11 Best Basketball Drills for Players and Coaches in 2023

I remember the day when I decided to become the best basketball player I could be. Right away, I was faced with a few challenges.

One of the biggest challenges was knowing what to do when I found myself in the gym alone. Up to that point, I would shoot random shots from anywhere on the court. I realized this was getting me nowhere.

And guess what? It’s getting you nowhere as well.

If you don’t learn how to improve your game by yourself in an empty gym when no one is watching, you will find yourself on the bench during those big games when everyone is watching.

You NEED to incorporate drills to become a better basketball player. Drills like stationary ball handling, the Mikan drill, and a spot shooting drill.

These are the basketball drills that will allow you to hone your fundamentals and help you become a menace on the court.

Who knows? You may even earn a coveted basketball scholarship!

As a basketball coach, you need to be able to design workouts that help your players improve their agility, footwork, shooting, jumping, and ball handling within your scheduled basketball practice, or you risk your team losing games.

As a player, you need to insert meaningful drills into your individual workouts to become a better overall player, or you risk becoming a bench warmer.

So what are some of the best basketball drills that players and coaches should incorporate into their workout routine?

I’ve compiled some of the top basketball drills that will help you become a better player.

Whether you just bought a pair of new basketball shoes and are stepping on the court for the first time or are a seasoned professional, these drills will help you improve your overall game and give you a competitive edge on the court.

What Are The Best Basketball Drills To Become A Better Player And Team?

Here are the best basketball drills that have made the most positive impact on me and my career and that helped me win basketball games.

1. Stationary Ball Handling

Incorporate stationary ball-handling skills into your warmup. This allows you to get a feel for the ball and have better ball control when you get into live action. Focus on using your fingertips when dribbling.

  • Do 50 dribbles at shoulder height, waist height, and ankle height with each hand. Be sure to pound the ball into the floor as hard as you can. You may lose control here and there, which is totally fine.
  • Do 50 crossovers, keeping similar thoughts in mind, including varying heights and pounding the ball into the ground.
  • Continue this drill with in-between the legs and behind the back.

2. Wall Dribbling

This is one of the more underrated basketball dribbling drills to improve ball handling skills. Go up to a wall and dribble against a single spot on the wall. Remember to focus on using your fingertips. Try to do 50 dribbles with each hand as fast as possible. This is a great drill for hand-eye coordination.

3. Zig Zag Ball Handling

Start on one end of the court in the corner. What you’re going to do is dribble towards the free throw line, then half-court, then the opposite free throw line, and finish in the other corner of the court.

Each time you hit a marker, use a crossover to change direction and head toward your next mark. Repeat this drill and switch the change in direction to between the legs and behind the back.

Use this and other basketball dribbling drills to improve ball handling skills and develop a handle like Kyrie Irving.

4. The Mikan Drill

This shooting drill is named after Hall-of-Fame Center George Mikan. It is a drill that works on your finishing ability around the basket.

It is essentially a rapid layup shooting drill. You will start with the ball in your right hand on the right side of the basket. Shoot a layup, making sure to jump off one foot, then grab the rebound before it hits the floor, and do the same on the left side, making sure to use your left hand. Go back and forth to 20 makes in total.

Once you get efficient in the first phase of this shooting drill, implement reverse layups facing the opposite direction for a bit more of a challenge.

5. Shooting Warm Up

This is one of a few basketball shooting drills that even Steph Curry himself uses to get warmed up that can help you become a better shooter.

Simply stand in front of the basket and shoot a shot. Focus intently on your form. Make sure to bring your shooting arm to a right angle with your off-hand used as a guide hand. Snap your wrist, let the ball roll off your fingertips, and hold your form until the ball goes through the net.

I’ll do five makes in the middle and then five makes from each side of the basket to ensure I am well warmed up. This is what I recommend you do as well.

6. Spot Shooting

Time to move out a few feet from the basket. It’s nice to have a rebounder for this to make it one of many partner shooting drills.

Take and make five shots from different spots. This can be around the horn style. For example, I usually shoot from the baseline, then the wing, then the elbow, then the free throw line extended, and then finish in reverse order on the other side.

For an extra challenge, try to make five in a row at each spot.

Once you’re done with mid range shots, go ahead and move back to the three point line.

7. Stationary Rebounding Drill

All you need is a basketball and your hands. This is a great drill for simulating a rebound and securing a basketball with strength and confidence.

Put the ball in one hand then slam it into the other as hard as you can. Go back and forth 50 times, doing your best to not lose the ball.

8. Tip Rebounding

Start on the right side of the basket with the ball in your right hand. Throw the ball off the backboard then, all in one motion, jump and tip the ball against the backboard again with your right hand. Do your best to only use one hand. Do 5-10. You can finish the right side by making a layup on the last tip.

Go to the left side and do the same thing.

This is another great drill for hand-eye coordination and for improving your rebounding.

9. Rebound and Finish

Offensive rebounding is a huge part of the game and can help give your team a winning edge.

For this drill, throw the ball off the backboard, then jump and grab the rebound at its highest point with two hands. Come down in a strong position with elbows out and a strong shoulder-width base. Then explode up to the basket and finish.

There are lots of different variations on this drill. You can use a power dribble to finish on the other side of the basket and implement pump fakes as well to simulate an in-game scenario.

10. Court Slides

Being a good defensive player and developing a good defensive stance is vital to any winning basketball team. This is a defensive drill that helps with your ability to stay with your opponent and stop them from scoring.

You do not need a basketball for this defensive drill. Start in one corner of the court, get down in a solid defensive stance, and slide towards the foul line, then pivot and change direction until you reach half court, then hit the same spots on the other side in a zig zag pattern.

Do the same thing coming back, making sure to hit both free throw lines and the half court line.

Some keys to remember in this defensive drill are to stay low in your defensive stance throughout the slides by keeping your butt down. Keep your hands wide like you would when guarding a player in the game as well.

11. Layups From The Wing

Start at the wing on either side of the court. On the right side of the court, start with the ball on the left side of your body in a triple-threat position. Then rip through to your right side as if going around a defender, then take one dribble (if you can) and go up for a layup.

If you can’t do one dribble, use as many as needed, with the idea of eventually being able to only use one dribble at some point in the future.

Remember to go at game pace and pretend you are moving past your defender. Go at game speed to maximize the drill’s effectiveness.

What Are Basketball Drills?

Basketball drills are structured exercises and activities designed to improve specific skills, enhance performance, and develop overall basketball proficiency.

These drills target various aspects of the game, such as shooting, dribbling, passing, defense, rebounding, footwork, and conditioning.

They are an essential part of basketball training and help players develop muscle memory, coordination, agility, decision-making abilities, teamwork, and basketball IQ.

How Can Basketball Drills Benefit You?

Basketball drills help to improve your technique and also provide you with an effective workout.

Doing basketball drills regularly helps players become faster, stronger, and more agile on the court.

Basketball shooting drills can help you become a better shooter. A defensive drill can help you become a better defender. Ball handling drills will improve your ball handling skills.

By doing these drills, you can learn different techniques and strategies that will help you excel in the game. It’s as simple as becoming better than the player across from you so you can give your team the best chance to win the game.

“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”

Conclusion

Incorporating these basketball drills into your regular training routine is an excellent way to build your basketball skills. Doing so will help you become a better player and gain a competitive edge over your competitors on the court.

When I played, I always had a plan of what my workout was going to look like. Plan what shooting drills you’ll do, what dribbling drills, what rebounding drills you’re going to do once you get in the gym and get to work.

I see guys shooting BS half-court shots and hanging out on their phones and wasting the precious time they’re in the gym. When you have a plan and execute it, good things will happen to your game.

Remember that hard work and dedication are essential to becoming a skilled player, so put in the time, practice, and passion, and be amazed by the progress in your basketball skills.

Happy hooping!

FAQ

How can I practice well in basketball?

Set specific goals: Identify areas of your game that you want to improve, such as shooting, dribbling, or defense. Set specific goals that are measurable and attainable.

Develop a routine: Establish a regular practice routine. Allocate dedicated time each day or week to work on different aspects of your game.

Focus on fundamentals: Mastering the basic skills of basketball is essential. Spend time practicing dribbling, shooting, passing, and footwork drills. Pay attention to proper technique and form.

Practice game-like scenarios: Simulate game situations during your practice sessions. Work on shooting under pressure, making quick decisions, and executing plays. This will help improve your decision-making skills and adaptability on the court.

Work on your weaknesses: Identify your weaknesses and dedicate extra practice time to improve in those areas. Whether it’s improving your weak hand, increasing your vertical jump, or enhancing your conditioning, targeted basketball drills will help you overcome your limitations.

Play against challenging opponents: Seek opportunities to play against opponents who are better than you. Playing against stronger competition will push you to elevate your game and learn from their skills and strategies.

Stay physically fit: Basketball requires endurance, agility, and strength. Incorporate conditioning exercises, such as cardio workouts and strength training, into your practice routine to improve your overall fitness level.

Watch and learn: Study professional basketball games and players. Pay attention to their techniques, strategies, and movements. Analyze their skills and try to incorporate them into your own game.

How do you run a youth basketball practice?

Warm-up: Begin with a dynamic warm-up to get the players’ muscles warmed up and ready for activity. Include exercises such as jogging, stretching, and light cardiovascular movements.

Skill development: Dedicate a significant portion of the practice to skill development. Focus on teaching and reinforcing fundamental basketball skills like dribbling, shooting, passing, and footwork drills. Break down each skill into smaller drills and provide clear instructions and demonstrations to the players.

Drills and exercises: Incorporate a variety of youth basketball drills and exercises that target different fundamental skills. This can include shooting drills, layup drills, defensive drills, rebounding drills, and agility exercises. Keep the drills challenging but age-appropriate for the players, whether they are in elementary school or middle school.

Small-sided games: Introduce small-sided games or scrimmage sessions to allow players to apply their skills in a game-like setting. Divide the players into teams and encourage them to use the skills they’ve learned during the practice. Emphasize teamwork, communication, and sportsmanship.

Strategy and game awareness: Teach basic offensive and defensive strategies appropriate for their age and skill level. Discuss concepts such as spacing, ball movement, and positional responsibilities. Help the players understand game situations, such as fast breaks, pick-and-rolls, and defensive rotations.

Fun and competition: Incorporate fun games and competitions throughout the practice to keep the players engaged and motivated. This can include shooting contests, relay races, or skill challenges. Use these activities as rewards or breaks during the practice session.

Cool-down and stretching: End the practice with a cool-down period that includes light stretching exercises. Encourage the players to relax and reflect on the practice session.

Communication and feedback: Throughout the practice, provide constructive feedback to the players. Encourage open communication and create a positive and supportive environment. Recognize and praise individual and team achievements.

What are the best drills to help me dominate high school basketball?

The Mikan drill: Named after George Mikan, this is one of many basketball drills that involves shooting close-range layups using both hands to develop touch and coordination.

Two-ball dribbling: Enhance your ball-handling skills by dribbling with both hands simultaneously in your basketball drills.

Shooting: Focus on repetition and technique to develop muscle memory for consistent shooting form.

Post moves: Incorporate footwork drills to work on post moves such as drop steps, front pivots, and fakes to outmaneuver defenders and score in the paint.

Rebounding drills: Mastering rebounding is crucial in dominating the game. Practice various rebounding techniques and positioning to secure more boards.

Box out drills: Learn how to effectively box out opponents and establish position to dominate the boards.

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