Explosiveness, as it pertains to basketball, is a combination of strength, power, conditioning, flexibility and skill proficiency. These traits are vital to the success of basketball players at every level and they improve through proper training. Even someone considered a “mediocre” player has the opportunity to shine on your squad if that player works to improve explosiveness.
Gone are the days of simply playing pick-up basketball to improve as a player. To reach their potential on the court, players must be encouraged to work on skills outside of just playing basketball in order to improve their game. It is critical they participate in a truly comprehensive training program, which maximizes their athletic ability. In addition to drilling fundamentals, your players need to include strength-training exercises, low-level plyometrics, conditioning drills and flexibility movements.
In particular, a player’s explosiveness on the court successfully develops through the use of plyometrics.
A properly implemented training program improves your team’s overall performance by getting your players to run faster, jump higher and box out stronger. This program needs to reflect the true motions of basketball — short, high-intensity bursts of energy, which include sprinting, backpedaling, defensive sliding and jumping. Have your workouts reflect these movement patterns. By doing so, your team has the ability to compete at a high level for the entire game, which is the difference between good teams and great teams. And, don’t be scared about who your are coaching when it comes to implementing a plyometrics training program as it is designed for both male and female players ranging from junior high to the professional level.
What are Plyometrics?
“Plyometrics” is a huge buzz word in the athletic industry right now. To place everyone on the same page, plyometrics are exercises usually involving some form of explosive movement such as jumping, hopping or bounding movement for the lower body, as well as some swinging, pushing and throwing for the upper body. Plyometrics are designed to increase power, coordination, balance and quickness.
These exercises work by using the force of gravity or of a weighted medicine ball to store the potential energy in the muscles. Then, this energy is released immediately in the opposite direction. The energy stored, in addition to the physiological responses and mechanisms in the body (myotatic reflex) during the eccentric (negative, muscle lengthening) phase of a muscle contraction, is used to produce a more powerful concentric (positive, muscle shortening) phase of muscle contraction — simply stated — a more explosive movement.
Be sure to pick appropriate plyometric exercises so they are safe and a productive supplemental training tool for your players. The game of basketball already is plyometric in nature, so adding a large volume of additional plyometric exercises is counterproductive and produces overuse injuries such as orthopedic trauma to the joints, tendons, ligaments, and bones, which occurs from too much impact. Use as soft a surface as possible to reduce orthopedic stress placed on the body as it is not necessarily the jumping that potentially causes problems but rather the landing. Be very cautious when having players jump off boxes and/or performing weight jumps. As explained later in the article, players should jump onto boxes instead of off them. This ensures you are maximizing the positive part of jumping (explosiveness) while minimizing the negative part (impact from landing).