How to Get Better at Basketball

Basketball is a sport that a lot of people strive to get better at.

When you can demonstrate how skillful you are on the court in front of your friends and other spectators, it evokes feelings of happiness and accomplishment.

Now the path to becoming an improved basketball player isn’t necessary a clear one, as there are a number of hurdles that have to be overcome.

But that’s where this article comes in, as it’ll outline the steps you need to take to elevate your basketball game to greater heights.

Ways to improve your basketball skills

There are many ways you can get better at basketball — from improving your skills on defense or offense to getting more endurance and muscle mass.

Here is an outline of some key aspects that will help you become a better player this season.

1. Identify the major strengths and weaknesses in your game

how to get better at basketball - identify your strengths and weaknesses

No one is perfect when it comes to sports but there are certain areas where we excel while others need work before they reach their full potential.

For example, you could naturally be very agile so your running speed is quicker than most people’s walking pace.

However, you could have deficiencies in other areas, such as being not so great with catching basketballs thrown by other people, which means that you probably wouldn’t make a good defender in the sport despite being quite fast.

Let me give you another example.

When playing soccer as a kid, I was always picked apart because I couldn’t kick the ball very far upfield.

On defense, I also struggled against skillful wingers as well as taller forwards due to not having much height.

Conversely, I had the ability to read plays quickly and therefore could cover other players adeptly by making crucial interceptions.

It may sound strange but identifying these different strengths and weaknesses helps us understand how our own style works best, and what needs improvement.

So, take time over the next month to think about what parts of your basketball game really stand out.

You should then be able to identify specific improvements that need to happen in order to achieve your goals.

2. Improve your physical fitness

how to get better at basketball - improve your physical fitness

If you’re interested in becoming a professional athlete or simply want to play at an elite level, increasing strength, stamina and agility will go far towards helping you succeed.

All athletes require enough energy to perform, whether it be during practice or a match, and if you aren’t physically fit enough to do so you won’t last long.

With this in mind, try to incorporate resistance training (weights) and cardio exercise (running/swimming) into each session.

As mentioned earlier, agility is something I lack and although I’d love to be faster than everyone else, it doesn’t mean I can’t make strides to improving that aspect of my fitness.

The benefit of aerobic exercise here is that you’ll make your muscles stronger, which is very important for a sport like basketball that involves a lot of physicality and explosive movement.

Also, as an aside, remember to warm up properly and stretch thoroughly to avoid injury.

3. Watch footage of NBA and college basketball games  

One way to develop new techniques is to watch videos of yourself performing poorly and seeing how another person would react under pressure.

Or you could learn from those more proficient at the sport (i.e. the professionals).

So, when you have lots of time to spare, go look up some footage of players like Lebron James or Steph Curry and see how they excel at various aspects of the game.

And while watching clips of other teams, pay close attention to learn how these players move in relation to their team mates and the opponents on the court.

Seeing things like this makes it easier to recognize good technique and movement off the ball.

Watching great defenses can also teach you a lot about defensive schemes, positioning and formations.

It’s easy to see why coaches put together successful defenses by studying the opposition’s tendencies carefully.

Likewise, analyzing offensive strategies teaches valuable information regarding spacing, movement and creating space between players for effective passing.

By closely monitoring the top competition you’ll soon pick up important tactics that you can implement for yourself.

4. Practice ball control, dribbling and shooting

how to get better at basketball - practice ball control and shooting

Once you know exactly what weaknesses you need to focus on, you can begin practicing drills designed to strengthen those weak points.

A lot of people believe that spending hours in the gym doing exercises is sufficient preparation for matches but you can’t solely depend on your muscles for overall performance.

Instead, concentrate on developing greater mental awareness and skill through dedicated practice sessions.

For instance, you could spend around 15 minutes completing simple basketball movements such as lay ups, free throws, jump shots etc.

Once you start feeling comfortable, gradually increase the difficulty by adding extra steps (e.g., side jumps), changing angles and heights, and incorporating variations (such as crossover step overs).

Try practicing these types of moves until you master them, repeating the same process for every drill.

Now there’s a famous saying that “practice makes perfect”, right?

After all, you wouldn’t expect to drive home from the store without taking driving lessons, would you?

So, now you know exactly what you need to work on and have started building your foundation.

Naturally all this information can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you’ve never known how to make improvements in your basketball game.

Which is why before moving on to the next section, you should have a watch of the video below as it provides a simpler breakdown of the things you can do to get better in the sport:

How long does it take to improve at basketball?

You’ve probably heard of the famous “10,000-hour rule” by Malcom Gladwell.

This posits that a person needs 10,000 hours of intensive practice to achieve mastery of a complex skill or set of skills.

It could be something like playing an instrument or even learning how to drive a vehicle.

Naturally, people think that this timeframe also applies to sports like basketball.

Well, it’s actually not quite as straightforward as saying if you practice for thousands of hours that you will become a better basketball player.

You could easily spend hours refining an imperfect technique which would lead you nowhere!

So, the amount of time needed to improve in the sport is quite relative.

Let’s say you’re just getting into basketball, having never played it before.

It would definitely take you a while – probably many years – to reach near NBA levels of performance.

On the other hand, if you already have a good grasp of the sport’s core concepts, that timeframe for development can be significantly shortened.

Can you get better at basketball by yourself?

Of course, you can become a better basketball player by yourself!

Although that does depend on how you practice as well as the frequency with which you take to the court for training.

But there’s also a benefit to having someone watch your game and analyze how you play.

We have our own individual biases sometimes that may make us look past mistakes or poor plays that we’re executing.

Having another party involved – preferably a qualified coach – can help accelerate improvements in our game as they’ll be able to offer a different perspective that you perhaps weren’t able to visualize.

Final thoughts

That brings us to the end of this post on how to improve at basketball.

Hopefully you’ll have grabbed a few pointers that you’re now ready to go and implement on the court!

If you want to continue reading the blog, then check out some of our other pieces of content like:

About Samuel Waihenya

Samuel is an avid fan of basketball and has been following the sport for over 10 years. He now intends to dedicate his time to produce great content for his own little basketball blog that aims to help its readership with whatever basketball-related topic they can think of. Have a read through Samuel Waihenya's author bio page here.