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Three simple core exercises for basketball players

by | Nov 14, 2020


As a basketball player, or even just an athlete, you can never have too much core strength.

It has SO many benefits. (even more than having a six-pack)

It will improve your vertical jump.

You’ll be stronger when accepting/initiating contact with opponents.

It will increase your stability when jumping in mid-air. This means more double clutch layups and contact finishes!

To be honest, the list goes on…

So, here’s a breakdown of three core exercises for you to start improving.

(no crunches or sit-ups here!)

Why is training with core exercises important?

But first, let’s make sure we understand why core strength is so important.

In all movements, your body will prioritise the safety of your spine.

This sounds reasonable, so a little core training is all you need… right?


Let’s use jumping in basketball as an example:

You can train each leg muscle individually as much as you want… If your core remains weak, you will stop making progress FAST.

Your body will naturally limit your explosiveness if your core is too weak to stabilise your spine for the movement.

This is why compound movements are recommended for lower body strength training. Whilst focusing on the legs, they’ll improve your core strength too.

But that’s a whole other topic…

Now that we’re on the same page, let’s get into the exercises.

Core Exercise #1: Straight Arm Plank

core exercises: straight arm plank


3 reps of 40 seconds

As in the image, there should be a straight line from your shoulders to your heel.


In my early teenage years, I became obsessed with having a six-pack.

Doing sit-ups before my evening shower became a ritual. I was a skinny kid, so eventually my abs started showing.

But, did the functional strength of my abs improve?

Maybe a little, but not as much as it could have…

In basketball (and most sports), the abdominal muscles are usually working to PREVENT motion to keep your torso straight.

(Rather than bringing your torso inwards like in a sit-up)

Due to this, the plank is one of the more effective core exercises which translates well to basketball. (although crunches can still help)

This is because – as you would in basketball – the plank aims to keep your torso straight.


Common mistakes:

  • Forgetting to contract your glutes and quads to keep your legs straight
  • Letting your hips rise or fall below the straight line

To make the exercise harder, do a push-up every 5 seconds. (still focusing on maintaining the straight line)

Core exercise #2: Superman Hold

core exercises: superman hold


4 reps of 10 seconds

As in the image, keep your chest, arms and (lower) legs off the floor.


Your abs aren’t the only muscles that make up your core!

This exercise works to train the strength of your lower back.

In basketball, you are constantly exploding out of lowered positions. (grabbing a rebound, blocking a shot, splashing a three… you get the picture)

Each time you do this, your lower back muscles contract to bring the torso back to a vertical position.

If you often experience lower back pain when playing, this exercise will strengthen those muscles and could help alleviate the pain.

If not, lower back training is still a MUST if you want to become a more explosive athlete.


Common mistakes:

  • Allowing your chest to rest on the floor
  • Letting your knees rest on the floor

To make it harder, slowly stretch your arms to your sides and then back to the front, as you maintain the position.

Core Exercise #3: Forearm Side Plank

core exercises: side plank


2 reps of 40 seconds

As in the image, keep a straight line from your shoulder to your head.


This exercise works to train the strength of your obliques. (the muscles on the side of your torso, above your hips)

As a beginner, I remember going to the park and trying to make ridiculous double-clutch and 360 layups like the pros.

But initially, anytime I tried to change my layup in mid-air; it felt like I was using all my strength just to get the shot up.

Over the next few days, my oblique muscles were sore. But, at that time I had no idea why, or what oblique muscles even were.

As I got older, taller and stronger, these layups became easier.

In hindsight, a big part of this was including side planks as a part of my training. (thanks YouTube)

The oblique muscles work to create, control and prevent the rotation of your torso.

As they get stronger, this means more double clutch layups and contact finishes for you.


A common mistake:

Often people won’t fully extend their hips, so if looking at them from above, their body isn’t straight.

(Even though it might look straight from a side-on view)

To make the exercise harder, rest on your hand and keep your arm straight instead.


Don’t you wish that alongside your training, you get some extra vertical jump gains?

Wouldn’t it be great if, alongside training, there was another way to improve your vertical jump?

Well… YOU CAN:

Work on your jump technique.

You can refer to the FREE Hooper Boost jump technique poster for a summary of the keys.

Let’s get to work!



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