You have a couple of months left till tryouts with the summer approaching and you really want to make the basketball team. But due to lack of experience, you have no idea how to get started, what should you do to improve?
Reading this you probably think you have to improve at every skill that is required for basketball in order to improve this is not the case. Choose a skill you feel that you are good at and work on that skill tirelessly until your tryouts making sure you practice and are using this skill in pick-up basketball games excessively. The idea is to be better than the competition at this one skill that you get noticed.
It’s really that simple, do not think you have to be good at every skill when it comes to playing basketball. It would be nice to, but for right now you want to get noticed and make the team. Your best bet is to practice and become excellent at the one skill your good at and double down on it.
How to get better at basketball as a beginner?
When I talk about doubling down it’s just a term used to describe throwing everything you have into one idea or in this case skill. Understand that you do not have to be good at every single skill to be an excellent basketball player. This isn’t realistic, even in the NBA, not every player is good at everything. There are only a few players that are excellent at defense and offense. Many players in the NBA are good at one thing and other good at multiple things. But rarely are players good at everything.
But do understand what your weaknesses are on the court and try your best not to put yourself in those situations during a game too many times until you work on them. Now I am not saying don’t work on anything else but one basketball skill, what I am saying is work on that one skill way more than the others. think of 80 percent one skill, 20 percent everything else. Examples to follow…
You can dominate the game with one skill and here’s how…
There actually is an easy way to get better as a complete beginner. I imagine you as the future basketball hopeful has played some game or sports that involved physical activity in your life. Now taking those experiences in other sports what did you find that you excelled at? Is it your speed? Hand-eye coordination? or how bout your jumping ability?
You will want to know which skill you think you can excel at against the competition. When you realize this you want to apply it to basketball. Here are a few examples:
Jumping – If you are able to jump well you would be well suited in layups rebounds and contesting shots.
Speed – If your quick you may be good at defense and getting past your man for easy layups.
Good Hand-eye co-ordination – Good at shooting, dribbling, and passing the basketball.
Tall and Strong – Good at playing defense against the big men and scoring down low.
Tall and lanky – Great at playing defense and ability to get by your defender.
If you take a look at the list above, if you are strong in one area compared to others these would be the basketball skills you would want to focus on most when starting to play basketball. This doesn’t have to be the skills listed above either, if you find something that you think may work or has been working go for it.
If you have played basketball before and you know what you are good and bad at, you want to take the skill that you feel you are best at and double down. If you are not sure ask a coach or friend. Then you want to take that skill and by practicing it over and over again before tryouts.
For example, I have always had great hand-eye coordination, I knew this from playing other sports such as tennis, Volleyball, and Football. Although I had some basketball experience and played most of my life I wasn’t very good. As my senior year was coming up I realized that I needed to get down to business if I was going to get a lot of playing time and get noticed.
So that summer I worked on one thing and one thing only, Shooting! I shot a hefty amount of shoots, no less than 500 a day. I became obsessed with getting better at shooting. I didn’t work on any dribbling as I knew I wasn’t bringing up the ball and I sure knew I wasn’t going to be crossing up anyone based on the coach’s system.
I doubled down hard on the shooting and it paid off, I was one of the best shooters in the city, hitting a couple of game-winners that season and shooting over 50 percent from the field.
On top of doubling down and practicing the skills you really need to be playing a lot of basketball games to gain that experience. What good are your skills if you don’t use them in a game? Play every day and practice every day.
Basketball isn’t all about scoring
If you think that you need to be a good scorer to be a great player think again. There are many players who are defensive stoppers, great rebounders, and floor facilitators (point guards) who play just as much as the star player on the team. If you start as a rebounder and grab every board don’t you think you will be open sometimes for an easy basket? Of course.
if you are a decent rebounder, I would work on reading where and how the basketball comes off the rim on a miss and work on practicing rebounding. You can do this with a friend, allow them to take their shot and rebound the miss by putting the basketball back in the hoop. If you work hard all summer, you could easily be a double-double player, just make sure you work on your layups underneath the basket. The Mikan drill works very well for a soft touch and good hands underneath the rim.
If your quick but not very good offensively but have a knack for defending and you take pride in it, you could potentially get a few steals a game in the open court for some easy baskets. I would pride myself in guarding the best player on the court always.
I have coached basketball players that represent the above scenarios and generally, those are starting players on my team, and get a lot of playing time. Don’t think you have to be able to score a ton of points to make a team. I have been apart of teams with 5 top scorers as my starting lineup. Nobody wanted to be a role player. These players wanted stats then to play on a team. Having a cohesive unit with roles and jobs on the court works much better.
How to get better at basketball at home with or without a hoop?
If you are trying to get better at basketball at home on your off time, there are a number of dribbling programs or ball-handling programs you can try on Youtube. Having a good handle on the ball (I don’t mean just dribbling) such as catching and controlling the basketball in your hands is a must at any position regardless of what your goal is.
Another big way to improve at home is watching players that you feel represent what your goals are and pay attention to the detail. How they move, position and what type of moves they use on a regular basis in games. You will find these players have a couple of moves they use but can adapt very well to the many variables that happen during the game, using the same moves to continue to be effective.
If you have a basketball hoop then use it, do a shooting workout, work on free throws or anything you feel you will be able to use in a game. Be realistic, if you are not a good three-point shooter and your position doesn’t call for it, don’t waste your time,. Remember you want to get better now, not show up to a tryout with half a jumper. Shooters are made and it takes more than a summer to be effective. Remember you want to get better today, work on things that are going to help your game right now, not later on down the road.
How long does it take to get good?
There is no simple answer to this question, getting better at basketball is different for everyone. It helps to be really athletic, but even that can be problematic if all a player does is rely on their athleticism with no real work on their skills.
I have seen players practice for years and not get any better and I have also seen a player who never made his team a year prior and work his ass off during the summer and be the leading scorer on his team the following year.
Unfortunately, how long it takes to get good is followed by a big depends. If you do all the right things such as Play a lot of basketball games, work on skills, and view game footage anything is possible. Consistency is key and experience does matter, don’t let that fool you.