We all know that ballet is the secret behind many NFL players' footwork skills, but did you know that yoga can offer similar game upgrades to basketball players? Fitness experts agree that if you're trying to get better at shooting hoops, then you can benefit from regular yoga sessions. According to yoga instructor Karla Tafra, there are multiple payoffs to adding stretches like Crescent Lung, Tree Pose, Bridge Pose, and Warrior 2 to your exercise arsenal.
"Basketball is extremely fast-paced, with lots of jumps, twists, turns, coordination, and sprints that take a huge toll on the joints and tendons," Tafra told BodyBuilding.com. "Keeping them flexible and strong prevents injuries and aids recovery."
According to STACK, many of today's top players are already well aware of theprotective powers of yoga. NBA stars like Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, and LeBron James all regularly bend themselves into pretzels to improve their game. Love integrates an hour of yoga into his workouts two or three times each week.
"Yoga teaches stretching, strengthening, and breathing, and it helps you get in tune with your body. That helps in basketball, or in any sport, really," Love's yoga instructor, Kent Katich, told STACK. As a former basketball player himself, Katich is intimately familiar with the sport and claims that even a couple of minutes of yoga can help in a pinch.
"It's not about doing an hour of yoga every day," he said, "It's about how you feel and what you need right now."
Some yoga poses are known for building strength, while others can improve flexibility, ease sore muscles, elongate the spine, and even reduce stress. Combined into an hourlong practice over weeks, months, or years, these yoga poses can make a player lighter on their feet, quicker to duck or dive, more graceful with their reach, and more relaxed.
If your still in doubt, take it straight from All-Star LeBron James, who has broken dozens of records on the court and is considered by many to be this generation's greatest player.
James told The Plain Dealer, "Yoga isn't just about the body; it's also about the mind, and it's a technique that has really helped me."