When you’re starting off as a basketballer, you are obviously going to make plenty of mistakes. Even the more experienced players make mistakes from time to time. The most important thing is that you learn from them!
Through our many years of training players, we have noticed which mistakes occur the most regularly. Being aware of these common issues can help players pay extra attention to them and allow them to develop their game faster.
Here are the 7 most common mistakes we see:
1. Shooting off-balance
Dirk Nowitzki has made shooting off-balance an artform but for the majority of people, this will reduce your shooting percentage. Rushing to get a shot off is the biggest factor in being off-balance, followed by moving too quickly before starting your shooting motion. Using a 1-2 step after you catch the ball instead of a jump stop can help ensure you have good balance. Taking that extra half second to set your feet will also be beneficial.
2. Dribbling the ball too high
When starting out, players have a tendency to bounce the ball real high when dribbling. But this not only makes it a lot easier for defends to steal but makes it easier for you to lose control of the ball. Keeping the dribble below your waist maximises control and reduces the likelihood of the ball being stolen. Practising a figure 8 dribble through your legs forces you to keep the ball low and helps develop control.
3. Not remembering the Triple Threat
When a player receives the basketball, they have three choices – shoot, pass or dribble. Being in the Triple Threat position gives you maximum ability to execute one of those options. It also keeps the defender on their toes, so they are less likely to be able to play help defence. Remembering to always be in a triple threat position when you get the ball will give you a big advantage. Our private basketball training sessions are great for helping you master this.
4. Trying difficult passes
One of the most common mistakes we see with inexperienced basketballers is throwing the ball away. A turnover means your team won’t get a chance to score on that possession and can also lead to a fast break for the opposition. Keeping passes simple during game-like situations is important to keep turnovers to a minimum. Practicing the harder passes are best done during a training session where you can repeat them over and over. 2 on 2 or 3 on 3 games can also give you more opportunities to work on your passing.
5. Not using a screen properly
Setting a screen helps free up a player from his defender. But both the screener and the player being screened need to execute properly for it to work. If the screener doesn’t get close enough to the other player’s defender, that person can easily fight over the screen and continue playing good defence. Likewise, if the player trying to get open doesn’t use the screen to his advantage, it won’t be effective.
When your teammate comes to screen you, make a quick step in the opposition direction to where you’re going, to get the defender off guard. Then quickly move passed your teammate screening you, essentially brushing shoulders with him. This gives the defender no space to get through the screen and will help you get free to make your move.
6. Defending with your arms instead of feet
Almost all new basketballers will try to defend with their arms rather than their feet. It is instinctual to move your arms to try and control the person with the ball and try and grab it off them. But to become a good defender, you must start with your feet. Getting down low and sliding into a good defensive position is key. One training technique to help this is for one player to dribble downcourt in a zig-zag pattern, while the defender has to stay in front of them by sliding their feet and keeping their hands behind their back. We love doing this drill at our school holiday camps.
7. Not staying between the offensive player and the basket
A lot of young players will instinctively follow the ball when playing defence. But this is the quickest way to get out of position and open up gaps for the other team to score. Staying between your opponent and the basket is the best way to defend on the floor. A good way to ensure this is by imagining there is line between the offensive player and the basket, and as a defender, always staying on that line. Even when the ball is on the other side of the court and you are playing help defence, if you are between your opponent and the basket still, you are best placed to stop them.
Most of these common mistakes are due to not understanding best practices. By being aware of why these mistakes occur, and implementing the right strategies for each one, you can quickly improve your game and help you become the best basketballer possible.