How to Become a Better Basketball Player

So you have a brand new synthetic leather basketball, a new pair of kicks and you can't wait to get out on the court for some much needed exercise, but you still don't know how to become a better basketball player. The good news is that improving your game and becoming a better basketball player is entirely under your control. Regardless of your age, gender, height or weight, you can always become a better basketball player and sharpen your skills. So get off the sidelines and get into the game.

To become a better basketball player, you will need:

  • 1 regulation basketball (29.5 for men, 28.5 for women)
  • 1 regulation basketball hoop

To become a better basketball player:

  1. Work on your fundamentals. All great basketball players start with good fundamentals. Basketball fundamentals include shooting, rebounding, passing, dribbling and defense. These are the main skills that make up the game of basketball and provide the foundation for good players. These skills can be honed through a number of drills that can be performed in a group or on your own.
  2. Practice on your own.  While it is almost always more fun to play basketball with a group of people, you should make some time to practice on your own as well. Skills like shooting and ball-handling require a lot of repetition, which can only be accomplished through individual practice. The Mikan Drill is the gold standard for solitary shooting practice. Start this drill by standing underneath and facing the basket with a ball. Step with your left foot toward the right side of the basket and shoots a short lay-up with your right hand. Rebound the ball as it comes out of the net without letting it bounce, and step with your right foot toward the left side of the basket. Shoot a short lay-up with your left hand. Repeat the drill for 30 seconds, alternating left and right. You can practice your ball handling by yourself by dribbling with both your right and left hands while standing still and while running.
  3. Play with people who are better than you. You are not going to get any better playing with the same scrubs day in and day out. Try to go to a new gym or a new park and join pick up games with players who look talented. It might be difficult at first and you might get picked last, but your game will improve quickly. Do not get sucked in to trying all the fancy moves the other players may be able to do, just play your role and try to improve your fundamentals. Pretty soon you will feel at home playing with the big boys.
  4. Join an organized league. Practicing on your own and playing pick up games are great ways to sharpen your skills, but to become a refined basketball player you need to play on an organized team. Try out for your school team, an intramural team or a recreational league. Playing organized basketball teaches you skills that you can not develop on your own, such as how to set picks, how to run plays, how to box out, how to play help defense and how to play within the rules of the game.
  5. Get in shape. Good basketball players are properly conditioned. Basketball is a game of many short sprints. Players must have stamina, but not the same type as soccer players or long distance runners. In between drills or pick up games, run several full court and half court sprints as fast as you can. Run both forwards and backwards. Leaping ability is also important in basketball. Find a bench or ledge you can jump up onto and land safely. Start by standing facing the bench, with your feet hip-width apart and your knees bent. Swing our arms back, bend your knees deep and jump with both feet onto the bench. Step down and repeat for three sets of ten.
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