How to Warm Up Before a Basketball Game


Basketball players must warm up, loosen their muscles, polish their skills and sharpen their focus before playing a game. Develop your own individual pregame routine to supplement the drills your team runs before playing. A crisp, consistent routine can lead to crisp and consistent performance.

Early Shooting

  • NBA and college teams set a good example by warming up in stages before the game. Shoot jump shots and free throws to get acclimated to the court and to warm up the muscles. Partner with a teammate for individual catch-and-shoot drills and dribble/shoot drills against a defender. If you are a post player, practice catching passes from a teammate, turning and shooting. If you are a guard, practice shooting off different dribble moves. Gradually pick up the pace of your work. “When you’re out there shooting, it’s no good to shoot shots that don’t have any meaning," NBA standout George Hill told "You shoot the shots that you’re going to get in the game."

Dynamic Stretching

  • The time for static stretching is after games. Before games, use a dynamic stretching routine to loosen your muscles and prevent injuries. Go through the range of motions without holding the stretch. Jogging, backpedaling, lateral slides, lunges, high-knee skips and high-knee runs are examples of dynamic movement that prepare you for games.

Team Drills

  • The next preparation phase is an extended team warm-up with a variety of drills centered on dribbling, passing and shooting. They can be simple, like the standard two-line layup or jump-shot drill, with one one line of shooters and one line of rebounders/passers. They can be more elaborate and include several game movements, including pick setting, off-ball cuts, passes and shots. A good warm-up shifts through multiple drills, spending two to four minutes on each while stressing both tempo and precision.

Final Preparations

  • After the team drills, players return to their locker room for their final mental preparations. Players should focus on their key offensive and defensive challenges. Coaches should keep their last pregame message simple and direct, hitting the top tactical points while trying to fire the player up. Teams then return to the court for a fast-paced, abbreviated warm-up designed to get players to game speed for the opening tipoff. You should never come out of the locker room right before the game and start cold.

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  • Photo Credit Hill Street Studios/Blend Images/Getty Images
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