Basketball requires a multitude of skills, high levels of concentration and top-tier physical fitness. Aerobic exercises like jogging, stationary bicycling, jumping rope and swimming are some of the best ways to build your strength and stamina and improve your oxygen system so that you'll have the endurance and discipline to play each game at maximum intensity until the final buzzer sounds.
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Begin every practice by jogging a few laps around the gym or outdoor court. To make the jog less monotonous, consider dribbling a basketball while you run, keeping your head up and eyes focused on your forward field of view, as you would when dribbling up court in a game. Also consider practicing a few ball-handling moves, like crossovers, through-the-leg jukes and behind the back changes of direction. Once you're accustomed to this basic routine, consider putting three to five-pound weights on your forearms and ankles to add an element of resistance training.
Stationary bikes offer the upside of endurance training without the downside of high-impact stress on knees and other joints. They're a good tool for cooling down after practice, or a generic workout in between games. Spend about 30 minutes to an hour on the cycle, and alternate your generally steady workout with a few higher-tempo rallies to build in a bit of heavy exertion anaerobic training.
Elliptical machines combine the workouts of a treadmill and stair climber, offering the benefit of increased resistance training for strengthening your shins, ankles, calves, biceps, pecs and forearms, while still letting you rhythmically break a sweat and boost your cardio.
Jumping rope is an excellent way to build cardio fitness and work your all-important calf and ankle muscles. Make sure to stay on your toes, and don't get carried away with speed and wear yourself out too quickly. The goal is to improve your endurance and build strength, not tax yourself to the limit. Consider throwing in a few quick-step foot combinations, like a boxer, to improve your dexterity and coordination. Limit yourself to no more than three sets, five to 10 minutes each set.
Swimming is another excellent low-impact aerobic exercise for basketball players. Swimming works almost all muscle groups, and the chances of pulling a muscle or putting excessive pressure on a joint are greatly diminished. Don't restrict yourself to swimming while in the pool, however. Some coaches advocate using the pool for plyometric exercises to enhance the quickness and responsiveness of your muscle function. All the standard plyometric exercises, such as squat jumps, split squat jumps, tuck jumps and lateral jumps, can be conducted in the water, with far less strain on your back, knees, feet and ankles than the same moves performed on land.