Champions of Sport: Four Crucial Lifts for Basketball Players

2 years ago

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Four Crucial Lifts for Basketball Players


The 2016 High Performance Basketball Symposium is taking place over the next two days at UNLV in Las Vegas, NV. In preparation of the clinic and to help basketball players get the most out of their training, Connor Sports’ strength and performance specialist, Craig Sowers, has outlined four essential lifts for basketball players.


Hang Clean

The hang clean is one of my favorite power development exercises for basketball players. In order for it to be effective, it is critical to teach proper technique. Without sound technique as your foundation to build on, your athletes ceiling will be very limited.

Use the following progression to teach my athlete’s proper technique on the hang clean.

  1. High Chest Jump and Shrug
  2. High Chest Power Clean
  3. Teach transition from Hang to High Chest position
  4. Hang Power Clean
  5. Hang Clean

This progression is important as it teaches your athlete’s how to perform the double knee bend and therefore finish the lift (getting into triple extension) by using their legs rather than just their back. Remember if your goal is to work on increasing power then your percentages need to reflect it.


Front Squat

Front squat is a great lower body strength exercises and should be interchanged with the back squat as one a key strength exercises for basketball players. Interchanging the back squat with the front squat allows for variety in your athlete’s training. Strength should stay your focus, but there are a lot of ways to build it so why make it boring for your athletes. Make sure to keep variety and strength going by mixing in a large dose of single leg work.

Keys to a great front squat:

  • Chest tall
  • Sit the butt back between your heels
  • Work the heels all the way down and all the way up
  • Lead out of the bottom with a tall chest and elbows high


Posterior Chain

Posterior chain exercise combined with teaching your athletes the proper movement patterns for landing and decelerating are key to injury reduction in basketball. Since the hamstring works eccentrically and concentrically while running it is crucial to work them in both a contracting and lengthening exercises in the weight room. There are a lot of choices, but some of my favorite are RDL’s, goodmorning’s, glute ham raises, partner glute ham raises, clam shells, and lying abduction and adduction.

Key to a successful RDL:

  • Start with a stance slightly wider than your squat
  • Hinge at the hips
  • As the bar lowers the knees push back and hips raise up as high as they can while still keeping a slight bend in your knees
  • Stay back in the heels and off the balls of your feet



Plyometric exercises are great for increasing power and jumping ability for basketball players. Plyometrics is a very broad term that can encompass a lot of exercises. Because of that just focus on a few plyometric exercises, like linear two legged jumps. Break the exercise down into jumps for height, jumps for triple extension and multiple jumps.

  1. Jumps for height is what most athletes and coaches focus on and they are great. The athlete stacks as many boxes and top of each other and jumps as high as they can, pulling their knees to their chest to get on top of the boxes.
  2. Jumps for triple extension is a variable that should be focused on during different times of the year or training cycle. With this type of jump the athlete will use a very small box. The athlete will focus on jumping as high above the box as they can (attaining triple extension of the hips, knees and ankles are key). Once they reach full height or triple extension they will land softly on the box in a good athletic landing position.
  3. Multiple jumps are just what they sound like. The drill can be set up with cones, boxes, and hurdles. Use 5-6 at once. An example would be 5 boxes placed approximately 3-3.5 feet apart. The athletes will jump over the first box land and jump over the next box right away. They will continue this until they have jumped over all the boxes.  

Tags:  strengthandperformance
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