Ever wonder if there might be special yoga benefits for older basketball players – say, ages 35 and up?
Well, so did a 45-year-old named Travis.
“It’s too late for me to make the NBA now,” said Travis wryly.
He was chatting with his 17-year-old nephew Chris about their shared love for basketball. And he’d just learned about Chris’s new college basketball scholarship.
In awe, Travis gave him a slap on the back and a hearty “Congratulations!”
But after the conversation, he turned his attention to himself.
“Wow. What happened to me at 17-years-old? I missed my chance to go pro.”
“But, man, I still love basketball. And my nephew’s making me want to play again!”
“Where do I even begin at my age? And what should I do differently now?”
“Someone suggested adding yoga into my workouts. But I don’t know, it seems so slow… and maybe pointless, or boring…”
Is yoga really worth doing?
Travis’s questions are the same ones that many mid-life basketballers have as they think about finding a more cautious training approach.
Like him, you may have heard that yoga’s “good”. But you may be wondering:
Is yoga really worth doing – for me?
How exactly can yoga help my basketball game?
As we start to answer those questions, here’s the most important thing for you to understand:
Your focus should shift to injury prevention and longevity in the sport as you get older.
And that’s where yoga shines.
Publicly celebrated by a growing number of NBA and WNBA greats such as LeBron James, Kevin Love, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Carolyn Moos, and Alana Beard, yoga is where it’s at if you want to “stay in the game” for the long run.
Here’s what scientific studies have said about the top yoga benefits for older basketball players:
1. Lowers body fat
Yoga helps your body burn fat in several ways – so you’ll be lighter and faster on the basketball court!
First, it helps build muscles. And muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue, even when the body’s at rest.
A 2018 study reports that yoga practices decrease salivary cortisol and result in better sleep. Both lowered stress hormones and improved sleep encourage your body to let go of those extra fat stores.
Also, something called “mindfulness” contributes, by making you more attuned to your body’s signals. For example, you’ll notice the first subtle signs that your stomach is full, so you’ll stop eating sooner.
2. Prevents injuries
Yoga helps you get injured less.
One 2020 study found that lower perceived distress, brought about by a calming and centering yoga practice, results in being less prone to injury in general.
The other factors are physiological, coming through increased flexibility and balance, and lowered fatigue. Says the 2018 study above: “Yoga improves balance and joint range of motion, which can reduce the risk of injury in athletes.”
3. Aids in recovery from both stress and injury
As I explained above, yoga helps you release both physical and emotional stress – which means you sleep more soundly. Better sleep then aids in recovery from injury, reports research from 2011.
Our 2018 study says: “Yoga reduces chronic stress… because it combines two types of recovery: the relaxation response with stretching and active rest.”
“This stimulates self-repair and self-regulatory systems that increase longevity and quality of life.”
Yoga can be particularly helpful for lower back pain, as it balances how the muscles of the body pull on each other through holistic, full body stretching.
4. Develops physical fitness
Yoga improves your agility, strength, and speed in movement.
Improved lower body strength and flexibility was documented in older adults that did yoga in one 2019 study.
Yoga increased upper and lower abdominal strength that resulted in higher jumping, and faster blocking and dribbling in basketball players, says other research published in 2019.
Finally, yoga’s famous for improving balance, which helps with poise and agility as you navigate the court.
5. Enhances your mental game
Yoga boosts positive feelings and an ability to focus.
A consistent yoga practice results in greater optimism, confidence, and inner peace, documented researchers in 2011.
Training the mind to let go of distracting thoughts and “focus on the breath” is integral to the practice.
Developing this kind of focus means you’ll approach your basketball game with a centered awareness of what’s happening on the court – and be likely to kick some butt out there while you’re at it!
All of these benefits translate not just to better athletic performance – but to a better experience of life in general. Woo-hoo!
So, as an older basketball player, is yoga really worth doing?
Are there significant yoga benefits for older basketball players?
I think you see by now that – the answer is a resounding “YES”!
Starting a new chapter at 40 plus
40 and up can be your golden years of playing basketball.
With just a few adjustments in your routine, you can be looking at some of the most enjoyable on-court years of your life.
Though your body may have slowed down some, you can still enjoy the game for all its health and social benefits.
And remember, there’s still plenty of friendly competition waiting for you in pickup games and your local leagues!
So, if you’re an “older” basketball player, DO:
- Stretch and warm-up thoroughly before every game or training session
- Take a yoga class near you or online
- Try an at-home basketball yoga workout
- Always keep injury-prevention in mind
- Go at your own pace
- Find a local league or some friends for a pick up game
- Keep the emphasis on friendly competition and having fun
In the meantime, keep that head up – and shoulders down – and see you on the court!
And for more tips on living a lifestyle of peak health and wellness, sign up for my email list!