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OCTOBER 30, 2002
What You Get from Basketball
Basketball is an excellent way to burn calories and improve aerobic conditioning when played at a moderate or high intensity. Basketball can be played at various levels, from shooting baskets, to playing one-on-one with someone of equal ability, to playing a rigorous, full-court game. This running and jumping sport is a fun way to get in a workout with friends.
How Not to Get Hurt
Basketball players must have strong legs to jump high and a strong upper body to rebound the ball. In particular, you need strong muscles in the legs, back, shoulders, wrists, and hands.
Make sure to warm up and stretch before playing, and cool down and stretch again afterwards. Basketball is mostly a running game, and you may pull a muscle if your legs are not warm and loose before you go all out. Before professionals begin a game, both teams shoot some baskets then show the fans an unusual sight: two dozen tall players lying down and stretching on the court. To avoid the most common basketball injury, a sprained ankle, wear high-top sneakers with good ankle support.
Tips to Improve Your Basketball Game
Learn proper shooting technique: balance your weight evenly over both feet; bend your elbow 90 degrees so that your upper arm is parallel to the floor; keep your eyes on the rim; and after you shoot remember to follow-through by letting the ball roll off your fingers.
Balance the ball on the fingertips, not the palm, of one hand while using the other as a guide.
Keep your knees bent and use your legs to help propel the ball upward.
Practice endurance running drills with long, slow runs from 3 to 5 miles to improve your stamina. Once you have built up your base level, start interval training. Repeated sprints of varying distances with short rests in between will give you the speed and quick recovery you need.
Develop a good first step and side-to-side agility with two drills: Run at full speed from the foul line to the midcourt line, turn quickly, and run back to the foul line, until you are tired. Then cross one foot over the other while moving quickly from side to side, until you are tired.
To strengthen your legs, do plyometric (jumping) exercises, such as Moon Walking: bound up into the air as if you were walking on the moon three or four lengths of the court.