If the month of March means a bit more to you than the impending Easter holiday, green beer and leprechauns, or the crocuses appearing like magic next to the slowly-greening grass, you just might have basketball on your mind. If for you, March is all about filling out brackets and lounging TV-side for hours to the soundtrack of squeaking shoes and college basketball announcer commentary, you’re in good company. According to the NCAA, 181 million of us will tune in to the games during March Madness, for a grand total of 664 million hours spent watching (which, just for the sake of context, is approximately 75.7 years). Yikes. That’s a whole lot of sitting, by a whole lot of people, in a whole lot of recliners.
Thanks to those New Year’s resolutions, you’ve started to get your act together, health-wise. So why not use the motivation mojo you’ve already built, look to those college kids on the courts for inspiration, and incorporate a little basketball-inspired fitness into these March Madness weeks? Even if your own days pounding up and down the courts are, by now, a happy and sweaty memory (and if the very thought of all those stops and starts and jumps makes your knees want to cry “uncle”), we have a few NCAA-inspired exercises for you to try. And who knows? Maybe your glory days on the court aren’t over, after all.
- Take your medicine . . . ball. Medicine balls have been a mainstay in the fitness world for years, and their popularity keeps growing. For our basketball-minded purposes, these weighted balls can bring a whole new dimension to layup practice. We don’t recommend actually taking your medicine ball to the court, but shooting it, basketball-style up against a garage or shed wall can be a killer arm workout. Just be sure to choose a light enough ball for this exercise, and switch off arms in the interest of even muscle tone. Bonus tip – if you want one of your very own, but you’re not excited about fronting the funds, we found a great tutorial for a DIY medicine ball here http://www.hotshotfitness.com/diy-medicine-ball/ that uses an old basketball, some sand, and a few other supplies.
- For a cardio-intense drill that will increase your vertical and get your heart pumping, try some backboard touches. Stand underneath the hoop, and jump up, touching the backboard as high as you can. Do as many quick jumps as you can in one minute, and repeat two more times.
- Go around the world, b-ball style. Pick a few spots around the court floor, with varying distances from the hoop. Practice your shots from each location, running up to sink it in again with a layup if you make it, and running up for a rebound shot if you miss. Complete your entire trip “around the world” 4-5 times.
- One more with the medicine ball: grab a pal and practice some power fast-passes. Start with 10 passes just a few feet from each other and then back up a step or two for 10 more. If you two get really good, you can travel up and down the court (or gym, or yard . . .) as you pass, building strength and accuracy all the while.
Your days of full-court games might be over, or maybe they never existed in the first place. Regardless, the game and drills of basketball are great workouts for anyone. Plus, sweating it for a while with these exercises will leave you feeling strong and energized, and will definitely earn you a well-deserved spot in that recliner.