7 of the Best Yoga Poses for Basketball Players

7 of the Best Yoga Poses for Basketball Players

Enhancing Basketball Performance Through Mindful Movement - By Beth Rush

Reading time: 4 minutes

Yoga poses offer game-changing benefits for basketball players, enhancing core strength, flexibility and mental focus on the court. 

Basketball is a high-intensity sport that demands agility and strength. While traditional training methods focus on cardiovascular fitness and skill development, adding some yoga poses for basketball players into your routine can provide several benefits. 

Elevate your performance with these seven targeted yoga poses for basketball players. Hold each pose for three breaths or five seconds. 

1. Downward Dog

Start on your hands and knees, with your wrists directly under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Lift your hips toward the ceiling, straightening your legs and bringing your heels down toward the floor. Keep your hands shoulder-width apart, fingers spread and head between your arms. 

2. Warrior II

Begin in a standing position. Step your feet wide apart, with one foot pointing forward and the other foot perpendicular. Extend your arms parallel to the floor, palms facing down and bend the front knee directly over the ankle. Keep your shoulders relaxed and gaze over the front fingertips. 

3. Tree Pose

Begin in a standing position. Shift your weight onto one leg and lift the opposite foot to the inner thigh or calf — avoid pressing into the knee. Bring your palms together in front of your chest or reach your arms overhead, maintaining a steady gaze. 

4. Pigeon Pose

Start in a tabletop position. Bring one knee forward and place it behind the wrist, extending the opposite leg straight back. Square your hips and, if comfortable, lower your upper body toward the floor, resting on your forearms or forehead. 

5. Chair Pose

Stand with your feet together. Inhale and raise your arms overhead, palms facing each other. Exhale and bend your knees as if you’re sitting back in an imaginary chair. Keep your weight in your heels and try to lower your thighs parallel to the ground. Engage your core, lift your chest and relax your shoulders. Hold the pose for several breaths, gradually working on sinking deeper into the squat.

6. Legs Up the Wall

Raising your legs against the wall is one of the most beneficial yoga poses for basketball players. Sit with your side against a wall, knees bent and your hips close to the wall. Slowly lie on your back, extending your knees up against the wall. 

Adjust your position so your hips are close to or touching the wall. Let your arms rest by your sides, palms facing up. Relax your shoulders, neck and head on the floor. Close your eyes and focus on your breath. You can stay in this pose for five to 20 minutes for a restorative effect. 

7. Bridge Pose

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet hip-width apart. Place your arms at your sides, palms facing down. Press through your feet and lift your hips toward the ceiling, engaging your glutes and thighs. 

The Benefits of Yoga for Basketball Players

To truly enhance your performance, yoga is a fantastic addition to your training plan. Beyond its reputation for promoting flexibility and mindfulness, yoga* offers a multitude of benefits perfect for improving your skills. 

Improve Your Flexibility

Basketball involves repetitive movements that can lead to muscle imbalances and reduced flexibility. Yoga focuses on dynamic stretching and lengthening of the muscles, which is great for counteracting these effects. Poses like downward dog and warrior stretches target the hips, hamstrings and quads, improving flexibility and preventing injuries.

Enhanced flexibility can also increase your range of motion, allowing you to execute movements with greater ease and efficiency. 

Prevent Injuries

Yoga is renowned for reducing the risk of injuries by promoting body awareness and proper alignment. Certain types of basketball courts, like those made from asphalt, can result in injuries from repeated landings on a hard surface. By adding yoga to your training regimen, you can develop better proprioception, which prevents injuries caused by awkward landings, collisions or sudden changes in direction. 

Recover Quicker

The demanding nature of basketball can lead to muscle tightness and fatigue. Yoga is a fantastic way to relax, aiding in the recovery process. Postures like child’s pose and gentle stretches release tension, improve circulation and facilitate faster recovery between intense training sessions and games. 

Build a Stronger Core

One of the essential components of basketball is core strength. The core muscles, including the abdominals, obliques and lower back, are crucial for stabilising the body during dynamic movements, like sprinting, jumping or changing direction. Yoga postures, like plank and boat pose, engage and strengthen these core muscles, improving balance and stability on the court. 

Manage Stress Better

Success in basketball requires focus. Yoga emphasises breath control and mindfulness, which can significantly contribute to your ability to stay composed under pressure. The meditative aspects promote mental clarity, concentration and stress reduction — all of which are invaluable during a game. 

Up Your Game

Incorporating yoga into your training routine can offer a more holistic approach to physical and mental preparation. The benefits of yoga are endless and giving it a regular slot in your schedule can take your game to the next level. As more athletes recognize the advantages of yoga, it’s becoming an integral part of the training regimen. 

*commission earned from this link.

Beth Rush

Beth is the mental health editor at Body+Mind. She has 5+ years of experience writing about behavioral health, specifically mindfulness-based cognitive therapy.