Coach's Guide: Warming Up

Get your players into positive habits right from the start. Explain the concept behind stretching their arms and legs before they pick up a ball. They can’t play the game if they have a pulled muscle, and the best way to prevent those kinds of injuries doing stretching exercises before practice and games. Let them know that NBA and WNBA players can be seen stretching and loosening their bodies long before the start of games. The sooner players get into the habit of stretching before practices, the more conditioned they’ll be to warming up prior to games.

HOME TRAINING — Fitness Tips for Your Players

Expert Advice from GREG BRITTENHAM, Asst. Coach/Player Development, New York Knicks

Take some time early on to explain to your players that taking care of their bodies away from the court will help them a great deal when they are on the court. Plyometric exercises are one way that can help. If implemented correctly they are safe, fun to do, and go a long way in helping basketball players develop their quickness, speed, agility, and jumping ability. The Primary purpose for implementing plyometric exercises is to increase your player’s explosive power. The best part of these drills is that they’re easy to do and require very little equipment. When performing the drills concentrate on speed and quickness rather than on how high you are jumping. . Here are a few drills to get your team started. The entire plyometric session should last no more than 15-20 minutes.

Jump Rope — Skipping rope is actually a low impact plyometric and a great way to introduce your muscles to the quickness required when performing the drills correctly. Jump rope for about 5-7 minutes to get loose. Remember to stay on your toes.

Box Run — Use a small sturdy wooden box or a stair step, no more than 10 inches high. Start with your right foot on the box / step and the left foot on the floor. Jump and simultaneously switch your feet so that the left foot is now on the box and the right is on the floor. Immediately repeat (without stopping). Perform 10-20 ‘switches then rest for 1-2 minutes. Do this drill 3-5 times. This is a good drill to develop sprint speed and jumping ability.

Box Jump – Stand with both feet on the same box / step. Your toes are on the edge of the step (your heels are hanging over the edge). Step off backward and land on the floor simultaneously with both feet. Immediately jump back to the top of the box. Concentrate on how quickly you can jump off the floor and back up onto the box. Rest for a second or two and then repeat 10-15 times to complete the set. Rest for 1-2 minutes between sets. Perform this drill 3-5 times. This drill will help your vertical leaping ability.

Towel Hop — Spread a towel out on the floor. It will form a rectangle. Start at one corner of the towel and perform a double leg jump around the towel’s edges touching all four corners of the rectangle. Perform 3-8 complete ‘roundtrips’ (a roundtrip is one complete revolution touching all four corners) then repeat in the opposite direction for 3-8 roundtrips. Rest 1-2 minutes. Do this drill 3-5 times. This drill will help improve you agility.

Lateral Jumps – Now take that same towel and roll it up to form a tube shape. Put a piece of tape around it to hold it in place. Lay the rolled up towel on the floor and stand sideways to the towel. Jump ‘laterally’ (sideways) over the towel. The instant your feet touch the ground on the other side of the towel immediately jump back to the starting position. Repeat back and forth jumping until you have performed 6-10 ‘roundtrips’ (a roundtrip is over AND back).


A proper warm-up routine is one way to reduce injuries such as pulled or torn muscles. Warming up is designed to raise the body temperature and build up a slight sweat. A short jog around the floor, or some of the full-court passing drills can suffice. However, the warm-up should include stretching, particularly stretches that concentrate on the Achilles, groin, hamstring and quadriceps.

Groin Stretch

Sitting down on the floor, players should bring the bottoms of their feet together. To the extent possible, bring the knees down toward to the floor. As with all stretches, players should not force the knees to the floor or use quick movements. The idea is to slowly stretch the inside of the legs near the groin.

Hamstring Stretch

Players should lie on their backs with one knee bent, foot on the floor. While keeping the other leg straight, lift the leg into the air. Reaching up with both hands, grab the back of the knee and slowly pull the leg toward the body as far as possible without straining. Then repeat with the opposite leg.

Quad Stretch

Face down on the floor with the right hand under the right ear, take the left hand and reach back to lift the left leg. The foot of the leg should pull back towards the left buttocks. Repeat with the opposite leg by turning the head to the right and placing the left hand under the left ear. Reach back with the right arm to grab the ankle of the right leg and pull toward the right buttocks.

Calf Stretch

Facing a wall, lean forward placing the palms of both hands on the ball. Put right foot slightly in front of the left shoulder length apart. Lean into the wall keeping the right foot flat. The heel of the left foot should be slightly raised, which allows the thick band behind the ankle — the Achilles tendon — to stretch. Repeat stretch with the other foot.

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