How Basketball Players can Benefit from Olympic Weightlifting

Basketball is a sport that requires quite a lot of skill – shooting, dribbling, passing, seeing the field, and even understanding the tactics. And if you want to become a high-level athlete, you need to have all those abilities. Otherwise, you won’t make it to the very top of the game. However, with that said, modern sport is more than just having the sport-specific skill in your arsenal. Nowadays, basketball players aren’t also good at their game; they’re also incredible athletes – just take a look at stars like LeBron James or Giannis Antetokounmpo. 

And if the skills required to be a good basketball player are developed while playing the game and with specific drills, becoming a terrific athlete requires additional focus – typically, in the form of spending more time in the gym with a conditioning coach. 

In this article, we’re going to discuss specifically Olympic weightlifting exercises and whether they have their place in a fitness program for a basketball player. 

What Do Basketball Players Aim to Achieve in the Gym?

In order to answer the question of whether or not Olympic weightlifting exercises have a place in a basketball training program, we first have to talk about the typical fitness goals that a basketball player has. 


One of the most common abilities athletes want to develop is speed. In basketball, you need it so that you can quickly transition from attack to defense and so that you can free yourself of defenders. It’s one of the primary skills that scouts look at, and it can definitely make a difference in a game. 


When playing basketball, you’re always on the move – one second, you’re going left, then you’re turning right, and the faster you’re able to do that, the more competitive advantage you have. Agility is one of the key physical skills for basketball players, especially the ones that play point and shooting guard, as they can gain quite a bit from moving quicker and better than their opponents. 


Basketball is a physical sport, a contact one. You’re constantly pushing people, shoving them, fighting for loose balls and rebounds, and trying to get through traffic as hands aim to grab and pull you. In order to be able to survive all of that on the field “fighting,” you need to be strong. You need to be able to stand your ground as opponents shove you, and you also need to have enough power to push them off or away when needed. And the closer to the basket you play, the more that need for strength increases, as power forwards and centers are typically the players that do most of the shoving and pushing in the game.

How Can Olympic Weightlifting Benefit a Basketball Player?

When people think of Olympic weightlifting, they imagine the big bulky guys with funky-colored spandex and strange-looking lifting shoes. Because of that, most athletes in other sports, especially in their teenage years and younger, assume that Olympic weightlifting has nothing to do with basketball and can’t be beneficial to them. 

However, that’s a misconception. Most of the exercises done in an Olympic weightlifting program are, in reality, the basis of any good strength training regime. They’re typical dynamic strength training exercises that use multiple muscle groups and target full body strength and development of overall power – which is what makes them a must-do for any athlete, regardless of the sport. 

When it comes to basketball specifically, Olympic weightlifting can help aspiring basketball players build strength and increase their power without making their muscles stiff or damaging their mobility. Unlike typical bodybuilding movements that isolate a particular muscle group, Olympic lifts are typically compound movements and use the lower and upper body, along with the core, which is why they’re the perfect fit for an athlete training regime. They give all of the strength benefits while also nurturing the other abilities, such as speed, agility, and mobility. 

What are the Best Olympic Lifts for a Basketball Player?

Now that you know that Olympic weightlifting is beneficial for basketball players, you’re likely wondering which are the best exercises to do. Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. 

Power Snatch Off Box

This is a fantastic exercise that helps improve vital skills for basketball players, such as jumping ability, speed, and agility. It also helps develop the nervous system, allowing the athlete to react faster in situations and thus get better with their acceleration in the game. In terms of muscle groups worked the power snatch-off box helps strengthen the calves, quads, back, traps, and shoulders – all of which are crucial for a basketball player.

Hip Power Snatch

This movement replicates getting rebounds from a jumping perspective – it imitates the game movement very accurately. It’s a short hip movement followed by an explosive hip pop that helps finish the lift. It simulates what a basketball player does when the ball comes off the rim, and they have to react as quickly as possible to rebound the ball. Along with that, hip power snatches also strengthen the shoulders and traps, which further help improve the rebounding skill of a player.

Push Press with Snatch Grip

This movement helps with building upper body strength and lower body explosiveness, both of which are key for basketball players. The lift primarily targets the muscles in the back and shoulders, which are used in almost every basketball-related movement – shooting, dribbling, rebounding, and even passing the ball. Additionally, the leg drive that’s trained with this exercise mimics the shooting posture and can help players get better push-off from their lower body when shooting from a long distance.

In Conclusion

Hopefully, you learned all that you wanted about how Olympic weightlifting and basketball can be combined. We will be delighted if, after reading this article, you’re ready to incorporate some new exercises into your training plan that help you become a better athlete. Finally, we want to leave you with one last thought – be sure always to lift carefully and to do so with good form. If you do that, you will reap the benefits in no time.

Happy lifting!