As the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors slug it out in Game 6 later this week, up and coming basketball players are delighted at this new breed of competition in the NBA Finals. But getting inspired by the likes of Lebron James and Steph Curry is one thing, but getting fit to play basketball takes time and effort. Thankfully, you can build the strength, agility and flexibility needed right at home or with minimal space.

We will start with unique warm-up drills and gradually build up to more intense plyometric exercises such as squat jumps, reverse crunches and more. These are some of the best workouts for basketball beginners or those looking to take up the sport in the near future.

Make this a part of your warmup drills or to build up the intensity. The carioca is an excellent coordination exercise, and a carioca step is often used in real game situations such as shooting a one-handed backhand approach shot, so it’s key to perfect this move. Run sideways with a criss cross movement such that your legs cross back and forth alternatingly. Start by slowly moving your left leg behind you, then bring the right leg in an arc in front of you to move sideways. Slowly build up momentum, and switch the leg sweeping back after 8-10 steps.

Calf stretches
Running is an integral part of this sport, and this is one of the essential workouts for basketball to ensure you are fit enough to run as well as jump. The calves play a huge role in this sport, so make sure you stretch your calf muscles and Achilles tendons against a wall. These sites can be prone to injury among basketball athletes. Face and lean against a wall keeping the leg or legs straight while keeping the heels down. For the tendons, keep the toes pointed inward and do the same stretch, with the knees bent and while the heels remain pinned to the floor.

High Knee Pumps

A great cardio exercise that adds an exaggerated plyo element to your running, and gets your heart pumping. When performed regularly it will improve flexibility and power in the lower limbs as it works on quadriceps, soleus, gluteus maximus, rectus abdominis, hamstrings, hip abductors, and your tibia muscles.

Stand straight with the feet hip width apart, looking straight ahead and arms by your side. Jump from one foot to the other at the same time lifting your knees as high as possible, hip high is the recommended height as this gives you that explosive power throughout your legs. The arms should be following the motion as well, swelling up with your leg. Make sure you land on the balls of your feet.

Fire up the mobiefit BODY app for quick upper body, lower body and core workouts. This includes plyo workouts that are ideal for basketball players.

Plyo Pushups
Plyometric pushups are some of the best exercises for basketball players because it builds quick, explosive hands and a powerful upper body. There are multiple variations to plyo pushups, with spiderman pushups, tiger pushups, clap pushups or even shoulder-tap pushups. We will focus on the clap pushups as these also help improve your reflexes.

Get down in a standard pushup position, and perform a regular pushup, getting your chest to an inch or so above the floor. Breathe out and push yourself back up with force, such that your hands are in the air. Now perform a clap under your chest area and quickly bring them out to balance your body in the up position.

Reverse Crunch
Not many people realise this but crunches not only strengthen your core, but add flexibility to your upper body as well. You cannot make a good crunch without the adequate upper body range of motion, and this exercise proves handy when muscling rival players out of the way en route the basket or jumping in a tight situation.

Lie on your back and put your feet up in the air with knees bent at 90 degrees. Let your hands rest on the floor besides your body, or tuck them behind your head. Now pull yourself up from your abdomen, while keeping the belly button tight. Keep going up till your lower back is off the floor, and your knees are straight and your legs are perpendicular to floor. Do not let your legs touch the floor at any time in the exercise.

Squat Jumps
Jumping ability is crucial for becoming a skillful basketball player. Squat jumps are one of the best lower body plyometric exercises that improve strength, agility, reflexes and jumping ability.

Get into a standard squat position with feet comfortably apart, but hold the phone tightly in one hand. Lower yourself while inhaling into the deep squat position, stopping when your thighs are below the knee level. Instead of getting back up slowly, exhale and push up through your legs and launch yourself straight up, off the floor. Swing your arms over your head from the sides while jumping. Land back in the deep squat position. And repeat.

Main image: Mens Fitness

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