Shoulder-to-Shoulder: Unpacking the Anatomy and Training Techniques Behind Basketball Player’s Broad Shoulders

One of the most important factors at play in basketball is an athlete’s physical ability.

Some people are born with better physical abilities than others, such as jumping reach, speed off the mark as well as strength.

And since basketball is a very high-intensity physical activity, its participating players need to have strong bodies that can withstand the rigors of the game.

One physical trait typically seen among most professional basketball players are broad shoulders.

They’re quite the phenomenon, and we wanted to investigate just how these athletes manage to increase their shoulders spans to such great widths.

Here’s a brief summary of how this happens…

Basketball players have large shoulders as a result of years of repetitively using their shoulder muscles to perform various in-game actions like shooting, rebounding and blocking the ball. More so, their adherence to strict dietary plans over the course of multiple seasons leads to the growth of muscle in this area of the body.

Reasons why basketball athletes have large shoulders

Leaning on from that answer summary, we’re going to cover the three major factor that contribute to the broad shoulders of these particular athletes.

So, let’s get started…

1. Repetitive use of shoulder muscles during matches

To properly understand this, we’ll need to go back to biology class and identify the four major shoulder muscles that make up this part of the body.

We have:

  • Deltoid muscles;
  • Trapezius muscles;
  • Infraspinatus muscles; and
  • Supraspinatus muscles

When basketball players constantly elevate their arms to shoot or rebound a ball from the other side of the floor, the aforementioned muscles become stronger over time and result in wider shoulders.

why basketball players have big shoulders - repetitive use of shoulder muscles

Repetitive use of these muscles while performing on court tasks such as shooting basketballs, competing for rebounds and blocking opponent shots in games aids in muscular growth, resulting in much broader shoulders over time.

2. Regular court practice for years on end

Basketball players don’t just turn up to matches without having put in a lot of blood, sweat and tears on the training ground beforehand.

The NBA athletes that you usually see on screen practice almost every day, burning an absurd amount of calories in the process.

When you factor in all this practice time – constantly moving and shooting hoops – compared to most normal people who just sit in an office from Monday to Friday, it’s easy to see where their shoulder gains come from.

3. Adhering to strict diet plans

Lastly, these athletes pay a lot of attention to their overall nutrition.

This may even involve employing people like personal cooks and dietitians to offer them specialized meal plans and calorie uptake routines geared to ensuring enhanced performance when the competitions come around.

why basketball players have big shoulders - adhering to diet plans

For example, Traci Siegel is a private chef in the culinary world of NBA players, having served a number of big name clients like Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard, and Enes Kanter, to name a few.

Here’s how she goes about ensuring her client’s dietary needs are met:

She shared that recreating her clients’ favorite dishes is one of the most important parts of her work. They love to have a memorable dish they’d like to have recreated back home. In addition to eating what they want, Siegel also ensures that her clients’ health and fitness needs are sufficiently met. Using her knowledge of food science and nutrition, Siegel incorporates an unhealthy aspect into a tasty dish into her clients’ diets without compromising their health. She stresses that just because they eat a certain way doesn’t mean they are banned from enjoying certain dishes.

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By keeping their food intake in check with a healthy balance of proteins, carbohydrates and leafy vegetables, basketball players are able to broaden the width of their shoulders beyond that of your average Joe.

Are strong shoulders good for basketball?

The answer here is a resounding yes!

A player with strong shoulder muscles can do a couple of things on the court more proficiently, such as:

  • Handle the ball better;
  • React faster on defense, especially when reaching to intercept a pass or swivelling in the opposite direction to begin tracking back; and
  • Jumping higher

Wide shoulders also assist basketball players in being more physically dominant, by helping them to take up precious space and outmuscling their opponents in physical duels.

Broader shoulders also give basketball athletes an edge when it comes to boxing out their opponents from under the basket, which subsequently increases their chances of grabbing rebounds and controlling the finer margins of the game.

And another point to note is how broader shoulders offer basketball athletes greater personal safety on the court.

You see, stronger shoulder muscles assist in protecting players from on-court injuries, which may be caused by things like unintentional collisions or falls during games.

How do you get broad shoulders like NBA players?

There are several routines that you can integrate into your workouts for broader shoulders, but here are the fundamental ones that you should constantly keep in mind:

Shoulder press

Basketball players can perform shoulder presses in order to develop broader and more powerful shoulders.

This is because the shoulder press not only increases muscular mass and strength in this area, but it also improves an athlete’s stability and balance when playing the game.

More particularly, the workout focuses on your front and back deltoids, and that helps to produce a wider appearance across your shoulders, which is pretty much essential in basketball.

The shoulder press can be done with either a set of weights or resistance bands, depending on what equipment you have available.

Lateral raises

Lateral rises immediately target the shoulder muscles, by increasing strength and breadth in the region.

The exercise helps to greater define your shoulders and works towards ensuring that your upper arms have a rounded appearance.

When they are done using the correct technique, lateral raises also assist athletes in improving their posture and establishing stability and balance in their upper bodies.

To do a correct lateral raise, stand with your feet hip-width apart and a set of light dumbbells at your sides, palms facing inward.

Raise both dumbbells to shoulder height while keeping your arms straight during the action, then gently decrease back down to the starting position.

Rowing upright

The upright row is a common workout used by many basketball players to strengthen their shoulders and bulk up their upper back area.

It entails standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and elevating a barbell or set of dumbbells from waist height to chin level, all while keeping your arms straight.

This exercise engages all of the muscles in the shoulders and upper back, which can help basketball players create strong, broad shoulders.

Who has the broadest shoulders in the NBA?

Dwight Howard was one of the most impactful players in the National Basketball Association (NBA).

At 6 feet 11 inches tall, the former Los Angeles Lakers center has shoulders which span 30 inches in width.

Here’s evidence of that:

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As one of the strongest players in the league with arguably the broadest shoulders, it’s no wonder people called him “Superman” at the height of his playing prime in the NBA; a nickname surely well deserved.

Closing thoughts

To sum everything up, basketball players mainly have broad shoulders as a result of the regular use of their shoulder muscles during games.

The particular actions of shooting, blocking and rebounding basketballs encourage muscular growth and result in broader shoulder span over time.

Hopefully this article gave you a complete explanation of the broad shoulder phenomenon in basketball players, as well as good guidance on building superb basketball physique.

For more related content, you can have a look at some other topics on our blog, such as:

About Samuel Waihenya

Samuel is an avid fan of basketball and has been following the sport for over 10 years. He now intends to dedicate his time to produce great content for his own little basketball blog that aims to help its readership with whatever basketball-related topic they can think of. Have a read through Samuel Waihenya's author bio page here.