When athletes enter the weight room, what is one of the first things they want to work on? A lot of times, they want to develop their arm definition. While this is important, from an athletic perspective one of the most underrated muscles are the hamstrings. For any basketball player, no matter the level, hamstring stretches remain key to strengthening an important muscle and avoiding injury.
Let’s start with this basic question: What must all athletes (particularly basketball players) be able to do? Run, jump, stop on a dime, etc. Hamstrings play a very important role in all of those athletic movements!
On top of all of those things all athletes need to do, one thing all coaches and athletes want to avoid is injury. Strong hamstrings help the knee bend and absorb shock from the variety of athletic movements that all athletes perform.
With all of that being said, it is important that when athletes enter the weight room they are performing movements to help strengthen their hamstrings. For our program, we try to hit the hamstrings as much as we can from our daily stretching to our strength training exercises. What this article is going to do is provide some of our favorite basketball hamstring stretches and strengthening exercises with some videos attached to show how to properly perform these movements in the weight room.
Basketball Hamstring Stretches Movement 1: Squat
There are 2 main types of squats: Backsquat and Front Squat (you can also start your front squat from the rack too which this video does not show). While the squat is more targeting the quads, the hamstrings are also getting hit as well in stabilizing the athlete when they are getting out of the squat. We have performed both the backsquat and front squat in our program.
The squat in general is one of our favorite exercises to do due to the fact it targets so many lower body muscles, including the hamstrings.
Basketball Hamstring Stretches Movement 2: Deadlift
Romanian Deadlift (RDL for short). The RDL is slightly different from the traditional deadlift in that it is specifically targeting the hamstring. The lift looks fairly similar to the deadlift with the variant being you are holding the barbell the entire time, sliding the bar down your legs to your shin area, and bringing the weight back up all while keeping your back straight.
It is important in this exercise to stress keeping a straight back and not arching it.
Basketball Hamstring Stretches Movement 3: Leg Curl
The Lying Leg Curl can be done in 1 of 2 different ways: If you have a machine, you can utilize the machine that is specifically designed for these leg curls. What we started to do recently in our lifting is using our long resistance bands to do our lying leg curls (we made this change because our machine is broken at the moment).
This movement is designed specifically to isolate the hamstrings to help build up their strength.
Basketball Hamstring Stretches Movement 4: Kettlebell Swings
Kettlebell Swings not only work the hamstrings in the squatting movement but they also helps build up strength in the upper body too while being up some cardio.
The important thing to remember when performing a kettlebell movement is to get great depth on your squat like also keeping your back straight.
Basketball Hamstring Stretches Movement 15: Bridge
You can perform the Glute Bridge in a variety of ways: traditional glute bridges, weighted glute bridges, or banded glute bridges. The glute bridge is great because it’s not only targeting the hamstring. It also targets the glute, abs, and lower back. It is great for athletes who may have some back pain to help ease some of the burden off the back. We have implemented glute bridges in our daily stretching routine to help build hamstring strength.
There are a multitude of movements that are centered around strengthening the hamstring. It is important that you have movements that you enjoy teaching, your athletes enjoy performing, and at the end of the day, getting athletes that are getting stronger.
Kyle Brasher | Gibson Southern High School
Lady Titans Basketball Coach
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