14 Bodyweight Exercises You Can Do With a Basketball

Combining basketball skills with bodyweight training can make for one heck of a workout!

Basketball is a game of finesse, and technical skills such as dribbling, shooting and hand-eye coordination are essential to playing the sport. But basketball also requires a great deal of muscular strength and stamina.

Those who have both the technical skills and the physical preparedness are positioned to play the game at a high level.

It's tough to match the benefit of training with barbells and dumbbells, but bodyweight exercises can absolutely help a person, basketball player or not, level up their fitness.

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Basketball is a game of finesse, and technical skills such as dribbling, shooting and hand-eye coordination are essential to playing the sport. But basketball also requires a great deal of muscular strength and stamina.

Those who have both the technical skills and the physical preparedness are positioned to play the game at a high level.

It's tough to match the benefit of training with barbells and dumbbells, but bodyweight exercises can absolutely help a person, basketball player or not, level up their fitness.

With that in mind, here are 16 bodyweight exercises you can perform with only a basketball. Some of these are pretty darn challenging, so be smart and safe!

1. Basketball Mountain Climbers

This exercise focuses on building shoulder and core strength and quick feet. Start by getting into a standard Push-Up position with both feet together on the floor and both hands on the basketball. Keeping your back and arms straight and your core engaged, alternate lifting your feet off the floor, bringing your knees to your chest as quickly as possible while maintaining good form.

2. Bird Dog Dribbles

This exercise focuses on balance and stability while dribbling low to the floor. Start by getting into a standard Push-Up position. Lift your left foot off the ground while simultaneously lifting your right hand off the floor. Keeping your core tight and your left foot kicking back toward the wall behind you, dribble the basketball with your right hand. Perform for desired amount of time before switching sides.

3. Basketball Russian Twists

Russian Twists help build transverse abdominal strength. Start by sitting on the floor with your legs off the floor, one crossed over the other. With the ball in both hands, alternate rotating from side to side, keeping the ball close to your body. Focus on keeping your core tight the entire set.

4. Basketball Russian Twist Slams

All the benefits of Russian Twists with the added bonus of explosive power. Start by sitting on the floor with your legs off the floor, one crossed over the other. With the ball in both hands, alternate rotating from side to side, forcefully slamming it on the floor. Focus on keeping your core tight the entire set.

5. Hollow Hold Dribbles

Hollow Hold Dribbles focus on core stability and balance while developing quick dribbling with just your fingers. Start by sitting on the floor with your legs together off the floor. Keep your torso tight and avoid rounding. With the ball in one hand, dribble the ball for desired amount of time. Then, cross under the legs to the other hand and continue dribbling.

6. Hollow Hold Cross Over

This exercise develops core strength and balance as well as hand-eye coordination. Start by sitting on the floor with your legs together off the floor. With the ball in one hand, continuously cross under your legs to the other hand, keeping your feet in the air and your core engaged.

7. Between the Legs Bicycle Crunches

This exercise serves similar benefits as Hollow Hold Drives with added strength and speed with your handles and knee drives. Start by sitting on the floor with your legs together off the floor. With the ball in one hand, alternate bringing one knee to your chest while simultaneously transferring the ball under that bent knee to the other hand, then repeat with the other knee. Keep your core tight and your torso in one straight line.

8. Basketball Burpees

Burpees can get your heart rate up in a hurry. Start by standing with the ball in both hands. Perform a standard Burpee by dropping down into a Push-Up position with both feet on the floor and both hands on the ball. Be deliberate! Don't just slam the ball on the ground. Once you're in position, hop both feet back underneath you and explore into a jump. Land in the starting position and repeat. Limit to 10-12 reps per set.

9. Explosive Between-the-Legs Split Squat

This exercise helps build explosiveness and stamina in your legs while pairing that with between-the-legs dribbling skills. Start by getting down in a standard Split Squat position and the ball in one hand. As you explode into the air, switch the position of your feet. As soon as your feet are back on the ground, the ball should crossover between you legs. Continuously repeat this movement for desired amount of time.

10. Alternating Shoulder Tap Push-Ups

Shoulder Tap Push-Ups develop shoulder and core strength and stability. Start by getting into a standard Push-Up position with both feet together on the floor and both hands on the basketball. While maintaining a straight back and tight core, perform a Push-Up, lowering your chest to the ball and back up. Once you come back up, lift one hand off the ball and tap the opposite shoulder. Return that hand back to the ball, perform another Push-Up, and then repeat the shoulder tap with the other arm. Perform this movement continuously for desired time.

11. Alternating Shoulder Tap Planks

This exercise helps build core and shoulder stability. Start by getting into a standard push-up position with both feet together on the floor, and both hands on the basketball. While maintaining a straight back, and tight core, lift one hand and tap the opposite shoulder. Return that hand back to the ball and repeat with the other hand. Perform this movement continuously for desired amount of time.

12. Basketball Diamond Push-Ups

Diamond Push-Ups focus primarily on your triceps, which are a key muscle group involved in extending the elbow for actions such as dribbling, passing, and shooting. Start by getting into a standard Push-Up position with both feet together on the floor and both hands on the basketball. While maintaining a straight back and tight core, perform a Push-Up, lowering your chest to the ball and back up.

13. Alternating Single-Arm Elevated Push-Up

This exercise helps build single-arm pushing strength and hand-eye coordination. Start by getting into a standard Push-Up position with both feet together on the floor and one hand on the basketball and the other on the floor. While maintaining a straight back and tight core, perform a Push-Up, lowering your chest to the floor and back up. Roll the ball on the floor across the body to the other hand and perform another Push-Up. Continuously repeat movement for desired amount of time. I'm doing this pretty darn fast here, but don't be afraid to go slow!

14. Lateral Shuffle Push-Up

The Lateral Shuffle Push-Up builds explosive strength, as well as quick hands needed for dribbling and picking players' pockets. Start by getting into a standard Push-Up position with both feet together on the floor. Your right hand is on the basketball and your left hand's on the floor. While maintaining a straight back and tight core, perform a Push-Up, lowering your chest to the floor and back up. Explode off the floor lifting your right hand off the ball and placing it on the floor while simultaneously lifting your left hand off the floor and placing it on the ball. Continuously perform this movement continuously for desired amount of time.

Combining basketball skills with bodyweight training can make for one heck of a workout!

Photo Credit: dima_sidelnikov/iStock

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Topics: BASKETBALL TRAINING | SQUAT | PUSH-UP | PLANK | BODYWEIGHT EXERCISES | AT-HOME WORKOUT | CRUNCH | DRIBBLING | BURPEES