Performance is a Choice: Basketball
Some of the greatest athletes in the game make everything look effortless. We have all watched the likes of Michael Jordan, Dwayne Wade, Russell Westbrookand LeBron James, and been in awe of their on-court movements. Their ability to change direction, close down lanes, create positive first steps, and their hang time helped place them in the category of elite NBA players. When trying to maximize on-court movements, what makes them so special?
Agility is one of the fundamental keys to becoming a successful basketball player. It can best be explained as the ability to accelerate, decelerate and change direction while maintaining proper, balance and posture. In short, it can be described as multi-directional quickness.
Coaches and athletes used to believe that people were born with speed and agility, and that their athletic fate was determined by their genetic make-up. In some essence, this is true, but what cannot be quantified is the individual athletes desire to win! Coaches now understand that speed and agility are skills, and skills can be taught.
When developing effective agility drills for basketball, the fundamentals are universal: apply greater force into the ground, apply that force in less time, apply the force in the proper direction and maintain the center of mass over the base of support.
When determining the most important movement skills in the game, the shuffle, cross-over step and acceleration have to rank at the top of the list. Becoming proficient at creating positive angles, keeping the center of mass low and developing a powerful first step are critical to becoming a better offensive and defensive player.
In order to maximize speed and agility, a systematic approach must be applied for developing movement mechanics. Athletes should progress from slower more deliberate actions, which require conscious thought, to more dynamic and reactive movements. Emphasis should constantly be placed on body and joint positioning, allowing the movements to become more coordinated and efficient. An athlete must learn to synchronize recruitment patterns in each individual muscle, as well as recruit the proper firing sequence of multiple muscle groups.
Example training drill:
Set up: 2 cones placed between center court and top off 3-point line
Drill 1: have athlete shuffle between 2 cones, changing direction once his outside foot reaches the cone
Drill 2: Same as above, but add resistance via bungee cord or resistance belt
Drill 3: Take bungee off and see if can perform at game speed
Drill 4: Have athlete react to an external stimulus and see if can maintain movement proficiency with reaction (i.e. point in direction you want them to go, change direction of whistle, change direction of ball drops, etc…)
It is important to realize that if they are unable to maintain proper form during any drill, go back and perform the previous drills with emphasis again on technique. Each step is an opportunity for the athlete to start to create new neuromuscular patterns, and engrain those patterns into their repertoire of movements.
By creating movement proficiency, the athlete will be able to improve their first step quickness, improve their power capabilities, preserve their energy as the game progresses as well as ward off injury.
Director of Sports Performance
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