Apr 27, 2017
Active Rest

Thanks to offseason camps and tournaments, today’s high school basketball players are putting more stress on their bodies than ever before. What’s the best way for them to recover from the winter season, yet still be prepared to ramp up training for summer play?

Strength and conditioning coach Alan Stein, CCS, CSCS, believes the key is for basketball players to participate in an active rest period. As he explains in a blog for USA Basketball, this entails staying off the court and engaging in some very simple weightroom exercises.

Stein is the Director of Performance for Pure Sweat Basketball and is an expert on improving basketball-specific athleticism. He has served as the Head Performance Coach for the DeMatha Catholic High School basketball program in Washington, D.C., and has more than 15 years of experience working with high school, college, and NBA players.

He suggests that before starting preseason workouts, players take a break from activity to recharge both mentally and physically. While taking time off, he recommends that players stay completely away from physical activity except for the five active recovery exercises listed below.

Lacrosse Ball Foot Massage

Spending so much time in rigid basketball shoes can make ankles and feet weaker and less mobile. The lacrosse ball massage helps loosen up muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the feet.

Players should stand in their socks and balance on one foot. Then they should roll their other foot on top of the lacrosse ball. Putting more weight on the ball will provide a deeper massage. Stein recommends doing two sets of 30 seconds on each foot.

Foam Roller

This is also a self-massage exercise that elongates muscles, helping to get rid of knots and lactic acid.

One area to start with is the lower calf. Athletes roll back and forth on top of the foam roller, working the calf muscles like dough. The same can be done with hamstrings, glutes, hip muscles, lower back, upper back, and shoulders. Stein recommends rolling over each body part for 30 seconds. He also notes that a foam roller can be substituted with an over-inflated basketball.

Lunge and Reach Stretch

This is a great stretch that works the entire body and helps loosen up muscles.

Players should step as far as they can into a forward lunge, keeping ankles, knees, hips, and shoulders facing forward. Then they should put their palms on the floor in front of them and straighten their back leg. If their left leg is forward, they should keep their right palm on the floor and raise their left palm toward the ceiling as they rotate their core. Looking up as they reach up completes the stretch, and then they can perform the same movement with the other hand raised and leg forward. Stein recommends performing five reps for each hand on each leg.

Assisted Hamstring Stretch

Basketball players often experience tightness in their hamstrings, which can cause numerous problems.

Have them lay back with both legs flat on the ground. Someone else then wraps a towel, elastic band, or jump rope around the middle part of one foot. Keeping both legs straight, the player pulls one foot towards their nose while the other leg stays on the ground. This stretch should be held for 15 seconds. Then the player drops their leg laterally while keeping their torso and hips flat on the ground. Stein recommends performing three rounds of three different phases (straight, lateral, and crossover). Each round takes 45 seconds.

Bodyweight Hangs

This stretch helps to decompress the spine, which can often be under stress from the constant running and jumping involved in basketball.

Athletes should use a pull-up bar that is high enough so they can hang from it without their feet touching the ground. Then they grab the bar as if they are going to do a pull up, but simply hang there and let their muscles relax. This allows gravity to do the work and decompress the spine. Stein recommends hanging for three sets of 15 seconds.

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