Struggling? Need a few small pointers to get better?
It’s so often that people ask – “How do I get better at basketball?”
It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting out, or have played for a few years. Unless you’re playing in the NBA, chances are you’ll always have that drive to be better
As we all know, basketball is a challenging but extremely rewarding sport. It will keep you in shape, help you achieve personal goals, and is an extremely fun leisure activity at little to no cost.
Honing your skills to become a better player can be difficult, but with practice comes perfection, and there are numerous ways to bring these positive improvements to fruition.
That’s why you’re here right?
While there are so many tips, ways and methods to maintain consistency in your technique, here’s what we think are 10 changes to drastically improve your basketball game.
These can be implemented at any level. Obviously though, if you’ve been balling for years, there’s a high chance this list won’t help you out too much. For beginners, we guarantee you’ll reap the rewards later on.
#1. Eat Healthy and Stay Fit
Ever watched a pro competition?
It is nearly impossible not to notice how well trained and conditioned the athletes are.
While they have endless resources at their disposal to stay in shape, this does not mean you cannot achieve the same success in the comfort of your own home.
Having a good, well balanced diet, in accordance with a regiment for working out that is suitable for you will keep the fat off and improve agility and endurance.
However, everyone’s different. One particular diet may work for someone else, but not for you. It’s always best to do your research, and if you want to be serious, consult a nutritionist.
Hard work is not only done on the court – but also in the kitchen.
Most importantly – Don’t forget to drink water! Your body simply won’t function right if it’s dehydrated.
#2. Focus On Your Workout
While eating well balanced meals is integral to being in optimal condition, like we just said, it is merely half the battle to getting better at basketball.
Working out is absolutely crucial to having the stamina and energy to be dominant in the sport.
Not only that, but the more athletic you are, the better your body will recover – and the more basketball you can play!
It is absolutely essential to avoid overloading weight on the ankles and knees while at the gym, as these are the first two pitfalls in affecting your game if they are weakened.
Because so much stress is placed on the legs while playing, your exercises should put an emphasis on cardio, specifically on long distance running and if possible, muscular endurance.
Don’t kill yourself though! Not everyone will start out a professional – the first few months will hurt.
#3. A Good Warmup
Don’t ball on cold muscles.
To avoid pulling a hamstring or shocking your muscles into fatigue, it would cause you serious detriment to not start slow by engaging in a proper warm up.
A solid 20-30 minute warm up will do you wonders in the long term
This can include light running on the court, shooting free throws, and stretching. USA Basketball have a fantastic article talking all things warm up. We recommend you check it out.
If you’re just starting out and don’t think you need to warm up – or your peers aren’t warming up… just do it.
Warming up is nothing to be ashamed of.
It is done every day on the professional level. It is a smart and logical way to free your body before the forthcoming onslaught of activity it is about to participate in.
#4 Practice Dribbling
If you can’t dribble the ball, you need to work on it.
Not only that, but dribbling the basketball is an art and is not something that just comes to you overnight.
It is the most fundamental skill to basketball. Running without dribbling = travel
While seemingly easy with the use of gravity, just bouncing the ball and bouncing it effectively are not the same thing.
Dribbling well already gives you a leg up on your opponent by increasing the speed at which you can move and make decisions. A split second faster can be all the difference you need to blow past your competition or make the pass to win the game.
Practicing ball-handling for even 30 minutes a day can make you more comfortable on the hardwood, or our on the street court.
#5 Practice Passing
Fundamental number 2 – passing.
If you can’t pass, well you better be the best shooter of all time.
Passing is an absolutely underrated part of the sport. Some people assume that if you get rid of the ball you are electing not to take a shot. Not true.
Basketball is a team sport.
While assisting your teammates is smart, sometimes a pass can allow you the freedom to roam the paint or perimeter to take a better bucket.
Every pass rearranges the players on the court, and this can work to your advantage if you are able to circulate the ball swiftly and with authority.
And check it out … passing can lead to some absolutely wicked assists.
#6 Take Higher Percentage Shots
While we all love the rush of successfully making a 3-pointer, these are low percentage shots for a reason.
Like.. low, low percentage shots. Even in the elite levels, the average 3pt success rate is always less than 40%. Check out the graph below.
Unless you have all the time and space in the world, or chasing a huge margin – sometimes 3 point shots just aren’t gonna cut it.
Sometimes improving your basketball game means that you’ve got to make concessions on the court – in this case grabbing buckets that are given to you.
Mid to close range jumpers will not only add points to your final tally, but also do absolute wonders for your confidence. You’ll get into the flow and develop a rhythm after making several shots in a row.
So after you complete score a few bankers, nail those high percentage shots, then it will me so much easier to spread the choices throughout the court and shoot the ball at higher degrees of difficulty.
#7 Don’t Get Lazy On Defense
We all know, it doesn’t matter what level you play at – so many points are scored in a basketball game.
It’s a real shame that in the glitz and glamour, a lot of young players think defense is an unnecessary, or even ‘boring’ aspect of the sport.
In reality… it is the most important part. You can’t lose if you keep your opponent quiet. And every shot missed by your opponent is an added possession for you to widen your lead.
The previously mentioned workout regiment focused on endurance so you are able to run back and forth on defense without getting winded.
Some of the greatest players in the history of the sport were defensive guys who made a craft out of blocking and boxing out their competitors.
Height is always important when blocking shots, and reach is great to get those steals. But most importantly – put the effort in. A lazy defence is one that is easily exploited.
#8 More Chatter
Communication is not just key on and off the court to developing your basketball skills – it is absolutely CRUCIAL.
Speaking with your teammates is absolutely vital to get on the same page to exploit spacing and poor game planning on your opponents’ part.
Talk on screens. Talk on inbound plays. Talk when going on transition D. Talk between points.
It’s a small tip, but one of the most important when you’re serious about becoming a better baller.
Being abreast to plays and situations will keep your fingers on the pulse of the game, allowing you to be more efficient in how you participate in it.
#9 Analyse your own Game
If you can get someone down to your game or practice, watching tape of your performance can be incredibly helpful to highlighting your flaws.
Even if you are unable to view yourself play, taking a long hard look at your strengths and weaknesses can help you fix what you are lacking.
Don’t forget. You have teammates, coaches and friends who will be more than happy to offer constructive criticism. All you have to do is ask.
What is it you are good at?
What specific skill do you need to improve on the most?
The more honest you are with yourself, the more you can get to the root of the problem, and fix it.
#10 Have Fun
This really isn’t a tip. But it’s a real kicker.
You might wonder how enjoying yourself can eliminate poor game play. The reality of the matter is, being a part of a stress-free game loosens you up and allows you to not fill your head up with fear.
Instinct is the biggest X-factor in basketball. Because of this it is wise to trust your reaction time and not your doubts.
A confident player will beat an unconfident player – especially if you’re at a similar talent level.
The more unstoppable you feel you can be, the more it will translate to well rounded performance on the court.
Having fun is key.
If you don’t enjoy basketball – then really, why are you playing it?
Sometimes the smallest alterations you make to your game can be the most rewarding.
These 10 changes may not make you Michael Jordan, but your momentum from improvement will be insurmountable.
Becoming a better player means micromanaging what works and what doesn’t. Use that, and improve upon those ideas with practice, diligence, and precision.