Core Training For Basketball Athletes – Garage Strength

Core Training For Basketball Athletes

Back problems, hip issues, or even to a point ankle issues causing the body to feel slow on the court and lacking coordination, believe it or not, a lot of it is related back to core strength. When we think of training for basketball, crossing people up, being extremely agile, being able to react and coordinate very rapidly, we need trunk strength through the core. 

By training the trunk effectively for basketball, we will be able to coordinate the legs with our hand and eye coordination. This will lead to better speed and better agility. It will also ultimately lead to better positions on the court.

We need to train basketball core strength specific to the sport using global movements, isolation movements, and different movements that pair with rotation and linear direction. We need to approach training with all of this in mind to improve coordination to enhance overall agility through attacking the missing link that is the core.  

1. Overhead Plate March W/ Hip Lock

This first exercise we love to use for basketball players. We want to focus on dynamic trunk control while the plate is being held overhead. In addition, when the body gets into the hip flexion of the hip lock there will be more focus on controlling the hip in through the gut. This will transfer very well. 

The overhead plate march with a hip lock is a global core movement that will help with the missing link that is the trunk. It will help improve coordination. One key to performing this movement is holding the hip lock, pausing for a solid one count to truly engage the core while the plate is overhead.

We can do two to three sets of two to three minutes in length. An added bonus of holding the plate overhead is that it simulates the defensive positions basketball players are typically asked to perform. This movement will be felt through the gut down into the hip. This will help on the court to have better reaction speed and agility.

2. Alternating Banded V Ups

This second exercise is a cross-body style of movement. We want to see a PowerLastic band hooked up to an immovable object. The movement is a little bit more of an isolation movement. We want to perform this movement with a slower eccentric. We also want to see some hip movement in conjunction with the trunk. The band needs to be held just over the chest and then we want to bring the opposite arm to the opposite knee: right elbow to left knee, left elbow to the right knee. Everything in the gut will be lit up while rotating.

This exercise will help transfer to more dynamic movements. Feel free to pair this exercise with the overhead walking hip lock. The pairing of the linear movement with the global movement allows the body to feel the gut a little bit more to create a better mind-muscle connection for dynamic trunk control. 

Do this movement for two to three sets of ten to sixteen reps.

3. Decline Reverse Sit-Ups W/ Plate

This is a true isolation movement. Again, we want to see a little bit of hip work with the abs.

To do this, get on a decline bench with a plate on the toes. There needs to be flexion in the toes. From there we want to grab behind the head onto the bench. Pushing the belly button down into the bench, raise the legs up to the chest while holding on the plate on the shins, lengthening the knees at the bottom.

Perform this movement for two to three sets of ten to fifteen reps.

For basketball players, this is a great movement. We advise starting without the plate and focus on pushing the belly button into the bench. As the body gets stronger, add the plate to the shins which will increase the load and in turn make the abs stronger.

4. Sliding Knee Planks

This is another movement where the hips will be used a little bit. One recommendation we make is we want to see slower work early, but as the body starts to fatigue we want to see the movement done more rapidly. Again, we like to think of global training with the trunk and then isolation-based training with the trunk.

To do this movement put the feet on furniture slides, a towel, or in socks upon a slippery surface. In a plank position similar to a push-up, we then bring the knees into the chest. Do this movement for two to three sets of five to ten reps. Make sure to control the portion of the movement when the feet slide back to really target the abdominals.

The catch is that once the body starts to fatigue during the two to three sets of five to ten reps, we want to add the speed of the movement by performing rapid mountain climbers for a time of twenty to thirty seconds. Really focus on what the hips and abs are doing to hold a foundation. Think of pushing the belly button to the ceiling. This movement does wonders!

5. Hammer Rotations

One of the key factors to training the trunk is doing global work. This exercise has a large focus on rotational trunk work.

Using a cable crossover machine (we recommend the XPT - Cable Crossover machine), we want to get in an athletic position. Holding the rope handle, we drive from the glute and rotate across. Make sure to have a slower eccentric as the cable and weight pull the body back. Focus on keeping the arms long to feel it in the abs during the deceleration.

We want to do two to three sets of seventeen reps to each side for this exercise. It will help with any rotational movement on the court, allowing the body to rotate and move in a more agile manner to put opponents in precarious positions to be dominated out on the court. 


It is important to train the core from a global perspective, an isolation perspective, and a perspective that pairs rotational and linear movements. Every exercise above does exactly that while putting a clear focus on improving athletes’ basketball capabilities. The core is the pathway all muscular action passes through to generate force and power. The more solid the core, the more athletic the muscular actions are capable of being.

Go give this series of movements a go and let us know how it turns out.


Dane Miller is the owner and founder of Garage Strength Sports Performance. He works with a select handful of clients on building comprehensive programs for fitness and nutrition. Several times a year he leads a workshop for coaches, trainers, and fitness enthusiasts.

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