How to train like an NBA star?

When you consider the elite level of basketball there are a few different factors that make up the top players. You’ve got their ability on the ball, their winning mentality and their physical attributes.

Players like NBA Finals MVP LeBron James have it all but, for now, we are going to focus on the last of that trio with a look at how to train like a NBA star.

What are the physical attributes of a basketball player?

Before we dive straight into the ‘how’ it is important to consider the ‘what’ as well. What are the key aspects of physical conditioning a basketball player needs? Any high level sport will demand a good core strength and then you have more specific aspects tailored to basketball.

The game is played at breakneck speed meaning players will want to have good pace and excellent agility with the last attribute that is a must have being power.

So, how do you train like a NBA star?

Developing core strength 

Too many people think of their core strength and solely focus on abdominal work in the shape of crunches and sit-ups. It’s not the answer. That’s not to say that those exercises are useless in developing your core but they need to be combined with a deeper routine that works your body across various planes of movement. This means you’ll want to be doing a lot of twists and rotations too; after all, if you think about watching the game, players are constantly on the turn protecting or looking for the ball.

What are some moves you should consider? If you’re working alone consider bicycle crunches, Russian twists, side planks with a rotation and standing twists with the use of a medicine ball. If you’re working out with a partner you could look to incorporate a pass of the medicine ball to enhance handling and coordination too.

Supercharge your speed

When it comes to speed in basketball it’s a very unique form of pace in that you’ll need good endurance underneath with the ability to work in very small bursts at top speed. A great method for developing this type of fitness is fartlek or interval training, which would see you complete an endurance session but with varying intervals of walk, jog, run and sprints to mimic the nature of basketball.

If you’re looking for exercises you can do in a smaller space to develop your pace then you still have options. Focus on your glutes with moves like bridges whilst you can load your quads with squats or, if you’re really going for it, single leg squats.

Ace your agility

Whether you’re up against some of the best defensive players in the NBA or you’re trying to keep the offensive players in check you need to have top drawer agility. It’s just not debatable in basketball.

There are plenty of exercises you can do to boost your agility but it’s not all great news because you will need a little bit of room; you’re just not going to be able to increase your agility working out in a shoe box. No one in the top 5 best shooting guards in NBA history reached the spotlight without training agility.

You won’t need enormous space with a standard size yard or small local green space more than adequate.

Once that’s nailed down it’s all about quick feet. Most people like to work through a range of ladder drills to begin with whether than be jumping through them, doing toe taps in each square or working through the rungs in a lateral direction.

If you don’t want to invest in a ladder then any old sticks or rope will work equally as well.

You (can) have the power 

If you want to be slamming dunks like NBA Slam Dunk winner Derrick Jones then you’ll be wanting to get some serious power in your body; and, yes, we mean your body as too many people focus purely on their legs. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways you can build that explosiveness up without the need for open space or expensive equipment.

For your upper body, you can look to start with press ups where you push up with such force that you leave the floor; you can aim for a quick clap or chest tap in between reps. Another option is to utilise a medicine ball for wall tosses or slams. When it comes to lower body exercises you should look to things like jumping squats.

There you have it, how to train like a NBA star. If you build these into a weekly routine with a couple of days of rest you’ll be on your way.