How Boxing Can Improve Your Hoop Game
My background in basketball is extremely limited. The most I ever played was organized basketball in elementary school on the playground. I was also the fat kid who was picked last thanks to my lack of speed, height, and shooting ability. So when I received a telephone call from a mother wanting to
use boxing as a way to make her son get better at hoops, it was something really unexpected.
What was I going to do to make this athlete improve at a sport I completely sucked at? After thinking about whether I should take him on as a client, I decided to go for it. Then I took on another basketball player. Then another. Word of mouth spread and I suddenly became the go to guy if you wanted your athlete to improve in a sport that was way out of my element. I became very curious on how in the world was the sweet science improving their hoop game. Here are some things I learned on how boxing can tremendously help on the basketball court.
HELPS YOU SHOOT FARTHER WITH MORE ACCURACY
You have to keep your hands up, chin down, and elbows in whenever you are shadowboxing, doing bag work, hitting the mitts, or sparring. It is not easy keeping those arms up round after round. You build up strength in this area by implementing weights or keeping your arms up while wearing 12-16 ounce gloves.
While developing those bare-bone boxing basics, your arm strength, stamina, and speed begins to improve. That translates into more distance and accuracy in shooting the basketball. You are less tired and make less mistakes when you go for that three pointer. Because of this, you will be able to hear the swoosh of the net more consistently.
IMPROVED FAST TWITCH MUSCLES
Not only do you have to get in the habit of keeping your hands up, you have to have a good foundation underneath you in order to react or adjust to what your opponent is doing. You have to be balanced and light, with your knees slightly bent, and on the balls of your feet. You have to constantly move front, back, side to side, and circle in both directions. While moving, you have to set up shots and go in for the kill. You also have to be defensive oriented and activate your core in order to react quickly by slipping, rolling, or pivoting in order to get out of the way of punches. In simple terms, you have to hit and not get hit!
While all of these tactics are playing out, your legs, arms, and core are becoming a well oiled machine. This improves a player's fast twitch muscles and enhances strength, speed and stamina. The better condition you are in, the better your dribbling ability, which protects the basketball against a defender. All of these fast twitch muscles working in harmony also can help you get open and create space in order to score.
Basketball is considered a "controlled contact sport." After seeing a few games in my time, basketball looks like a definite contact sport to me. Elbows and shoulders are thrown, players are "boxed out" and shoved, and hands and arms are swatted and slapped. It is no wonder fear creeps in when you have to confront a six foot plus, two hundred pound plus guard sprinting down the court. But boxing is the antidote that can cure the fear.
When boxers are accustomed to one hundred percent contact, a "controlled contact" sport is not so scary. Boxers not only use their footwork to fight on the outside like Muhammad Ali, they are also taught to fight on the inside resembling Mike Tyson. Shoulders are used to create openings to throw powerful hooks and uppercuts to the head and body. It looks like the fighters are fighting in a telephone booth when learning inside tactics. Getting comfortable with contact makes going for a layup a lot less nerve wracking when going up against three defenders.
It's funny to think that one of the most violent, unforgiving sports on the planet can actually prevent you from getting injured. But it's true! Boxing itself does not beat up the joints like basketball can. Most basketball players run around the track or play basketball five to six times a week to stay in shape in the off season. But while doing that, knees get worn out, ankles can get sprained, and shin splints are a common occurrence. By implementing boxing, you can prevent some of those injuries. Boxing is a total body workout that will get you in killer shape. Sure, you still the risk of getting injured, but boxing will save your body from the continuous pounding of running on the track or up and down the court.
BECOME A BETTER ALL AROUND COACHABLE ATHLETE
Professional athletes make what they do for a living look so simple. Watching Floyd Mayweather Jr. throw a right hand or Steph Curry make a free throw looks so effortless. In reality, these athletes are doing so many things at once when engaging a one simple technique.
Mayweather Jr. keeps his right hand close to his chin, then fires without recoiling, while pivoting his rear foot, turning his hip as far as he can, while extending his arm out, hitting past his intended target. Steph Curry keeps his feet comfortably spaced, knees bent, with his waist square with the hoop. He keeps his shooting arm elbow in, and the ball on his finger tips. Curry's shooting arm is in an "L" shape, and his off hand on the side of the ball for balance. These techniques are done in a matter of seconds!
When you have been exposed to multiple sports, you begin to get accustomed to following directions and listening to your coach or trainer for instruction. You become open minded, patient, and coachable. There is nothing more frustrating for a coach than one of their athletes not listening or grasping simple instructions. When you are exposed to intricate sports of this nature, you begin to condition the brain and coordinate the body in doing multiple things at once without even thinking about it.
In competition, when you look over to your opponent or the team you are playing against you may start to get a little nervous. You start sizing them up. On the basketball court, you look at the height and stature. You look at how they go for a lay up or dunk a basketball. But at the end of the day, you have not only put in the work on the court, you put in the work in the boxing gym. Nobody can stop you. Why? Because you are a boxer who happens to be on the basketball court.