11 Best Basketball Skills To Improve Your Game In 2023

11 Best Basketball Skills To Improve Your Game In 2023

Basketball, in my biased opinion, is the best sport out there.

Dr. James Naismith created a beautiful thing back in 1891 at Springfield College, and it has grown into a worldwide sport that millions participate in and enjoy.

I’ve been playing it my entire life and still love the feeling of a good basketball in my hands when I step onto the court.

One of my favorite things about it is that it isn’t easy.

Delly, why in the world would that be one of your favorite things about basketball?

It’s one of my favorite things because not everyone can do it. There’s a lot of work that goes into it, but that makes the reward of winning a basketball game so much sweeter.

Basketball is a fast-paced sport that takes a little bit of time to get the hang of. It is one of the most demanding sports out there.

One needs speed, agility, strength, and endurance to play basketball competitively.

Whether you’ve played the game since you could walk or just picked up a pair of your first basketball shoes and are ready to hit the hardwood, there are some essential skills that you need to master to enjoy and succeed in the game.

What Are The Best Basketball Skills To Learn?

Here are the fundamental skills I believe every basketball player should pursue mastery in, whether they’re a seasoned player or just learning how to play basketball.

1. Ball Handling

Ball handling skills involve maneuvering the ball with skillful dribbling and accurate passing. It’s not just about how well you can dribble or ball control but also about your decision-making and ability to read the game at the guard position.

During your basketball dribbling drills, dribble a basketball in a balanced position with your knees bent and chest up. This stance allows you to have a clear view of the court, enabling you to make quick decisions.

Keep the dribble low to the floor when you practice dribbling, as players who remain low tend to have better explosiveness when attacking the basket.

Always remember to keep your head up, scanning the court for open teammates or potential scoring opportunities.

2. Shooting

Basketball shooting is one of the most important skills in basketball since the team with the most points at the end of the game wins. Whether you’re aiming for a layup, a jump shot, or a three-pointer, having a solid shooting technique and focusing on this technique during basketball drills is key.

Begin by positioning yourself with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, and your body facing the basket. Keep your eyes locked on the target, whether it’s the rim or the backboard, to ensure accuracy.

Bend your knees and generate upward force as you jump off the ground. This explosive leg movement will give your shot the necessary height and distance.

Find a grip that feels natural for you, with your shooting hand positioned under the ball and your non-shooting hand on the side for support and balance during your basketball drill.

As you jump, release the ball at the peak of your jump, using a smooth and fluid motion. This ensures a consistent release and increases your chances of hitting the target.

When you practice shooting, dedicate time to honing your shooting mechanics in every shooting drill you do from directly in front of the hoop, at the free throw line, and eventually at the three point line.

3. Defense

Being a solid defensive player in basketball is all about preventing the opposing team from scoring and disrupting their plays. It’s like being the gatekeeper of the court, protecting your side with tenacity and skill.

Good defensive players stay low and maintain a strong defensive stance, which allows them to move quickly and react to their opponent’s actions.

Young athletes with active hands and quick feet can disrupt passing lanes and make it difficult for the opposing team to execute their plays.

One essential aspect of how to play defense in basketball is understanding your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses.

By studying their tendencies, you can anticipate their moves and limit their scoring opportunities. For example, if you know your opponent has a lethal three-point shot, you can close out aggressively and contest their shots, forcing them into less favorable positions.

4. Passing

Passing is an essential skill that can make or break a team’s offense, especially if you’re coaching a team of young players. Make sure to incorporate these passes into your basketball passing drills.

One common type of pass is the chest pass. It originates from the chest, with both hands gripping the ball on the sides and thumbs positioned directly behind it.

Then comes the bounce pass, which involves bouncing the ball off the floor towards your intended recipient. This type of pass is particularly useful when there are defenders in the passing lane.

For longer distances, the overhead pass is a go-to option. Similar to a baseball throw, this pass involves extending your arms overhead and releasing the ball with a flick of the wrists.

Let’s not forget about the outlet pass, often used after a defensive rebound. It’s like igniting a fast break as the rebounder quickly searches for an open teammate down the court.

5. Conditioning

Just like a well-tuned engine, proper conditioning and knowing how to get in shape for basketball allows you to perform at your peak, both mentally and physically.

Jumping rope is one of many fantastic conditioning basketball drills that not only strengthens your legs but also improves your cardiovascular fitness as a basketball player. You don’t even need to be on a basketball court to do this!

Another effective basketball drill is the full court and half court sprint. This drill builds your speed, accelerates your metabolism, and enhances your quickness on the court.

Get used to these full and half court sprints so you’re not worried when the coach calls everyone to “get on the line”. This drill teaches players discipline, so be ready for it!

To improve lateral quickness, the ladder drill is a game-changer. It’s a fun drill that is easy to do. Set up an agility ladder on the ground and practice moving your feet quickly in different patterns.

6. Rebounding

There are two types of rebounds in basketball: offensive and defensive.

Offensive rebounds occur when your team retrieves a missed shot from your own team, giving you another chance to score.

Defensive rebounds, on the other hand, involve grabbing the ball after an opponent’s missed shot, preventing them from getting a second opportunity.

As you learn how to rebound in basketball, it’s crucial to develop a strong mentality. It’s about having a relentless hunger for the ball, never giving up on a play, and being willing to battle in the paint.

Visualize yourself as a force of nature, crashing the boards with determination and grit.

Boxing out is a fundamental technique used to gain an advantage in rebounding. By positioning yourself strategically and maintaining contact, you can ensure a better rebounding position and increase your chances of securing the ball.

7. Strength

Like a sturdy foundation supporting a towering skyscraper, strength forms the basis for explosive power and athleticism on the court.

However it can be difficult to find out how to get strong fast for basketball.

Strength aims to enhance explosive power, acceleration, and speed, allowing players to move with lightning-fast agility and dominate their opponents.

Strength goes beyond raw muscle power and basketball stretches. It’s about exerting submaximal force against resistance, enabling players to withstand physical challenges, maintain their balance, and hold their ground against tough opponents.

To develop basketball-specific strength, players can engage in exercises such as trap bar deadlifts, push presses, squats, bench presses, rows, and more. These exercises target multiple muscle groups, mimicking the demands of the game and enhancing functional strength.

8. Jumping Ability

When it comes to basketball, having a strong jumping ability is like having springs in your shoes, propelling you upwards to reach for rebounds, block shots, and throw down thunderous dunks.

The jump squat is an exercise that targets your leg muscles, specifically your calves and quadriceps, which are crucial for generating power and explosiveness.

Another exercise that can boost your jumping prowess is the tuck knee jump. This exercise focuses on explosive hip extension and helps strengthen your glutes and hamstrings.

Jumping rope is another fantastic exercise for those wondering how to increase your vertical jump for basketball at home. It not only strengthens your calf muscles but also improves your cardiovascular endurance.

If you find creating your own routine difficult, consider investing in a quality vertical jump program.

9. Coachability

Being coachable means having the willingness to learn, being open to feedback, and embracing the opportunity to improve.

Coachability starts with recognizing that no one is perfect and that there is always room for growth.

It’s about understanding that even the greatest players in the world have coaches who guide and shape their game.

Coachability requires vulnerability and the willingness to make adjustments. Players must be adaptable and willing to step out of their comfort zones and implement new strategies to overcome challenges and excel in different game situations for their high school teams.

10. Mental Toughness

Mental toughness is like having an inner fortress, a steel shield that protects you from the pressures and challenges of the game.

Mental toughness in basketball refers to the ability to stay focused, resilient, and perform at your best, even in the face of adversity.

It’s the backbone, the unwavering determination that pushes you to give your all, no matter the circumstances.

Developing mental toughness requires consistent practice and a growth mindset. By engaging in mental training exercises, visualization techniques, and mindfulness practices, players can strengthen their mental fortitude.

11. Persistence

In the game of basketball, persistence is a quality that can truly set players apart and propel them to great heights. It’s like having an unyielding flame burning within, driving you to push past obstacles and never give up.

Persistence in basketball is all about having the never-quit attitude, the unwavering desire to keep going even when faced with setbacks. It’s bouncing back after a missed shot, learning from the experience, and coming back stronger.

To cultivate persistence in basketball, players can set specific goals and continuously strive to achieve them. They can break down their goals into smaller, manageable steps and celebrate each milestone along the way.

What Is The Reason To Acquire And Improve Basketball Skills?

Having strong basketball abilities can make the difference between winning and losing a game.

It can also help to build team morale, as players who have mastered their skill sets are better equipped to lead on the court and make this a much more fun game.

Acquiring and improving basketball skills will give you an edge over your opponents because you put in the necessary work, and they did not.

It also helps to prevent injuries. You’re more aware of your body positioning and can react quickly in order to avoid potential harm.

With dedication, practice, and a few quality basketball drills, you can hone your abilities and take your basketball game to the next level – even for pick up games!

How Can Basketball Skills Benefit You?

The game of basketball requires you to have agility, quickness, strength, endurance, hand-eye coordination, and the ability to think on your feet in order to succeed.

Developing these skills can help you become more effective. For example, developing better agility can help you move faster and make quicker decisions, while improving hand-eye coordination can allow you to make more accurate passes and shots.

All of these skills listed can help you become better and more successful. With time, practice, and the best basketball drills, you can develop these important skills to be the best on the court.


There you have it, the essential skills every basketball player needs to possess.

While these skills take time to master, they are essential coaching points and can guide your success on the court.

Although my college basketball days are over, I still work on improving these skills every chance I get. There is no end in regards to improving your skills and becoming a better player.

Remember, practice makes perfect, and you should work on improving these skills every day. So go ahead, lace your shoes, grab your basketball, and get hooping!


How do you practice rebounding in basketball?

One effective basketball drill is to stand on the right side of the backboard and jump while dribbling the ball off the backboard with your right hand.

You can practice passing the ball to yourself off the backboard and going up strong with two hands to secure the rebound. This drill helps with hand-eye coordination and strength.

It’s also important to work on boxing out, which involves positioning yourself between the opponent and the basket and using your body to create space.

Remember to keep moving when boxing out, as the opposing player may try to maneuver around you.

What are the different types of passes in basketball?

Chest Pass

The chest pass is the most common and fundamental type of pass. It involves using both hands to push the ball directly from your chest towards your intended target.

Bounce Pass

The bounce pass is executed by throwing the ball towards the floor so that it bounces towards your teammate.

Overhead Pass

The overhead pass, also known as the baseball pass, involves extending both arms overhead and launching the ball with a pushing motion.

Lob Pass

The lob pass is an arcing pass that is thrown higher than normal, often over defenders, and aimed toward a teammate near the basket. It allows the receiving player to catch the ball and dunk it like LeBron James or Michael Jordan.

Wraparound Pass

The wraparound pass is a deceptive technique where you wrap the ball around a defender to reach your teammate. It requires precision and timing, as it can be easily intercepted by attentive defenders.

Behind-the-Back Pass

This flashy pass involves quickly transferring the ball from one hand to the other behind your back before delivering the pass.

No-Look Pass

As the name suggests, the no-look pass is executed without looking in the direction of the intended recipient.

To work on these passes, find a partner who you can work with to have a passing drill for each and every one.

How do I make the varsity basketball team?

Skill Development

Focus on improving your skills in all areas. Work on your shooting and free throws, practice dribbling, passing, and defensive abilities.

Fitness and Conditioning

Basketball is a physically demanding sport. Aim to be in top shape by engaging in regular workouts that include cardio exercises, strength training, and agility drills.

Learn the Game

Familiarize yourself with the intricacies of basketball. Study different offensive and defensive strategies, understand game scenarios, and watch professional games or highlight reels to gain insight into the nuances of the sport.

Attend Open Gyms and Offseason Programs

Take advantage of open gym sessions and offseason basketball programs. These opportunities allow you to showcase your skills, compete against other talented players, and catch the attention of coaches.

Stand Out During Tryouts

During tryouts, give your best effort in every drill, scrimmage, or game situation. Show hustle, display good sportsmanship, communicate with teammates, and demonstrate a strong work ethic.

Understand Your Role

Recognize the specific role you can fulfill within the team. This may involve being a lockdown defender, an exceptional rebounder, an accurate shooter, or a versatile player who can contribute in multiple ways.

Display Coachability

Coaches value players who are receptive to feedback and willing to learn. Listen attentively, ask questions, and apply the feedback you receive.

Showcase Teamwork

Basketball is a team sport, and coaches look for players who can contribute to the overall success of the team. Demonstrate good court awareness, make smart passes, set screens, and communicate effectively with teammates to showcase your ability to work well within a team dynamic.

How do I get a college scholarship for basketball?

Here are a few steps for those wondering how to get a basketball scholarship:

Start Early

Coaches often begin recruiting players early, sometimes even in middle school. Begin showcasing your skills and reaching out to coaches during your high school years.

Focus on Academics

Maintaining good grades is crucial. Eligibility requirements set by the NCAA and other organizations include meeting certain academic standards.

Create a Highlight Tape

Put together a highlight reel showcasing your skills, athleticism, and game performance. This will give coaches a visual representation of your abilities.

Attend Showcases and Camps

Participate in basketball camps and showcases where coaches and scouts from colleges may be present. This provides an opportunity to showcase your skills and get recruited for college basketball.

Reach Out to College Coaches

Take the initiative to contact college coaches directly. Send them your highlight tape, an athletic resume, and a personal statement expressing your interest in their program. Attend college visits and basketball camps and communicate regularly.

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