Any basketball player worth his salt will tell you learning the fundamentals and actually implementing them on court are 2 very different things!
For those starting off (or getting back to the game after a long hiatus), it is natural to get overwhelmed by the sheer pace of a full court basketball game- all you hear is "cut.. post up.. roll..space the floor", while you are sweating buckets trying not to mess up - all of this to make sure you contribute effectively to your team! But, how do you get there? Points? Rebounds? Blocks? Steals?
As great as these ‘glory’ stats are, there are many other fantastic ways to contribute; and not having an active focus on your glory stats can more often than not make you a better player. This article skips the obvious tips - working on your fitness, speed, dribbling, shooting, etc., but instead gives you 5 ways you can be effective right from your very next game - You're much closer to getting picked first than you think!
- Active Hands
The biggest reason players fumble passes and miss easy rebounds is because their hands are not ready - seems obvious but it is important you address it. Keep your hands ready to receive, palms facing the ball, thereby giving the passer a target.
Here are a couple of drills you can do before the game to help you prepare during warm ups;
Passing is a great way to build confidence on court. But there are a few things to keep in mind.
Fundamentals can be your best friend when starting out. Master the 2 handed chest passand bounce pass before moving on to anything else.
Do not pass just for the sake of it. Look for open teammates , mismatches (strong teammate on offense, weak defender) and exploit!
*DO NOT HOG BALL - give and you shall receive.
Stay low and big : There are only 2 circumstances you move away from this rule - rebounding and blocking shots. In almost any other scenario, it is important you stay low - back upright, knees bent, feet shoulder width apart, hands outstretched; do this and you are stable, ready to react. Most importantly, always stay between your defender and the hoop.
By far, one of the best ways for you to be a part of the offense without having the ball in your hand! If you are just starting out, chances are that you are not doing the bulk of the scoring for your team. Setting screens can help you with:
Set on-ball screens (screens for the player with the ball), off ball screens (screens for teammates without the ball) and keep moving. The ball will find a way to come to you.
- Floor Spacing
There are about 8 primary spots on the court that a player usually occupies on offense. Simple math tells you that at any point, at least 4 are unoccupied. So make sure you are primarily playing out of these open spots. Why?
Try to consciously ensure that your cuts (quick run between 2 spots on court) are between 2 such spots to help you get used to the different positions. Moving with purpose is a great way to make sure your teammates love you and your defender hates you
This list by no way claims to be exhaustive but for sure, doing this will make your next game better than your last!