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Basketball combines finesse and power and requires players to be in peak physical condition to excel. According to fitness coach and Illinois Basketball Hall of Fame member Danny McClarty, modern basketball players are larger and have more muscle mass than ever before. Players who engage in a sensible strength training program can improve all aspects of their game while increasing their fitness and reducing the possibility of injury.
Leg muscles are critical for playing basketball. Guards can improve their explosiveness and have a quicker first step by strengthening their calves, hamstrings and quads. Leg muscles are also important when shooting a basketball. Strong thigh muscles provide the boost needed to power a player off the ground and allow him to shoot the ball with proper technique. The calves are critical for rebounding, as they provide the initial spring that lifts the toes off the ground.
The upper-body muscles are used in basketball to shoot the ball along with providing strength to fight through players to get rebounds or absorb contact when driving to the basket. The shoulder, chest, biceps and triceps are all muscle areas that basketball players use during play. The triceps are a critical muscle when shooting long-range baskets such as three-pointers. Building triceps muscles helps players who shoot well from close distances but struggle with deep shooting.
A basketball player with a strong midsection has an advantage over his opponent when it comes to getting into position to score. Abdominal, oblique and lower-back muscles provide the foundation for changing directions and making sharp cuts. This is critical for driving with the ball to the basket or attempting to move without the ball by a series of cuts. A strong core can also help players on defense maintain their position and stay in the proper defensive stance.
According to strength and conditioning coach Alan Stein, strength training does not stunt the growth of younger players and is appropriate for budding basketball players as young as 8. Younger players can benefit from a training program that incorporates movements that work multiple joints. This can increase flexibility and coordination in younger athletes along with making them stronger.