What do NBA Players do Leading Up to Game Time?
To ball like a pro, you must train like a pro.
One thing that often goes unnoticed is the last minute work before tip-off.
It’s easy to find offseason workouts and player skill development plans, but what do players do in their pre-game work? What do they focus on and what can we draw from the pre-game routines of some of the best basketball players in the world?
There’s more to a proper pre-game routine than throwing up half-court circus shots and throwing down uncontested windmill dunks. There is a method behind all the madness, and there is a clear and individualized routine that factors in everything from muscle activation to injury prevention to performance optimization.
So how does a pre-game begin?
Well, almost two hours before tip-off, players are all taped up and ready to get to work. Before any sort of static stretching begins, players warm up their muscles with light cardio which includes cycling or jogging, as well as athletic muscle activation and dynamic work. Along with team trainers, each players does whatever they need to do to loosen up and a basketball is not often touched until actual shootaround begins.
At times, certain players will also incorporate weights and resistance bands. Shoulder press, bicep curls, lunges, triceps extension, and numerous other lifts are all common exercises in an NBA players pre-game routine. Of course, the important thing to remember here is the ultimate goal is not to overtax the muscles and force the player to feel fatigued entering the game, but to help the blood flow through the muscles, helping the player feel physically fit to compete.
Then, we get to shootaround and every player has their own unique walk-throughs.
Players like Kevin Durant and Steph Curry are often seen working through numerous dribbling drills which aim to warm-up their fast twitch muscle fibers and refine their overall ball-handling skills.
All NBA players in general go through a wide range of different shooting and dribbling drills in their pre-game. The most critical aspect of all this work comes down to one thing – how can it replicate an in-game environment. Remember, no matter what you do, you must prepare yourself for what you will do once the opening buzzer sounds.
Some players are flashy, others are very fundamentals oriented, but everyone has one thing in common – they work to stay game ready.
How do you stay game ready?