If you’re short, it helps to have strength. Period.
I’m not going to beat around the bush. In most cases, unless you’re avoiding contact all together, strength is needed. This isn’t me saying that you can’t do well without it. Instead it’s me saying you can do wonders with it.
Incorporating strength on offense
One of the most common reasons why players don’t like to strength train is due to diminishing shot performance. This has been proven to be false in most situations. Remember, shooting is about mechanics much more than being strong. While you may lose some accuracy initially, you’ll eventually get it back. This is especially true if your mechanics remain the same. Even more so, it should help with a quicker release.
So if you’re ignoring that myth, and you should, there are three main ways to incorporate strength into your offensive game.
Making fancy passes doesn’t just require accuracy, it requires strength, too. One handed cross court pass? Full court bounce pass? Jumping overhead pass? All of those rely on some semblance of upper body and core strength. The more strength you have the easier they become.
Throwing a regular pass? It certainly helps to be strong rather than not. Being strong means you can put some force on your passes. That can help avoid having defenders intercept them.
Personally backing down your defender, to me, is extremely satisfying. You’re essentially using force to create a good shot situation for yourself. But you’ll be backing nobody into the post if you don’t have full body strength. Instead you’ll bounce off your defender. Once that happens your opponents won’t even bother considering you a threat in the post.
If you are strong however, post play is a different world. Having leg strength keeps your balance and allows for you to back yourself in. Once you decide how to shoot your leg strength will help you rise above your defender. Core strength adds to your balance and allows you to turn much easier in the post. Upper body strength allows you to protect the ball while in the post.
This is a no brainer. The stronger you are body wise, the easier (and harder) screens you can set. Strength is important here as it sets up a play better and protects you in the process. When you set a screen, if done correctly, you free up your teammate. A lot of times, if the screen is weak (or you are), you can be pushed out of the way. That actually can make the play worse. The more strength you have, the less likely that is to occur. You’re also protected when you’re stronger because you can take the hit. Most tall players think they can push past shorter players with ease. But because of our lower center of gravity, a stronger shorter player can hold their position with no issue.
Incorporating strength of defense
It doesn’t just stop at offense though. Building your strength can have a definite impact on your defense. Here are three ways strength can immediately affect your defensive ability.
Rebounding (Tug of Wars)
If you’re short and you like rebounding than lower body and core strength is a necessity. A short player who’s good rebounder can be a force. But without proper strength, fighting against taller players for boards will be a losing battle.
But maybe you have a solid lower body and core and getting up there isn’t an issue. That’s only the first part. Coming down with the ball could still be a problem. In pick-up play, tug of wars are very common. While, in theory, you can strategically win a tug of war, pure strength works best. Having the ability to rip the ball out from your defenders grasp can open up new plays for you. It can also deflate your opponent giving you emotional momentum in the post.
Stronger players, especially those who like to play in the post, thrive on strength as mentioned earlier. Just how strength shines in offensive post play, it does as well during defensive post play as well. With solid full body strength, players won’t just be able to back you down. Even if you get passed, if you have a good vertical you can recover better, if not block it.
There are a number of times when a shorter player may find themselves guarding a taller player in the post. Usually the taller player thinks he’ll have an easier time and most of the time he does. But a strong shorter player will have an easier time disrupting post play. Even more so, a strong shorter player can effectively have a better chance of not allowing position. If a post player can’t gain position you give yourself a much better chance to defend him.
On Ball Defense
The lower you can go the better you’ll play on defense. I’ve ranted before that defense can be a game changer or game killer. You strength level dictates how much of that you can actually do.
Facing a fast player? Your leg strength will save you. Facing a player who likes to push off? They’ll have a much harder time pushing someone with a strong core.
Any Is Better Than None
Strength is the one of the best physical equalizers there is. You don’t have to be into body building to get into it either. Simple exercises can have a dramatic effect. As a shorter player why not take advantage?
I can recount numerous times where having strength has helped me as a shorter player. From being able to block taller players shots to shooting my own from further out. The benefits are endless. And with no major cons, without some sort of strength training, you’re almost robbing yourself of physical skill. So give it a try, and if you do it already, keep pushing. You never know how much it’ll help you!