This workout is inspired by one of the greatest athletes never to play the game of basketball: Bruce Lee. He was a bonafide forearm fanatic who worked on his grip every chance he got. NBA players could stand to learn a thing or two from him when it comes to improving their dribbling. By focusing on the muscularity in your forearms, wrists and fingers, you can increase ball control and mobility in tight spaces. Here’s a set of Jeet Kune Do-approved gym exercises that put the game in your hands.
Because this is a focused regimen, work from largest to smallest muscle groups to promote total muscle exhaustion. The humble wrist-roller is a simple device that is comprised of a light weight tied to a short bar. A five- or 10-pound plate will do. Grasp the bar horizontally with both hands and hold it in front of your chest firmly. Wind the cord away from you until the weight reaches the bar, then unwind it back toward you to complete one repetition. Perform four full windings, switching direction each time. To work your forearms and ball-handling grip to their potential, be sure to use your wrist’s full range of motion with each twist.
Wrists and forearms: weighted jump rope
Unlike the wrist-roller which focuses on strength, the beauty of a weighted jump rope session is that it builds muscle while practicing your dexterity from your hands down to your feet. Weighted jump ropes come in two varieties, some with weighted handles and others with a weighted tube in place of the rope. Using one of these, you activate the same muscles in your wrists that you use while dribbling. The jumping mechanic also builds tempo and strength in your running. Attempt four sets of one minute, allowing yourself to rest another minute in between.
Wrists: barbell wrist curl
Only a small movement is needed to target another muscle group responsible for effective dribbling: the wrist flexors. Using a wide barbell, load on a small weight—around 20 pounds. Taking a seat on a bench, grasp the barbell with an overhand grip spaced as wide as your shoulders. Place your forearms on your thighs, allowing your hands to hang a few inches past your knees. Lower the bar as much as you can, then flex your wrists (and only your wrists) to their maximum height. Make sure your grip is hard and you don’t let the weight roll down your fingers—that’s how hyperextension injuries occur.
Fingers and grip: fingertip push-up
Fingertip push-ups will work out your chest, but they will also result in a greatly strengthened grip. Position yourself to perform a classic push-up. Instead of supporting yourself with your palms, support your body with outstretched fingers at about shoulder width and perform five sets of 20 repetitions. Remember those hyperextension injuries? Finger exercises such as these help prevent that, plus gives you more control on your shot release. Oh, and the proper way to hold a basketball is using only your finger tips—so there’s that.