First up, something to remember…
The only things you need for basketball training are a basketball and a hoop.
In fact, you don’t even need a hoop. There are plenty of effective basketball training workouts that focus solely on ball-handling and conditioning.
These “old school” methods of running training sessions with minimal basketball training equipment have worked for decades and they will continue to work.
However, if you are looking to get the most out of every workout and maximize development, some basketball training equipment is definitely worth taking a look at.
In this post, we’ll discuss some of the most commonly used and most useful basketball training aids and equipment that you can include in your workouts and training going forward.
Let’s get into it...
Best Basketball Training Equipment
While it does seem obvious that basketball training is virtually impossible without a basketball, the kind of basketball you use can be very important.
In an ideal situation, players should practice with the same model of basketball that is used in their official competitions.
This gets them used to the feeling of the game ball.
> The way it handles while dribbling and shooting
> The way it bounces off of the hardwood
> The way it interacts with the rim and the backboard
Just remember your experiences with different types of basketballs...
No two types of basketballs have felt the same, right?
Having to play a game with a ball that is very different from the one you usually practice with can be an awkward and unpleasant experience.
But if practicing with the same model of basketball isn’t possible, you want the next best thing.
A ball that can replicate the feel and performance of the game ball as closely as possible...
It’s hard to go wrong with the Evolution Indoor Basketball from Wilson.
Game balls are usually made from high-quality composite materials that offer great grip.
Both boxes are checked by the Evolution.
On top of that, it offers great cushioning and doesn’t require a break-in period, unlike many similar basketballs.
If you’re not sure which type of basketball you should have your players practice with, the Wilson Evolution is a great choice at any level.
The brand’s level of quality is undeniable and even the NBA has chosen them as their official game ball provider starting in 2021.
“Keep your eyes up” is a commonly heard coaching point during dribbling drills.
Many young players, and even older inexperienced ball-handlers, feel the need to keep their eyes pointed down towards the ball while dribbling
When your players keep their eyes on their dribble, they’re can’t:
> Read the defense
> See open cutters or shooters
> Advance the ball up the court
As a coach, you want your players to be confident in their dribble and concentrate on impacting the game rather than maintaining their handle.
However, getting young players to take their eyes off of their dribble is difficult since it goes against their basic instincts.
Fortunately, this next piece of basketball training equipment is perfect for channeling their focus during dribbling drills.
Dribbling goggles work in a very simple manner...
They obscure the lower part of the wearer’s field of view without affecting the rest of the court.
They force your players to focus on what’s happening on the court instead of their dribble.
This will greatly accelerate the development of dribbling ability and confidence in young players, both of which are crucial for becoming a good basketball player.
Whether it’s using chairs, cones, or something else, coaches have come up with various ways to simulate defenders during drills.
While these are serviceable options in a pinch, they don’t really give players a “visual” of a defender that they would usually see in games.
A defender’s body and outstretched arms present a challenge much greater than a simple short obstacle on the floor does.
That’s where a “D-Man” comes in.
Because it replicates a defender’s body with outstretched arms, a D-Man helps coaches make dribbling, shooting, and passing drills much more challenging for the players at any level.
The best way to use the D-Man is for “technique drills” that involve shooting / finishing over a defender.
Many coaches use the agility ladder to develop quickness and agility in their players.
While these uses are the norm, there is one use for the agility ladder that I would argue is more important for young players than speed or agility.
A lot of the time, basketball is a game of footwork. Players like Luka Dončić and Nikola Jokić have proven that great footwork can beat raw athleticism on any given day.
Developing great footwork requires having great coordination, and you can’t have that without developing a great mind-muscle connection first.
An agility ladder is a great tool for this, and it’s unfortunate that this aspect of its use is often ignored by basketball coaches.
If you’re coaching young players, mixing in drills that require complex movement on the agility ladder may be more beneficial to your players than blindly sticking with the traditional and often simple quickness drills.
Basketball probably isn’t the first sport many people would associate with skipping rope.
It’s more commonly associated with boxing and similar combat sports. Boxers use skipping rope to develop their footwork, stamina, and coordination.
With that said, you now probably understand why we have the skipping rope on our list of the best basketball training equipment.
Running the same conditioning drills over and over gets boring for the players after a while...
A skipping rope is a very cheap tool to introduce a new and creative way to improve the conditioning of all basketball players.
The small investment will be more than worth it.
You can even use a skipping rope to work on some in-game movements with the appropriate exercises. The official USA Basketball site has some great examples I invite you to check out.
Cones and other types of court markers are common in every sport.
Their uses vary from showing waypoints for certain dribbling drills to simulating defenders.
As I’ve already mentioned, regular cones aren’t exactly ideal for some of the things coaches usually use them for…
If you need a simulated defender in a finishing drill, a D-Man is a much better option.
“What about various movement and agility drills?”
Regular cones are often used to mark waypoints for these types of drills, but the issue with traditional cones or chairs is that they can present a danger to the players involved in the drill.
Slipping on a cone or hitting a chair while moving at full speed can lead to injuries.
This is where our next piece of basketball training equipment comes in…
A low profile + no-slip court marker virtually eliminates the two greatest dangers presented by cones and chairs -- you can’t hit them and you can’t slip on them.
Their bright colors make them easy to spot and there shouldn’t be any confusion when you first introduce them in practice.
Automatic shooting machines have been around for some time.
Many players and coaches at all levels already understand just how much efficiency they can bring to a shooting practice.
Most machines offer basic passing functions with some being able to program simple routines and provide basic tracking of makes and misses.
If you just want to make your shooting drills run more efficiently or if your program doesn’t have a large equipment budget, these simpler machines will be perfectly serviceable.
But what if you are a more analytics-oriented coach that wants to make your team’s offense and in-game shooting as efficient as possible?
In that case, you might want to consider Dr. Dish.
It offers advanced functions that aren’t present on other shooting machines.
The first is a high degree of customization that allows you to program complex shooting drills.
Want to simulate your shooters making multiple cuts and moving all over the court? No problem.
You can even program custom drills under each player’s profile and easily switch between them.
If you’re big on analytics, you’ll be happy to hear that Dr. Dish can track the shooting percentage of every player from any position on the court.
Not only will your players be more aware of their shooting strengths and weaknesses, but you will also be able to tweak your offense and get your players their most efficient shots during games.
The concept of “overload” in practice is well established in coaching circles.
If your players practice in conditions that are more intense than the ones they will face during games, they’ll be well-prepared for game situations.
Elite ball handlers like Steph Curry are a great example of pushing this concept to the limit.
They will often practice dribbling while also bouncing tennis balls at the same time and / or dealing with other “distractions”.
This mentally pushes them into overdrive in practice and the actual game feels much slower and easier for them because the distractions they face in practice aren’t present in-game.
Their minds are able to completely focus on the game and see two steps ahead of everyone else while still being able to chain insane dribble combos.
The same concept can be applied to the physical aspects of the game as well.
Want your players to be quick with the ball and want their passes to be fast and accurate?
Practicing this with a regular ball will bring results, but there’s a more efficient way to do it...
Using a weighted basketball to practice dribbling or passing overloads your players physically in a similar manner to the one described above.
Not only will this develop their strength and power output, but it will make quick passing and dribbling with a regular ball a breeze.
“Overload” is a tool that should be in every coach’s toolbox.
Just beware of using a weighted basketball for shooting if your players are very young.
If their shooting mechanics aren’t well developed yet, a weighted ball could bring more harm than good in the long run.
On the other hand, it can be a great way to improve the upper body strength and shooting range of your older players.
Modern basketball offenses heavily rely on the three-point shot.
The methods for getting shots differ from team to team, but the end goal is for the ball to find a wide-open shooter behind the arc.
You’ll often see players spot up and wait for the ball to come to them for a catch and shoot.
If the offense is run correctly, these shots are usually wide open and incredibly efficient, especially if the pass comes from the post.
So efficient that many players will see almost a double-digit difference between their shooting percentage from a spot-up and their shooting percentage off the dribble.
The Solo Assist helps players work on their spot-up shooting by simulating a pass your players can use to practice their hop, body alignment, and other fundamentals of shooting off the catch.
Alternatively, you can also use it to have your players work on attacking off the catch, which is one of the most effective ways to beat a defender and create scoring opportunities.
You want your players to get in as many reps as possible during practice, especially if your practice time is limited.
The Solo Assist will cut down on the time your players would otherwise spend waiting in line or having to act as passers.
Making practice more efficient while helping improve some of the most important tools a modern offensive player can have in their arsenal earns this piece of equipment our recommendation.
If there’s one thing this list of basketball training equipment didn’t lack, it’s tools that can be used for dribbling drills.
You probably won’t be surprised if we close the list with another such piece of equipment.
The Dribble Stick is perfect for players who are just learning the fundamentals of dribbling.
Several arms can be set up on the same base, so multiple players can work together.
They are also fully adjustable, which means that you can tailor them to the level of the group you’re coaching.
If your players are just starting out, the dribble stick will serve as a great visual aid when learning the fundamentals, such as proper stance, hand positioning, and keeping their dribble low to the ground.
You can also add dribbling goggles into the mix a bit later on.
If you are dealing with more advanced players, use the dribble stick to work on more complex sequences of moves, or even combine multiple dribble sticks to set up a course.
It’s another one of those tools that are very simple at first glance, but a creative coach will be able to find many uses for it.