Now, I am not bluffing or teasing; you’ve just got to see me. I know I have been talking to you over the air (internet is air) and we’ve most possibly never met (except you’ve run across me on the streets; I doubt you would even know me). But seriously, you’ve just got to see how tall I am… trust me, I’m real tall. Back then in high school, I used to be teased as the tall dude who chose to waste his gift. Not even my parents could persuade me to join the basketball team. Now see what I have ended up becoming… a writer. To be frank, I don’t think I regret not playing basketball. Because looking at the bright side of the story, I can (through my writings) reach out to just anyone – even basketball players. However, not everyone is as mysterious and nerdy as I am and that is why we have basketball players. And now I am on your team guys. I am endorsing your sport as one of the best cardio to burn fat. What a symbiotic relationship…
Let me guess; you question is, “Can basketball really help to lose fat?” Well, the answer is; YES it can! Playing basketball can very much lower body fat; if you make no other changes except to add one vigorous hour of basketball every day, you will burn approximately 1,000 calories a day. This should result in a loss of 2 pounds per week. If you consume an adequate amount of calories and carbohydrates, then the loss should come from body fat instead of lean muscle or water. Basketball involves a fair amount of running, quick start-and-stop movements and coordination. Basketball burns 0.097 calories per pound per minute. A 160-pound man playing vigorous full-court basketball for one hour burns approximately 930 calories. The same man would only burn 730 calories cycling at 19 miles per hour or 710 calories running 6 miles per hour. Basketball is really one of the best cardio to burn fat because compared to other cardio exercises it has higher calorie burn efficiency.
No specific moves in basketball will increase weight loss as the weight loss benefit from basketball comes from the cardiovascular activity of running the court. To get the best calorie burn, play full-court basketball and stay active during the game. Do not spend too much time playing at less than full effort or resting. After the game, do some full-court transition drills that include running the length of the court to transition from offense to defense. These drills will improve basketball skills and burn additional calories. Losing body weight at a healthy rate of 1 to 2 pounds per week requires a calorie deficit of 500 to 1,000 calories per day. Faster weight loss may result in a loss of lean muscle or water. Eat enough carbohydrates so that your body can use protein to replenish lean muscle mass. Restricting carbohydrates will force the body to break down muscle mass to use amino acids for fuel. Eating adequate calories – a balance of protein, carbohydrates and fats – will encourage fat loss and not just weight loss.
Push-ups are another staple of strength and conditioning programs, but by adding a basketball into the exercise, basketball players can add a sport-specific element into this classic move. Instead of performing a normal push-up with both hands on the ground, place one hand on top of a basketball and perform sets of 10 to 15 reps, then repeat on the opposite side. By unbalancing the push-up position to one side with the added height of the basketball, the athlete is forced to use muscles on each side of the body independently – great for developing strength in her weaker hand. The basketball push-up will also improve hand strength necessary for strong ball-handling, passing and catching.
An added boost of agility through the core muscles, hips, legs and feet can make a big impact on a player’s game on both ends of the court. In any agility drill, a player should be forced to change directions and change speeds, such as in the zigzag drill. Begin the drill by standing underneath the basket and sliding along the baseline in a defensive stance to the corner. Then sprint diagonally to the free-throw line and slide laterally again to the sideline. Repeat the diagonal sprint to the half-court line, slide once more to the sideline then back-pedal to the baseline. Run the drill on both sides of the court to improve lateral movement and agility in both directions.
Running stadium stairs at a local stadium, track or gym has been a staple of athletic training for years, and for good reason. Running stadium stairs – touching every step, and alternating between running forward, backward and laterally – improves lower-body strength and builds endurance in the legs and lungs. Just as importantly, by touching every step of the stairs, an athlete simulates the small, quick steps that translate on the basketball court, where he must chop his feet on defense or make sharp, quick cuts on offense.
While a lofty vertical leap is an asset to any basketball player, the game often requires players to jump high in the air multiple times, such as when players battle for rebounds, close out on shooters or shoot multiple shots. That’s why players must have a second and third jump as strong as their first, which they can develop using backboard or net touches. To perform the exercise, stand under a backboard and set the backboard or net as your target, depending on ability. Jump off two feet with knees slightly bent and arms reaching vertically toward your target. Repeat this jump as many times as possible for one minute and count each touch to measure your progress. Perform two or three sets of this exercise during your workout twice a week and watch your vertical leap grow.
Lift heavy weights (close to your maximum) during the off-season to build muscle. Perform three to five reps of an exercise, take a break for several minutes then repeat the set. Do this three to five times before moving onto another exercise. To build your legs muscles, do squats, dead-lifts, leg presses and lunges. During the off-season; work on aerobic conditioning. Exercise at 70 percent to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate or at a pace similar to jogging. You can jump rope, use a treadmill, elliptical or other machine, jog, swim or do aerobics. Taper off as you approach your preseason and move to more high-intensity workouts.
Train your ability to use your muscles for long periods by doing exercises with approximately 50 percent of your maximum weight or intensity and doing more reps. For example, use dumbbells or resistance bands to do squats, lunges or dead-lifts, performing 10 to 12 reps, then moving to a new exercise after a one-minute break. Change exercises each time. For upper-body workouts, add biceps curls, arm raises, flying, chest presses and triceps extensions.
The Six Man Passing Drill
The Six Man Passing Drill is a fast and fun drill that develops speed, passing skills, spatial awareness, and lay-up proficiency. Three players will line each of the two outside passing lanes, creating two passing gauntlets. One player should stand on the right sideline at half court. The other two should stand at the right elbows at each end of the court. Another set of three players should line up in similar fashion on the left side of the court. The remaining players will divide into two equal lines and assemble as they did for full court lay-ups,
The first player (the running passer) in each line has a ball. He begins the drill by passing to the player standing at the closest elbow. He then runs to receive the pass back from the elbow player. He should receive the pass between the elbow and mid-court. Immediately, he turns and passes to the player on the sideline, who then passes it back between mid-court and the next elbow. Again, immediately, the running passer dishes the ball to the player at the next elbow, who bounce passes it back to set the running passer up for a right-handed lay-up. The running passer takes a lay-up, gets his rebound and passes to the next player in line. The running passers should never use the dribble in this drill. Players continue with the drill for 6 to 10 minutes before switching the lines to the left side. Players should also take turns as passers and running passers.
The 3-on-2 Fast Break Drill
The 3-on-2 Fast Break Drill emphasizes ball handling, passing, shooting, and defensive skills. Begin with two players on defense in the back court. One player should be positioned at the top of the key, while the other defender should be positioned in the paint. Three offensive players should set up at the other end of the court, one in each passing lane. The player in the center lane should have the basketball. The fast break begins when an outside wing shouts, “Outlet!” The center player then passes the ball to the player who called for the ball. The three offensive players run a fast break on the two defenders, attempting to score.
When the shot goes up, the shooter sprints to the opposite end of the court to play defense. The two former defenders now run a 2-on-1 fast break. The other two offensive players remain at the opposite end of the court to play defense against the next group of three. To maximize effectiveness, this drill should be run continuously. This requires at least nine players so that individuals can rotate in and out of positions seamlessly. This drill will not only polish fundamental skills, it is also a great conditioning tool.
Seriously, I have to stop righting because I am almost on the verge of breaking down. I am beginning to think I should have chosen basketball instead; the game is just too great! Save for the fact that it is one of the best cardio to burn fat, I wouldn’t even have given it a second glance, not until now. Well, you can’t blame me; I LOVE THIS GAME!