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Best Shoulder Workouts for Basketball Players

Best Shoulder Workouts for Basketball Players

Best Shoulder Workouts for Basketball Players

It’s no secret that one of the keys to basketball success is the need for muscular strength and build.  This is especially true of the shoulders, which can not only help you to lift heavier weights and reduce the risk of injury but will also strengthen supporting muscles while increasing your overall range of motion. 

This increased range of motion will help you to grab a particularly tight rebound or make that bounce pass to the open shooter.

However, understanding which workouts to complete to develop overall shoulder strength can be difficult to pinpoint. 

That is why we have compiled the best shoulder workouts for basketball players.  These workouts will not only increase your overall shoulder build and aesthetic but will also provide you with greater flexibility and mobility in your basketball game.

Why Are Shoulders So Important in Basketball?

Basketball is an intense, competitive, and full-on contact sport that requires not only upper and lower-body strength but also a well-trained cardiovascular system to achieve a competitive level of play and edge against opposing teams. 

One of the most important upper-body strengths any basketball player can develop is the shoulder muscles.  The shoulder muscles consist of the rotator cuff muscles.  The four rotator cuff muscles include the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis.

The shoulder joint, also known as the glenohumeral joint, is a ball and socket joint that provides the most extensive range of motions in the human body.  The shoulder joint and its surrounding muscular groups are particularly important in basketball due to the range of motion provided and the ability to increase the overall strength of the surrounding muscles.

Extrinsic Shoulder Muscles

  • Trapezius – Shaped like a triangle (hence the name), these shoulder muscles run down the spine and across the shoulder blade, supporting your arm and shoulder when you raise it. You have a trapezius muscle on both your left and right side.
  • Latissimus Dorsi -The name of this muscle translates to “broadest muscle in the back” and its physical structure duly abides. More commonly known as your “lat” muscle (because who wants to say latissimus dorsi?), it helps with the extension and internal rotation of each arm.
  • Levator Scapulae -As its name suggests, the levator scapulae muscle helps lift the scapula bone (shoulder bone), which connects the humerus (upper arm bone) and clavicle (collarbone).
  • Rhomboids – These rhombus-shaped muscles are primarily responsible for the retraction of the scapula. They’re located in the middle of your shoulder blades on your upper back and divided between left and right.

Intrinsic Shoulder Muscles

  • Deltoids – Named for the Greek letter delta, this triangle-shaped muscle is located atop the shoulder. It breaks down into three main muscle fibres: anterior, middle, and posterior, which are all connected by way of a thick tendon. The very fact that shoulder exercises are more or less synonymous with working out your “delts” just goes to show how important this muscle actually is. Accordingly, your delts provide a foundation for things like arm rotation and injury prevention.
  • Teres Major – This small muscle runs from under the shoulder joint toward the back of the armpit. Due to its association with the latissimus dorsi, teres major has earned the nickname “lat’s little helper.”
  • Rotator Cuff – If you’re wondering why your upper arm bone doesn’t pop out of your shoulder socket on a regular basis, you have this group of muscles and tendons to thank. Unsurprisingly, rotator cuff muscles surround the shoulder joint.

Barbell Overhead Shoulder Press

The barbell overhead shoulder press is one of the best shoulder workouts for basketball players as it not only works out your shoulders but also most of the muscles throughout your body.  This workout will significantly grow your shoulders while also strengthening your core and providing muscular mass.

  1. Put your feet at shoulder-width and tighten your core as you hold a barbell at your shoulders, palms facing forward.
  2. Next, push the bar upward and squeeze your shoulder blades together at the peak.
  3. Lower steadily and carefully.

Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press

The seated dumbbell shoulder press is one of the easier shoulder workouts and is also one of the more essential ones on the routine.  Not only relatively simple to complete, but this workout also requires little additional tools other than two dumbbells and a place to sit.

  1. Sit on a low-back bench and hold a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder level, palms facing forward.
  2. Keeping your head and spine perfectly straight, lift the dumbbells overhead toward one another, stopping just short of having them touch at the top.
  3. Hold the position for a few seconds and then carefully reverse course. Repeat.

Bent Over Dumbbell Rows

A shoulder workout that provides definition and strength for your middle deltoids, this workout may feel strange the first few times you complete, but we assure you the gains you’ll make will definitely be worth it.  

In addition, this workout can be completed both standing or sitting.  We recommend trying both positions and sticking with what feels better for you.

  1. Start with a dumbbell in each hand, keeping your chest up, your back flat, your knees slightly bent, and your eyes focused toward a fixed point on the floor.
  2. Now, bend over until your core is basically parallel with the ground, and hang the dumbbells directly underneath you, all while keeping your elbows in a slightly bent position.
  3. Next, raise both dumbbells up and out to your sides, forming an arc until your upper arms are even with your torso.
  4. Take a brief pause at the top before lowering the dumbbells back into starting position.

Standing Dumbbell Shrugs

The standing dumbbell shrugs are another simple shoulder workout movement that can be completed with just a pair of dumbbells. This workout is great for basketball players as there is a focus on just the shoulder muscle, giving you that strength and physique that so many professional athletes maintain. 

However, when completing a standing dumbbell shrug, it is important to complete the routine utilizing only your shoulder muscles and not exerting any pressure from your back.  Doing so could lead to injury and could sideline you from play.

  1. Keeping your feet even with your shoulders, bend your knees and pick up the dumbbells, bringing them to waist level.
  2. Next, lift your shoulders up and back, squeezing for about five seconds before releasing them.
  3. Keep the movements restricted to your shoulders, meaning your arms should be relatively loose and the dumbbells should only raise and lower very slightly.