Improving ankle and hip mobility for better basketball performance

I work with a couple players who are so tight that I don’t know how they even play basketball. Several guys are unable to get into a full squat position. You never play in a full squat in basketball, but the inability shows different issues: tight hips and/or tight ankles. These are problems that affect performance.

After searching through some online videos, here are some that have some exercises that I have incorporated with different players to work on their movement restrictions and eventually improve performance.

Ankle mobility: A player with a badly sprained ankle 2-3 weeks ago started with this exercise and has seen improvements in his mobility.

Ankles and feet: The girls love to use the tennis ball or lacrosse ball on the bottom of their feet and feel a noticeable improvement in flexibility and decreased tightness through their entire lower bodies.  The ankle tests in this video are also good for range of motion, especially on a return from injury.

Ankles: Skip ahead to about the 4:20. We use the band around the ankle and to the same type of exercises as above: the squat and moving around in a full squat position and the calf stretch moving the knee forward with the heel on the ground. We do it facing the band and facing away from the band.

Hips: In the video below, he’s not lying when he says you feel drunk when you stand up. Since I started to do these exercises with the guys, I notice an improvement in my mobility, more strength at the bottom of my squat, and less knee pain.

Psoas: We started using a lacrosse ball with the first stretch in the video below. In addition to external/internal rotation, we do a superman on the ball side: raise the arm and leg. We do three spots: We start even with the belly button, drop an inch or so, and then drop another inch.

These are some of the exercises that I have incorporated into an extended dynamic warm-up. Now that the season has started, our volume in our weight workouts is less, and I have replaced the time with more mobility work. Anyone who has read anything that I have written over the years knows that I am not a big stretching guy, but these are some exercises that have helped with ankle and hip tightness that has created back pain, knee pain, shin pain, and limited performance.

By Brian McCormick, PhD
Director of Coaching, Playmakers Basketball Development League
Author, The 21st Century Basketball Practice

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