Have Your Team Do This Critical Warm Up BEFORE Stepping on the Court

January 7th, 2022

Do you ever feel that your players aren't 100% warmed up to start the game?

Just slow-moving from the beginning?

I felt that way a lot in high school. My knees and legs were often achy and stiff because I had a bit of Osgood-Schlatter disease, which is actually quite common during puberty.

It took me the better part of the first half to feel flexible, warmed up, and able to move quickly in different directions...able to play to my full potential.

Thinking about both my playing and my coaching experiences, I realized years ago it was important to prepare players to move BEFORE stepping on the court... even before the pregame warm up.

That way you can save valuable court time for warm up activities that wake up the basketball brain.

All players at all ages (good knees or not) will benefit from a warm up before stepping on the court.

Go through a warm up that improves strength, coordination, and athleticism. A well-designed movement preparation program should:

  • Reduce injuries which will result in more wins - You can't improve if your players are hurt. Actually, most recovery time is spent just getting back to where you were before the injury.

  • Develop better athletes - If your warm up isn't improving balance, coordination, speed, jumping, and other athletic qualities, you need to modify your warm up.

Start 15 - 30 minutes before your court time.

Find an open hallway, locker room, or even outside (if it's warm enough) to get their bodies ready before they step on the court.

Here is a quick sample of a movement preparation program influenced by athletic development expert Vern Gambetta. Of course, this can change as there are variations, regressions, and progressions depending on your crew.

  • 2 Minutes Warm Up (Jump Rope, Stationary Running, or Light Jumping)
  • Leg Swings - Forward and Back, Side to Side
  • Reaches - Alternate up, Alternate up and over, Alternate rotating
  • Minibands - Sidestep, Walk forwards and backwards, carioca, monster walk
  • Single leg squat - forward and side
  • Balance exercises - Step or do a little jump, then hold position.
  • Lunge and reach - Lunge forward, lunge to the side, lunge rotationally backwards. And do these three reaches for each lunge. Reach up, reach down (touch toes), reach opposite (twist).
  • Jackknife Crawl
  • Hurdle walk - Sideways over and under (Might need to use imagination if you don't have hurdles.)
  • Quick skip
  • Lateral skip
  • Side shuffle (bouncy) with arm swing
  • Carioca - long and low
  • Backwards to forward run
  • Forwards to backward run

Then I add basketball specific movements to the tail end of it... pivoting, jump stops, hip turns, shuffles, and different jumping variations.

If you're lucky, you can even squeeze in some ball handling. I like to get the hands warmed up as well... before even getting on the court.

A little tip for practices:

I also take this same approach with practices. If my court time starts at 6:00 PM, I will start practice anywhere between 5:30 PM and 5:40 PM.

"What if I play in tournaments? Should I warm up like this 2 or 3 times a day?"

Here is what I did:

Before our first game, I would go through a thorough warm up like listed above.

Then before each game, we'd go through a quick 5-minute warm up prior to court time. I would usually start with a few lunges. Then I'd go straight to skipping and everything else below it... Like carioca, running, jumping, and basketball specific movements.

This should help you gain more productive court time in practice and start each game with a bang!

Related Resources

Cody Roberts Athletic Development Program - To build vertical leap and sprint times, as well as mobility, coordination, agility, and strength

Nate Sanderson's Game-Based Training System - Use game-like situations during pre-game warm ups on the court to prepare players mentally.

Free Warm Up Resources Videos... And Don't Call It A Warm Up!


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Dan Smith says:
10/14/2023 at 4:07:18 AM

Thanks for this guy, appreciate the insights of proper warm up strategies!


Ray says:
1/14/2022 at 2:23:17 PM

Well thought out. Much better than wasting time on the court laying down and doing stretches when that time could be better used with ballhandling, dribbling, and passing,etc - warm up with fundamentals....get something worthwhile on the court....another practice so to speak.

  1 person liked this.  

Laura Jefferson says:
1/14/2022 at 8:46:39 AM

Great, and simple ideas! Thank you.

  1 person liked this.  

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