How to Improve your Basketball Game

How to Improve your Basketball Game

Ever wondered what makes the best? See some tips to get your game in order, and how a DreamCourt can help get you to your dreams.

8 Jul


min read

How To Improve Your Basketball Game?

What makes the greatest players so good? For some players, there’s natural talent, but it’s rarely the whole picture. The key method for how to get better at basketball is, ultimately, hard work.

LeBron James is widely seen as this generation’s greatest player, and, while he’s always been a talent, it’s his work ethic and willingness to improve that has made him the best. Years after he was drafted, James was still working hard on his game. “He puts more time in than most anybody in the league in my opinion,” his then-coach Mike Brown said at the time. “That right there is a guy that understands if I’m going to be the greatest ever, I can’t take a day off, a play off.” 

You might not want to be an NBA star, but the idea is still the same: if you put in the effort, you can definitely improve your game. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some basic tips and basketball drills for beginners to take your game to the next level.

Developing Strong Dribbling Skills

The question of how to improve in basketball always comes back to basic skills like dribbling. With good technique, it’s easier to control the ball, increase your awareness across the court and keep the ball out of opposition hands.

  • Posture: When dribbling, keep your feet roughly shoulder-width apart with knees bent to stay low to the ground.
  • Grip: With your hand on the ball, your fingers should be spread, and your fingertips should do most of the work to control the ball.
  • Eyes: Rather than looking down at the ball, try to keep your eyes up to see the court.

Exercise: While maintaining the positioning mentioned above, dribble 20 times with one hand, then do the same with the other, completing three sets. Once you’re comfortable, you can do this while walking and, eventually, running.

Perfecting Your Shooting Technique

Good defence is vital in basketball, but it won’t make much difference if you can’t score. Whether you’re outside the three-point line or setting up for a vital free throw, good shooting is all in the technique. 

  • BEEF: BEEF stands for Balance, Eyes, Elbow and Follow-through and it goes like this:some text
    • Balance: Feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent
    • Eyes: Keep your eyes on the ring
    • Elbow: Your shooting elbow should be tucked into the body
    • Follow-through: Make sure your shooting arm follows the line of the shot after you release the ball
  • Hand placement: Try to keep your fingers spread and control the ball with the pads of your fingers, not the whole hand.

Exercise: Using the above techniques, practice shooting from different parts of the court. Go around the three-point line, free throw line and different parts of the key to get comfortable with shooting from different distances and angles. 

Enhancing Defensive and Offensive Play

It’s the age-old battle: defence versus offence. If you want to be a better player, you’ll need to focus on both aspects. 

  • Defence: Good defence starts with your stance. Keep your arms up with your feet wide while staying mobile on the balls of your feet. Focus your attention around the player’s waist to predict their movement.
  • Offence: We’ve covered a few important basics of offence above (dribbling and shooting), but there’s another basic we didn’t mention: offensive rebounds. Whether it’s you or a teammate shooting – follow the shot. You might find there are easy points in the offering.

Building Endurance and Physical Fitness

Basketball is a fast-paced game, and if you’re not fit enough, you’ll quickly find yourself behind every play. This means that, besides working on your skills, it’s important to have a workout routine to improve your physical fitness. 

  • Strength: Improving your upper body and core strength can pay real dividends on the court, so consider adding exercises like chin-ups, bench presses and push-ups to your routine. 
  • Endurance: Build up cardio fitness and those slow-twitch muscle fibres with exercises like running, cycling or swimming. Complete 30-45 minutes several times per week.

Understanding and Utilising Team Plays

Basketball is a team sport so your personal skill set or physical fitness won’t count for much unless the whole group plays well. One way to improve your contribution to the whole team is to understand the plays that your coach gives you. Whether these are zone defence plays, offensive transitions or anything else, you’ll want to be comfortable with plays.

  • Draw them up: Whether it’s you or the coach, drawing a play on the whiteboard and then putting it into action on the court is a vital skill. It takes practice, but once you and the team are well-rehearsed at visualising and executing plays, it’ll all come together.
  • Practice in context: If you’re practising a defensive play against no opposition, for example, you and the team won’t really understand how it works and how to use it. Try practising plays with opposition where possible.

Analysing and Improving Weak Areas

Sure, your coach might give you some great feedback, but to truly improve, you need to be able to step back and analyse your own game. If you can turn your limitations into opportunities and excel at your strengths, you’ll be on the right track.

Exercise: Try listing your strengths and weaknesses. Take out a pen and paper and divide the page into two columns with ‘Strengths’ and ‘Weaknesses’ as the headings. Maybe you’re great at shooting from the three-point line but not so great at making free throws. It could be that you struggle to follow up defensively because you’re not fit enough. You might rate yourself as a pretty great dribbler or defensive rock. Whatever you end up with on the page, you’ll have a much better idea about where to focus your training.

Incorporating Basketball Drills in Practice

Getting the basics right is important, no matter what level of player you are. To stay sharp and keep improving, include some of the following skills drills in your practice routine:

  • Shooting: Focus on shooting and your team will benefit. If you’re already comfortable with BEEF, try incorporating more advanced techniques or situational training. You might try shooting while under direct pressure or incorporating screens.
  • Passing: Often, an effective pass is the best option for the team – whether to set up a shot, move down the court or get out of trouble. One great drill is a game of 3 vs 2, in which one team outnumbers the other. It means there’s always a spare player for the team with 3, making this a great format for learning to pass while under some pressure.
  • Dribbling: One way to practise dribbling is to coach players through movements. Have everyone line up and run the court while dribbling. Have players change hands, speed up or slow down, or dribble low.

Learning from Professional Players

How do you get better at basketball without ever leaving the couch? Watching the pros in action is a great way to start. And we’re not just talking about casually watching a game – this is all about purposeful analysis.

Exercise: Next time you’re sitting down to watch a game, bring a pen and paper. Pick a player and watch how they play. Where are they positioned? How do they move? What are they doing when they don’t have the ball? What are they doing when they have it? Write down your observations. This exercise is essentially what players and coaches do in match reviews and research, and it’s a great way to learn.

Staying Motivated and Consistent in Practice

Working hard and practising regularly will help improve your basketball game, but it can be hard to stay motivated. Remember to reflect on your own improvements regularly and to be positive and encouraging with yourself. Any improvement you see or feel – maybe you’re hitting those threes regularly or feeling fitter – is cause for celebration. Understand your shortcomings, but enjoy the improvements. And, most of all, remember to have fun.

Build Your Own Training Ground

If you’re thinking about how to get good at basketball, you’ll eventually find that practice is the only answer. And, like the pros, having 24-hour access to a court can make all the difference. 

Explore the possibilities of your own at-home training ground from Dream Courts. Our basketball courts are available for indoor, outdoor or backyard play, with a huge range of customisable options for court materials, hoops, court size and more. Want to learn more about Dream Courts basketball courts? Get in touch with our friendly team today. 

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