5 Reasons Weight Lifting is Key to Basketball Success


Before I start talking the benefits of lifting weights when playing basketball, it should be made clear that lifting weights can be done in a variety of ways, such as using machines, free weights, or your own body weight. Various options for lifting weights all have benefits, and it’s best to try each of them, and which one works best for you.

However, depending on whichever option you choose, you’ll need to be mindful of your form/technique and the amount of weight you are lifting. You should gradually increase the weight you are lifting as you get stronger because starting with too much weight could cause injury.

Below are 5 reasons why you should start lifting weights today in order to be successful on the basketball court.

1. Taking the Bumps in Basketball

Once you decide to drive to the basket and make a play, a defender could bump you with their body to try to knock you off of your stride and not permit you to drive in a straight line. If you are unable to drive the ball to the basket in a straight line, it will be more difficult for you to make a play. The defender can catch up to you and block your shot or get you to commit a charge.

One of the most effective ways to disarm the defender is for you to be strong and powerful.

It may seem obvious, but strength and power are imperative to drive in a straight line and not be affected by the bumps, or any force coming at you. Lifting weights, especially in a format that focuses on strength training and development, will help you do just that. 

2. Finish the Move Around the Rim

Having killer moves and good intentions on the court is pointless if you don’t possess the strength and power to fight off the defender and finish strong.

You can practice for hours on dribble penetration or on how to drive pass the defender, however, if there is no strength and power in your lower body, the moves will not work.

Not only will you not be strong enough to take the bump, but you won’t be powerful enough to drive hard with your legs and finish your move through contact. Weight training, and bodyweight training specifically, will help you develop that power and explosiveness to drive through.

3. Become a Lock-Down Defender 

(and guard many different positions)

Building strength by lifting weights will allow you to guard multiple positions on the court even if you are short in stature. When defending a smaller guard, you must be able to move your feet, but you will also need to have the strength to keep your opponent in front of you and contest the shot. As well as guarding a taller player, you’ll need the strength and leverage to make it harder for the offensive player to score or back you down in the paint. The added strength will allow you to take charges and fight through picks, even when at a height disadvantage.

4. Be Physical on Offense

An offensive player can wear down his defender with strong dribble penetration, posting up and initiating the contact. The offensive player can also initiate the contact without charging but playing physical will result in more fouls being called in favor for the offensive player. The defender will want to guard you less and less as the game progresses, so that by the time the fourth quarter comes around, you will be able to dominate your opponent as they are fatigued by all the physical contact.

5. Return Sooner After Injuries

Lifting weights will strengthen your muscles, build up your cardio endurance and strengthen your bones.

Your body, as a whole, will improve from lifting weights.

You may have fewer smaller injuries, or the injuries may not affect you as much. For example, when you get injured with a pulled muscle, sprain, or bruise, your body will be able to bounce back sooner due to the increased muscle density from lifting weights.

Young basketball players should start lifting weights early on in life to start reaping the benefits. When lifting weights, do not just focus on the main muscles like the chest as many do, but also focus on the smaller muscles such as your rotator cuff and core. These smaller muscles are the ones that usually break down first and are the center of most injuries.

Sample Workout:

Here is a sample weight lifting workout you can do 2x a week. The advanced athlete may do all of these exercises for one workout session, while the beginner and intermediate should only do a few of these exercises each workout session.

Try this workout for 6-8 weeks and you will see a drastic improvement in your strength and performance on the basketball court!

  • Dumbbell presses– Pyramid format for 5-6 sets…go up 5-10 lbs each set until you can only do 4-6 reps of the heaviest weight, and then go back down in weight.
  • Shoulder presses– Pyramid format for 5-6 sets…go up 5-10 lbs each set until you can only do 4-6 reps of the heaviest weight, and then go back down in weight.
  • Reverse Fly– start off with light weights, like 5-8 lbs. Try 2-3 sets of 12-15 reps or to failure.
  • Bicep Curls– 4 sets of a weight you can do 8-12 reps
  • Tricep Dips– on a bench- 4 sets of a weight you can do 8-12 reps (or bodyweight if you can’t add weight)
  • Lunges– 3 sets of bodyweight lunges (8-10 reps each leg)
  • Dumbbell or Kettlebell Squat Jumps– use a weight that you can do 8-10 reps for 3 sets.
  • Planks– work your way up to 1 1/2 to 2 minutes or more.

-Coach Dell
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