basketball mind and sport psychology

4 Sports Psychology Techniques to improve your basketball

Practice goes a long way in improving your basketball skills. But it’s not just about improving physically that makes all the difference. Mentally tough athletes also have a big advantage over their opponents – they can handle the demands of training better, cope better under pressure, can visualise winning, set goals, focus better, and have the ability to motivate others.

Sports psychology has evolved massively over the years and all professional teams utilise a range of strategies to optimise their performance. But you don’t have to engage a sports psychologist to become tougher mentality. There are several techniques the experts recommend which you can implement yourself, leading to a noticeable improvement in your basketball.

Here are 4 strategies from sports psychologists that you can practice and implement throughout your basketball career.

1. Visualisation

Visualisation is similar to “positive thinking” and used widely in basketball. We are often faced with difficult tasks out on the court and rehearsing these in our heads is a great way to practice them, so we are suitably prepared when they really happen.

Using visualisation allows us to improve our skills in these tough situations by repeating them over and over in our minds and increasing our confidence on game day.

Here are some visualisation techniques to practice.

  1. See the environment: the court, the teammates, the opposition.
  2. Picture yourself relaxed, confident, and in control.
  3. See yourself prepared and ready.
  4. Imagine what it is like to make each play successfully.
  5. Imagine winning the game.

2. Relaxation techniques

One of the biggest roadblocks in sports performance is anxiety. Everyone can get nervous (especially in big games such as grand finals) but if not managed effectively it can lead to anxiety which can impair your play.

A way to manage your anxiety is through controlled breathing. It can help improve your circulation, calm the nerves, improve concentration, and increase energy.

Here are some steps for controlled breathing:

  1. Take a deep, slow breath.
  2. Gently exhale fully.
  3. Inhale again, this time counting 1 to 4.
  4. Hold your breath, counting 1 to 4.
  5. Exhale completely while counting from 1 to 8.
  6. Repeat step 3 to 5 four times.

3. Motivation

Being in the right frame of mind is crucial to success on the basketball court. Wanting to play your best and wanting to win is the motivation that can drive athletes to be better than others.

Studies have shown that “intrinsic motivation” is better at sustaining commitment than “extrinsic motivation”. In simple terms, this means you should focus on doing something for the sake of accomplishing a task, rather than for the sake of the rewards.

Here are some strategies to help motivation:

Goal setting – this provides meaning and direction while also energising players to work towards their objectives. These goals should be broken in to specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound (SMART).

Self-talk – Speaking to yourself (either internally or out loud) can increase both power and endurance. Saying to yourself “I can keep going” when you’re tired or “I know we can win” when the game is on the line, helps boost motivation.

Change the environment – Having a positive mood is crucial and music is a fantastic way to help achieve this. Making different playlists depending on the situation (ie. before a game, during recovery, etc) can tailor the most optimal music to your circumstances and put you in a positive mood when things might be feeling tough or overwhelming.

4.Reflection

Being able to reflect on your performance is crucial to being able to control your performance. And honesty is vital. Accurately identifying your strengths and weaknesses allows you to dedicate resources to make the necessary improvements.

Create a list of different skills or qualities, and rate yourself out of 10 based on right now. Then choose a realistic future rating of where you want to get to. Add in ‘action needed’ with what’s required to help you lift to that future score.

FocusNowFutureAction needed
Endurance69Go for a 1km run twice a week.
Free throw shooting48Take 50 free throws every day.
Defence38Get private coaching to teach me better fundamentals.
Cope with pressure59Visualise games where I am playing confident and successfully.

All the above techniques will go a long way to improving yourself as a basketballer. Being mentally tough will not only help you on the court but also throughout other aspects of your life.

coaching basketball communication

The importance of good communication with your coach

Over the years, you will likely have a number of basketball coaches, some good, some bad. One thing that remains constant, however, is that your coaches will be some of the most influential people on your basketball career.

Whether or not you see eye to eye with a coach, there are a number of actions you can take to ensure you get the most out of the relationship and maximise your chances of success.

  1. Always be clear

Being clear on your goals and your expectations is crucial for an optimal relationship with your coach. Letting the coach know what you’re hoping to accomplish and what you believe your strengths and weaknesses is crucial to help avoid conflict. It will also open the lines of communication with your coach, so he or she can easily portray what their expectations of you are, and what their ultimate goal for the team, and for you as an individual, is.

2. Always show respect

Perhaps the most important part of good communication with your coach is respect. In the majority of cases, your coach isn’t trying to make you go through hell or punish you. They have a master plan and want to get the best out of you and the best out of the team. Sometimes, the team goals will mean your individual goals will be put off to the side, but this shouldn’t give you fuel to be rude or disrespectful to the coach. Ensure all conversations with your coach are polite and considerate. This is important whether it’s a coach who oversees your game or a coach who manages private training sessions for your basketball.

3. Honesty is the best policy

Similar to always being clear, being honest is another critical part of maintaining a good relationship with your coach. If something is bothering you as a player, then it’s important to be upfront about it. Don’t hold a grudge and let it build up inside you. A coach isn’t a mind reader, and they will actually value and appreciate you expressing your views. As above, make sure you do it in a respectful way. Being honest with your coach will also help ensure the conversation flow both ways is opened, and you will receive honesty from them in return.

4. Trust the process

This mantra became synonymous with the development of Philadelphia 76ers big man, Joel Embiid. After sustaining a serious injury prior to debuting in the NBA, the 76ers organisation asked both the fans and Joel himself to ‘trust the process’. And the same can be applied to players of any standard. If your coach isn’t giving you as much court time as you feel you deserve, trust that there is a reason for this.

Many players have to earn their dues to get the court time they desire. Don’t get disheartened or angry, but rather keep working hard and taking care of the things within your control. And most importantly if you DO need to speak up about any concerns, do it in an honest, respectful way.

If you can apply all the aspects mentioned above, the communication with your coach will be optimal. And no matter whether you are perfectly matched or have struggles getting on the same page, you will see a relationship form that benefits both player and coach positively.

different positions basketball

What are the Different Positions in Basketball

During a game, there are 5 basketball players on the court for each team at any one time. While younger teams and those just starting off might not have any specific role for each player, more competitive teams have different positions for the 5 active players. This effects what jobs they perform on the court and where they stand on both offense and defence.

Here is a rundown of the 5 different positions for basketball teams.

1-Point Guard

The point guard is considered the on-court leader of the team, as he or she usually controls the offense. This includes dribbling the ball up the court and starting the plays with the first pass. They need to have good ball handing skills and good court awareness.

Normally, the point guard is one of the smallest players on the team, however in recent times we see taller players like Lebron James 6’10 playing the point guard position.

2-Shooting Guard

The shooting guard is normally the second smallest position on the court. The player in this position can also help to bring the ball up the court so they need good dribbling skills as well. They are normally good shooters from long distance, so do a lot of moving off the ball to get open for jump shots. Some of the best shooting guards in recent times include Klay Thompson, Dwayne Wade and Kobe Bryant.

3-Small forward

Generally, the player at this position is the most versatile on the team. They are usually medium height and do everything from passing, rebounding, scoring, and dribbling. A lot of their time is spent on the wings. Notable players in the small forward position include Kawhi Leonard and Kevin Durant.

 4-Power forward

One of the strongest players on the team. The power forward spends a lot of time inside the key, and focuses on inside scoring and defence, as well as rebounding. They will also set screens to free up other players. Some of the best ever power forwards who dominated their position include Karl Malone, Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan.

5-Centre

The centre is generally the tallest player on the court and will live inside the key. They will focus on interior defence and rebounding as well as scoring close to the basket. Blocking shots, setting screens, post moves and tip ins are usually their main strengths. The 1990’s were loaded with quality centres including David Robinson, Shaquille O’Neal and Hakeem Olajuwon.

In modern basketball, we have seen a lot of professional teams move away from the 5 defined positions. A lot of the time we see “small ball” where a team takes to the court without a true centre. More and more we are seeing utility players, including big players who can dribble, pass, and shoot three pointers. Nikola Jokic from the Denver Nuggets and Joel Embiid from Philadelphia are two of many in the NBA right now.

But at the junior level, it is important to still have 5 defined positions on the court, as it teaches players to learn a specific role, and helps them focus on what they need to do to contribute to the team success.

To develop your skills, check out our private training services and get involved Tomorrow’s Stars Basketball today.

Basketball fundamentals that beginners should practice

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.

Shooting

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

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.

Dribbling

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

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.

Why is Basketball the Best Sport

Ever since Dr James Naismith nailed 2 peach baskets to the balconies of his gym in Springfield back in 1891, basketball has been met with enthusiasm and enjoyment by millions of people over the world. It is now one of the most popular sports globally with participation rates on the increase every year.

So, why is basketball the best sport?

  1. It can be played by anyone

Basketball can be played by anyone, no matter what their skill level. Whether you are tall or short, fast, or slow, young, or old, experienced or a novice, basketball is a sport you can embrace and enjoy. Even players with disabilities can participate, as wheelchair basketball has shown.

  1. You can play and practice easily on your own

Some sports like football or baseball require other players to allow you to practice effectively. But with basketball, all you need is a ball and a hoop. You can also have actual competitive games with just 1 other player.

  1. It provides numerous health benefits

Whether you are an experienced player at a high level or just starting out, all the running, jumping, cutting, passing, shooting, and playing defence provides a fantastic workout. An hour of basketball can burn up to 700 calories and helps you build endurance, build muscle, improve balance, and develop concentration and discipline.

  1. It can be played any time of the year

Basketball can be played both indoors and outdoors, meaning it is the perfect sport to play all year round. While Naismith invented the game to condition young athletes during the cold winter months, it has gained popularity during the summer as well. The NBL is now played over the summer months and even the NBA has a summer league which is increasing in popularity every year. Tomorrow’s Stars runs private training sessions all year round, together with school holiday camps no matter what the season.

  1. It is good for your social skills

Basketball is one of the best sports to develop your social skills. Being a team game, it teaches you how to work well with other people and improve communication. It also boosts confidence, helps with conflict resolution, improves time management, and builds a strong sense of community.

  1. Basketball helps you hone individual skills

Basketball is a team game but also allows you to showcase individual skills. The best teams in the world usually have a star player who will step up when the game is on the line and help carry the other players to get the win.

But great teams who learn how to play together are the ones that enjoy success most frequently. Which is why the saying is “a champion team beats a team of champions”.

If you have other reasons why you love basketball, send us an email, we’d love to hear from you! And to get involved with Tomorrow’s Stars Basketball, call us on 1300 872 255.

9 Ways to Improve Your Shooting

Shooting is the most important skill in basketball. At the end of the day, the objective is to get the ball in the basket, and whichever team does that the most times during a game win. Hence, improving your shooting should be a priority, no matter what standard you are.
Here are 9 tips that will transform you into a better shooter for your team.

  1. Practice, practice, practice.

Even the best players in the world practice shooting all the time. Steph Curry (one of the greatest shooters the world has ever seen) still takes 1000 shots after each practice session. During the offseason, he takes it up a notch, shooting over 5000 shots a day!

  1. Always eye the target early.

This may seem like a no brainer, but plenty of people shoot the ball without actually looking at where they want it to go. Focus on the target (the rim) early so your brain knows where you should be aiming, and subconsciously calculate the distance to the basket. Once you’ve shot the ball, you should always keep your eyes on the target and not the flight of the ball.

  1. Get balanced in a comfortable position.

Being comfortable is crucial when it comes to good shooting. Having your feet shoulder width apart will ensure you are balanced before taking the shot. Your feet should also point in the general direction of the basket, but not necessarily directly at it. Find a position that is comfortably to you, but the key is to then get into that same position on every shot.

  1. Hold your follow-through and relax your wrist.

Holding your follow-through (until the ball hits the rim) helps maintain a good shooting technique also allows you to identify if your arm, elbow, or wrist need better positioning. Your elbow should extend in a straight line and your wrist should always be relaxed.

  1. Do not think about your shot on Gameday.

Thinking about your shooting technique during a match is one of the worst things you can do. It can distract you from the flow of the game and won’t help you improve. Put all the elements out of your head during the game – it’s okay to miss shots. Think about the fundamentals of your shot during practice or when you’re attending basketball camps. Over time, it will become second nature during the game anyway!

  1. Watch footage of pure shooters.

Learning from the best can help you become the best. Watching footage of the best shooters will ensure you develop a technique that helps you improve. Some of the best pure shooters are Ray Allen, Klay Thomson, Reggie Miller, Larry Bird, Kyle Korver and of course, Steph Curry. Spend some time watching their videos on YouTube and take note of everything they do. Then try to replicate it.

  1. Film your technique.

Taking things, a step further, you may even want to record your own shot (both in practice and in games). This can shed light on what you are doing right or wrong and allow you to make adjustments to help you improve your percentage.

  1. Purchase a return device.

A return device helps get the ball back to you quicker and can literally double the number of shots you take while practicing. So, if time is limited, a return device is a great idea. Similarly, having a partner to rebound for you will allow you to get more shots quicker and allows you to get into a better rhythm.

  1. Practice, practice, practice.

Yes, this tip is exactly the same as number 1. But the importance of practice cannot be overstated. To become better, you need to put the work in. Repetition is the key!

Good luck, and for one-on-one help developing your shot, take a look at our private basketball training sessions.

basketball rebounding

3 Strategies to become a better rebounder

Rebounding is one of the least glamorous but most important aspects of playing basketball. When a shot is missed by your team, acquiring the rebound ensures an additional possession which gives you another opportunity to score. When a shot is missed by your opponent, getting the rebound means you prevent them from getting second chance points, and regain possession for your own offence. In a close game, getting crucial rebounds can be the difference between winning and losing.

So how do you become an expert rebounder? Well, you might think that you need to improve your jumping skills, but that’s not necessarily so. Regardless of your jumping ability and height, you need to be prepared for the ball to miss and get ready to catch the rebound. This involves out-positioning opponents who are also trying to get the ball off a missed shot.

It may sound easy, but you need to work very hard to become a good rebounder. This involves becoming very fit, increasing your spatial awareness, and perfecting the right techniques.

1. Keeping yourself in top physical condition

If you’re not fit, you won’t be able to play a good game of basketball. With all the running, jumping and physical contact required in the game, you need to get fit and then get fitter. The better your physical fitness, the greater your chances of being in the right position at the right time to grab a rebound.

If you’re not fit, then you will likely run out of steam and miss the rebounds by simply not being in the right place in time. That’s often why the bigger size players start off well at the beginning of the game and then wane as the match continues, simply because they run out of steam.

Working on your physical fitness means that you can outlast everyone else and get more rebounds to help your team! Our Private Basketball Coaching sessions not only help players work on their fundamentals, but also have a strong focus on fitness.

2. Work on your knowledge and awareness

Knowing all your teammates and how they operate on the court will help you to anticipate what’s going to happen at the glass. This knowledge can make you almost psychic, because you know when and where people are going to shoot, and where to position yourself for a rebound. Former NBA star Dennis Rodman wasn’t overly tall, but his positioning and hustle made him one of the best rebounders in the history of the game.

Then there’s knowing what the ball is going to do if it misses. With a little forethought you can work out that the majority of shots that miss from the corner rebound back to the same or opposite corner. On the other hand, shots missed from the wings are more likely to rebound to the same or opposite wing. An example might be that you have certain players on your team who statistically, when they miss usually tends to overshoot rather than under. If you already know this information you can position yourself to get the rebounds for your team.

3. Work on your rebounding technique

One of the best techniques to learn if you want to improve your rebounding techniques is the SWIM manoeuvre which gets you out of a box manoeuvre set up by your opponent. This involves getting your opponent’s arm out of the way so you can catch the ball. So as your opponent moves to block you moving forward, place your arm on their shoulder (face to face). Move your opposite leg in front and across their body (so you are slightly side on to them) and then use the arm on the same side of your body to swim over their head and move yourself forward and past their position, running forward to get the rebound and gain some easy points for your team!

We run a range of drills to help children of all sizes become better rebounders. To enrol your kids in basketball for the school holidays, call us on 1300 872 255 or shoot us an email today.

How to increase the vertical jump for basketball

Encouraging your kids to play sports is a great way to help keep them fit, healthy and make new friends at the same time. Basketball is a sport that most kids love to play, and it also teaches them about discipline, hard work and passion, all characteristics that can help them to succeed in life.

If your kids want to improve their basketball skills, one of the most important of these abilities is their vertical jump. In fact, it’s a fairly essential skill for all basketball players as it helps with shooting, rebounding and blocking on defence.

What is a vertical jump in basketball?

This is an explosive physical movement that literally propels a player upwards into the air. It’s an important move because it’s used so often in basketball. For example, a player needs to vertically jump to be able shoot, intercept a ball and recover it after a shot. A vertical jump is not dependent on a person’s height, so it’s a great thing for kids to practise that can give them the edge on game day. It can also be a bit of fun, and when you get older, maximises the chance of you being able to slam dunk!

If your kids dream of soaring through the air like Michael Jordan, let’s take a look at some of the exercises your kids can use to improve their vertical jumps very quickly.

Split Squat Jumps

Also known as Bulgarian Split Squat Jumps, this exercise helps players to accelerate their vertical lift and land on one leg. You start by standing with your feet wide apart, bending both knees until your thighs are parallel with the floor and then jumping upwards as high as possible. Land into a lunge position with one foot in front of the other and your thighs parallel with the ground once more. Then jump up again from this position and swap legs with each landing.

Standing long jump

Also known as the broad jump, this exercise helps players to increase their lower body strength. For this exercise, you need to start in a standing position, slightly bending your knees and then leaping forward with both feet as far as possible. The key is to land in a standing position so you can keep repeating the exercise.

Tuck jumps

This exercise helps train players to land correctly without injuring themselves during a game. From a standing position, bend your knees, jump upwards vertically and at the top of your jump bend your knees upwards towards your chest. Drop your knees back down, land in a standing position, bend your knees, jump up again and repeat.

Lateral Jumps

Basketball players are constantly moving from side to side, but also changing direction, cutting and pivoting at the same time. Practising lateral jumps will help increase the power of these moves. From a standing position, hop to the right whilst bending slightly and landing with your right leg forward with left at the back. From this position, hop towards the left with the left foot forward and the right behind, bending at the waist. Keep hopping from right to left to build up your lateral jump strength and speed.

If you want to improve your vertical jump, why not enrol in our Basketball Jump Program and maximise your leaping ability.

At TSB, we teach basketballers to visualise the moves, perform them on a regular basis and achieve the outcomes they want. Call us on 1300 872 255 or shoot us an email today.

7 Great basketball games for kids to practice

Basketball is one of the most popular sports in the world and comes with a range benefits. These include increased socialisation, improving cardiovascular health, boosting the immune system, burning calories and better coordination. All of these are important to the development of children.

To get the most out of your basketball, you need to train hard. But it doesn’t always have to be hard work. Here are seven basketball games that you will all absolutely love.

Horse

The first player has to invent a shot, explain it to the other players and then take the shot. Examples of shots can be hopping on one leg, shooting from a tough angle or throwing the ball between their legs. If they make the shot, then the next player tries to replicate it. Each time a player misses their shot they are given a letter, starting with H for HORSE and the ball moves to the next player and so on. When a player’s letters spell the entire word HORSE, they are eliminated. The last player standing wins the challenge.

Knockout

With two basketballs, players line up behind the free throw line. The first player takes a shot and immediately after, the second player can also. If the first player misses, they have to rebound their own ball and make the shot (from anywhere). The second player does the same, and if they make their shot before the person in front of them, the first player is eliminated. If the first player makes the basket first, they pass the ball to the next person in line, and they shoot a free throw, and then follow up a miss from anywhere. Whenever the player behind hits their shot before the other person, they knock them out. The game keeps going until one player is left the winner.

Around the world

This game involves making shots one after another from multiple spots in an arc around the court. Each player shoots from the first spot, and if they make it, they move to the next spot and get another turn. If they make that, they continue to the next spot and so on. Once they miss, the next player shoots. And they continue moving from spot to spot until they miss. The first player to go all the way round wins the game.

Musical baskets

Similar to musical chairs, you require the same amount of basketballs as there are players. All the balls are placed in a circle and the players walk around the circle until the music stops. The players all grab a basketball and have to make a shot, sitting down when they make it. The last person standing is eliminated and the game starts again with one less ball and player.

Dribble limbo

For this game, each player has to limbo under a pole while dribbling a basketball. After every player has either succeeded or failed once, the pole is lowered and the players who succeeded in the first round get to limbo and dribble again. This continues until only one player is left as the winner.

Basketball relay

Two teams line up along the baseline and the first player in each team dribbles a basketball to the opposite baseline or half court and then back again. Once the second player receives the ball, they do the sme thing. Each player repeats the process and the first team to have all their players complete the relay wins.

Twenty-one

This is a freestyle game where the first player to score 21 points wins. If they go over 21 points, however, their score is reduced to 11. Following each winning shot, that player has three free shots in a row, but if they think they might go over 21, they can refuse these free shots. This is a game of defence and offence and you can even make up your own rules!

These games are a great way to stay active and improve your basketball skills. In conjunction with private basketball coaching, this will help you develop your game. For more information, call Tomorrow’s Stars Basketball on 1300 872 255.

Important Tips to Get the Most out of Basketball

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.