Your ankles keep you nimble and agile on the basketball court, so taking care of them is critical to how well you play. Not to mention, weak ankles put undue stress on your knees, according to Danny McLarty, CSCS, of USAB.com.
Luckily, there are a number of simple exercises that help improve ankle mobility while strengthening them to protect against injury. Add these exercises into your regular workout routine and practices to improve performance and prevent strains, breaks and sprains.
Working out your ankles in different angles mimics the same type of angles your ankles encounter during a basketball game. Grab a jump rope and start skipping.
How to: Avoid boredom, and work your ankles from every angle, with this short interval routine.
Standard up-down – 20 seconds
Side to side – 20 seconds
Front to back – 20 seconds
Rest and repeat 2 to 3 times.
The full squat helps improve both ankle strength, mobility and give you power for jumping up for rebounds or shooting.
How to: Stand with feet hip-width apart and hinge your hips backward, keeping your back straight. Go past the parallel squat point, until your knees are at a 135-degree angle. The key is to keep your heels and toes on the ground. You may naturally pull your heels up, which shows tightness in the calves. Keeping the weight on your heels, and keeping them down, helps improve ankle strength and mobility.
Complete 6 to 8 reps for 2 to 3 rounds.
Lunges work on stabilizing your ankle muscles as your weight shifts when you sprint down the court or change direction on defense or when driving to the basket.
How to: Stand with feet hip-width apart, and step forward, keeping your back leg straight and your front leg slightly bent-knee should be at a 90-degree angle. Put all your weight on the front foot to push yourself back to standing position. Repeat with the opposite leg to complete one rep.
Repeat 10 times on each leg for 2 to 3 rounds. You can further improve mobility with backward, diagonal and lateral lunges.
Use these simple exercises to improve ankle mobility and strength. Not only will it protect you against injury during basketball, but you’ll also become a stronger, more agile player on the court.