These NBA players can really throw a punch. Even though basketball players don’t use their fists on the court—unless something’s really going wrong—there’s no doubt that some of the NBA’s biggest stars are doing their training in the ring, rather than just on the court. Part of the reason for that trend? Players are finding that many of the skills you use in boxing can translate to the hardwood.
“Basketball and strength conditioning is not just weights and a court—boxing is a great off-season workout for NBA players,” Felipe Eichenberger, the head strength and conditioning coach for the Denver Nuggets, tells Men’s Journal. “It has the cardio aspect, and you’re moving in all directions and using a lot of footwork in the training. All the handwork, footwork, and directional movement can transfer to basketball.”
Over recent offseasons players like John Wall, Damian Lillard, Moe Harkless, New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis, Kyle Kuzma, and Iman Shumpert all showed off their boxing workouts on Instagram. In fact, Shumpert loved his boxing training so much that he ended up investing in Rumble Boxing, the fitness company that specializes in group boxing classes.
Boxing training can help boost players’ mental agility, hand-eye coordination, and (of course) help sculpt musculature, too. “Boxing is the only sport where you have to stay on your feet the whole time to be successful,” Eric Kelly, a former amateur national champion and trainer, told Men’s Journal. “It requires [working] every muscle in the body.”
That’s another reason why Eichenberger feels boxing is a great way for basketball players to train: “One of the most important things to remember for athletes is to just move your body,” Eichenberger says. “Your body is made to move. If you’re sitting at a desk eight hours a day, make sure you get up and move your body somehow, and I promise your performance at work—and your performance in life—will improve. Boxing gives players that type of full-body workout.”
Don’t be surprised if more players tape on the gloves as they train going forward.
Here are some NBA players who use boxing in their training.