How to Get Better at Basketball: A Comprehensive Guide
Are you a budding basketball player?
Maybe you’re trying out for an all-star team at school. Or, perhaps you play with your friends and co-workers and you want to get stronger on the court. Either way, there are practices and drills that can help improve your game.
Wondering how to get better at basketball? We’ve got you covered. Today, we’re sharing a few of our best tips to help you look and perform at your peak.
1. Fix Your Dribbling Posture
Dribbling is dribbling, right? Not quite.
Unless you’re using the right posture, your stance could allow a competing player to steal the ball right from under you. Start by checking your knees.
They should be shoulder-width apart, with your knees bent just a little. If they’re locked, it’s harder to move and pivot at a moment’s notice. It’s also harder to balance that way.
Then, look at how high you’re dribbling the ball. This isn’t the time to showcase your mad bouncing skills, so don’t worry about dribbling the ball super-high.
Instead, make sure it doesn’t travel higher than your waist. Be intentional and aggressive with the dribble, and keep the ball at the side of your foot. If you can put more power into the dribble, then you’ll have more control over the ball, which makes it easier to shoot when the time is right.
When you’re crouched low in front of another player, the ball shouldn’t go higher than the middle of your thigh. Move your wrist continuously while you dribble to keep the ball in motion, and avoid leaning too far forward.
2. Practice Your Dribbling Technique
Once you get the hang of proper dribbling, don’t stop there. Take the time to practice this skill any time you have the chance. Try learning single-hand dribbles first, and then work on transferring the ball seamlessly from your left hand to your right hand, and vice versa.
You can also practice more advanced ball-handling maneuvers, such as:
The crossover dribble
Dribbling behind your back
Dribbling between your legs
While you can find fancier and more advanced moves, these are the basic foundations of dribbling. Once you have them in your back pocket, you should be able to move comfortably around the court. Before long, you’ll be scheming up combination dribbles that will keep spectators shocked and opponents surprised!
In time, you should also feel confident dribbling without looking at the ball. If your eyes are always looking down, then you could miss a valuable chance to shoot or an incoming player looking to steal.
3. Be Realistic With Your Weak Spots
When playing basketball, resist the urge to think you’re Lebron James every second. We all have our weaknesses, even the best among us. Once you can identify the areas you need to work on, you’re that much closer to realizing that goal.
Do three-pointers always stress you out? Do you miss most of your free throws? There’s nothing to be ashamed of, and everyone can get stronger. Find a mentor who’s a more experienced player than you, and hit the court a few times each week.
Watch their technique, and ask questions. Then, be open to guidance as they show you how to become a better player. There are drills and exercises designed to help you overcome your incompetencies.
For instance, if you aren’t adept at dribbling with your non-dominant hand, then start on that side first. Dribble 20 times with that hand before switching over to your dominant one. This is one sport in which practice really does improve your game, so put in the time if you want to see real results.
4. Wear the Right Gear
Next, let’s talk basketball gear. Could it be possible that your clothes, shoes, and accessories are holding you back? If you’re still sporting the same athletic shoes that you rocked years ago in high school, it’s time for an upgrade.
When buying sneakers, prioritize features like traction, durability, and support. You need a pair that will cushion your feet all day long but won’t leave you slipping and sliding all over the court. The best basketball shoes are ones that combine form and function, so you look as great as you feel.
Nike’s iconic Dunk Low Pro SB collection checks all of these boxes, so check it out today.
Once you have the right shoes on your feet, think about the rest of your wardrobe. Any shorts or shirts you wear should be breathable, lightweight, and easy to move around in. If your hair is in your eyes, invest in a headband to hold it back, and wear sports sunglasses to improve visibility on an outside court.
5. Optimize Your Overall Health
It isn’t enough to be a great free-thrower. If your physical fitness isn’t in peak condition, you won’t be able to steal the ball and run it down the court effectively.
These games can last for hours, and you’ll be on your feet for the majority of the time. That’s why one of our best basketball tips is to improve your aerobic condition. Lightly jog or run during your off time, or try stationary biking.
You can also try other activities, such as jumping rope or swimming. The key is to elevate your heart rate and get your blood pumping. These exercises can help improve your strength and stamina both on and off the court.
Looking for a little inspiration? Here’s a quick guide to some of the best cardio training moves for basketball players.
6. Move at the Right Speed
Yes, solo practice has its benefits. Yet, if you go too slow during drills, you might choke when it’s time to play an actual game. These matchups are fast-paced and competitive, and you need to be able to keep up with the others.
To get there, try speeding your practice drills up in increments. Pretend that there are other players on the court guarding you defensively, even if you’re at the gym alone. Try to dribble faster and shoot more frequently, all while envisioning the stands filled with cheering onlookers.
If you’re used to setting each shot up precisely, aim to be a little more intuitive and less intentional. During a game, it’s unlikely that you will have the opportunity to plant your feet in a perfect position, arrange your hold on the ball, and perfect your shooting motion.
Instead, it will be a split-second motion, and you’ll need to remember how to execute it precisely. Work on your form when you can, but also move at game speed during drills, so you’re always ready.
7. Fine-Tune the Free Throw
In this sport, much of your performance hinges on proper form. Make sure you’re positioning your body correctly on the court and handling the ball in the right way.
Let’s start with your lower-body mechanics, specifically during free-throw shots. Make sure your toes are pointing in the same direction, and square them up with the rim. Over time, you might find that you need to adjust this posture a little but begin in this basic stance.
Try to make the arch of each foot reach the floor. This will shift power into your lower body, which you’ll need to get that perfect shot. Make sure your knees aren’t traveling over your feet, and square the rest of your body.
When it’s time to shoot, flex your legs and stand upward as the ball releases from your hand. Take your shooting hand upward, passing it right through the eyebrow on that same side. When your elbow travels above your eye, release the ball and flex your wrist downward.
To practice all of these moves, perform them in front of a mirror without using a ball. Make sure every aspect of your stance and arm motion is perfect, and you’ll be ready to go when it’s time for the real thing.
8. Watch the Experts
Finally, we suggest watching as many televised or in-person basketball games as possible! This is a great way to learn new techniques and glean inspiration from others who have gone before you in this sport.
While NBA games are obviously very exciting, the short time clock places an emphasis on individual performance. There’s little opportunity for players to showcase advanced team-based moves and collaborative plays. Budding players can learn more from watching slower-paced college games, where teammates work together to open up scoring opportunities and put fundamentals into practice.
Want to join in on the action yourself? There’s an app called InfiniteHoops that allows you to search for nearby pickup basketball games and groups in your area!
Now You Know How to Get Better at Basketball
Basketball isn’t a sport reserved for the industry elite. It’s an accessible, lifelong game that delivers a multitude of health benefits. If you want to become a stronger player, that goal is easily within reach.
The key is to get the foundation right first, and then branch off and work on more advanced moves. Now that you know how to get better at basketball, you can put those ideas into practice and start improving your game.
In the meantime, we’re here to keep you updated on all the lifestyle news you need. Check back often for more helpful guides!