Balance for Basketball

Before a basketball team can win, it must be balanced. There must be balance between offence and defence and between guards and forwards. Above all, players must be balanced if there are to reach their athletic potential on the court (Repeša, 2009).

Basketball teams develop balance in order to prepare for training and competition. A player who is balanced is able to learn more and perform at a higher level than one who has not met this basic requirement (Messina, 2008).

Teams win because they are comprised of elite players who are ready to play. The teams move without the ball and take good shots. At the other end of the court, these teams follow sound defensive principals. Players rely on a strong first push, deny penetration without fouling, and contest opponent shots (Šeparovic & Nuhanovic, 2008, p. 17).

The Importance of Good Balance

Body Position

Coaches must master the simple fundamentals, especially if they endeavour to coach youth basketball. Controlling balance helps both young and old players achieve at a higher level; they are able to attain and maintain impressive gains in quickness, explosiveness, and agility. In order to mirror game situations, players should train in dynamic conditions which test their body control (Stein, 2010).

Ready Position

Elite basketball players must utilize excellent position and possess exceptional balance because the initial component of movement is being ready to move (Repeša, 2009). Athletes should be on the balls of their feet with their knees bent, heads up to read the play and hands up to catch the ball or play defence. Training single-leg strength in practice sessions (Ford, 2011). A player who is ready to move will appear quicker than a more athletic counterpart who is not prepared.

Injury Prevention

The body must be able to perform the movement without injury. Basketball players are at risk for ankle sprains, especially ankle inversion, due to jumping and landing out of balance, stepping the foot of another player, or while making a sudden change in direction (Cumps, Verhagen, & Meeusen, 2007, p. 212). A single ankle sprain can reduce confidence, increase postural sway, and elevate the risk of future injury (Leanderson, Wykman, & Eriksson, 1993, p. 204).

Ankle injuries are the most common in-game basketball injury. During a single high school season, 17.9% of female players and 20.3% of male players will sustain an ankle injury. Lateral ankle sprains comprise eighty-five percent of all sport-related sprains (Shaw, Gribble, & Frye, 2008, p. 164).

Strengthening the ankles and core allows the athlete to place greater stress on the body. In addition to prevention, balance helps athletes recover from injuries, permitting athletes to move without favouring one side and restoring confidence.

Balance training is effective in reducing the risk of ankle sprains without the negative costs, such as expensive supplies or the chance of skin irritation (Cumps, Verhagen, & Meeusen, 2007, p. 212). This is noteworthy for youth coaches because most adolescent athletes do not use ankle support and many are unable to afford the costly equipment (McGuine, Greene, Best, & Leverson, 2000, p. 243).

Since basketball players may devote more time to strength training, they may inadvertently shorten the gastrocnemius muscle and tighten the Achilles tendon. This may create more plantar flexion and expose the ankle joint to a greater risk of sprains when landing. Flexibility training – during cool-down routines and at home – will improve balance and reduce injuries (Leanderson, Wykman, & Eriksson, 1993, p. 205).

Sport-Specific Skills

Shooting

In order to shoot well, basketball players must square up to the basket in a variety of positions. Whether the player employs a jump stop or pivots, they must stop moving and assume a balanced position before initiating the shooting motion. Stepping into the shot with a 1-2 step affords a longer time which aids the development of balance (McCormick, 2005, p. 11).

If players wish to use the quicker release of a two-foot jump stop they must have the ability to establish balance in a short period of time under great pressure. Shooting entails starting and finishing in a balanced position, staying under control throughout the process (MacKay, 2011).

Ballhandling

When ballhandlers are balanced – holding a steady posture and ready to explode to the hoop with a single-leg push – they are confident. They feel in control and ready to attack their opponent. A blanced ballhandling position includes bending the knees, standing on the balls of their feet, while keeping their heads up and maintaining a sturdy centre of gravity.

It is easy enough to show the correct position to players in a stationary or low-speed setting but coaches must also load the drills to simulate the intensity of aggressive of ball pressure. Dribbling while tossing a tennis ball, ballhandling while stepping through a speed lated, and making full-speed ball mores while keeping the core centered over a line on the court will condition balance (MacKay, 2011).

Post Play

Post players should assume a balanced position before receiving the ball. Good balance helps players absorb contact so they can catch the ball in a high-percentage scoring position. Core and Pillar muscles provide a solid foundation that enables the lower body to apply and resist force (Willardson, 2007).

Defence

Defenders must be able to cover their own man for the first few bounces. After placing themselves between the ball and the basket, defenders must be able to make a good strong push in order to stop dribble penetration. Ready defenders can react and stop the ballhandler’s first move, reducing the need to help and rotate.

Training Balance

Balance training can include three dimensional ankle movements (with or without shoes), balance boards and BOSU balance trainers, and exercises especially designed to develop stability. Due to the dynamic nature of basketball, balance training should strengthen the ankle in all directions. Teams can devote ten to fifteen minutes, two or three times per week, to strengthen the tendons and ligaments in their ankles and experience meaningful results. Standing on any type of unstable surface and requiring athletes to make adjustments with their ankles, knees, and legs instead of their upper bodies will develop balance.

Ankles can be strengthened with a quick warm up routine, such as walking on the toes, heels, and sides of the feet, followed by small hops, ls, and balancing exercises. Balance can also be improved with cool down routines and flexibility exercises performed during all training phases (Javorek, 1995, p. 70). A few simple ankle exercises contribute to significant gains in single-leg strength and stability. Try balancing for fifteen to thirty seconds, followed by an equal amount of active recovery.

Balance Exercises

Ankles can be strengthened with a quick warm up routine, such as walking on the toes, heels, and sides of the feet, followed by small hops, rolls, and balancing exercises. Balance can also be improved with cool down routines and flexibility exercises performed during all training phases. A few simple ankle exercises contribute to significant gains in single-leg strength and stability.

The work:pause ratio should be 1:1.


Other Athletic Abilities


Resources

  • Cumps, E., Verhagen, E., & Meeusen, R. (2007). Efficacy of a sports specific balance training programme on the incidence of ankle sprains in basketball. Journal of Sports Science and Medecine , 6 (2), 212-219.
  • Ford, J. (2011, February 23). Single-Leg Strength. (B. Bourgase, Interviewer)
  • Javorek, I. (1995). Yearly Plan of Preparation for Basketball and Volleyball Conditioning. Strength and Conditioning Journal , 17 (3), 68-72.
  • Leanderson, J., Wykman, A., & Eriksson, E. (1993). Ankle sprain and postural sway in basketball players. Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy , 1 (3-4), 203-205.
  • MacKay, M. (2011, March 15). Tennis Ball Dribbling. Retrieved March 30, 2011, from Xs and Os by Mike MacKay: http://www.basketball.ca/en/hm/blog/?sid=210.
  • McCormick, B. (2005). Pure: The Biomechancic and Mental Approach to Successful Shooting Basketball. Wrightsville Beach: Baskerball Sense.
  • McGuine, T. A., Greene, J. J., Best, T., & Leverson, G. (2000). Balance As a Predictor of Ankle Injuries in High School Basketball Players. Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine , 10 (4), 239-244.
  • Messina, E. (2008, October 11). Post Play. (O.B.A. Clinic)
  • Repeša, J. (2009, October 9). Personal Balance. (O.B.A. Clinic)
  • Šeparovic, V., & Nuhanovic, A. (2008). Latent Structure of Standard Indicators of Situational Effectiveness in Basketball in Bosnia League. Sport Scientific and Practical Aspects , 5 (1-2), 13-18.
  • Shaw, M. Y., Gribble, P. A., & Frye, J. L. (2008). Ankle Bracing, Fatigue, and Time to Stabilization in Collegiate Athletes. Journal of Athletic Training , 43 (2), 164-171.
  • Stein, A. (2010, December 13). DeMatha High School Weight Room Tour. Retrieved March 1, 2011, from The Hoop Group on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LT-dX2n04LY.
  • Willardson, J. M. (2007). Core Stability Training. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research , 21 (3), 979-985.