The Top 5 Mistakes Made By Basketball Players By Alex Maroko
There is a ton, a cornucopia, a plethora, if you will, of training information for almost every athletic endeavor you can think of partaking in. This information can be found online, in books, seminars. Basically, you don't have to go very far to learn about training for your sport. Whether it's football, MMA, bodybuilding, power lifting, track and field, soccer, baseball, hockey, anything, it's found and obtained fairly easily.
Unfortunately, for a lot of basketball players and coaches out there, there isn't much information readily available out there specific to basketball. Sure, a lot of the "other" information is fairly general and applicable to a lot of sports, including basketball, but come on, that's not good enough.
And, sure, there is a lot of information, including a lot of it being some pretty bad information, on training for the vertical jump. (If this is something you're interested in, then you need to check out Kelly Baggett's Vertical Jump Bible. The best, bar none.) But the vertical jump is a small part of becoming a better basketball athlete. An important part, but a part nonetheless.
If you're a player or a coach interested in improvement, start reading, start researching, and start experimenting. But, first, get your feet wet with this list; the 5 most common training mistakes I see in basketball players today:
1. Basketball players play too much basketball
You might read that and think I'm crazy, but I'm not. Basketball players play the game, whether it's 5 on 5, 3 on 3, 1 on 1, whatever, everyday, for hours on end. And I'm sorry to break this to you, but there is a such thing as diminishing returns.
Because they play so much, players are constantly in an overreached state. What does that mean? It means their performance will consistently be sub-par and their motivation will wane. Something they used to love to do, sucks now because 1) They often don't play as well as they used to or normally do and 2 ) Playing becomes a chore, not the fun activity it used to be.
How often should they be playing? 2-3x a week is the most I'd recommend and twice is probably optimal for most.
2. Basketball players don't practice enough
Right along with playing too much, they don't work on their skills enough. I know we've all heard about how the Europeans spend hours everyday skill training, and while I don't think it's nearly as big of a deal as some make it out to be, there is something to be learned in there. Shooting, passing, dribbling, and man-to-man defense all require time spent perfecting them. Then, as those skills continue to improve, those improvements should transfer over to games and, voila!, you're looking at a better basketball player.
How should you balance playing with practicing? Like I said above, I think most players would see the most benefit from paying 2-3x a week, and then practicing 2-3x a week on the days you don't play. Combined, you should be playing/practicing 5x a week, tops. No more than that!
3. Basketball players are weak
And when I say weak, I mean WEAK. There are definitely some players out there that are strong and it definitely helps their game. (They're really easy to spot too. Just look for the fastest guys who jump the highest.)
How does strength help? Well, strength is the foundation on which all other athletic attributes are built on. There are several, important attributes I am referring to, but two big ones you might be very familiar with, SPEED AND EXPLOSIVNESS, absolutely fall under the determined-by-strength category. Get stronger and you will be running faster and jumping higher.
Not only that, but you will also be improving your body's resistance to injury and it's ability to recover. What's the moral here? GET STRONGER.
4. Jacked up ankles
Between high-top basketball shoes, ankle braces and no ankle mobility work, basketball players have some of the stiffest and most susceptible-to-injury ankles that you can find. The problem lies mainly within the three things I mentioned above: footwear, ankle braces and a lack of mobility.
With those three culprits working together, its no wonder every basketball player has ankle issues. What can you do to help prevent ankle issues? First, get a pair of lower top basketball shoes. They'll feel strange at first, but that's mainly because your ankle actually has to do some work now, whereas before it was doing almost nothing, while the shoe took care of everything. As with anything new, work your way into them slowly.
Second, unless you are just coming back from an ankle injury, it might be a good idea to toss the ankle brace, for the same reasons as tossing the high-top shoes. Again, work into it slowly, as you gradually become more comfortable with it.
Then, start working on your ankle mobility. Describing everything to do there would take a couple pages, but doing things involving moving your ankle through all ranges of motion would be a great place to start.
Finally, do some dynamic, strengthening movements to improve on your balance, proprioception and quickness simultaneously. I like 2- and 1-footed speed line jumps for sets of 20-30 and pogo jumps for sets of 10.
5. No recovery work
So now, with all this playing, practicing, weight training and injury prevention work, you're going to have to do something to help tolerate all of it, which falls under the category of recovery work. Something that always blows my mind, is that most people don't know that the positive things that come with training, happen when you're not training. That's what recovery is. You basically damage your body while training, then "relax" temporarily for 24 or 48 hours or however long you have between sessions, where your body repairs the damage and in an attempt to better handle the stress it knows is coming in the near future, it overshoots where it was before the initial training session and builds itself back a little stronger, a little better.
What can you do to assist the recovery process? Proper diet, especially after workouts, static or dynamic stretching, icing sore areas, foam rolling, massaging, napping and contrast therapy (if you're really brave) to name a few. Don't ignore this one. It's integral to the training process!
6. BASKETBALL PLAYERS ARE WEAK
Yeah, I already said it, but you didn't hear me loud enough! Above all else, if you want to become a better athlete, get stronger. If you're a beginner, lots of bodyweight work will more than suffice. If you're a little older and/or a little more advanced get your butt in the weight room and find the squat rack!
Alex Maroko is a currently a Kinesiology major at Michigan State University, and a former Division II college basketball players. Besides training himself and his clients, Alex likes to read, discuss and think about anything pertaining to training. At this point, it is borderline obsessive.