It takes years of practice and hard work to become a good basketballer. Even the best players in the world still put in endless hours each week honing their skills and trying to improve their game to give them the edge against their competition.
When Andrew Gaze was at his peak for the Melbourne Tigers, leading the NBL in scoring, he was still always one of the first to training, practicing his shooting and developing his skillset.
After winning an NBA championship, Michael Jordan spent his entire summer practicing twice a day, 6 days a week. Each session, the Bull’s superstar would take a minimum of 500 jump shots, which adds up to over 6000 shots every week!
While practice and repetition is the key, basketball players are always looking for ways to immediately improve their game and add value to their team. Here are some strategies to help you immediately improve your game and steer you on the road to success.
Warm up properly
Warming up and stretching before training sessions and games will not only improve your performance but help you to avoid injury. Taking good care of your muscles and joints will allow you to reach your fitness goals faster.
Here are specific warmup and stretching drills you can use:
- Low-intensity cardio
- Stretching, mobility drills, and jumping
- High knees
- Ladder drills
- Lateral defensive slides
- Seated and standing hamstring stretches
- Seated saddle stretch
- Achilles stretches
Always get to your trainings and games with plenty of time to spare, so you can warm up adequately. Stick to your stretching routine and you’ll see a major improvement in your flexibility and speed.
Focus on agility
If you want to stand out on the court, working on your agility is critical. There are two main ways to achieve better agility. Firstly, focusing on speed and reaction time during training will yield results. Agility is best practiced with other people, so make the most of group training sessions.
Secondly, fitness training and time at the gym are crucial for optimising your agility. Some of the best workouts for increasing agility include:
- Lateral Plyometric Jumps
- Shuttle Runs
- Dot Drills
- Tuck Jumps
- High knee, forward running drills
- Lateral, side to side running drills
If you have a trainer or fitness specialist, ask them about exercises that will improve your agility further, that suit your specific body type and fitness levels.
Improving your gameplay will require time and effort and mastering your agility on the court is an important step in the process.
Communicate with your coach and team
Basketball is as much about communication as it is about being quick on the court or having superior skills. Whether you’re discussing strategy, calling a shot or helping on defence, communicating more will make you better both on and off the court.
Likewise, being a good listening and taking note of suggestions from others can greatly increase your effectiveness as a team member. More frequent and better quality communication will translate into smoother passes and fewer turnovers on the court.
Know when to rest
Basketball requires endurance and an extremely high level of focus and mental capability. Exerting high volumes of energy can be both exhausting and rewarding. It’s important to know when to rest, so your body has time to recover. Pushing too hard can result in injury and your development will suffer as a result.
Being in top shape both physically and mentally means taking the time to rest both your muscles and your mind. If you’re recovering from an injury, you will likely want to get back out on the court as soon as possible. But going too hard too soon can increase the likelihood of further injury, so it is important to know your limits. Talk to your coach or trainer about possible alternative solutions to staying in the right headspace and getting back into training and playing in a safe and practical way.
Never stop improving yourself
Ask yourself, is there anything more I can do for myself and my team? Identify this, and work on it immediately. As mentioned earlier, even the greatest players in the world keep working hard, long after they become a star.
And even if you have a long way to go, always remember that every individual has something special and unique to bring to a team. Whether it’s a skill or an ability to bring a group together, always work on your strong points and stay positive.
Becoming a great basketball player doesn’t happen overnight, but there are many things you can do that can have an immediate impact on your performance.
If you’re passionate about the game and would love to improve your skills, we’d love you to join our private basketball training sessions or sign up for a one-on-one coaching session, tailored to bring the best out of your individual game.