Using Basketball Exercises to Help Improve Finger Strength

When March Madness rolls around, suddenly everyone is a basketball fan and convinced they can be the next All-Star player.

As a therapist, you’re always looking for ways to help patients reach their goals and return to their favorite activities. And sometimes you need extra motivation to encourage your patients to complete their at-home exercises.

Consider using the example of a basketball player palming a ball to motivate them to work on hand, wrist, and finger strength and dexterity. While they might not ever be able to palm a basketball, many of the exercises that ball players do to improve their ball handling skills can carry over to helping patients work on their hand strength and control. Plus working toward a cool new skill can give patients the extra motivation they might need!

Below are some tips for increasing finger strength for basketball players that could also help your patients make progress. Note: Not all exercises are appropriate for all patients.

The key to palming a basketball is strong hands

While being able to palm a basketball may not make you the best player on the court, it certainly will help your ball handling. If this is something that you’d like to accomplish then getting stronger hands, wrists, and fingers is the only way to go. Developing strength and strengthening your wrists, hands, and fingers isn’t as hard as it sounds.

Hand grippers like VariGrip are great for grip strength and strengthening your fingers. VariGrip is made with adjustable resistance levels for each individual push button, ensuring each finger is strengthened independently.

It’s also a great alternative to squeezing a barbell clamp or using rubber bands and rubber balls, both traditional ways of improving grip strength. For a patient recovering from a hand injury, squeezing barbell clamps could be too challenging, and squeezing rubber balls doesn’t help with improving individual finger strength.

Improving whole-body strength helps with finger strength

An impressive feat you might see in the gym or on social media is someone doing fingertip pushups. These are incredibly difficult and require tremendous finger dexterity and strength. While this is likely too much for most hand therapy patients, they could work on the skill by gradually building their tolerance for pressing down and putting some weight on their fingertips. 

Pinch grip deadlifts are a pretty brutal exercise for anyone, but the general principle could be modified for hand patients. Instead of picking up heavy weight plates, patients can practice picking up and pinching smaller objects, gradually increasing the object size and weight.

Kettlebell exercises can be another great way to work on grip strength and explosive strength. If you play basketball or any other sport, you know that explosive strength is a vital component. Kettlebell swings, snatches, pushups, and Turkish get-ups are all exercises that can help with grip strength. Patients should start very light and master the basics before adding weight.

Even if you’re not interested in palming a basketball, the exercises above will help improve hand control, dexterity, and flexibility.

Check out some exercises your patients can perform with the VariGrip to start noticeable improvements.