If you are just starting out in basketball, the best way to improve and develop your skills to the highest level is to get the fundamentals right. Learning to execute the basics will give you a solid foundation to build from and make the rest of the game much easier.
The fundamentals are the little things that can make a big difference, depending on whether they are done right or wrong. For example, when it comes to shooting, the fundamentals include positioning, shooting form and follow through.
In this article, we look at fundamentals for the most important aspects of basketball – shooting, passing, dribbling and rebounding.
When watching the world’s best shooters, you will quickly notice that they don’t all necessarily shoot the same way. But while there is no one exact technique that makes you a brilliant shooter, mastering the fundamentals is the common factor amongst all good shooters.
Ensuring your feet are positioned the same distance apart on every shot is crucial. They should be squared up, your body low, and knees bent. The ball should go straight into your shooting pocket, your eyes should focus on the back of the rim (from whatever angle you are on), you should keep a fluid motion when going into your shot and your legs should help generate the distance – don’t push with your arms.
The follow through is equally as important, snapping your wrist straight down as the ball leaves your hand, hold the follow through until the ball has reached the goal, and be sure to land on your toes and remain balanced.
Passing fundamentals can vary slightly depending on what type of pass you are making. For a chest pass, both hands should hold the ball on the sides with your elbows held tightly in next to your body. Take a step forward in the direction you want to pass the ball, and at the same time, extend your arms so that your fingers rotate, your palms face outwards and your thumbs are pointing down.
A bounce pass uses similar fundamentals but when extending your arms, they should be pointed downwards. It’s important the ball hits the ground approximately ¾ of the distance between you and your teammate. Basketball camps are a great way to practice passing in groups of similar standard players.
An overhead pass involves holding the ball directly behind your head with your elbows bent and just in front of your ears. Take a step forward towards your target, extend your elbows and move your arms forward, but only a short distance so they end just above your head. Your shoulders should remain still and most of the work is done by the elbows.
Controlling the ball is one of the most important skills needed to be able to play the game of basketball. So, learning the fundamentals is crucial. Using the tips of your fingers to bounce the ball is key to ensuring maximum control. As a beginner, it is common to use the palm of your hand, but this does not give you the same control and does not allow you to change direction easily. Keep your knees bent and ensure your body is low.
Maintaining a low centre of gravity allows you to stay balanced, and ensures you aren’t bouncing the ball too high, reducing the chance of an opponent stealing it from you. Bouncing it below your waist helps protect the ball and keeping your eyes up while dribbling allows you to see the court better and identify opportunities that lie ahead.
Rebounding ensures your team gains possession of the ball after a shot, which is why the skill is so important. Anticipating where the shot will go is the first fundamental for rebounding, so watching the flight of the ball in the air is crucial. Keep your feet apart in a low stance and your hands above your shoulders – that way you’re already in rebounding mode and can get your arms quickly to the ball after it misses.
Boxing out is also key to successful rebounding. When a shot goes up, find the nearest opponent and between him and the basket. Being in the front position (with a low stance and your body pressed against your opponent) well help you gain more rebounds than the other team. Lastly, and most importantly, assume every shot is going to miss. Players who watch the ball and react are never successful rebounders. If a shot goes up and you’re already preparing for a miss and go at the boards with high intensity, your contribution to the team will be highly valuable!
While practice is key to any sporting success, ensuring you have the fundamentals is the best way to improve your game quickly. Private basketball training can help with this, as a professional coach will help you get these fundamentals right from the start.