Basketball is a competitive sport.
Every day there are millions of players attempting to improve their basketball skills.
This could be to improve their minutes on the court, to make the local HS team, or simply score more points while mucking around with friends.
If you want to learn how to get better at basketball, this 10-step guide is for you.
By the end of the post, you’ll know exactly how to get better at basketball in only 2 hours.
Here’s what you need to do:
How to Get Better at Basketball in 10 Steps
1. Identify Your Strengths and Weaknesses
The first ten minutes are dedicated to understanding how you currently impact the game.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Sit down with a pen and a piece of paper
- Split the page into two columns:
- Spend 10 minutes thinking about your game and writing down the things you do well during a basketball game (strengths), and the things you don’t do well (weaknesses).
When you’re finished, your page should look something like this:
This page will help you in several ways:
a. You’ll be able to focus on maximising your strengths during a game.
b. You’ll be able to avoid your current weaknesses as much as possible.
c. It will help you design basketball workouts to improve your skills.
2. Find Opportunities to Score in the Offense
Next, we’ll focus on improving your scoring.
Think about your current role within the team’s offense and set plays…
(Depending on the level of basketball you’re currently playing, your coach may have provided you with a booklet breaking down the team’s offense and set plays. If so, now is a great time to utilise that.)
Where are your main opportunities to score?
If your team is running the 5-out motion, you’ll have many opportunities to score:
- Using an on-ball screen.
- Setting an on-ball screen.
- Curling off an away screen.
- Outside shots off a cut.
- Facing up and attacking.
- Basket cuts.
- Backdoor cuts.
Once you have this list, figure out which scoring opportunities best fit your skill set.
For your team’s set plays…
Think about the role you usually fill in each of them.
- “Which plays result in you getting an opportunity to score?”
- “What type of shot is it?”
- “What part of the floor is it from?”
These are all very important questions to know.
3. Find Other Opportunities to Get Cheap Points
Outside of the team’s offense and set plays…
There are many other ways you can score an extra 6 - 10 points every game if you’re willing to work hard and compete.
Some of these include:
a. Offensive Rebounds
If the coach’s game plan allows it, be willing to attack the hoop and battle for offensive rebounds when a teammate puts up a shot.
Even if you don’t score yourself, passing after an offensive rebound can lead to a wide open shot for one of your teammates.
b. Sprint the Floor Hard
Unless you’re tasked with bringing the basketball up the court, make sure you’re sprinting down the floor on every change of possession.
Every point guard should be ready to pass over the defense giving you a wide open layup.
c. Set More Screens
This is a very overlooked way to get more shot opportunities.
When you set a screen for a teammate, there’s a high chance the defense will get confused and you’ll find yourself open to score.
If they switch, take advantage of your mismatch.
If they trap / double the ball-handler, roll into space for an open shot or layup.
4. Identify Ways to Increase Your Playing Time
It’s a taboo topic…
But there ARE several things you can do to increase your playing time.
Spending more time on the court will allow you to gain more valuable experience, have a bigger impact on the game, and prove your skills to the coach, teammates, and everyone watching.
Learn how by reading this post on increasing your playing time.
Some of the tactics include:
a. Improve Your Level of Fitness
If your current conditioning doesn’t allow you to be productive for long periods of time, your coach isn’t going to play you many minutes.
b. Become a Great Defender
Every coach loves to have a go-to defensive player to shut down an opposing player when they’re having a great game.
Be this player.
c. Be Willing to do the Dirty Work
Games are won and lost by very few possessions.
If you’re a player who’s willing to take a charge, dive on a loose ball, or fight hard for an offensive rebound…
Your coach IS going to give you more minutes.
5. Create a Workout Program
Here’s something you must understand:
If you’re only working on your skills during team practices, you’re never going to extend yourself from the competition or your teammates.
You MUST be practicing in your own time.
Which means creating a basketball workout to use at least 3 times per week.
You have a few options:
1. Create Your Own Workout
This involves putting together a list of drills that you’ll go through each workout.
It’s important to refer back to the pages you created with your strengths and weaknesses and also the shots you’ll get during games when you’re creating this.
They’ll help you put together a workout that’s customised to your needs.
2. Find a Basketball Workout
The other option you have is to simply find a basketball workout online to use.
I’ve put together several workouts you can find here:
On that link are three workouts:
a. Advanced Guard Workout
b. Advanced Post Workout
c. Kids Basketball Workout
Pick the one you think suits your game the most (or swap between all of them), download and print off the document, and then complete the workouts.
6. Schedule Time to Complete Your Workouts
This is one of the most important things I’ve learnt in the past few years:
If you don’t schedule time to do something, it won’t happen.
If you simply “hope” that your workout happens, I promise you other things will get in the way and you won’t find time to get it done.
You must schedule your workouts into your calendar and make the a priority.
Treat your workouts like doctors appointments.
You can’t miss them.
7. Improve Your Shooting Technique
Shooting is the most important skill in basketball:
Start by reading my complete guide on shooting technique.
In it, you’ll learn:
- 10 steps to great shooting
- 5 shooting form mistakes
- Why becoming a great shooter is important
- 3 must-use shooting drills
- 11 shooting tips
- + more
Make sure you’re shooting the basketball with correct technique.
8. Improve Your Dribbling Technique
Dribbling technique next.
Here’s what you’ll learn in my complete guide on dribbling correctly:
- How to protect the ball from defenders
- Which part of your hand shouldn’t touch the basketball
- The importance of being ambidextrous
- 3 important dribbling drills
Then it’s time to go outside (or in the gym) with your basketball and make sure you’re using the correct dribbling technique.
9. Commit to a Free-Throw Routine
With all the hustling you’ve committed to do, you’re going to be shooting a lot more free-throws.
So, let’s make sure you’ve got a routine.
Having a free-throw routine when you step to the line will provide you with confidence and will give you something to focus on to block out pressure.
Mine looks like this:
- Stand back and receive the basketball.
- Spin the ball and set my feet.
- Three bounces
It doesn’t matter what your free-throw routine consists of…
But make sure it’s exactly the same every time you step to the line!
10. Play 1-on-1 Against a Great Player
This is absolutely the #1 way to get better at basketball.
Here’s how to do it:
a. Find someone who’s slightly better at basketball than you
This could be a friend, teammate, random person in the gym, anyone…
b. Challenge them to a game of 1-on-1
You can play to 11 or 21, and it doesn’t matter whether the scorer gets the basketball back or whether you switch who has the ball on every possession.
Simple, isn’t it?
1-on-1 is fantastic for development because you don’t have any teammates to bail you out.
You don’t have anyone to pass to when you get stuck.
You’re forced to learn how to create a shot and score against an opponent using fakes (shot fakes, jab steps), correct footwork, and smart decisions.
You don’t have any teammates to save you.
Your only option is to play tough and smart on-ball defense and guard your yard.
1-on-1 works on every part of your game!
Advanced Tip - Play one-on-one with limited dribbles allowed. For example, the offensive player can only take 3 dribbles before they must shoot.
Every player claims they want to get better at basketball…
But there aren’t many doing it the right way.
Unfortunately, most players aren’t focused on the things that will allow them to become better players and compete with the best players in their region.
- Instead of working on their shooting technique, they’re practicing fadeaway shots.
- Instead of figuring out their strengths, they’re complaining about the coach.
By following the 10-step guide I’ve created above, I guarantee that you’ll be working on the things that will help you become a better player in the shortest amount of time.