• Training Tips

Basketball drills for all skill levels

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A good game of basketball starts with a good warm up and ends with a cool down. Bring your 'A-game' to the court by incorporating these drills from Jen Reviews into your workouts.

“The idea is not to block every shot. The idea is to make your opponent believe that you might block every shot.” – Bill Russell

Warm up drills

These drills are a very important part in the whole game of basketball. Without them, there is always a risk of injury and torn muscles. Warm up drills also get the mind in focus on the game. They are a really good idea – not only from a safety point of view – but they are a great way to get the players to be mentally ready and prepared for the upcoming game. This is one area of training that should never be omitted for any reason as to do so may cause an unnecessary injury.

  • High knees: running with the addition of bringing your knees up towards your chest. This is quite a fast move and your knees should end up as high if not higher than the waist. Everything should stay facing the direction of travel, there is no twisting used
  • Run on toes: This is done without bending the knees
  • Butt kicks: Instead of bringing your knees up in front of you, as you run you kick your behind. Try to kick and move at a fairly fast pace. The whole body stays facing the direction of travel
  • Ankle hops: With slightly bent knees, gently bounce off the toes. This action looks similar to jumping a rope and going forward at the same time
  • Carioca: This is a sideways run and at the same time crossing your right foot in front, and then behind. This involves a good amount of hip rotation and is done fast
  • Side step: Feet should be slightly wider than shoulders. This is done slowly. Step with your leading leg and stay low while you bring up the rear leg to within 6 inches. Slowly move, staying in the crouch position
  • Glute walk: As you walk you pull up your right knee to your chest with your right hand. Both knee and ankle should be close to your body. Then repeat with the left leg and hand
  • Back pedal: Lean a little forward to keep your balance and then run backwards, reaching as far back as you can
  • Straight leg march: Keeping one leg straight, kick it up in front as high as you can as you walk. You should try to touch the opposite hand’s fingers as you walk. Then do the same with the opposite leg
  • Power skips: Instead of skipping normally you raise your legs as high as you can and thrust your arms up into the air as if to reach for the sky
  • Two player pass: Work on ‘pass and catch’. Alternate between bounce and chest passes

Offensive drills

Drills are used to achieve personal player development as well as teaching team work and skills. Most of these drills can be changed around so that the players never get bored with a set routine. This will help in your team developing the skills and determination they need to win.

“Offense is not equal opportunity.” – Bob Knight

  • Jump stop drill: All players need to be lined up at the end line, with space between them. They should then jog slowly down the court. When the coach blows the whistle they must all come to a jump stop. When the coach yells “go’ they all begin again. Every time the whistle blows the must make a jump stop. This should be done up and down the court. When the players are used to doing it with a slow jog, they can modify it to a sprint. After that they should all be given a ball and dribble slowly while doing jump stops. Eventually they may work up to a sped dribble combined with a jump stop
  • Jump stop and pivot drill: For this players need to be paired up together on a side line. One player dribbles about ten feet and stops with a jump stop, then pivots and passes back to their partner. The second player repeats the routine while the first player returns to the side line
  • Dribble baseline drill: This drill is a simple dribble right down to the baseline and then to shoot a mid-range shot. The players each get a turn and then go to the back of the line
  • Dribble up, dribble down: Here each player will dribble up to the baseline and the back dribble back down, and take the shot. This is an important drill as going backwards sometimes means a player will lose the ball. This drill teaches them to back dribble and still be able to take the shot
  • Corner drill: Here all the players start in the corners, using both sides. They must work through a triple threat and a shot fake, along with a dribble between the corner and the wing and take a mid-range shot


Defence drills

There is a well-known phrase that ‘defence wins games’ and if this is true, then it seems logical to spend some time drilling the moves to achieve perfection. It makes sense to work on specific drills for specific areas of the game, and perfect them in order to know the play well and beat the opposition. These drills do not have to be performed in any specific order, they can be mixed around to stop players becoming bored with the same routine.

“Good basketball always starts with good defence!” – Bob Knight

  • Tip drill: Working alternatively with right and left hands, jump and dribble the ball in a fluid movement. This can either be done in movements of ten per hand or in times of 30 second bursts
  • Tip and touch: This is exactly the same as the tip drill except that you touch the rim with the other hand
  • Blocks: This drill consists of one shot. The coach stands off to the side and throws the ball to one player. The receiving player goes directly to the hoop with one step, while the second player attacks him. The defender tries to get the ball with his inside hand and one step only
  • Two blocks: Two offensive players line up, with the defensive player in the middle. The coach is off to the side with two balls. The coach passes to one offensive player who takes just one step to the hoop. Coach now passes to the second offensive player who also goes directly to the hoop. No fakes or dribbles. Defensive player tries to make the block in just one move
  • React and block: Two offensive players line up facing the baseline. Defensive player sets up in the middle and coach stands on the base line with the ball. Ball is passed to an offensive player who goes with just one step to the basket. Defensive player tries to block the move, again in just one move. He must try to get the ball while maintaining position and balance
  • Top to corner drill: Offensive players are on the foul line and in the corner. Defender guards the high post. Coach stands with two balls and passes to the high post, while defender tries to get the ball. Coach passes to the corner players who go directly to the basket with two dribble at most. Defensive player tries to get the ball with just one step
  • Corner to top drill: This is the same drill as the top to corner but the defender now guards the player in the corner. Coach passes to the corner player and defender tries to get the ball. Offensive player goes to the basket with two dribbles at most
  • Strongside-weakside drill: Use the same format as the top to corner drill. Coach sets up on the opposite wing. Passes the ball to the high post while the defender tries to get the ball. Coach passes over the heads to the opposite corner who goes to the basket, no fakes and two dribbles at most. Defensive player tries to make the block


Cool down drills

After a basketball workout, it is really important that the body slowly returns to normal. It is vital to have a good cool down routine to prevent injury. This should also include stretches. The aim of the cool down is to have the heart rate gradually return to normal, reduce the waste product lactose, and to reduce the risk of sore muscles.

“Remember that basketball is a game of habits. If you make the other guy deviate from his habits, you’ve got him.” – Bill Russell

  • Walking without shoes on: get those shoes off and walk around with no socks on. Focus on feeling every part of your feet from your heels right up to your toes
  • Practise good form: Stand in a relaxed position with feet shoulder width apart and arms t your sides. Slowly lift your shoulders up towards your ears, feel as if you are moving them backwards and then downwards to a relaxed position. Take a deep breath and repeat again
  • Single knee cross: Lie on a mat on soft floor with hands at sides and both knees bent, feet on the floor. Lift one foot and place on other knee and gently push down on the lifted knee to stretch hips. Hold for 20 seconds and then change and do the other side
  • Ankle rotations: Sit on a chair and lift one leg at a time. Gently rotate ankles one way and then the other direction. Do this nice and slowly. Now change and do the other ankle
  • Calves: Find a step where you can support yourself. Stand on the step with your heels off the back and slowly lower your heels as far as is comfortable. Then – again slowly – raise up on your toes till you are as high as you can. Hold again, then relax
  • Shoulders and neck: This should be done slowly and smoothly. Stand comfortably and hang arms at sides. Look right and hold, then turn head left and hold. Then return to the front. Now turn slightly to the right and look down to the floor. You will feel your neck muscle stretch. Hold for a bit then turn to the other side and repeat



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