Training basketball

Published on July 20th, 2013 | by Joe Starks


Exercise Spotlight: Basketball

Basketball is an extremely popular sport all over the world, both to watch on television and to play. It is very exciting to play basketball, because it is fast paced, it has great variety and is never the same as the last time. People of all ages play it and it can be played all year around, since it is mainly an indoors sport. You can play basketball at any level and intensity you want, making it ideal for all ages and fitness levels. It is easy to learn but very hard to master. What exactly is basketball? What are the benefits and drawbacks of playing basketball and how do you train for it correctly? These and more questions we’ll answer below.

What is basketball?

It is not surprising that basketball in its modern form originated in the USA. The man who practically invented the game was called James Naismith. He was an instructor at the Young Men’s Christian Association Training School in Massachusetts and he introduced the game to his students in 1891. At the request of his superior he was to create a game that was rigorous and could be played indoors during winter. The game was inspired by soccer, hockey and American football. The game was an instant hit and spread all over America and beyond.

It is played by two opponent teams of nine members each. The goal is to toss a ball through the hoop or basket, which hangs at a certain height, of the opposing team. Basketball was immediately recognized as a sport that was very engaging and trained the whole body. Speed, coordination and agility were observed to be greatly honed through the sport and many colleges made it their main sport to ensure the fitness and wellbeing of their students.

Benefits of Basketball

Basketball is such a versatile sport, because every player has to be able to fulfill all roles at certain times. This means you have to be an all round sportsman, strong in the legs, arms and core. Some of the greatest benefits of basketball are:

  • It can be played from solo to eighteen people at a time. So you can train alone when you like to or meat up with plenty of friends to turn it into a social event. This flexibility allows the sport to be available at any time you like.
  • It is very social. All people benefit from social games, because you pretty much combine your social life with your active lifestyle. People who meet their friends more often on the basketball court and not the pub are certain to have healthier lifestyles. Children can have a strong social group they see often and the elderly can fend of depression by having fun matches with their peers.
  • It trains your whole body. You need to train strength in your arms and legs and you need a powerful core for balance. Any decent basketball player (amateur or professional) needs an all around balanced muscle ratio.
  • It trains your mind. Basketball is the ideal sport to train coordination. Having to run, dribble and shoot needs a lot of concentration and specific movement. Children especially need to train coordination early if they wish to have decent skill later on in life. Playing basketball as a child can be very beneficial for later life as good coordination makes everything easier.
  • It can be played all year around. Whether it snows or rains you don’t care. Many basketball courts are indoors and the game can be played just as well in a closed court or an open one.
  • It is cheap. You don’t need much equipment to play basketball. Hoops and courts are available for free in most parks and buying a cheap hoop isn’t much trouble for your purse. The balls are quite cheap too and you can practically wear any training clothing you feel comfortable in.

Disadvantages of basketball

Even though basketball is such a popular sport it has its disadvantages, which you should take in account when you wish to start playing the game. Some of those disadvantages are:

  • The taller the better. With only a few exceptions, height usually implies better skill in this game, giving a clear advantage to those who are taller. Taller people reach the hoop easier and can control the court. There have been exceptions to the rule of course, so no need to crush your dreams.
  • It is very high impact. When you play the game rigorously it is extremely high impact because of all the jumping and sprinting. Basketball is not for those who have weak bones. You can always adjust the game to your abilities, especially when your whole group consists of elderly or weaker people.

How to train for basketball?

The answer is pretty easy. Even though there are some exercises that are better than others, pretty much anything you do in a gym will help you become better at basketball. The main components of good basketball training are:

  • Endurance training. You have to train your ability to be on the move for a very long period of time. You train endurance best by played basketball games and by doing runs.
  • Agility training. Jumps and speedy agility drills are a must for someone to become good at basketball. Quickly hoping through a floor ladder, jumping over obstacles and passing the ball while running are great examples of agility training.
  • Vertical jump training. In the end getting that ball through the hoop comes down to that last jump. The higher you jump the greater chance for success you have.
  • Strength training. The ball in basketball is a heavy one and dribbling it around for an hour can be very hard. Working on your leg and upper body muscles can help you become that much stronger. Power is extremely important in basketball since you have to throw a ball with speed and strength.


Basketball is for good reason a very popular sport. You train your whole body while playing it and you can strengthen your relationships with your teammates giving you a great social boost as well as a physical one. Basketball trains the whole body and the mind as well, making it ideal for any age. You can play it indoors, so no bad weather bothers you, and you can play it at any intensity or level you and your mates wish, making it ideal for anyone.

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