Basketball is a very competitive game. While professional games don’t involve as much trash talk as streetball traditionally does, it is still a sport in which you have to bring your best to every game. With respect and reputation on the line, you may not have time to adopt a complete and comprehensive training program.
Make no mistake: You should adopt a dedicated training program if you are serious about the game. But, for those who need some improvements right away, we offer the following eight tips that, if followed correctly, will help to give you that little edge that will see you through and gain you the victory.
8 Tips To Improve Your Basketball Skills
These tips are presented in no particular order. Be aware that these are not your only options, but are merely our top eight pieces of advice.
1. Do Plenty Of Dribbling Exercises
Dribbling is the most essential movement of the game. Think about it: When you’re on the court, dribbling is something you will do every time you move. To do otherwise is called “traveling,” as you probably know. This means that all movements on the court begin from a dribble. That’s why you need to be as comfortable as possible with that kind of movement.
You can do all kinds of dribbling exercises at home, but our favorite one is the cone dribble. Set up some orange cones (or other obstacles- you can use just about anything) in a line and practice dribbling as you weave in and out of the line. Once you get really good, try it with two balls at once.
There are all kinds of other great dribbling exercises that you can do at home. All you need is a basketball and a hard floor. If the floors in your home are not carpeted, there is no reason that you can’t dribble all day long.
2. Remember the BEEFC Method
This is just a simple little acronym that helps you to remember the most fundamental concepts of shooting. It is often taught to new players as a way to perfect their shooting form. All you have to do is keep the following in mind:
- B- Balance: Before you shoot, make sure that your feet are even and your balance is centered
- E- Eyes: Keep your eyes focused on the goal
- E- Elbow: When you shoot, make sure to keep the elbow tucked inward
- F- Follow Through: Extend your shooting arm all the way out to complete the motion
- C- Concentration: Keep your mind on the goal and visualize it happening
It is worth noting that many people do not add the last letter. In most cases, the acronym is simply BEEF, which is very easy to remember. However, we went with the version that includes the C at the end because concentration is a factor that can make or break any shot at any time.
3. Try To Target A Little Earlier
If you are missing a lot of shots, try this simple trick: Try to target the basket a little bit earlier. Don’t wait until you are only a few steps out of range, or you may not be fully ready when you try to make the shot. Start acquiring your target a little more quickly and you will have more time to set up the shot, as well as a little more time to deal with any obstacles that can (and likely will) be in your way.
On this same subject, it is also important to remain ready to shoot at all times. If not, you will have to switch your focus as you approach the goal, which could throw you off your game. Instead, try to maintain a general level of readiness at all times.
4. Adjust Your Arc
This is a little trick that you can try if a lot of your shots are bouncing off the rim. You see, accuracy is very important when trying to score points, but there’s another aspect to the matter: Your shooting arc. Your arc is just the path that your ball travels on its way to the basket. Like any arc, it goes up and then goes down, but the difference lies in the angle that it travels.
Have you ever wondered why coaches always tell you to leave your shooting arm extended after you shoot? This is a big part of the reason. Following all the way through with your shot tends to give you better control of the angle at which it travels. This is also done to encourage good shooting habits in general, but it’s mainly done to improve accuracy.
The optimal arc for a basketball shot is 60 degrees. If you don’t have a good understanding of angles, you just need to know that a 60-degree angle is a little steeper than a diagonal angle. Thus, your arc should travel in a way that is a little higher than diagonal in relation to your current position, until it reaches the height of the shot and begins to come down again. By using this angle, you decrease your margin of error and give yourself a better chance of making the shot. The study cited above also found that a high backspin produced a little more accuracy than other types of shooting.
5. Study The Best
Nearly every professional basketball game ever played has been filmed. While it may not always be easy to find footage of a particular game, it is always easy to find game footage of a particular player. Since you probably can’t afford private lessons from the pros, you can learn from them by watching as much game footage as you can find.
Make sure that you pause the videos frequently so that you can analyze every little aspect of their movement. If you see a player doing something that seems weird and different, it might be worth trying. Of course, you should make sure that you only study the movements and techniques of the very best players. There is no sense in emulating methods that haven’t proven themselves to be effective.
Studying an unorthodox player can really help you a lot. Anytime that you are able to do something that an opponent doesn’t expect, it can be used as a powerful advantage. You might be surprised at how many popular and well-known players make use of this little trick. In short, we are telling you to do things that the opposition will not expect.
The true beauty of this trick is that it can work against anyone. Even the best player in the world can potentially be tricked if you throw them something that they’ve never seen before. Lack of preparation can potentially foul up anyone. If you are playing a game against someone who is a lot better than you, using the unexpected is probably your only chance for victory.
6. Try Filming Yourself
As long as you’re studying footage, you might as well make some. Pretty much any good phone has a camera that is good enough for this purpose. Just set it up somewhere and film a practice session. Since you have (hopefully) been watching a lot of game footage from the pros, you should now have an easier time recognizing your own mistakes.
It is important that you do step five for a while before you do this one. Without that, you won’t be able to accurately judge whether or not you need to change your techniques. The idea is to study the pros and then compare your movements to theirs.
If you have a coach or trainer, it may also be helpful to them if you record your practice sessions. You can show them the video (or a clip) when you ask for advice about a particular problem. No matter how good your coach might be, they can always do a better job when you give them more information.
7. Always Maintain Good Balance
We mentioned this aspect of the game earlier, but it is worth touching on it again. In a game that involves constant movement, balance is obviously important if you want to avoid falling and looking like a fool. However, balance also helps every shot, pass, and step to go more smoothly.
A good shot comes from good body alignment. In some ways, you could think of your arm as the sights of a gun, and your body as the whole of the gun. If someone bumps the stock, the shot will be thrown off the mark. The same goes for a basketball shot. If your body is not well-balanced at the point of the shot, it probably won’t fly straight.
Balance is most important when you have the ball in your hands. While it isn’t legal to knock someone down, it is perfectly legal to intercept them in many ways. With so many people trying their best to distract you and otherwise keep you from shooting, good balance will give you the ability to maintain your footing as you deal with all of these obstacles. If you have optimal balance, you won’t have to stop and re-set your footing before taking a shot, and that can save crucial time.
At the same time, it isn’t just about performance. The maintenance of good balance has a huge impact on your chances of injury. Here’s a study that proves this fact in a pretty solid way. Researchers found that balance levels could be used to predict a person’s rate of injury. The worse your balance, the higher the chance that you will get hurt. In fact, the study found that individuals with poor balance had a rate of injury that was seven times higher than the well-balanced individuals.
8. Work On Your Pivoting
If you are having a hard time with mobility on the court, it could be that your footwork needs some training. The ability to pivot on either foot is especially important, and it’s a move that people don’t necessarily use in everyday life. If you don’t know, pivoting involves moving one foot while keeping the other planted. The planted foot has to be able to shift a little bit as you turn so as to avoid any need for lifting it off the ground.
There are many pivoting drills that can help you in this matter, but we suggest that you try to incorporate this movement into your everyday movements. The more natural it feels in everyday life, the more natural it will feel on the court. Superior mobility will allow you to move around and through your opponents in ways that are smooth and hard to predict.
You may have noticed that none of these tips can be followed without hard work from you. This is done deliberately, as a lazy person doesn’t deserve to win! However, if you follow this advice and build upon the basic concepts that you have learned, there is no reason that you cannot rise to the most elite levels of the sport…or, at the very least, you can keep yourself from looking like a fool. If you have enjoyed this article, and if you would like to read more like it, please follow us on Facebook using the link below.