Being fast on the basketball court is a fundamental way to increase your productivity and effectiveness as a basketball player.
What Is “Basketball Speed” and How Is It Different From ‘Regular Speed”?
Basketball speed is different from regular speed because basketball is not played in a straight line. Basketball is a game which requires constant cuts all while contorting your body in a variety of different ways in order to find open space. This could mean hard cuts to the left or right while being able to change the pace of your speed.
Non-linear movements and accelerations which might need to take place when your body is an awkward position. During a basketball game, when you launch yourself forward, you are usually not doing so from a stationary position. It usually occurs when the player is moving, rolling, or in constant motion, going from one pace to a faster pace.
Speed is crucial during a game as the team and the players who are able to get up and down the court the fastest, react to lose balls, and make split second decisions, are often the most successful.
How Can I Develop Basketball Speed?
Building strength in and working the proper muscles.
Legs: Strengthening leg muscles (calf, hamstring, quadricep) will increase the body’s ability to accelerate. Some of the results can be achieved by performing calf raises, squats, leg curls, and extensions. Even though leg muscles are extremely important to develop, try not to neglect other areas of your body. Think of fast objects and how they are aerodynamically designed. Increasing strength in other areas of your body will help so no extra baggage is hanging off of you. Increasing strength in your upper body to the chest, shoulders, and bicep areas is also key. Core strength is also extremely important, so make sure to do your sit-ups and crunches. Other areas of your body will not perform well without a strong core and back to hold everything else in place.
As I mentioned before, accelerating on different areas of the floor in different positions is key to increasing your basketball speed. Practice trying to go after a rebound from a defensive position. Practice running back to the defensive end after being on offense. Practice your lateral quickness and speed by guarding someone bringing the ball up the court. Are you covering a great shooter? Practice following your opponent through a maze of screens and cuts and not let them get up a comfortable shot. Remember, especially on jump shots, the goal is not to block the shot, but to disrupt it enough so you don’t commit a foul.
Controlling Your New Speed
Once you are able to develop your new basketball speed, it is important to be able to control it. Imagine running for a breakaway layup and not being able to slow down enough to the point where you are accurately able to convert the shot? Also, you don’t want to be running into players committing fouls. Being able to accelerate is one thing, but being able to slow yourself down and control your basketball speed is key to not committing turnovers and unnecessary fouls. Combining basketball speed with an alertness of how to control your body, is when the game will move at a different speed for you compared to everyone else on the court.
Contributing writer Jasen Sousa for Premier Hoops is the author of a number of poetry and fiction books for young people. Jasen has an M.F.A. in Creative Writing and is a life-long participant and fan of the game of basketball.