What to bring to the court?
The beautiful thing about basketball is that you don’t need a lot of equipment to get started. A ball, a hoop and some determination are all you really need to learn how to dunk. You don’t need to have the best or the most expensive training gear – some of the most talented athletes in the world got to where they are with nothing more than “wanting it”. That drive isn’t something that you can buy.
If you are looking to stock up your gym bag with some handy tools to have courtside the following may apply to you….
Good shoes… and socks. This one should be at the top of any young athlete’s list. Scratch that, shoes should be EVERYONE’s first priority. A small problem with your feet can radiate into your knees, then hips and back. Make sure your shoes are doing the job you want, for the feet you have. Think about stability through movement (ankles…) paired with mobility. Fit is also important… don’t try to grow into athletic shoes. A loose shoe means slippage in transition – the quickest path to a sprained ankle!
Water. Don’t be the one to show up asking for a sip of everyone’s aqua. Get yourself a decent water bottle that you can have on you while you’re working up a sweat. Drink before you train…while you’re training…and after you train. Lack of hydration is the biggest mistake I see young athletes making… your muscles NEED water!
Post workout snack. While we’re on the subject of hydration, post-workout chocolate milk has the ideal blend of electrolytes, vitamins and minerals to fuel your body. Other excellent choices are bananas and nut butters, or veggies and hummus. Whatever you choose, hitting your body with protein following a workout will aid in muscle recovery and prep you for the next workout.
Athletic clothes. Although you can wear whatever you want to train… you want to make sure you have good range of movement. For a ballistic sport like basketball, that usually means looser shorts, or tighter athletic pants (loose pants will make you trip over your own feet).
As far as shirts are concerned, I prefer a tank or sleeveless top – sleeves feel restrictive to me on the court and in the gym. You may prefer a tee-shirt, or if you’re really going hard… feel free to lose the shirt altogether.
Foam roller. Foam rolling is a relatively new technique for the general public, but practitioners in athletic development have been using deep massage for years to prep athletes for training. Loosing up the muscles (as opposed to stretching the muscles) prevents injury and preps for full range of movement. A great way to warm up the muscles for sport, as pre-hab, and an excellent rehab technique when you’re a little too tight for comfort.
In any case, you can have a ton of equipment or just some heart and a ball…but you need to practice. Focus on your goals and put in a concerted effort. Dunking doesn’t happen overnight, especially at the Dunk Elite level. Learn as much as you can and train hard. The next Scorpion dunk is out there, waiting for you to find it!
Training Bonus: Resistance bands. Resistance bands are a great tool because they put additional tension on the muscle, resulting in muscle growth and strength gains. The elasticity of the bands mimics the elasticity of your body, making them a fairly safe tool – even for beginners. Although you should take your time before starting a heavy plyometric workout, the bounding and rebounding of a resistance band exercise is ideal for a ballistic sport athlete.
Robyn Smith, HBK