So you want to improve your performance on the court? Perhaps more than any other sport, basketball lives true to the mantra, ‘practice makes perfect’. No matter how skilled of a player you are, there are always things that you can work on. Even players like Kobe Bryant, who is considered one of the best pure scorers in the history of the game, took hundreds of shots every day to perfect his craft.
There are so many different facets to the sport that require constant repetition to improve your technique. Simple things like hand-eye coordination and running while dribbling the ball are crucial parts to your all around game. Kevin Durant has god-given shooting talent, but it took thousands of hours in the gym before and after games to perfect his form. How much time and work are you willing to put into your skills?
So like Allen Iverson famously said, “we’re here talkin’ about practice”. That’s right if you hadn’t already figured it out, the first way to improve your basketball performance is to practice your skills over and over. The first excuse most people will have is that they just do not have the time to put more hours into their game. Most people work full time and have other commitments or children they need to take care of at home.
But if you can find just a few hours per week to work on your dribbling and passing, you will find that your muscle memory will take over after a while. The more you perform those repetitions, the more they will feel natural in a game situation. If you have a hoop, then great! Work on your shooting too! But everything in basketball begins with handling the ball through dribbling and passing, and these two skills can be practiced without any hoop.
So what if your weakness is shooting? Even in the NBA, a lot of players struggle with their shooting. Not all of us can be Steph Curry or Klay Thompson, but if you really want to improve your shot you need to work on your shooting mechanics. If you watch the very best shooters in the NBA, their mechanics are the same with every shot. It is fluid, almost robotic in a way, and comes from practicing those mechanics endlessly.
A basketball shot consists of so many different aspects, that you can break it down into each little motion. To maximize the arc of the trajectory of your shot, it is beneficial to release the ball at the highest point in your mechanics. It also makes it much harder to defend than a lower release point.
When practicing your shot, don’t worry if you score, worry more about getting your form and release point consistent. Scoring will come with time, but making sure you can consistently produce the same form is far more important in the long run.
Now, there are two skills in basketball that are difficult to improve on your own: rebounding and defense. If you have a buddy you can play one on one with, it can be a great exercise but doesn’t necessarily simulate a true game environment. For improving these skills, we recommend hitting the video room to show how the pros do it.
You may think that rebounding is all luck depending on where the ball bounces or how long your arms are. Well, how do we explain players like Dennis Rodman or Kevin Love, who were tremendous rebounders at a fairly average height for the NBA? Rodman attributes it to an uncanny sense of anticipation. He would spend hours studying how the ball bounced off the rim depending on where the ball was shot from on the court.
If you don’t have the time to do that, then why not just watch some footage of Rodman? A lot of NBA footage is available now through sites like YouTube, and you might be surprised at how much you can learn just from watching some past games on video. Of course, taking reps in the gym helps too but without other players around it is difficult to imagine a single player practicing rebounding.
But what if the improvements you want to make are not skill-related? In a sport where you have to constantly run back and forth on the floor, cardio is always an underrated part of a player’s game. Conditioning can be difficult and take a lot of time to invest in. Not all of us have time to run several miles each day, but if you do manage to add some cardio into your regular fitness, you will notice the results on the court almost immediately.
Even NBA players begin to show fatigue by the fourth quarter, so there is no shame in not having the highest endurance. If you can build up your cardiovascular system to the point where you can feel a second wind late in the game, you will certainly have an advantage over your opponents.
The final way to improve your basketball performance is by hitting the gym. There’s a reason why most NBA players are extremely muscular: it’s because most of the mechanics on the court call for strength and agility.
But working out isn’t just about big biceps! Working on your core and lower body strength can make it difficult for defenders to know you off balance. It will also be difficult to knock you off the ball, which is an important part of holding off defenders.
One of the simplest ways aside from hitting the gym for extra practice is to watch how your favorite NBA players perform in games. Emulating your favorite players is great, but you also need to know the thousands of hours of training and practice that went into their skills.
That’s why the NBA is a multi-billion dollar business: because it has the best athletes in the world performing on a nightly basis so that you can watch, cheer for, and even follow your players and do some NBA betting as well!
Basketball is a sport that always requires practicing your skills and fine-tuning your game. It is a difficult sport to master, which is why so few players ultimately make it to the NBA.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t work on your own basketball performance and think about improving it. Whether it is practicing on your own, studying video, or hitting the gym, there are always improvements that can be made, it just requires repetitions and time to do them!