What are Basketball Plyometrics?

D. Messmer

Basketball plyometrics are a form of lower-body training exercises that can help basketball players to improve their jumping ability as well as their ability to move explosively. Basketball players can benefit from various leg-strengthening drills, but basketball plyometrics are an especially crucial part of basketball training because the benefits that they provide correlate directly to crucial skills that a basketball player needs. As important as they are, though, it is important that an athlete perform them in moderation, because overworking the muscles can be harmful to the joints and can cause injury.

Basketball plyometrics help players improve their jumping ability.
Basketball plyometrics help players improve their jumping ability.

The reason that basketball plyometrics can be so beneficial to basketball players is that, unlike standard weightlifting, they improve the explosion of the leg muscles rather than simply building strength and muscle mass. Plyometrics improve muscle performance by improving the neuromuscular system's ability to recruit the muscles. So, instead of building the muscles, plyometrics enable the body to make better use of the muscles that already are there. This, in turn, allows the muscles to exert more force and thus to create a faster, more explosive movement.

Basketball plyometrics will improve explosiveness of a player's legs rather than just building body mass.
Basketball plyometrics will improve explosiveness of a player's legs rather than just building body mass.

This increase in explosion is valuable to basketball players because it improves jumping ability and quickness. Players who perform basketball plyometrics will be able to accelerate faster, which will improve their ability to have a quick first step when making various basketball moves. Similarly, the athlete's ability to change direction while running will improve as well. Perhaps most importantly, though, basketball plyometrics will result in an increase in vertical leap — an ability that is crucial to basketball players.

When creating a lower-body training routine that includes basketball plyometrics, it is important to tailor the workout to the needs and abilities of the particular athlete. Plyometrics place a substantial strain the body, so attempting exercises that are beyond the abilities of the athlete can result in serious injury. Athletes should incorporate basketball plyometrics into their workouts gradually and should be sure to include plenty of rest intervals in the workout so that the body can recover sufficiently between sets and between exercises.

When performing basketball plyometrics, there are several exercises that can be beneficial to the athlete, almost all of which involve some form of jumping exercise. Box jumps and rim jumps, for instance are both very helpful for improving an athlete's vertical jump. Cone hops specifically target an athlete's lateral movement, which can improve the athlete's ability to effectively move around the basketball floor. There are even upper body basketball plyometrics, such as medicine ball drills, that can help improve the velocity of an athlete's passes.

Basketball players should do plyometric exercises in moderation, as straining the muscles can be damaging to the athlete's joints.
Basketball players should do plyometric exercises in moderation, as straining the muscles can be damaging to the athlete's joints.

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Discussion Comments


I knew this guy who had an extraordinary vertical leap. He was the only guy I ever knew who could slam a basketball when he was in seventh grade. He wasn't particularly tall either, average height. At that time there was no such thing as basketball plyometrics. He attributed is leaping ability to lifting concrete blocks (the ones with the holes in them) with is feet.


When I was playing basketball in school, I read about working the so-called twitch muscles. These are the smaller muscles. The idea is that you already have a strong foundation because you have worked the larger muscles into condition and strengthened them. Once this is done, it is the smaller muscles that will increase your speed and explosiveness, so you concentrate on strengthening them to gain an advantage on the guys who are still focusing on working out the big "sexy" muscles.


I'm sure plyometrics exercises for basketball really helps in some areas of the game, but I am so tired of people over exaggerating the importance of the vertical leap in basketball.

I am closer to retirement than I am to my days of playing ball in college, but I still like to go to the gym and play once or twice a week. More often than not my friends and I will play some of the younger guys at the gym. These kids can slam backwards and forwards. They jump higher than I ever did, but they still are only average basketball players.

Basketball is a team sport and when you play as a team you don't have to be the most athletic guys on the courts. We have never lost to the young guys we play, and they can't figure out how old guys like us who can't get more than two inches off the ground can beat them all of the time.

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