If you’re a beginning or intermediate basketball player who’s started taking the sport more seriously, you’re probably training often and training hard—but chances are you don’t have a coach to fine tune your approach. Without knowing what to look out for, you may find yourself doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results. (That’s the definition of insanity, by the way). To help you avoid hitting a plateau in your practice, we’ve determined five common mistakes that might be holding you back, and how to work around them.
The wrong type of legwork
Aerobic fitness is key to longevity during a tough game, but avoid overdoing it with your cardiovascular conditioning. Long runs and other aerobic exercises build slow twitch muscles that are responsible for endurance, but they’re not as useful out on the court as, say, the fast twitch muscle fibres responsible for the explosive movements you’ll actually see during a game. You can build up the latter with sprint interval drills or peppering your slow, middle-distance runs with fartleks—that’s a funny word for short, all-out sprints.
Just ‘shooting around’
There’s nothing quite like shooting hoops on an empty court to blow off some steam, but unless you’re performing drills, you’re probably ingraining bad habits that will hold your shot-making skills back. Instead of going on autopilot, give yourself an active goal—make 30 shots; hit five in a row from beyond the arc. This will keep you focused on your form and release.
Spending too much time on the court
Most of your training should take place on the hardwood, but don’t neglect spending time in the gym. Weight training helps build up your range, strength and endurance in ways that simply playing the game cannot. Cross training with other sports such as swimming, on the other hand, help strengthen muscles that stabilize your joints, which helps prevent common basketball injuries. Finally, ensure you take recovery seriously to let your body catch up to your dedication.
Not stretching it out
Speaking of injuries, boosting your muscle flexibility is another key way to prevent common basketball injuries such as twisted ankles, groin strains and sore knees. Mobility and light strength exercises like these can help.
Neglecting to reflect
From prevention to treatment in 5 steps
Wax on, wax off
You’re only a strong as your weakest link