Basketball shooting can strengthen several arm muscles.
Basketball involves plenty of skill, finesse and speed, but strength also plays a key role in everything you do on the court. So if you play lots of basketball, all that running, jumping, passing and shooting can pay off with stronger muscles. You won't win a bodybuilding championship by playing basketball -- to develop serious muscle mass you have to perform heavy resistance training -- but the game can help you stay strong.
Take Your Best Shot
Your hand controls the ball when you dribble, pass and shoot, but the six wrist flexors in your forearm provide the power. The wrist flexors contract when your hand moves forward to propel a shot toward the basket or a pass to a teammate, so if you handle the ball enough you'll strengthen those muscles. Likewise, the triceps in your upper arms control your forearm movements -- when the forearm extends as you take a jump shot, for example -- so you'll strengthen that muscle group just by practicing your shot.
Run the Floor
You'll do plenty of running when you play basketball, which helps you strengthen a variety of lower-body muscles. As you run, the gluteus maximus, hamstrings and hip adductors combine to extend your hips, while the iliopsoas, tensor fasciae latae and rectus femoris are among the leading hip flexors. Your quads extend your knees while the hamstrings, gastrocnemius and several smaller muscles work to flex your knees as you dash up and down the court. The gastrocnemius also helps flex your ankles, along with lower-leg muscles such as the soleus and tibialis anterior.
Jump Into the Action
Jumping plays a key role in basketball as you leap for rebounds or release your jump shots. The more jumping you do on the court, the more you'll develop the strength and explosive power of your jumping muscles, just as you do when performing plyometric jumps. Your glutes and calves are key jumping muscles, while your core -- muscles such as the abs, obliques, hip flexors and erector spinae -- help stabilize your movements.
Have a Heart
Playing basketball is excellent cardiovascular exercise, which means it can help strengthen the most important muscle in your body -- the heart. The sport also burns plenty of calories and helps you develop endurance, particularly if you play the standard game on a 94-foot court. If you weigh 155 pounds, for example, you'll burn 298 calories in 30 minutes of a basketball game.