In 2021, over 27 million people in the US played at least one game of basketball. Around eight million consider themselves frequent players. That means basketball, not baseball, is America’s favorite pastime.
If you love the most popular sport in the US, you may be looking to improve your basketball skills. Luckily, being good at basketball is not something you’re born with. You can get better with practice.
Today, we want to help you do just that with this guide. If you want to know the basketball drills and lifestyle changes you need to improve your game on the court, keep reading this article for our top tips.
Pick the Right Sneakers
Good form on the court starts with your feet. The shoes you wear, whether playing indoors or out, can improve your performance. The right basketball sneakers can also prevent injury, provide stability, and reduce impact.
A classic pair of Nike dunks can serve you well on the court (they are called “dunks” for a reason, after all). Other top choices for basketball shoes are the New Balance Fresh Foam BB, Adidas Harden Vol.6, and Nike Kyrie Infinity.
Good basketball shoes should offer a flexible performance fit for maximum pivot and jump power. Meanwhile, uppers should be mid-cut and made from stiffer materials to provide support and prevent injuries.
Identify Your Weaknesses
In a moment, we will discuss goal-setting for people who want to improve their skills on the court. But how can you improve your skills if you don’t know which ones need work?
Many basketball players struggle with skills like ball control, free throws, or non-dominant handling. Or maybe you aren’t dealing with a skills problem at all. For example, you may need to improve your speed or agility.
Also, make sure you identify your weaknesses in game speed. You may feel strong in your skills and fitness during solo practice. But a player’s true weaknesses only emerge on the court.
Set Basketball Skills Goals
Once you have identified the areas where you need improvement, you can start setting goals. Here, we will discuss skills goals, but you can also set strength and conditioning milestones for yourself. More on this in a moment.
The fundamental skills any well-rounded basketball player needs are dribbling, shooting, passing, rebounding, and defending. If you identify a weakness in one or more of these areas, set goals to improve.
For example, say you realize your shooting form needs work. Focus on shooting against tight defenders or making timed shots. As we will discuss next, practice makes perfect if you want to achieve your skills goals.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Repetition is almost always the best way to improve a skill. In basketball, repetitive skills practice is also known as a drill. Drills can help you improve ball handling, passing, shooting, defense, and more.
Some beginner-friendly basketball drills to incorporate include half-circle dribbles, dribble sprints, closeouts, and shadow shooting. Repetitive passing series can help if you struggle with ball passes.
Beginners should practice their skills at least three times or up to five times per week. As your skills improve, increase the number of practice sessions. The more you practice, the better a player you will be.
Many players have strong basketball skills. Yet, they can not improve their performance because of a lack of strength. If that sounds like you, consider incorporating a strength training routine into your practice sessions.
The top muscle groups used in basketball are the core, legs, shoulders, and triceps. Lateral agility (i.e., moving from side to side) and horizontal power (i.e., explosive jumping) are also crucial.
Lunges, leg curls, deadlifts, dumbbell presses, jump squats, and pull-ups are all excellent strengthening exercises to try. You can also incorporate compound workouts, which strengthen multiple muscle groups at once.
Improve Your Cardiovascular Fitness
Basketball is a fast game. That is why so many players work hard to increase their cardiovascular fitness. Cardiovascular fitness is the same thing as endurance, or your body’s ability to deliver oxygen to your muscles effectively.
The more effective your lungs are at delivering oxygen, the more optimal your performance. You can play faster and for longer without fear of injury or illness. Cardio is also beneficial for your overall health.
Running is a great way to improve your cardiovascular fitness. Cycling or using an exercise bike, using a stair master, or doing water aerobics are also good options. And don’t forget to add in some sprints for variety and agility.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Last but not least, make sure you are fueling your body with the right (and enough) nutrients to feel energized through your practice sessions. Protein and carbohydrate intake are particularly critical for basketball players.
Protein is an essential component of muscles. Eating adequate amounts of protein speeds up post-workout recovery and muscle building. Meanwhile, carbs break down into glucose, which is the body’s main source of energy.
Finally, drink plenty of water, especially during practice and on the court. The more you sweat, the more water you need. Consider adding an electrolyte-containing beverage or supplement to replace minerals lost through sweat.
Want More Basketball Tips to Up Your Game?
Basketball skills are easy to improve when you follow this guide. Make sure you pick up the right sneakers to start off on the right foot. And don’t forget the exercises and foods needed to support your goals.
Are you looking for more advice about playing basketball? Check out our tagged sports articles for more posts like this one!