Nellakir are the premium supplier of Sprung Timber Sports Flooring in Victoria and Tasmania.
Nellakir are strong supporters of both junior and Senior Basketball and to assist young players from time to time we will provide some handy tips from real professionals.
This week we provide advice on Ball Handling, Passing, Shooting and Defence.
We hope this helps some of you budding young champions and take your game to the next level.
The following tips address the basics of the game. Master these and we may just post a blog on ‘tricks’ so you can impress your friends.
Basketball Shooting Tips
Shooting is a critical part of the game and it requires excellent mechanics, unfortunately there are a lot of people giving bad advice online. Without proper mechanics you will shoot a low percentage and have a lot of your shots blocked.
Below are important tips regarding shooting mechanics:
- Hold the ball on your finger tips. In order to have proper control of the ball only your finger tips should be touching.
- Start small, end tall. At the start of your shot you should be small, your legs bent as if you were sitting (this is where your power comes from). Then as you continue through your shooting motion you are springing up, ending with your body straight and your hands high in the air, ending tall. (Starting your shot standing up straight is a common mistake that really hurts your shooting percentage. You need your legs to get the ball up, especially in a game when you are tired, don’t make your arms do all the work.)
- Middle to middle. Your elbow should be in, pointing to the middle of the rim. The same goes for your middle finger on the follow through, your shot should finish as if you were dipping your hand into the rim.
- Snap the elbow. As you reach the peek of your shot your arm should straighten out in such a motion that your elbow snaps back a little (this may feel weird the first time). The MOST COMMON MISTAKE amateurs make is not fully extending their arm.
- Elbow above your eyes. At point of release your elbow should be above your eyes. Many players learn to push their arm out towards the basket in order to get enough distance on the ball, this results in many blocked shots and a low percentage flat arc shot. Fix this by practicing close shots with one hand and starting low to make sure you get power from your legs.
- Follow through. You should always follow through, your arm finishing straight, your wrist loose, your fingers hanging down. Your fingers should be naturally hanging, not tight together or pointing.
- Hold your follow through. By holding your follow through you are engraining it into your muscle memory, making your mechanics come naturally without conscious thought.
Basketball Passing Tips
Passing is an important skill and there are a variety of different types. The key to passing is finding the open player and choosing the appropriate type of pass.
The two most common passes in basketball are the chest and the bounce pass.
- Chest Pass. Ball travels from your chest area directly to your teammate with little arc and no bounce. This is the most direct way to transfer the ball and is the easiest to catch.
- Bounce Pass. Ball travels from your chest or waist area and takes one bounce up into your teammates hands. This is the most difficult pass to defend because the ball is bouncing near the defenders feet and they don’t have time to get their hands on it. This is why the bounce pass is very effective and popular.
Below are some passing tips:
- Pass with two hands. By putting both hands on the ball you have more control and can easily put backspin on the ball.
- Step into your pass. Put your weight into your pass to ensure proper velocity and control.
- Always follow through. Just like a good shooter, a good passer will follow through.
- End with your thumbs pointing down. Your thumbs should point down at the end of your follow through. This ensures there is proper back spin on the ball which makes it easier to catch.
- Make the pass easy to catch. Don’t put a lot of speed on the pass if you don’t need it, and always read the body language of your teammate, are they ready for a pass? Where are their hands?
- Pass away from the defender. Aggressive defenders will play passing lanes and knock away passes. Passing to the side of your teammate that is away from the defender will reduce tipped passes.
- Make the easy pass. Most turnovers that amateurs commit happen because they try to make a difficult or impossible pass. Just make the easy passes to wide open players, this will ensure your teammate can easily get it and your team retains possession.
- Pass to the hands of your teammate. If your teammate is squaring up for a shot, they will have their hands by their shooting pocket, make sure thats where you aim. If they are battling in the post with their hands up in the air, make a lob pass to their finger tips. If they are in the post reaching out low, skip a bounce pass in so it hits their hands.
- Only lead your receiver if required. Many passing turnovers are caused by over leading the receiver, often in times when there is no need to lead the receiver at all. If your teammate is wide open on a fast break don’t try throw the ball far in front of them, instead make a pass they will be able to get even if they slow down.
- Use trick passes with caution. Trick passes can look impressive when they work, but often result in turnovers. Using a trick pass just you had to try and fool the defence because you could not get them out of position.
- Do not jump. Once you jump, you are not allowed to land with the ball, if the passing lane disappears as you jump, you have no choice but to throw a bad pass.
- Pick a target. Don’t throw in the general direction of your teammates voice.
BONUS TIP: Play a practice game without dribbles. Find a few friends and play a game with no dribbling allowed (almost like ultimate frisbee), it will force you to focus on passing.
Below for receiving a passes:
1. Catch the ball with two hands and grab it with muscle. By using both hands and your strength you are increasing your control of the ball incase it had more velocity than expected or a strange spin. It also lets you immediately get into your shooting motion or triple threat position.
2. Come to the ball. If you let the ball come to you, you are giving the defender a chance to make a play. Once the ball is in the air, its your job as the receiver to get to it and make sure no one else can.
Basketball Ball Handling Tips
The importance of ball handling skills cannot be overstated. Whether you are a guard, forward, or centre, playing pickup, college, or professionally, ball handling is (and always will be) the most important skill in the game. With good ball handling the rest of the game comes to you, passing and shooting become natural because the ball is always where you want it. When you don’t have to think about physically holding or dribbling the ball, you will have no problems reading the defence and finding your open teammates.
Playing in pickup games does NOT improve ball handling. Improving your ball handling only comes from ball handling drills. If you were going to learn guitar, you wouldn’t join a band, instead you would practice chords and rhythm at home, so neither should you play basketball to learn the game. One great thing about ball handling is that you can practice at home! Just a few minutes a day will result in huge improvements on the court.
Below are the most effective drills:
- Tipping (do in your home!). Tip the ball back and forth from one hand to the next, starting with your hands straight up over your head. Then gradually move the ball down, while continuing to tip it back and forth. Go down to your chest, then your waist, knees, and ankles, and then back up again. Keep your elbows straight and only let the the ball touch fingertips, not the palms.
- Circles (do in your home!). Put your feet together and make circles around both legs. Then circle around the back. And then circle around the head. Then combine them and move the ball in circles around your head, then down your body, down around your knees, and then around your ankles (“candy cane”). Then come back up again. Try to only touch with the fingertips, not the palms.
- Around Each Leg and Figure Eights (do in your home!). Put one leg forward and move the ball in a circular motion around the leg. Then do the other leg. Finally, spread your legs out wide with the ball in front of you. Move the ball around through your legs in a figure-of-eight motion. Keep your eyes forward and don’t let the ball hit the floor. After 30 seconds, reverse the direction.
- Circle Dribbles (HIGHLY EFFECTIVE). Using only your right hand, dribble circles around your right foot with about 5 inch dribbles. Do ten clockwise then switch directions, then switch to your left hand and left leg.
- Figure 8 Dribbles (HIGHLY EFFECTIVE). Dribble the ball in and out between your legs in a figure eight motion, dribble should be about 5 inches high. When going between your legs your one hand will bounce the ball to the other.
- Power Dribble. Fifty power dribbles with the right hand, being sure to protect the ball with the off hand. After completing fifty power dribbles the ball handler dribbles low for fifty more dribbles. Then switch to the left hand and do fifty power dribbles and fifty low dribbles.
- Drops. Put the ball between your feet and grab it with both hands. Start with the left hand behind your left leg and your right hand in front of your right leg. Drop the ball and let it bounce once. Quickly, move your left hand in front of your left leg and your right hand behind your right leg, and catch the ball as it bounces up. Drop it again and switch your hands back to the original position (left behind, right in front) and catch it. Repeat this motion continuously. Finally, try catching the ball before it actually hits the floor.
Keep the following in mind when you practice:
- Head up, don’t look at the ball. You can’t afford to be looking down in a game, so don’t do it when you practice.
- Knees bent, back straight. The lower you are the safer the ball, practice as low as you can.
- Use your free hand to fend off defenders. Don’t forget that you are allowed to smack defenders away when they try to reach in, practice this when doing dribbling drills.
- Keep the ball on your finger tips. Good ball handlers control the ball with their fingertips, no palms.
- Increase your speed! Practice fast enough that you lose control, this will prepare you for game speed.
Why is ball handling important for all players? Ball handling skills are not just for players bringing the ball up the court, shooting guards, forwards, and centres all need ball handling skills. Ball handling even helps your shooting… many amateurs wonder why they can shoot well in practice and then miss easy shots in the game. This is usually because they are not great handling the ball, when they dribble into a shot they are not getting the ball on their finger tips or into their shooting pocket. And on a catch and shoot, they may fumble it slightly causing them not to get their fingertips in position, often causing an errant shot.
Like we mentioned earlier, the best way to improve ball handling is through drills. Practicing them every day will completely change your confidence on the court.
Basketball Defence Tips
Putting effort into your defence is the easiest way to impact the game. The key to good defence is staying between the hoop and your man, if they can’t get by you, they can’t score.
Below are some tips that will help:
- Keep your feet wide apart. Always be moving your feet but make sure you are in good position, never let your feet cross or get close together because your man will drive by you.
- Keep your legs bent. As if you were sitting on a chair, you should play defence from a low position. Staying low enables you to jump high, steel balls, and gain leverage in the post.
- Watch the player not the ball. Your opponent may try and get you off balance by using ball fakes, by watching their body you will not get tricked or off balance.
- Active Hands. Always be using your hands to get in the way of what your opponent is trying to do whether it be jabbing at the ball, filling passing lanes, face guarding.
- Always box out. Your job in defensive rebounding is to make sure your man does not get the ball, when you box out you are almost guarantying that they do not have a play on the ball.
- Don’t let your man drive baseline. If you are having trouble stopping dribble penetration then you should force the player to the front of the rim. There is more likely to be teammates there to help then if you allow them to go baseline for a potential easy layup.
- Never look away from the player you are guarding. It is good to keep an eye on who has the ball, but not at the expense of losing your man. Stand at an angle to that you can see your man and the ball without moving your head.