Speed
When I was a kid everyone (boy or girl) used to play hop scotch, jump rope, skip, prance, etc. Not only do all of these movements improve your foot speed, but they also improve your coordination.
Coordination is a huge factor when it comes to improving general athleticism (picture a uncoordinated person trying a new task, yeah, it can get ugly!). Far too many times as players and coaches we avoid working on improving the aspects that we need most—coordination is one of those things!
Work on improving each of the below drills and you'll soon notice a difference in your overall athleticism and ability to learn new skills (basketball included). As an added bonus, they also improve ground contact time (foot speed) and quickness!