By ONE2ONE Team
Some thoughts on getting ready to perform...
Basic strength and conditioning and exercise theory continues to tell us that static stretching has little to no place in a warm up for a predominantly dynamic sport like basketball.
Most coaches will agree with this and are coaching warm ups appropriately. When designing a warm up we always need to remember we are trying to put an athlete in the best physical position to succeed at performing their sport, either at training or in a game.
Basketball, and of course most team sports, are quick and dynamic in nature. This makes sense that our warm up and stretches need to imitate this.
So if we are now all being told to stretch and move dynamically during warm ups does static stretching have a place?
At ONE2ONE Basketball we believe so.
Now this isn’t a statement to create a buzz and we have to stress our warm ups are predominantly dynamic and of course specific to basketball. For us to not coach our warm ups this way would be foolish on our part. It would be foolish because it is ignoring research that tells us that dynamic movements lead to improved performance and that solely focusing on static stretches can potentially hinder performance.
A lot of us are under the assumption that static stretching and basic mobility exercises work on improving range of motion around a joint. We’d agree and we’d also say that improving range of motion around a joint can help us perform the more dynamic aspects of a warm up, and in turn the sport, more effectively.
Our warm ups generally follow the following order:
- Dynamic Stretches
- Basketball Specific (without the ball)
- Basketball specific (with the ball)
The mobility part though not always strictly static does involve stretches at a slower rate and are far more similar to traditional stretches than the second half. Most of our players (who hit the court 5+ times per week) tend to struggle with their flexibility. The amount of activity they do combined with their height suggests this is quite an obvious observation.
The reason we’re making this point is that a lot of our players find mobility hard work, they constantly ask for the S&C team to help ‘loosen them up’ before practice. With all of this in mind it’s fair to say that the mobility section of the warm up is hard work and therefore increases the players’ heart rate and breathing rate. Therefore it essentially works as our pulse raiser, as well as helping the players’ in their own words ‘feel loose’. Though you could argue technically the amount of time we’ll spend in the warm up on this section will not have a huge impact on a players’ range of motion, sometimes you need to put the science to the side and listen to what your players want. We’ll take a guess that most coaches out there can relate to have hearing the term ‘get loose’ from their players.
Once this has been done our athletes will move onto to their dynamic warm up, generally from baseline to half court, but sometimes while standing on the spot. They essentially stretch but on the move. We work on all areas of the body but it is certainly at a higher tempo than the previous section.
As S&C coaches our final contribution to the warm up is to make it specific to basketball. We usually start without the ball, for example imitate defensive stance, add some cuts across the court or work on some pivoting motions. Jump stops, landing mechanics and running mechanics are also worked on, and we try and plan ahead which aspect we want to work on depending on what time of the season it is or what the coach feels we need to do in regards to our overall goal as a team or a player. The coach will then usually take over and we start performing with the ball.
Performing the warm up this way we feel gives our players the best possible opportunity to get ready for the demands of basketball. Whether its practice or game day the warm up is similar in nature. There of course may be slightly different coaching cues or points, for example practice warm ups may be slightly less intense than before game day, but again it will usually depend on what the coach, team or player requires.
In summary at ONE2ONE Basketball we agree with the notion that a warm up needs to be dynamic in nature, but we do feel that slower stretching and static mobility has its place. If you can add both to a warm up we feel this is greatly beneficial. You just need to make sure it follows a plan which includes easy to coach movement patterns that elevate core temperature, increased range of motion while always ending up being sport or training session specific we feel you are giving your basketball players the best opportunity to be ready to improve on court.