12 Essential Exercises to try Before Hitting the Court

by Dr. William Campion, DPT

Last week, I discussed the most common injuries in basketball players, and this week I'll share my tips to help keep you injury-free and on the court all season long. 

There is no way to absolutely safeguard against an injury 100% and the more time you spend playing, the greater chance you have of sustaining an injury. However, injuries can be reduced by having proper pre-game dynamic warm-ups, appropriate post-game cool-downs, and consistent injury screening through the season. Applying appropriate strength and conditioning programs that are specifically designed for pre-season, in-season, and post-season provide additional injury reduction for athletes.   

Dynamic warm-ups are a great time to bring both your body and mind up to speed and ready to perform.  There are several exercises and routines that can be combined to create a dynamic warm-up depending on the level of play, physical imbalances, and coaching staffs’ experience.  Here are just a few of those exercises that can be performed as part of a dynamic warm-up routine for any level of play. 

Dynamic Warm-up Basketball Routine 

To Watch the Full Dynamic Warm-up Video Click here!

Revving up is a general warm-up for the body. Remember, this is just the beginning of your warm-up so start slow and build up your speed to help avoid fatigue.

Tempo running will get your heart rate and respiratory rate ready for activity while focusing on the muscles that help you run forward and backward as well as those muscles that help you change directions .

Lateral shuffling is a general warm up for muscle groups that are responsible for side to side movements.

Jumping Rope is a good upper and lower body warm-up, getting the arms, legs, and lungs ready for play. It can help activate slow and fast twitch muscle groups and give you time to focus on footwork and coordination.

Tissue Prepping 

Once the body has been primed and ready to work, soft tissue or fascial restrictions can further get you ready for play and reduce the risk of strains or injury.

Foam rolling should focus on the entire body, not just where you feel restrictions.

Lacrosse ball or self-trigger point release is similar to foam rolling. Use of a ball will allow for a more specific focus on muscles and fascia that are susceptible to trigger points or “knots”. Spending a few minutes here will allow for muscles to glide or move more freely.

Super-band self-joint mobilization: Like soft tissue, joint stiffness can occur, more often in older athletes v.s. younger. This warm-up is especially good for those with a history of ankle sprains or stiffness. There are various ways or techniques these can be performed, try this example and check out our other warm up and stretching videos on the Warren clinic's Instagram.

Tissue activation 

Once the body has been warmed up a bit and mobility work has been performed, it's time to progress to more dynamic movements.

Walking lunges with a trunk rotation are a great exercise to stretch out your upper body.

Walking knee hug to ankle grab is a good active stretch technique that stretches out your posterior, such as the glutes, and anterior muscles such as the quads. It can also turn on your proprioceptors need for balance on the stance leg.

Walking leg raise is a means to actively stretch out the hamstrings.

Powering up

At this point in time, you should have a good sweat going on and feel ready to play. The focus here is to make sure all muscle groups are activated and ready to go!

Lateral shuffle with resistance band movements help get you hips ready for play.

Cutting Drills of all varieties can help you prepare for the different drills you will run in a game.

Inchworms with a limb raise to push up are a nice way to insure both upper and lower muscle groups as well as your core are all turned on. This allows for an active stretch of the hamstring combing core stabilization through movements similar to the bird dog and finishes with a push up.

Watch the Warren Team complete the full basketball dynamic warm up!


For further player injury screenings please contact your local Performance Physical Therapy office for details.   

To request an appointment click here!

Dr. William Campion, DPT is a physical therapist at the Warren clinic. Through the years, William has pushed himself to constantly expand his knowledge of PT to help other athletes battle their injuries and has come to specialize in sports performance, orthopedics, post-surgical, gait/running analysis, footwear, custom inserts/ orthotics, Olympic lifting, power lifting, cross fit, golf, and functional movement.

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