Becoming a great basketball player doesn’t just happen. You have to work hard at it, and you have to work at it every day. Utilize the time you have by practicing productive drills that will build your fundamentals, and allow you to progress with more advanced drills. It is not necessary for you to have a basket, or even a ball, to complete all of these drills. You will however, need a lot of determination.
Do these fundamental drills every day, no matter what level you are at, in order to ensure you are implementing the necessary foundations you need for improvement. If you need assistance with any of these drills please go to xpertcoaching.com and check out our videos page, or visit the Xpert Coaching YouTube channel.
1. Form Shooting- If you have a basket to shoot at, use it. If not, use a wall or simply lay down on the ground.
If you are shooting at the basket focus on proper spacing between your feet, approximately shoulder width apart. This assures that your body is balanced. Position yourself near the basket to start, and step back as you feel more comfortable with your shot.
Your shooting foot should be slightly in front of the other foot. Your body should be square and aligned with your target, the basket. Knees should be bent, butt should be down, and your back should be as straight as possible so you are not hunching forward or leaning back.
Your shooting elbow should be aligned with your hip. This means it should not be inverted against your body or sticking out. The proper alignment of your elbow is critical in helping you keep your hand underneath the ball and straight toward the rim.
The ball should be sitting on the shooting pad of your hand, not the palm. Your fingers should be loose and not tightly gripping the ball. Wrist should be cocked back. Your hand and arm should form an “L” shape at the side of your shooting eye. The “L” should not be in front of your face, rather to the side so you are able to see the basket clearly.
After you are properly set up, now you can shoot the basketball. Your eyes need to be fixated on the back of the rim. It is best to not take your eyes off the basket. Some shooters like to follow the flight of the ball, so you need to figure out what works best for you.
It is imperative you start the shot with your feet and then your knees. Use your lower body to push your momentum to your hand and wrist. This will give your shot high lift, giving it a better chance of going through the rim.
Extend your arm when you release the ball, and snap your wrist at the top of your release. Hold your follow through to ensure you are keeping everything straight to the basket. If you notice your wrist pointing in either direction, the ball is going to follow.
Use this same process when shooting against a wall. Focus on a specific point on the wall and shoot towards it.
If you are lying on the ground, focus on proper wrist action and your follow through. The trajectory of the ball should be straight. The ball shouldn’t go behind you or in front of you when it comes back down. If this happens you are not extending your arm upward or you are not holding your follow through in the air.
2. Mikan Drill- This drill is not just for post players. If you want to be an effective basketball player you have to make layups. This drill forces you to focus on keeping your eyes on the rim, and finishing with both hands. Try to make a certain number in a row so you are compelled to concentrate.
This drill is great for improving footwork. You want to ensure you are using a proper two-step finish on both sides. The goal is to get the ball out of the net as quickly as possible and continue onto the other side using the right footwork. If you are taking more than two steps in between each layup, you are not doing this drill correctly. You should eventually progress so you only need to take one step in between every layup.
This drill focuses on rebounding and keeping the ball high and away from the defense. Grab the rebound out of the net as you would the rebound in a game. Keep the ball high and protected against your body. These are great habits that will make you a better rebounder, and stronger with the ball when you finish. Even if there is no defender present, complete the drill like there was someone guarding you.
The Mikan Drill is great for hand-eye coordination, which you need to become a complete basketball player. There are few drills out there that incorporate so many important fundamentals of the game.
3. Off-the-Wall Passing- Start out standing close to the wall with one arm fully extended. Using one hand on the ball, rapidly pound the ball against the wall. Focus on using your fingertips and not your palm when pounding the ball off the wall. Repeat for the other hand.
Next step back to a distance of about 10 feet from the wall. Work on your chest passes, bounce passes, overhead passes, and one handed passes. With each variation concentrate on stepping into the pass and finishing toward the wall, meaning your hands or hand should be pointed towards the direction you want to the ball to go. If the ball doesn’t return off the wall into your hands, which should be ready to catch at your chest, than adjustments need to be made.
4. Stationary Crossovers- Use a tennis ball if you really want to challenge yourself. In a stationary position, work on front crossovers, between the legs crossovers, behind the back crossovers, and triangle crossovers (between the legs, behind the back, front crossover). Stay low when doing these dribble moves and focus on not looking down at the ball.
5. Jump Rope- Utilize any jump rope routine. Jumping rope is great for agility, quickness, footwork, and cardio. These are all important elements to performing at a high level on the basketball court.