Albums to Play Basketball To

Albums are great for playing basketball. Full albums just lend themselves to hoopin’ because there’s something about a continuously crafted piece of music to carry you through a good session. So I’ve assembled here some my personal favorite albums to play basketball to.

I love using albums to measure time on the court as well. I know a workout was pretty decent if I made it through, say, a round of Donut and a Blow by Blow.

You’ll probably notice this list leans a little toward improvisational and instrumental. I’m a fan of lyrics, personally, but when I’m trying to pump up into a flow, they tend to get in the way. And an improvisational vibe works well for me for similar reasons. It’s like a flow state leads to a flow state if you know what I mean.

It’s true though, and there are studies to prove it. So if you are in the market for some jams to pump up your next session, give one of these a try and let me know how it works.

Also, if you’re on the hunt for something to listen to while hoopin’ I’ve put together a few posts on the subject. Here are some of the best song about basketball. And, If you’re into podcasts, here’s a massive list of basketball podcasts to explore. That’s all organized under the broader umbrella of basketball music I’ve been building out.

The Short but Sweet List of the Best Albums to Play Basketball Too

The Low end Theory – A Tribe Called Quest

One of the best albums to play basketball to is The Low end Theory from Tribe Called Quest

Right up there with Skanks for the Memories 😉 as one of the greatest albums of all time in any genre. This album divides my life into when I didn’t know hip hop was cool and when I figured it out.

The Low end Theory can be a little on the slow side to start. Maybe roll this one out on chill day, or at the start of a practice. After a few listens though, you can find a line in here to match anything you wanna do on the court.

Look, I can go back and forth on Midnight Marauders vs. Low End Theory all day, but I gotta pick one. Tribe Called Quest just has a pure shot of that energy that comes special on earlier East Coast Hip-Hop, and it’s great for moving you around the court.

Legend – Bob Marley

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Reggae is reliable for that bubble bounce. It’s a physical genre at its root. Bet you didn’t know, but The Legend himself was a huge soccer fan. His physicality was as much a part of his life and art as the sacred herb.

We’re interested in a ball of a different color, but the principle still stands. Aside from just being an all-around great album, this is a fantastic hoopin’ album for its great vibes and shifty rhythms. Legend will pick you up.

Kind of Blue – Miles Davis

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Kind of Blue is an iconic album. It was arguably the first album to introduce modal jazz to the mainstream and has long been considered one of the greatest jazz albums of all time.

Kind of Blue is beautifully original and innovative. If the title doesn’t inspire a mood, the music will. But it’s not a bummer,

Overall, a great listen on the court, creating a calming atmosphere while encouraging creativity and improvisation. And the album can be upbeat and energetic at times as well, moving you through different states of measured flow and giddy excitement.

Donuts – JDilla

Donuts is a classic hip-hop record from the legendary artist J Dilla. Dilla isn’t really a household name necessarily, unless you’ve dug in a little. But he is widely recognized by the greats as a great, and he produced and contributed to plenty of tracks and albums you’ve heard and heard of.

Donuts is probably his most beloved work appearing under his own name. Here he presents a wide range of sounds and styles that blend together into something quite greater than the sum.

It can be upbeat and funky, mellow and dreamy, and everything in between. The production is obviously fantastic, with J Dilla’s iconically intricate and complex samples and drum beats (Questlove has called him “The world’s greatest drummer”). And it’s just one of the coolest albums of all time.

Dilla passed away tragically in 2006. His beats drum on.

Blow by Blow

Jeff Beck’s Blow by Blow is one of the first instrumental albums to reach the top of the charts. If you like a good guitar groove, you gotta give this record a solid few rotations.

Beck displays here his obvious virtuosity as he works around a number of musical styles from jazz, rock, and funk. It’s that fluid movement across disparate energies that so perfectly serves the movements of basketball.

The album has a great energy and some sick solos that will pump you up and slide you right on into the zone. The upbeat tempos will keep your energy up while the complexity will keep you engaged and focused.