In-Season Mobility Training Should Not Be Overlooked
For those of you that follow my work, you know how strongly I believe in the following conviction:
Basketball players should participate in a year-round strength and conditioning program to reduce the occurrence and severity of injury and to maximize performance on the court.
The program should be purposeful, progressive, and comprehensive and should address every aspect of basketball athleticism:
One of the most overlooked and underrated of these characteristics is mobility.
Mobility, particularly in the ankles and hips, is vital for staying injury-free and moving efficiently during the season. Every time a player runs or jumps (which happens occasionally in basketball), they perform "triple extension" — they extend at the ankles, they extend at the knees, and they extend at the hips. If any one of those three joints can't go through a full range of motion, then the player won't be able to run as fast or jump as high as they are capable of.
Conversely, every time a player lands from running and jumping, they want the impact to dissipate through those same three joints. If any one of those three joints can't flex properly to absorb the impact, it adds tremendous pressure to the next closest joint. For example, a player with tight, immobile ankles or hips is not only limiting their potential to run and jump, they are also causing additional, and unnecessary, impact on their knees!
While I address mobility (and flexibility) on a year-round basis, I place even more emphasis on it during the season.
Many of the exercises we do were derived from yoga. If you think Yoga is for stay at home soccer moms... think again muchacho. Yoga has been around for centuries and helps develop strength, balance, flexibility, mobility, body awareness, and concentration—qualities that can drastically improve performance on the court.
You don't have to take a 90-minute Yoga class at your local health club to derive the benefits. I have tweaked many conventional Yoga poses and adopted a series of mobility exercises for my players to perform before and after every strength workout, practice and game during the season.
You will see a few of these Yoga-ish exercises this video from the warm-up we did prior to our first game of the 2011-2012 season:
The above warm-up can be done anywhere! You can perform this in a hallway, locker room, or in an alternate gym. Don't let a lack of facilities or space serve as an excuse.
Basketball players tend to get tighter as the season progresses, especially in the hips, groin, and lower back. This is an effect of the cumulative fatigue caused from intense daily practices and games over the course of several months. The only way they can maintain a maximum level of mobility (and flexibility) is if they make a commitment to do these type of exercises consistently.
And similar to in-season strength training, you will never find the time to address mobility, you have to make the time for it! If you do, trust me, it will pay dividends on the court.