Complimentary Sports for Basketball

As your basketball career progresses, there may come a time when you have to make an exclusive commitment to the sport. Some players choose to take this leap as they get closer to college. However, many athletes opt to narrow their focus on a single sport far too early. Dedicating all your time to basketball will help you improve, but developing your skills in other sports can be highly beneficial to your hoops game as well. Playing other sports during the off-season can be a great way to stay in shape and sharpen your athletic instincts.

The sports outlined below were chosen because of their applicability to basketball and because they are generally played during the basketball off-season.


Key Basketball Attributes: Conditioning, agility, stamina, lateral movement

At first glance, basketball and lacrosse don’t seem to be too closely related — maybe step-cousins at best. However, once you get past the surface differences, the two sports are strikingly similar. For example, the footwork for a split dodge (a lacrosse offensive maneuver) is almost identical to the crossover dribble in basketball. Because both sports require agility and lateral movement, playing LAX during the off-season will improve footwork. Here are a few more examples of how basketball players can benefit from lacrosse:

  • Learn to move without the ball: You aren’t on the court to be a spectator. Yet, many basketball players fall into the trap of standing around idly when the ball isn’t in their zone. In lacrosse, standing around is not an option. Players must constantly be in motion, cutting towards the goal to get open or setting screens to free up lanes. Playing LAX in the off-season can help refine your off-ball basketball skills.
  • Conditioning & stamina: Lacrosse is an awesome way to stay in shape for basketball because both sports require short, explosive bursts of athleticism.
  • Vision: Court vision — the ability to survey the court for open teammates and scoring opportunities — is an invaluable asset for basketball players. Unfortunately, it can be a difficult skill to refine during the off-season since it is best practiced in game situations. That’s where lacrosse comes in: Because the games have a similar speed, LAX provides an ideal environment for developing court/field vision skills.

Track & Field

Key Basketball Attributes: Running technique, explosiveness, endurance

The expression, “you can’t teach speed” is simultaneously true and misleading. Many people who hear that — athletes included — assume it means that they already run as fast as they can. While it’s true every athlete has a limit on how fast they can run, most athletes only hit that top speed after working for a long time on their form. Track coaches can help you refine your running form to maximize your speed. Even if you don’t want to compete in the events, joining the track and field team is a great way to stay in shape. Below are a few other possible benefits:

  • Build endurance: Running is at the core of many track and field events, and regardless of how far an event requires you to run, practicing for any of them is a great way to boost your endurance.
  • Increase your vertical: Non-running events such as the discus, shot-put, or high-jump are excellent events if you’re looking for a strength-boosting activity. These events train the body to maximize explosiveness by focusing on fast-twitch muscles, the primary muscles used for jumping.
  • Develop a quick first-step: Beating a defender off the dribble is more about a quick first step than overall speed. Repeatedly training to push off the starting blocks will help you cut down on the time it takes you to explode by the defense.


Key Basketball Attributes: Teamwork, communication, hand-eye coordination, repetitive jumping

Playing volleyball can be a fun way to stay in shape while simultaneously enhancing your hoops game. Volleyball requires quick footwork and repetitive jumping, two skills that translate seamlessly to basketball. But the benefits extend beyond the physical sphere. Volleyball has been called the “ultimate team sport” because success depends on a team’s ability to communicate and work together, which is also true of basketball.

If you can learn this skill in volleyball, you’ll be way ahead of the curve once hoops season rolls around. Here are a few more examples of the ways in which volleyball could benefit you as a basketball player:

  • Improve your basketball defense: The defensive slides in volleyball are strikingly similar to the posture for defensive slides in basketball. And the more repetitions you get, the more likely you will be to retain the correct posture when fatigue begins to set in. So grab a pair of kneepads and assume the position. Your legs will be thanking you when winter rolls around and they’re still fresh in the fourth quarter.
  • Track the ball better: Great rebounders have at least two traits in common: Tenacity (an insatiable desire to secure the ball) and the ability to quickly track the ball. Tenacity is something that can’t really be taught or trained, but tracking skills can.

Hard Work Pays Off

Maintaining the habit of regularly working out may seem like a difficult task, but it is nowhere near as tough as getting back into a routine after a long break from the game. Don’t force yourself into an activity; there are countless to choose from, so look around until you find something you like.

Staying in shape before and after the season isn’t punishment, and you don’t need to treat it as such. To that end, playing another sport may be the ideal option. Enjoy exploring the variety of different workouts and training activities until you find at least one you like, and then get involved!

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