How to Get Better at Basketball: Tips for Players

Basketball Dribbling Drills


Welcome to ‘How to Get Better at Basketball: Tips for Players,’ your go-to resource for unlocking your full potential on the court. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to elevate your game to the next level, this guide is packed with expert advice, proven techniques, and actionable tips to help you improve every aspect of your basketball skills. From mastering the fundamentals to honing advanced maneuvers, join us as we embark on a journey to enhance your shooting, dribbling, defense, and overall basketball IQ. Get ready to step up your game, outmaneuver your opponents, and make your mark on the court like never before.


5 Factors to Increase Your Value as a Basketball Player


5 Factors to Increase Your Value as a Basketball Player

Alvin Brooks contributed to this portion of the article.


Every basketball student-athlete wants to play in the game; most student-athletes do not want to come out of the game. As a player, you need to be looking for ways to increase your value. You want to provide so much value to your team that your coach can’t help but play you as much as possible. Here are five factors that will make a player too valuable for a coach to take out of the game.


Be the Best Player at Drawing Fouls

Players that are best at drawing fouls create an advantage for their team. They give their team a chance to quickly get to the shooting bonus while also giving personal fouls to their opponents. More than likely, the opponent’s best defender or best shot-blocker will get into foul trouble. It will make it a lot easier for the offense to take advantage of a weaker defense than usual. Players that are best at drawing fouls are strong with the ball, use pump fakes, and create and take contact.

According to The New York Times, James Harden drew the most fouls this past regular season and shot 881 free throws. Harden’s frequent trips to the line helped his team have a high free throw attempt rate. Free Throw Attempt Rate measures the percentage of field goals attempted that feature a free throw attempted. The formula for free throw rate = FTA/FGA. A good FTA rate would be around 25-28%. Here is a list of the top 7 NBA players that attempted the most free throws this past regular season:



Earn Trips to the Foul Line

The players who made the most free-throw attempts during the regular season.




80-90% Free Throw Percentage

Shooting 80-90% at the free-throw line is elite, depending on the player’s position and level of play. The higher the percentage a player shoots, the more points they will be able to average. Russell Westbrook led the NBA with 31.6 points per game average in the regular season.

Westbrook averaged 8.8 points a game from free throws due to shooting 84.5% on 840 attempts. He almost averaged double figures from making just free throws per game. Be elite and take advantage of these free shots.



Be the Best Rebounder on the Team

Missed shots are a part of the game and must be expected. Every team’s goal is to outrebound its opponent, and the best rebounders in basketball will always play for winning teams. The Detroit Pistons led the NBA with 88.8 team field goal attempts per game.

The Pistons missed 48.9 field goals a game, which is 45% of their shot attempts. Andre Drummond benefited from the misses and was top 3 of every rebounding category: 345 offensive rebounds (1st), 771 defensive rebounds (3rd), and 1,116 total rebounds (1st). Due to his elite rebounding, he played 63% of available Center minutes for the Pistons.

Your coach will find minutes for you if you can dominate the glass and provide extra possessions on offense and finish defensive stands.



Be the Best Defender on the Team

The best defender usually affects the game, and it is hard to keep off the court for coaches. For example, Rudy Gobert is 7’1” and weighs 250 pounds but plays 71% of available Center minutes for the Utah Jazz. Gobert is hard to keep off the court because he led the NBA in Defensive Win Shares this past regular season with 6.

Defensive Win Shares measures the number of wins a player’s defense has a direct impact on. The formula for defensive win shares can be found here if you are looking for more information on the breakdowns.

Be the best defender on the court, and you will play a lot of minutes. It will be more about effort than skill, but technique and IQ are also needed.



Best at Defensive Versatility

Versatility on defensive shows that a player can defend multiple positions. If a defender is versatile and can guard multiple positions, they will be unexpendable. For a high school or college coach, we can have our players play one on one to see how many positions our players can defend.

Draymond Green led the NBA in Defensive Box Plus/Minus with five this past regular season. Defensive Box Plus/Minus measures the player’s defensive contributions in terms of adjusted plus-minus, or how many defensive points a player saves while on the court.

Because he was so versatile and able to guard multiple positions, he could impact the game on the defensive end at a much higher rate than he would’ve if he could only guard a small forward position.



5 Factors to Increase Your Value as a Basketball Player Conclusion

Good basketball coaches understand what is needed to win games, and they want to play the players that will give them the best chance to win. These five factors are all ways coaches are looking for when they sit down and determine who they should be handing minutes out to. So if you want to increase your chances of playing or increase the minutes, you are already getting, lock in on these five factors and increase your value as a player.




The Basketball Player’s #1 Job – Coach Yourself


The Basketball Player's #1 Job - Coach Yourself

Randy Brown contributed to this portion of the article.


Coaching yourself is a skill each player has and can use regularly. 100% of the time you are on the floor, lifting, or watching film, you are constantly pushing yourself to do the right thing. IF you have to, think of it as an internal voice, always “coaching yourself.”

It means everything you know about what to do as a player; you take responsibility to discipline yourself. That way, your coach won’t have to correct or make comments on your play constantly.

Good Players Coach Themselves!


Here are some of my thoughts on ways that you can coach yourself as a player. Also, for coaches, this is a great list to pass on to your players.

  • Constantly think about the game and coach yourself. Don’t make your coach “coach” you all practice and during games. You, coach you!
  • On ball defense, if you get beat, choose the proper angle, sprint, and defend again.
  • Success is in the details.
  • Everyone has a role, and that role is essential to team success.
  • Play physical defense without fouling.
  • Show the ref your hands.
  • Take it out of the ref’s hands. (do not allow the ref to call a foul).
  • With a gap, know where you are on the floor. Are you in the half-court, top of the key, or in the lane?
  • The game never changes. The skills you learn one day, transition to the next day, and so on. The game is the same.
  • Remember that each skill taught is a part of a bigger picture. Here is an example. On defense, you start with a defensive stance, add vision, sprint to the ball, communicate, help-side defense, get through screens, rotate, help and recover, and more. You are taught one then the next until your whole “team defense” has been taught, drilled, broken down, repeated, and improved each day.
  • Good players take instruction from the locker room to the practice floor to the game without losing intensity or quality.
  • When you go for fake or raise out of your stance, you’ll get beat.
  • We all know what to do in every situation, but we don’t always do the right thing. Become a disciplined player. Disciplined players are great players, not the guys who play through the air and dunk.
  • Never let your offense (a missed shot or turnover) impact your game. You are going to miss shots and turn it over….sprint back and help your team on the next play.
  • Judge angles as you get beat on the dribble. Pick an angle that will allow you to catch up and continue guarding the ball.
  • The next shot is the most important.
  • Use two hands and much as possible when rebounding the basketball, passing, and catching.
  • Help your team win by fouling less and getting to the line more. And shoot a higher percentage from the line than your opponent. This will win close games!
  • Five players on defense have to be and stay connected. All five know where all teammates are.
  • The most selfish thing you can do in basketball is failing to communicate.
  • Echo information that is given by the coach to the rest of the team.
  • Run out of the game at the same speed you ran into the game with.
  • Listen with your eyes and listen with a purpose; don’t just “hear.”
  • The tougher team usually wins.
  • Toughness is much more mental discipline than physical.
  • When finishing at the rim, expect contact, play through the contact, and keep your eyes open during contact.
  • A good example of overtraining is demanding two hands on every ball. In time, 90% of the time in games and practice, two hands will be done automatically.
  • Practice should be harder than the game with overtraining. The game is for having fun, competing, executing, teamwork, and winning.
  • Losing teams treat practice like a dress rehearsal and go half-speed with poor concentration and listening. Great teams pour out all they have in practice to ensure a great effort and execution in the game.
  • Games are won in practice.
  • Listen during timeouts as if you were just subbed into the game.
  • Get your foot completely over the defender’s foot to win the foot war.
  • Use your legal 90-degree armbar to hold off the defender, and then with the other arm, provide a target hand while you win the foot war. You’ll get open every time!
  • A player’s role is about what they can and need to do to help your team win. A role is not about what you can’t do.
  • First, be accountable; then, help keep teammates be accountable too.
  • If you think the little things are boring, you’ve never played on a championship team.
  • On offense without the ball—don’t watch the ball; the ball will find you.
  • The screener is usually the one who gets open on a screening action.
  • The action is away from the ball on offensive and defense. It’s the 4 on 4 game away from the ball where the next play is coming from.
  • Sprint to the ball on defense; don’t jump to the ball.
  • Study your defender with and without the ball. Study his feet, stance, body language, vision, read his eyes, study him vs. screens, block-outs, guarding the post, and when he likes to reach.
  • Have a purpose for your dribble. Use it to drive to pressure the defense into helping, creating a better passing angle, spacing, advancing the ball up the floor, and avoiding or reducing pressure.




Removing Excuses in Basketball


Removing Excuses in Basketball

One of the easiest (and unfortunately, one of the most common) ways to avoid potential situations where you might experience failure is to come up with excuses. It is natural as humans to use excuses to help us justify why we won’t be able to accomplish something. In life, excuses come in all forms. With basketball, though, they are pretty much narrowed down to, too short, not quick enough, not strong enough, not fast enough, low basketball IQ, etc.

Players are constantly being evaluated from a young age and are critiqued based on what they are perceived to be able to do or not do. They allow themselves to be put into boxes created by other people’s criticisms, and even worse, they begin to place those same criticisms on themselves! Players become their own biggest doubter based on what other people are saying about them. Their own mind is now creating their limits, and instead of figuring out a way to overcome them, they are using them as an excuse for failure.

Too many players (and people in general) allow different perceived limitations to determine so much about them, instead of working and overcoming perceived limitations like being a little bit shorter, not as highly recruited, not built like the next LeBron James, etc. They allow these perceived limitations to define them and determine what they are capable of.

This article aims to get you out of this type of fixed mindset and negative approach to your game and life as a whole. If you can have confidence in yourself and are willing to back it up with your best effort and hard work every day, there is no telling what you are capable of.



Personal Basketball Experience

One of the reasons I am so passionate about this topic is because of my playing history. To make a long story short, I went from not receiving a single college scholarship offer (from any level) to walking on at a division 1 school, earning a scholarship, scoring over a thousand points in my college career, being one of the best shooters in the country, and playing professionally in Europe.

If I would’ve listened to the limitations that others placed on me, I would’ve never even allowed myself to have a chance at all of those things. One thought in my mind of, “I didn’t get any offers, I guess I am not good enough to play,” could’ve changed my entire life plan.

Not every player’s story ends up like mine, but if you allow yourself to come up with excuses, you will never even get the chance to prove what you are capable of.

I am so passionate about this topic because I have seen way too many players in my coaching and training career that have allowed themselves to be limited by excuses. They allowed themselves to believe that it couldn’t be done for one reason or another, and because they bought into this idea, it became true.

I look at similarly skilled players all the time. One player has the mental toughness to do whatever it takes, and the other has the mindset of limiting themselves with excuses. The difference between the two similarly skilled players is night and day. You must have the mentality of anything being possible if you want a chance to do something extraordinary.


When the Rubber Meets the Road

At this point in the article, I hope that I have done my job and have you fully believing that you can overcome any perceived limitation that you may have and that you are willing to run through a wall if need be. However, that is just the first part of the equation. Your mindset is a huge part of getting rid of excuses, and it is definitely the first step, but without also following it up with action, it doesn’t do much good.

I have always heard the saying, “when the rubber meets the road,” and I thought this is the perfect time to use it. I looked up the phrase’s meaning because I wanted to use the exact definition, and I really liked what it said. Here is what I found, “When something is about to begin, get serious, or be put to the test.” This is perfect when talking about what needs to be done next.

Believing in yourself is great, but if you are not willing to put the work in and “begin, get serious, and put yourself to the test,” it really is for nothing. It wasn’t enough for me to believe that I was good enough to play college basketball. I had to work every day and prove to people that I was good enough.

As a player, you may find yourself in a similar situation with playing in high school, college, or professionally. This means that it is up to you to prove what you are capable of. It doesn’t matter what others say about what you are capable of; it is up to you to work and show what you can do.

You don’t need to talk and complain about other people; just put in the work, and there will be no doubt about what you are capable of.




Why Not You?

There are so many different stories of players that were doubted in college or overlooked coming into the NBA, but they believed in themselves, put in the work, and then proved that they belonged. From players like Steve Nash, who only received one scholarship offer and then went on to be a two-time NBA MVP, or more recently, Stephen Curry, who was told he was too small and slow to play, but is now a two-time MVP and has multiple championship rings.

The list goes on and on, and the natural tendency is to see them as inspirational stories but not believe that you could do the same thing. Don’t fall into that trap! There is no reason why you, as a player, can’t be one of those same stories. It may not happen right away, and you may end up having a story like Jonathan Simmons, who took years to break into the NBA.

Not everyone’s journey is the same, so don’t give up on yours just because it looks different than everyone else’s. So I want you to ask yourself this question, Why Not Me? Ask yourself that question every day and use it for motivation. Why can’t you be one of the players with a story like Steve Nash, Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard, Isaiah Thomas, or one of the other players that everyone said wouldn’t make it? WHY NOT YOU?


Removing Excuses in Basketball Conclusion

After reading this article, you may be feeling invincible and that nothing can stop you from accomplishing your goals, and that is great! However, the reality is that you may fail and you may not make it, but wouldn’t you rather give everything that you have and know that you gave your best? I know that I would!

There is no guarantee that if you believe in yourself and work your absolute hardest that you will accomplish everything you want, no one can. I can guarantee, though, that if you do not do those things, you will never even get the chance.



Being Okay With Failure in Basketball


Being Okay With Failure in Basketball


At first glance, you are probably thinking, “Why would you want to be okay with failure?” However, if you think about it, there isn’t anything of significance done without first going through failure.

A game-winning shot doesn’t happen without missing hundreds and even thousands of shots leading up to that point. You don’t become a great player without first playing (and usually losing to) players that are older, bigger, and better than you. And you don’t automatically master every new and challenge, basketball drill, or move you attempt; you master it after you have gone through failure to get there.

Unfortunately, today’s culture has become a culture that is afraid to fail and even put themselves in situations where there is a potential for failure. Failure isn’t fun, so it is avoided at all costs. You should never enjoy failure, but you should never be afraid of it either.

If you want to be great, you must be willing to put yourself in uncomfortable positions where there might even be a high probability of failure. The two areas that I want to address in this article for basketball players are personal skill development and the competition you choose to play against.


Basketball Skill Development

As a trainer, one of the biggest roadblocks I run into when working with younger players is the player’s willingness to get out of their comfort zone and to spend time working on something that they are not good at. If they don’t have immediate success, they get frustrated and want to move onto something else.

This type of mindset leads to having areas of your game that never get fully developed. You see this all the time with players that are one dimensional. You have good shooters who can’t handle the ball or vice versa with players who can handle the ball but don’t shoot it consistently.

What you need to realize is that it is okay to fail. It is okay to not be good at something at the start, and that it may take countless hours, reps, and failures before you master a specific skill. If you are not okay with failure, you will never be able to push through. Learn to live with being uncomfortable, and always be challenging yourself with your basketball training.


Playing Basketball

One of the best things about being a younger basketball player is that it is easy to find older players that are better than you to play against. I remember growing up as a 14/15-year-old and playing with college players and grown men.

It took me a long time to start winning games, but losing all those games and playing against better competition helped me develop my game so much. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. When I did play against players my own age again, I had the confidence and the skill set to do what I wanted on the court. The only reason I was able to do that is because I was willing to go through failure and losing against better players.

I show up to the gym now, though, to play pick up as one of the “grown men,” and I hardly ever see any younger kids in the gym playing. I know there are practices, games, AAU, etc. but during the offseason, you should be finding a gym to play at and get better.

Be willing to go toe to toe with someone older, bigger, and better than you and then compete your tail off. Take your losses and keep getting better until one day you are competing, and then finally handing out losses of your own.


Being Okay With Failure in Basketball Conclusion

Growth doesn’t happen without struggles. So even though it isn’t fun to fail, it is an integral part of life and should be learned from as it happens. Failure is a vital part of growing and developing in the game of basketball and life. The key is always to be learning from it and allowing it to make you a better, stronger player and person.



5 Ways to Earn Playing Time in Basketball (Outside of Scoring)


5 Ways to Earn Playing Time in Basketball

Brock Morris contributed to this portion of the article.


Every player wants to earn more playing time. But I have found a lot of players do not know things they could do to earn more playing time. A lot of young players believe if they score points, then success will follow. There are 12 scholarship players who are not the leading scorer for every leading scorer on a college roster.

In college basketball, there are approximately (due to some possible ties) 351 leading scorers. That leaves about 4,212 scholarship players who are non-leading scorers. So out of the 4,563 scholarship players in NCAA division one college basketball, only 7% are their team’s leading scorer.

If you are one of the other 93%, what are you doing to get more playing time? We will discuss five ways to catch your coach’s attention and earn more playing time in this basketball article for players.


Know Your Role on the Team

Humility can be defined as knowing and accepting your strengths and weaknesses. If you are a shooter, be a shooter. If you are a distributor, be a distributor. Your role may be to rebound, post up, and finish dump-offs around the rim; if so, be the best.

For some players, they are truly able to do it all, and if that is the case, then, by all means, please do it all. What I have found is most players do not know who they are. They want to be the guy who can do it all, but they are not great in that role.

You see this regularly in college basketball: players who can’t really shoot but want to shoot. Be a GREAT TEAM PLAYER, a guy who relishes the opportunity to guard the opposing team’s best player or the player who wants to set the best screens on the team to get the scorer open.

Typically, those guys find a way to play. Coaches love the guys who are the best defenders, best screeners, best rebounders, or best energy guys. If you want to immediately increase your opportunity to play, become great at something that no one else wants to do.



Take Care of the Basketball

Everyone turns the ball over. Not just the point guard or the secondary ball handler. If you constantly cost your team possessions with bad passes or bad shots, you are not reliable. It is no secret that turnovers and bad shots hurt a team’s performance.

During the 2015-16 NCAA men’s basketball regular season, 17 out of the bottom 20 teams in TO% had losing records. On the flip side, 16 out of the top 20 teams in TO% had a winning record. So, if you are looking to stay on the court, DO NOT TURN THE BALL OVER!

A big part of this is knowing the areas on the court that you should stay out of and the situations that will get you into trouble. Depending on what position you play, these areas and situations will vary, but you must recognize them and do your best to avoid them or be extra ball conscious when in them.



Play Defense

The best defender usually plays. A basketball team does not need everyone to be able to score. A great team usually has someone, if not more than one person, who is a great defender. This is the person who takes on the other team’s best player, craves the challenge, and lifts the team energy by doing so.

Great teams take pride in defense. The top 10 defensive efficient (DER) teams in the country, according to Kenpom, played in the NCAA tournament or the NIT. Not one team from the bottom 10 DER played in the postseason. So if you are looking to get on the court, figure out how to become a great defender.



Produce in Basketball Games

You must produce. In life, these three words will always be true. It does not matter what your reputation is, who your parents are, or what you think you are owed. If you do not produce, then you will not play.

Now, producing for each player is different from one to the next. Going back to roles, if you are a shooter, then you must hit shots, if you are a distributor, then you must have a great assist to turnover ratio, if you are a rebounder, then you must rebound at a higher rate than your teammates.

Whatever your role is, you must produce. To produce good results, you must know your role and accept your role. A great quote by Tristan Thompson after the 2016 NBA Finals was, “I am a superstar in my role.”

Be Efficient as a Player

This is the one key factor I believe is being lost on today’s player. This one element ties all of the other four into a nice neat bow. I have heard this line before, “coach, I scored twenty-five points tonight by hitting four threes’, four dunks, and five free throws.”

Before I praise this valiant effort, I must know the answer to one question, “how many shots did it take you to score twenty-five points?” If it takes you thirteen three-point attempts to hit four, ten layup opportunities to make four, and ten free throw attempts to make five, then we have a problem. There will be games where a scorer may not shoot well, but if this is a consistent stat line, it is not good.

In today’s world of final box score promotion, efficiency is lost. While your final point total looks great in the local paper, you are not a very efficient basketball player.

These types of players will kill a basketball team’s culture. The guys in that locker room all believe they could score twenty-five points on twenty-three field goal attempts and ten free throw attempts. These players do not play.



5 Ways to Earn Playing Time in Basketball Conclusion

If you want to increase your playing time, follow this simple game plan. If you already have as much playing time as desired, become better at these five principles to improve your team’s performance. Always be striving to master your role, hold yourself accountable, and be the best player that you can be.



Developing Good Player Habits in Basketball


Developing Good Player Habits in Basketball

Mike McGarvey contributed to this portion of the article. 


Every basketball coach wants to help their players make smart decisions. Nevertheless, many basketball players have bad habits and tendencies that could limit the full potential of a team’s success. Those players and teams need training to develop good player habits. In this basketball article, I discuss some of the more common individual player habits that prevent teams from reaching their full potential on offense and recommend some basketball drills to use in practice that may help remedy these inhibiting habits.



The Basketball Player Who Wastes Their Dribble

We’ve all witnessed it at some point. This player’s first instinct is to dribble the ball as soon as they catch it, which puts him or her at an immediate disadvantage. The defensive player no longer has to wonder what the offensive player plans to do with the ball. Perhaps most importantly, the timing and spacing of the offense have likely been disrupted.

So, as a basketball coach faced with this frustrating tendency with your players, what can you do to break the habit? In addition to emphasizing it verbally within your team, a successful method I’ve found is to practice team basketball drills with imposed dribble limitations: practice 5v5 full-court and half-court with no dribbles. Then add a maximum of one dribble or two dribbles. Take a look at how the offense’s efficiency changes depending on how many dribbles are allowed in the drill.

When conducting off-season workouts, play 1v1, 2v2, and 3v3 basketball competition drills with a three-dribble maximum. If you consistently implement these types of dribble limitations, I think you will notice your players valuing the advantages of keeping the “dribble alive” and becoming more efficient with their use of the bounce.


Basketball Players Who Stand and Watch when the Ball is Entered Into the Post

Most basketball coaches teach their desired action off of a post entry. If you currently do not have a post-entry action, I suggest you think about implementing one to add some focus to your offense when the ball goes down low. Some common post-entry actions include the cut/fill, repost/relocate, and screening the nearside elbow. However, many times, basketball players do not run the post-entry action with the urgency needed to be successful off of a post touch.

My suggestion for enhancing your players’ ability to play off the post is to place a limitation on the offense during practice that prevents a shot from being taken until the ball is entered to the low/high post at least two or three times. This should teach your players to consciously seek post touches and learn how to make good passes and catches to/from the post.

It will also help your players think about executing their movement following the post entry pass. Practicing with these limitations will help you coach whatever your desired actions are and help your team form good habits playing off of post touches.


Basketball Players Lacking Meaningful Dribble Penetration

There is no better way to dissect a defense than with the efficient use of purposeful dribble penetration.  There is a tremendous value that can be realized by a team of players who move the ball as a single unit, attack closeouts, keep good spacing, make hard cuts off drives, and ultimately make smart decisions when penetrating the defense.

My suggestion to help improve your basketball team’s ability to penetrate with purpose is by practicing competitively with points rewarded for driving the ball to desired locations on the floor (i.e., the paint, elbow, or baseline). With an added incentive, your players will look to drive the ball more than usual. Additionally, there will be more opportunities to execute your desired action (player movement) off dribble penetration for baseline and middle drives.

The more you practice it, the more confident your players will be when it happens in in-game situations. Let’s also not forget the improvements we’ve made with over-dribbling in No. 1. Dribble penetration with purpose is typically accomplished with only one, two, or three dribbles!



Developing Good Player Habits in Basketball Conclusion

These are some of the bad habits I see most commonly from basketball players of all ages and skill levels. From youth basketball to the professional-level, there is always room for improvement. I hope these examples and recommendations encourage you to think of unique ways to increase your team’s offensive efficiency moving forward.



The Will to Be Great in Basketball



The Will to Be Great in Basketball

Coach Parrish contributed to this portion of the article. 


I am sure that most of you watched the BCS Championship a few weeks ago in which Alabama manhandled Notre Dame (2013) in an extraordinary fashion. Being from Alabama, I am blasted with Alabama football for most of the year, which is tough being a basketball guy and an Auburn fan to boot, but I think, as coaches, we can learn a lot from Crimson Tide Head Coach Nick Saban.

What he has done and accomplished in his profession is nothing short of remarkable in this day and age, not just in the college football world, but in sports and life in general. To be as successful as Saban has been in any endeavor would be viewed as awe-inspiring.

As basketball coaches and players, I am sure you all know how hard it is to be successful in a game, much less a season or a collection of seasons. Success is hard to come by in any walk of life. That is why we marvel at those that achieve great things in whatever field it may be in. Many people may write it off as a person being lucky or perhaps hitting the genetic lottery and being gifted in their chose field.

While luck, intelligence, or other natural gifts might play a role in a person’s success, it is simply not fair to write it off as simply one of these things only. Almost all of those who have had a large amount of success have one thing in common. That is their undying will to be great and their understanding of what it takes to be great!

At the end of the championship game, Saban was asked how long he would enjoy the win, and he said for 48 hours. Think about that for a minute. He had just won back to back National Championships and his third in four years. He is and has been at the pinnacle of his profession and will only enjoy it for two days (he actually said he was going to get back to work on Wednesday, which was considerably less than the 48 hours).

It would be easy for him to say that I will take two weeks off and go on vacation where it is warm and not think about anything related to football, and no one would have a problem with that. People would say there is no doubt he has earned that. It would appear to me that Coach Saban believes that his work is never done and that the process of becoming great is never finished.

It is human nature to relax and become complacent after accomplishing great things. People start telling you how great you are and what you have done is remarkable, and sooner or later, you start to believe it. As that happens, you slowly move away from things that got you into the position and begin to slip.

As a player, you decide to take fewer reps or don’t take as much time working out in the weight room. Sooner or later, it will catch up with you. The same is true for coaches. We do not watch as much film prepping for opponents or looking for ways to better our basketball team, and usually, when this happens, it hurts the team.

It is important to realize your game or your basketball team will never reach true perfection. Therefore, there is always something to work on and improve. Coach Saban’s remarks made me think of this and how important it is to continue to fight against complacency with our undying will to be great.



10 Basketball Fundamentals for Players to Master


10 Fundamentals for Basketball Players


I saw this basketball article the other day, and the title was “Learn 100 Signature NBA Moves” (or something along those lines). I thought to myself, “Why are kids being taught ‘NBA moves,’ let alone a hundred different NBA moves when most kids still struggle with the fundamentals of the game?”

Today’s game places so much attention on one on one moves that people lose track of what really makes a great player. If you watch and study the high-level NBA players, though, you will see that not only are they able to make some tough shots and moves, they do all of the little things well (the fundamentals).

Before they spent time working on the high-level shots and finishes, they mastered the fundamentals of the game to give themselves a strong foundation. You can’t leapfrog the basketball fundamentals and expect to be a great player. Even high-level players are continually spending time working on basketball fundamentals and reemphasizing good habits in their game.

This article is going to breakdown what you should be spending your time on as a player. If you commit to spending time mastering these ten different basketball fundamentals for players, you will have a chance to be great.


Basketball Fundamentals for Players Quick Links

Basketball Shooting Fundamentals for Players

If you take a minute to study the great shooters in the game of basketball, you will quickly realize that they don’t all shoot the same way. This shows that there is no one exact right form that you need to have to become an elite-level shooter. That being said, there are things that they all do exceptionally well, which allows them to shoot as well as they do. They have mastered the fundamentals of shooting a basketball, and those fundamentals have allowed them to become the best shooters in the world. So as a shooter, here are the fundamentals that you can be working on to increase your shooting percentage and overall shooting abilities.


  • Being Down Ready on Your Shot
    • Get your work done before the ball gets there.
    • Show your palms to give the passer a target.
    • Get your momentum moving towards the basket on the catch.
    • Make sure that you are squared up to the basket on your shot.
    • Don’t raise out of your athletic stance as you come into your shot.
  • Shooting Form
    • Get the ball loaded in your shooting pocket before you start to bring the ball up into your shot.
    • Keep a smooth, fluid motion coming into your shot.
      • Stephen Curry isn’t the biggest or strongest player in the game, but his shooting range is so great because his motion is so smooth.
    • Use your legs to help get the ball to the basket, don’t push with your arms.
  • Follow Through
    • Snap your wrist straight down.
    • Leave your hand in the basket.
    • Land on your toes and don’t be falling backward.
    • Hold your follow-through until you make or miss.
  • General Shooting Rules
    • If it is a good shot, shoot it with confidence.
    • Great shooters have a short memory.
    • Stay mentally tough even as you get fatigued.
    • Work on your shooting at game speed and practice shots you will get throughout a game.





Basketball Passing Fundamentals for Players

Passing the basketball is sometimes an underrated skill, but without it, entire offenses can shut down. A great passer can help their team by getting players the ball where they need it to be successful. They can also take care of the basketball and not turn it over with sloppy or lazy passes. This all starts with being able to stay under control and make quality on time, on-target passes. These basketball passing fundamentals will help you become a high-level passer who will get teammates the ball when and where they need it.


  • Chest Passes
    • Make your passes on a straight line.
    • Use your body to help snap the pass.
    • If passing to a shooter, hit them right in their shooting pocket.
  • Bounce Passes
    • Bounce the ball 3/4 of the way to the receiver so that the ball stays low and away from defensive hands.
    • Know who you are passing to. If the player you are passing the ball to cannot catch a difficult pass, don’t throw it.
  • Defended Passes
    • Fake a pass before you make a pass. This will help make sure that a defender’s hands cannot mirror the ball and deflect your pass.
    • Use your pivot to create a better passing angle. If a defender is standing directly in front of you, pivot around them to create a passing angle.
    • Be strong with the ball, and then step through to make the pass.
  • Off of the Dribble Passes
    • Don’t scoop the pass; push the pass. Scooping the ball off of the dribble before the pass takes longer and is not as accurate.
    • Stay low in an athletic stance as you make the pass.
    • Don’t stare down the receiver before making the pass.
  • General Passing Rules
    • Don’t leave your feet to pass as you will get stuck up in the air with nowhere to go.
    • Be careful of making cross-court passes where the defense can shoot the gap and steal the ball.
    • Don’t stare down the player you are making the pass to.
    • The longer the ball is in the air, the more high risk the pass is.
    • Know who you are passing to and what types of passes that they can handle.





Basketball Rebounding Fundamentals for Players

A lot of rebounding in basketball comes down to desire and effort, but it also has a lot to do with having the correct technique. You don’t need to be the biggest player on the floor, either. Some of the best rebounders in basketball to ever play were undersized. Players like Dennis Rodman, Ben Wallace, and Charles Barkley were all undersized but dominated the boards. They were able to do so because of a strong desire to rebound and have good rebounding fundamentals.


  • Boxing Out
    • Locate your opponent with your forearm before turning to box out.
    • Keep your arms up and wide on the box out to keep the offensive player from getting around you.
    • Stay low and in an athletic stance and use your legs to drive the offensive player back.
    • If the offensive player has an inside position, use your lower body to help drive them under the basket so that they don’t have a good rebounding angle.
      • Don’t extend your arms as you drive them under.
    • Locate the ball on the miss as quickly as you can.
    • Go up and secure the rebound with both hands.
    • Don’t wait for the ball to come down to you, but go up and get it.
  • Offensive Rebounding
    • Locate the ball off of the miss as quickly as you can.
    • Read the player boxing out and use one of these three moves.
      • Spin Move: Fake like you will angle past them on one side, and then when they slide to box you out, spin-off of them using their momentum to angle past them on the other side.
      • Swim Move: If the player boxing out doesn’t have a wide, strong base with one of their arms, come on that side of them and use a downward swimming motion with your arm over the top of theirs and use that motion to help angle yourself past them.
      • Under the Basket: If the player boxing out is too tight to the basket, use your lower body to help drive them under the basket so that they will not have an angle to the ball when it hits off of the rim.
  • General Rebounding Rules
    • You must have a stronger desire and fight to get the rebound than anyone else.
    • The quickest to react to the ball usually gets the rebound.
    • Use your body and legs to help create a space for yourself to rebound the ball.





Basketball Dribbling Fundamentals for Players

Dribbling the basketball or ball-handling is a big part of the game of basketball. It is also becoming a necessity for every position. Whether you are a point guard or a post player, being able to handle the basketball is going to be key. This does not mean over-dribbling or always looking to play one on one, though. It means bringing the ball up against pressure, creating for yourself or a teammate, etc. These basketball dribbling fundamentals will help you master all of the areas of becoming a great ball handler.


  • Ball Control
    • Handle the ball and put it where you want it to go.
    • Change up the speed of your dribble and use pauses to set up moves.
    • Use your dribble to go somewhere with the ball (don’t waste dribbles).
  • Change Up Speeds
    • Set up your dribbling moves by slowing down and then making an explosive move.
      • Don’t raise out of athletic stance when you pause.
    • Be able to stop on a dime to change directions or make a scoring move.
  • Sell Your Moves
    • Use your entire body to sell your moves, eyes, body position, footwork, etc.
    • Read the defender before setting up a move.
    • The longer you can pause the defender before making a move, the better the move will be.
    • If you can get the defender off balance with a move, they will be more susceptible to a second move because they will be trying to play catch up.
  • Ball Protection
    • Keep the ball away from the defense and active hands.
    • Don’t be predictable with your moves.
    • Use retreat dribbles to stay out of congested areas.
  • General Dribbling Rules
    • Dribble the basketball with purpose.
    • Play at different speeds and don’t be predictable.
    • Stay in an athletic stance when you are handling the ball.
    • Be under control, and don’t let the defense speed you up and get you out of control.





Moving Without the Ball Fundamentals for Players

Off the ball movement is a staple of any high-level offensive team, and if you look at the best offensive players, you will see that most of them move well off the ball. The better you can move off the ball, the more you will get high percentage shots. Whether it is cutting through the paint, using a down screen, or running the floor in transition for a shot, all of these will help you get more quality looks at the basket. So lock in on these moving without the ball fundamentals and allow yourself to get more quality scoring opportunities in games.


  • Hard Cuts
    • Always be a threat to score when you are cutting.
    • Set up your defender before you make your cut.
    • Keep your eyes up to see the passer on your cut.
    • Whether you get the ball or not, a hard cut can open up a scoring opportunity for a teammate.
  • Running the Floor
    • The First 3 steps need to be a dead sprint.
    • Get your eyes up and be ready for the pass.
    • Catch the ball under control and make a controlled move or finish.
    • Stay in your lane as you run to help spread out the defense.
    • Sprinting the floor will help to open up shots and finishes for your teammates.
  • Spacing
    • Don’t allow one defender to guard you and a teammate.
    • Drift or fill on penetration to help create space and a passing angle.
    • After you drive and kick, don’t stand. Relocate to create space and an opportunity for another drive and kick.
  • General Moving Without the Ball Rules
    • Move with a purpose and know why you are in the spot you are or why you are moving.
    • Read the defense and make them pay for overplaying or falling asleep.
    • Cut hard and be a threat to score whether you are going to get the ball or not.





Basketball Finishing Fundamentals for Players

If you think about it, the closer you are to the hoop, the easier it should be to score, as you can finish right at the basket. Unfortunately, though, the defense also knows this and will do its best to keep you away from the basket. That means that to be a great finisher, you will have to learn how to navigate the defense and use the correct finishing moves. Sometimes that will be a physical finish, a quick finish, or a crafty finish. The better you can master the fundamentals of finishing around the basket, the better you will be able to finish around or through defenders.


  • Finishing Through Contact
    • If you have an angle on your defender, don’t avoid the contact, but create it.
    • Finish with a strong base to help absorb contact.
    • Be strong with the ball, and don’t expose it to the defender.
  • Crafty Finishes
    • Use the rim to protect your finish from the shot blocker.
    • Get the ball up on the backboard quickly so that the shot blocker cannot touch the ball without it being goaltending.
    • Float the ball over the defender.
      • Make sure that you are under control and don’t pick up a charge.
    • Use change of position finishes to shake the defender; Euro Step, Pro Hop, Kobe Bryan Pound Pivot, Rondo Fake, etc.
  • General Finishing Rules
    • Develop both of your hands so that you don’t have a weak hand.
    • Stay under control and know what you want to do with your finish before leaving your feet.
    • Read the defender.
      • Do you have an angle to create contact?
      • Are they beat and over pursuing so you can shot fake them?
      • Should you be athletic over the defender or use a crafty finish?





Receiving the Pass Fundamentals for Players

The opposite side of passing the basketball is catching it, and while that sounds like something that shouldn’t be an issue, there are a lot of players that struggle with receiving the pass. This is especially the case against good team defenses, high-pressure situations, and when a player is running the floor. So the better you can master the fundamentals of receiving the pass, the easier it will be for you to catch the ball with confidence when you are playing against an aggressive defense or running full speed and need to gather a bad pass from a teammate.


  • Catching the Ball
    • Don’t wait for the ball to come to you; go meet it.
    • The higher the defensive pressure is, the more you need to shorten passes and meet the ball.
    • Catch the ball already in athletic positioning.
  • Two Hands
    • Receive every pass with two hands (if possible).
    • Catch the ball and bring it into a position of strength away from the defense.
  • Body Positioning
    • Use your body positioning to help create a passing angle against defensive pressure.
    • Show a target hand to the passer so that they know where you want the ball.
    • Don’t release your body positioning until you are going to meet the ball.
  • General Receiving the Pass Rules
    • The more defensive pressure there is, the more you need to help out the passer by shortening the pass and meeting the ball.
    • Don’t let an aggressive defender push you out away from where you want to receive the ball.
    • Catch the ball under control and stay out of trouble situations on the floor (the corners and other trapping situations).
    • Anticipate the defense before and as you are catching the ball, especially on closeouts.
      • If they closeout short, shoot the ball.
      • If they close out tight, attack with a rip-through move.





Basketball Triple Threat Fundamentals for Players

Whether you are looking to score or not, if you catch and hold the ball, you should be in triple threat position. This will allow you to be a threat to the defense and allow you to play from a position of strength if your defender tries to crowd your space. This is the basics of the triple threat. If you are really able to master the triple threat position, though, you will start exploiting defenses for yourself and teammates. These basketball triple threat fundamentals will allow you to build a strong foundation and work towards becoming a player who can exploit defenses.


  • Position of Strength
    • Catch the ball in a position of strength, and don’t let the defender force you onto your back foot with pressure.
    • Hide the ball on your back hip away from the defender.
  • Sell Your Moves
    • Use your eyes, the ball, and your jab foot to sell your moves.
    • Read the defender and read how they are guarding you before deciding on your move.
    • Don’t be predictable with your moves (don’t be a robot).
    • Play at different speeds. Playing slow to fast will help to get the defender to relax before making a quick, explosive move.
    • No wasted movements. The more unnecessary movements that you have, the more the defender can recover.
  • General Triple Threat Rules
    • Keep your eyes up and see the floor while you are playing from a triple threat position.
    • Only look to iso when it is part of the offense, and there is spacing for you to make a move.
    • Go somewhere with your dribble. It doesn’t matter how good your move is if you don’t make the defender pay by going by them with your dribble after the move.





Basketball Screens Fundamentals for Players

Screens are a huge part of the game of basketball. So if you can correctly set, use, and then read a screen correctly, you will put the defense at a disadvantage. However, this is easier said than done as there are many moving pieces in a screening action. There are the offensive players who must execute a good screen, but there is also the offensive spacing of the other players away from the screen. On the defensive side, there are different ways for teams to guard screens and the other players in the help. There are also different positions on the floor where screens can be set, time and score, etc. Needless to say, there is a lot that goes into the setting and use of screens in basketball; these fundamentals will help give you a strong base when it comes to screens and will help prepare you for all of these different situations.


  • Setting Screens
    • Take a great path to set the screen.
    • The angle of the screen needs to help the player coming off of the screen.
    • Make sure that you are low and wide on the screen.
    • Get set before making contact on the screen.
    • Don’t lean or throw your arms out.
    • Make the defense pay by slipping to the basket if they try to cheat and show early on your screen.
      • Must take a great angle to set the screen so that you can make the defense pay on the slip.
  • Using Screens
    • Set up your defender before using the screen.
    • Take a great angle to the screen.
    • Read the defender as you are using the screen and then make the appropriate cut or dribble move.
    • Stay low and athletic as you use the screen.
  • General Screen Rules
    • Work together with the other part of the screen to ensure that the defense is put at a disadvantage.
    • Look to read the defense to figure out the best cut or move off of the screen.
    • Give yourself proper spacing so that the help defenders are not able to interfere with the screening action.





Basketball Defensive Fundamentals for Players

“Defense wins championships!” I am sure you have heard that saying before, but it is true. What is also through, though, is that playing defense earns more minutes. Not only will playing better defense help your team win more games, but it will also help you earn more playing time. And while there is a lot that goes into playing good defense, it really comes down to a player’s effort, technique, and being able to think ahead and anticipate. With these defensive basketball fundamentals, you will be well on your way to becoming a lockdown defender in basketball.


  • Athletic Stance
    • Sit in an athletic stance (defensive stance) the whole time.
    • If you are standing up straight, you will have to load down to an athletic stance before making an explosive move, which makes you slower.
    • Being out of athletic stance makes you more susceptible to contact from cutting offensive players or post players ducking in.
  • On the Ball
    • Know who you are guarding and do your best to force them to a weakness.
      • Shooter, make them put the ball on the ground.
      • Slasher, play off of them and bait them into a contested shot.
      • Have a weak hand, play them to that hand.
    • Stay in an athletic stance and do your best to keep your chest centered with the offensive player and forcing them in a specific direction.
    • Keep your hands active and mirror the ball if the player picks it up.
    • Trust your help defenders and be alert for calls on screens.
    • Use your chest to cut the defender off and angle them where you want them to go; keep your hands off the ball handler.
    • Get a hand up and contest every shot.
  • Off the Ball
    • Communicate, communicate, communicate.
    • Stay in an athletic stance and keep your head on a swivel.
    • Anticipate where the ball is going, don’t react to it.
    • Be there on the catch. You want to be closing out your man/woman as the ball is still in the air on the pass.
    • Always know where your man/woman is and where the ball is.
    • Don’t allow your man/woman to get below you and out of your vision, or you will be susceptible to back cuts and lobs.
    • No free cuts through the paint.
      • Use your body to block the cutter and force them below you while staying connected with your body.
    • Fight through all screens (unless the game plan is to switch).
      • Communicate on all screens.
  • General Defensive Rules
    • Communicate your way through the entire defensive possession.
    • Understand what the offensive player is trying to do and then force them to do something they are uncomfortable doing.
    • Don’t gamble unless it is part of the team strategy. Stay disciplined and let your solid defense get the job done.
    • Fight and find a way to get it done.
      • Not every defensive possession will go perfectly, but it is your job to find a way to compete and get a stop.
    • Finish the defensive play every time with a box out and rebound.





Basketball Fundamentals for Players Conclusion

There are a lot of different points within these ten basketball fundamentals for players. Some of the points are pretty minor, while others are more significant. Regardless of the point, though, you should evaluate your game and note what areas you should be working on and spending time on.

The difference between the greats in anything in life is the details. If you want to set yourself apart from everyone else, spend time locking in on all of these basketball fundamentals and start mastering them.





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