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Get on your game. Sage Rountree, who teaches yoga to UNC Men’s Basketball team and Coach Roy Williams, offers her top four poses for basketball players. Plus, two bonus poses especially suited for March-maddened coaches and fans alike.
Whether March Madness entices you back onto the court for a game of HORSE or you regularly play pickup, adding yoga to the mix will improve your basketball-specific strength, flexibility, and focus. Yoga’s benefits can truly refine your game. Use these poses to get started.
OPTIONS You can use these poses in two different ways.
WARMUP For a dynamic warmup before practice, do the first three poses as a flow, moving breath to breath through the poses.
STRETCH For a post-game stretch, hold each pose for 10 slow, deep breaths or more.
Yoga for Basketball Players: Warrior II Pose
WHY Stretch your chest, strengthen your glutes, and stretch your inner thighs, which helps protect your knees as you move through the court.
HOW Take a wide stance, lunging your left knee just over your left ankle. Keep your shoulders over your hips as you stretch your arms parallel to the ground and gaze over your left fingertips.
Yoga for Basketball Players: Exalted Warrior Pose
Parsva Virabhadrasana II
WHY Lengthen the side of the torso, stretch your lats, and improve your reach in this variation on Warrior II.
HOW From Warrior II, lift your left arm overhead and rest your right hand gently on your right thigh. Holding the lunge in the left leg will build strength to protect your knee; if you are tired or would like to look like the Air Jordan Jumpman logo, straighten your left leg.
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Yoga for Basketball Players: Triangle Pose
WHY Build lower leg and core strength, as you lengthen your hamstrings and stretch your chest.
HOW From Exalted Warrior, straighten your left leg and lean over, resting your left hand lightly on your thigh or shin. Stretch your right arm straight overhead and roll your chest open toward the ceiling or sky.
Yoga for Basketball Players: Dancer Pose
WHY Build lower leg and hip strength in the standing leg, as you stretch the hip flexors, quads, and ankle of the lifted leg. Plus, build focus for free throws.
HOW Stand on your left leg, holding your inner right foot or ankle with your right thumb facing up. Kick your right foot into your right hand and lean your chest forward.
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BONUS Yoga for Basketball Coaches + Fans: Squat
WHY If you must squat on the sidelines or in the living room as you watch the tournament, do it with good form!
HOW Make sure your knees face out over their respective ankles. Keep your back long. Don’t forget to take deep breaths. If you’re gasping, be sure to breathe out; if you’re yelling, be sure to breathe in!
WANT MORE? Build Core Strength, Learn Control
BONUS Yoga for Basketball Coaches + Fans: Tall Mountain Pose
WHY This happens spontaneously.
HOW From the squat, the bench, or the sofa, hoist yourself to your tiptoes and throw your arms in the air. Add nada yoga (the yoga of sound) by chanting, “Wooooo!” Throw in a partner mudra by high-fiving anyone present.
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About Sage Rountree
Sage Rountree teaches yoga to the University of North Carolina Men’s Basketball team and to Coach Roy Williams. She is also the author of several books, including The Athlete’s Guide to Yoga and Racing Wisely. She teaches workshops on yoga for athletes nationwide and online at YogaVibes. Find her on Twitter and on Facebook.