How to Prepare for a Basketball Game

Three Parts:Preparing for a Game the Night BeforeGetting Dressed and Ready for the GameWarming-Up Mentally and Physically for the Game

Basketball is a physically demanding sport that requires a certain level of physical and mental preparedness. It also demands a heightened level of organization and time management. The more prepared you are for a game, the better you will perform.

Part 1
Preparing for a Game the Night Before

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    Eat high-carbohydrate, low-fat meals the night and day before a game. Basketball is an intense and demanding sport that requires a lot of energy and endurance. Your primary source of energy comes in the form of carbohydrates. The meals you consume approximately 12 to 15 hours before a basketball game should be high in carbs, which will replenish your body’s store of carbohydrates, and low in fat, so that your meal is easily digested.
    • The night before a game, consume a high-carb, low-fat dinner. Meal options include lean meat (fish or chicken), potatoes, pasta with sauce, and/or bread.
    • The morning of your game, eat a basic, filling breakfast. Your breakfast could consist of bagels, cereal with low-fat milk, whole fruit, pancakes, waffles, and/or oatmeal.
    • The afternoon before your game, eat a light lunch. This meal could consist of low-fat sandwiches made with lean meats and whole-grain bread, pasta with sauce, salad, and/or whole fruits.
    • Do not try a new food before a game—it may upset your stomach. Instead, try to eat the same meals before each game.[1]
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    Rehydrate your body. Throughout a basketball practice and game, your body sweats, which decreases its store of water. In order to perform at the top of your game, you need to rehydrate your body. Instead of grabbing a drink only when you are thirsty, you should try to drink water consistently throughout the day.
    • As an athlete, you should strive to drink 2 liters, or half a gallon, of water everyday.[2]
    • You should also drink an additional 500 ml, or 16.9 fl ounces, of water per every hour of exercise.[3]
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    Pack your basketball bag. Before you go to bed, gather and pack everything you will need for the basketball game. Pack your basketball uniform, warm-ups, shoes, and socks. Include any undergarments, braces, and sports pads you may need for the game in the bag. Add a water bottle, a sports drink, and a pre-game snack to your sports bag.[4]
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    Make travel arrangements in advance. As a player, it is your responsibility to arrive at the site of the game on time. In addition to knowing when and where the game is being played, you also need to figure out how you are getting to the site. When you know these details in advance, you can make transportation arrangements earlier. If you do not know when and where your basketball game is being played, ask your coach or teammate for these details or look up this information.
    • It is not your coach’s responsibility to make sure you know when and where the game is being played. If you do not know, don’t wait for someone to tell you—ask someone. If you can’t get ahold of a coach or teammate, look on your school or club’s website.
    • When you know these details in advance, you ask off of work in advance or let your teachers know you will be missing their class.[5]
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    Get 8 to 9 hours of sleep. In order to perform at the highest level possible, you need to get a great night’s sleep before a basketball game (and every practice). On the night before a game, allocate at least 8 to 9 hours for sleep. This may require you to plan ahead.
    • If you have a big test or assignment for school, start studying for it or working on it earlier in the week so you’re not up late cramming or doing homework the night before a game. Write all of your assignments and test dates down in your planner. Check your planner everyday to ensure that your are staying on track or ahead in school.
    • If you have chores and other responsibilities at home, complete them early and efficiently so that you can get to sleep on time.
    • Once you are in bed for the night, put away your phone, computer, and tablet.[6]

Part 2
Getting Dressed and Ready for the Game

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    Check-in with your coach. When you arrive at the gym, find your coach and let them know that you are present. This prevents your coach from wondering if they can add you to the starting-line up and/or include you in their strategy for the game. If you appear out of nowhere, your coach may have rightly assumed that you were not coming to the game.
    • Forgetting to check in with the coach may result in you sitting the bench or getting less playing time than normal.
    • It is your responsibility to find the coach, not the coach’s responsibility to find you.
    • If you are running late, text or call your coach.[7]
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    Get dressed for the game. After checking-in with your coach, head to the locker room. Remove your street clothes, shoes, and any banned jewelry and place them in your sports bag. Put on your undergarments and sports pads, followed by your uniform, warm-ups, socks, braces, and shoes.
    • If you have any injuries that require special treatment, set up a time to visit the athletic trainer.
    • Place all of your valuables and your gym bag in a locked locker.[8]
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    Fill up your water bottle. Throughout the game, your body will sweat and become dehydrated. In order to replenish your body’s stores of water, you need to drink water throughout the game. Grab an empty water bottle and fill it up at the drinking fountain or bring a bottle of water from home.
    • Throughout the basketball game, try to drink between 4 to 8 ounces of water every 15 minutes.
    • You can alternate between drinking water and a sports drink. Sports drinks provide your body with much needed electrolytes.[9]
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    Meet with your coach and team in the locker room. Prior to taking the floor to warm-up, most coaches will hold a team meeting in the locker room. Coaches use this meeting to discuss the game plan. They also use this time to get players focused and to remind them of what makes the team successful.
    • During this meeting, your coach might go over plays, the starting-line up, and/or substitution patterns.
    • In order to motivate and focus players, your coach may reminisce about what has made your team successful in the past.[10]

Part 3
Warming-Up Mentally and Physically for the Game

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    Prepare yourself mentally for the game. While it is essential that players are physically ready to play a basketball games, it is also important that players are mentally prepared to compete. Since everyone struggles in different ways, there is no “right” way to mentally prepare for a basketball game. General strategies, which you may adopt and adapt to meet your needs, include:
    • Relax your mind to relax your body. When your mind's at ease, your body is less tense. You can use meditation to clear your mind of negative and/or stressful thoughts. Before a game, find a quiet place to sit. Once comfortable, close your eyes and take the next 10 to 20 minutes to just focus on breathing in and out. As thoughts come into your head, acknowledge them and then let them pass.
    • Stop overthinking. Don’t focus on the mechanics of shooting a basketball during your game—just shoot it! You can work to improve your shot during practice.
    • Stop being afraid of failure. Fear leads to anxiety, which causes our bodies to tense up and our minds to second guess every decision. Instead of focusing on potential failures, practice radical acceptance—acknowledge that everyone, even professional basketball players, miss shots and plays.
    • Get in your “zone.” Your “zone” is your sweet spot, where everything just feels right. In order to enter your zone, you must clear your head and focus on the task at hand. This is easier to achieve if you are on top of your schoolwork, tasks at work, and or responsibilities at home. When you manage your time well, you can just focus on the game instead of thinking about everything you have to get done when the final buzzer sounds.[11]
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    Jog and stretch to warm up your muscles. A light jog, followed by some stretching, will prepare your body for the physical exertion to come. This portion of the warm-up may be done as a team or independently. You can jog and stretch in an auxiliary gym or hallways.
    • Jog for 5 to 10 minutes. During the jog, you should only break a little sweat.
    • Once your muscles are loose from the jog, stretch them out. Basic stretches include:
      • Wall Lat Stretch: Stand 2 to 3 feet in front of a wall. Place your hands on the wall and lean forward. Step your right foot approximately 1 foot away from the wall and drop your head between your hands. Bring your right foot forward and pick up your head. Repeat on the left side.
    • Hamstring Rocker. Stand with your legs in a split stance (one foot in front of the other). Bend forwards and place one hand on each side of the front foot. Straighten your front leg as you lift up your hips. Bend your front leg as you drive your hips towards the ground. Repeat 10 times on each leg.[12]
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    Do dynamic warm-ups before taking the court. Just prior to taking the court, you and your teammates should complete a series of dynamic warm-ups. Dynamic warm-up exercises are designed to elevate your body temperature and keep your body loose. They are done across the gym floor or hallway with little rest in-between each exercise. Examples of dynamic warm-ups include:
    • High knees: As you walk, run, or skip across the floor, lift your knees up and towards your chest. Do not bend or lean forwards at the hips.
    • Butt Kicks: As you walk, run, or skip across the floor, quickly flex your knees and try to pull your heels up towards your bottom.
    • Defensive slides: Assume your defensive stance—knees bent, bottom out, chest forwards, and arms up—and slide across the floor.[13]
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    Do drills, ball handling exercises, and shoot on the court. After running onto the court with your team, your coach and assistant coaches will oversee a series of warm-up drills and shooting exercises. These drills and exercises are selected by the coach and completed as a team. They may include:
    • Offensive or defensive drills.
    • Ball handling exercises (for point guards)
    • Shooting drills, including lay-ups, free throws, three-pointers, and field-goals.[14]
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    Receive any final instructions for the game. Once the warm-up is complete, you and your teammates may head over to the bench or into the locker rooms. When you are all gathered in a huddle, your coach will provide you with final instructions and notify you of any changes to the game strategy. Your coach may also provide your team with a few inspiring words, after which all the players may place their hands in the center of the huddle and yell and team cheer.
    • Make sure to listen to all of your coach’s instructions.
    • Don’t argue with your coach.[15]


  • Ask your coach what you need to improve on.
  • Listen to music to get pumped.

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Categories: Basketball