Many people believe that to be a successful basketball player, you have to be bigger and stronger than your opponents, and play above the rim. While this is true to some extent, basketball players also need speed and quickness to execute the fundamentals more efficiently. The quickest basketball players are often the most successful because they are difficult to stop. Becoming faster will make you a better all-around basketball player and a nightmare to opposing teams.
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Weight training is vital to building fast-twitch muscle fibers in your legs, back and upper body, which are responsible for quickness and agility. For the kind of strength needed to increase speed, do leg exercises such as squats, calf raises, leg extensions and leg curls. Bench presses, biceps curls and triceps extensions are great for building upper-body strength. Although each of these exercises are beneficial, it is important to remember muscle fiber is gained through repetition and the amount of weight being lifted.
Explosiveness is a term used in basketball to describe quick acceleration. In an average game you will sprint as many as 105 times and change directions every two seconds. Since basketball requires such quick movements, acceleration is one of the most important parts of building basketball speed. Core exercises such squat jumps, wall sits, leg raises, planks and lunges all help develop this explosiveness. The University of Utah Sports N' Science program points out that unlike weight training where repetitions build muscles, core exercises rely more on duration because your body is genetically predisposed to maintain the type of muscle fibers already found in those parts of your body.
Your ability to stop on a dime as a basketball player is just as important as your ability to quickly accelerate. If you can effectively stop and change directions, you are more likely to be able to beat the defense. This means that lateral speed is just as important as your ability to quickly move from side to side. Defensive slides using the proper defensive position and sliding your feet rather than crossing them will help your side-to-side speed as you are staying low and contracting your core much like you would during a squat exercise while using quick lateral movements that mimic side lunges.
Strength, explosiveness and agility will make you a quicker, better basketball player, but without endurance, it will be hard for you to package these attributes and become a faster player. Repetitive endurance drills such as suicides will greatly increase your conditioning and allow you to run for a longer amount of time. The most effective repetitive running drill for a basketball player is the 17, which requires you to line up on one sideline and sprint back and forth to the other sideline, touching the line 17 times in one minute.