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Importance of Stretching for Basketball
There is a critical part of basketball that few people talk about and few coaches teach. That is stretching, and too many young players don't understand the importance. When players get to the college or pro level, they often have strength coaches who talk about stretching. This is not generally the case at the younger levels, though, and even high school players can underestimate the effects. If you are going to be at the top of your performance level, then you have to stretch out your muscles prior to a game. It's not just important to stretch out before, though. Stretching after the game provides benefits, too, and this cannot be forgotten.
There are a number of reasons why it is important to stretch before a game. The most critical reason has to do with injury prevention. A sustained stretching session will loosen up the muscles, allowing for full range of motion once the game or practice begins. This means that players are less likely to strain, pull, or tear muscles when they hop into the heat of the action. In addition, pre-game stretching can help improve performance. Players who stretch are able to use their muscles more fully, and this can manifest itself in faster speeds, better acceleration, and higher vertical leaping.
Warming up matters, too
Too many coaches just neglect the warm-up period before a basketball game. They see this as a throwaway period where players just get out on the court. Warming up should be used in conjunction with stretching to ensure that players are fully ready the minute the whistle blows. There is a thin line that must be walked by a coach developing a warm-up plan. He must prepare his players without tiring them. While stretching will loosen up the muscles, a warm-up period will prepare those muscles for the specific movements that go along with basketball. This might mean more than just having players go through a layup line. Many top coaches have their players do defensive position drills, and they have them hit the floor at some point. Before I played in college, I didn't take stretching as serious. Like many other young kids, they just want to get on the court and play. Playing at such a high level and intensity, I see why stretching is so important. For your body to sustain and perform, stretching should be a top priority. You can learn more about me playing at Davidson College on Inspirational Basketball.com.
Don't forget the post-game stretching
The most neglected part of sports fitness is post-game stretching. After a hard game, lactic acid will build up in all muscles. This effect is felt most fully in the legs though other muscle groups will hold some lactic acid, too. According to Live Strong, post-game stretching allows you to work out some of that lactic acid while a good amount of blood is still running through the muscles. Some natural stiffness and soreness will follow on the day after the game. When a player stretches properly, though, this soreness is reduced, and they can recover much more quickly. This is very important in basketball, as games are tightly bunched together. Players must get back out there in a hurry, and without proper post-game stretching, it can be almost impossible to recover in time for the next game or practice.
Proper basketball fitness is about more than just running and shooting. The best players are able to use their muscles efficiently, and this can only happen when you have a dedicated plan for stretching.
Author: Lamar Hull is a former NCAA college basketball player and also played professionally in Europe. Lamar is currently a writer and loves to write about sports, basketball, entertainment and more. You can follow Lamar @lamarhull20.
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