Basketball Basics

Individual Player Fundamentals

"The Game Within a Game"

Despite the size, superior conditioning, and talent of today's basketball players, who succeeds and who fails is determined by fundamental basketball skills. Developing and mastering basketball skills is not easy. They require countless hours of practice and determination. Player performance is not only directly dependent on the correct execution of these basic fundamentals, but with timing as well. All the basketball skills and abilities in the world are of little value unless they are applied correctly. When learning and refining basketball skills, it is just as important to learn "WHY" and "WHEN" as well as "HOW" to execute them.

Basketball, more than any other sport, requires integration of individual talent and skills into unselfish team play. By improving themselves, players improve their team's success as well. To be effective, basketball skills and techniques must be learned and practiced at game speed. Precise execution and footwork along with repetition are vital. Learning also requires visualization and mental practice along with superior physical conditioning.

| Offensive Fundamentals | Defensive Fundamentals |


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Individual Offensive Skills & Techniques

Offensive Skills

Basketball is not a game of offenses and defenses, but a game of effort and execution. Before any offense or defense can be implemented, players must possess basic basketball skills. Offensive fundamentals can be broken down into two categories: with and without the ball. With the ball or ball handling skills include shooting, pivoting, passing, and dribbling. In playing without ball, players must move with a purpose. These techniques include creating leads (getting open to receive the ball), setting & using screens, post flashes and basket cuts and rebounding missed shots. Developing and mastering basketball skills is not easy task. It is a never ending process requiring countless hours of practice and refinement.


| Shooting | Dribbling | Passing | Off Ball | Offensive Rebounding | Print |

Shooting Techniques

Physical Fundamentals

Shooters are made, not born. Good shooting requires constand practice.

Keep the ball close to chest in a triple threat position ready to pass, dribble or shoot.

Gather yourself and be on balance before shooting.

Take off on the proper foot, which is the opposite foot from the shooting hand.

Hold the ball high with wrist back and elbow pointing at the basket.

Use fingertip control shooting a soft shot. Use medium arch with natural backspin for most shots.

Use the center of the rim as a target area.

Correct follow through is essential for accuracy. As the ball is released, the wrist should snap down and slightly outward with the arm fully extended. Keep arm extend until ball is in the basket.

Use of legs is important in shooting. The longer the shot, the more knee bend is required.

Mental Fundamentals

The secret to good shooting is countless hours of hard work and determination.

Shoot with confidence. Passing up a good shot is just as bad as shooting a bad shot.

Practice the shots which you expect to get during a game.

Know your shooting range. No wild or hope shots.

Don’t keep experimenting. Practice and develop your own natural shot.

Shoot with rhythm and coordination.

Follow your shot. Rebound.

Acknowledge and compliment the passer. Complimenting the passer will result in receiving more and better passes.

Dribbling Techniques

Physical Fundamentals

In open court, use a head up, speed dribble pushing the ball ahead using a waist high dribble.

When closely guarded use a low, controlled dribble.

Assume a low bent knee stance with head and eyes up at all times.

Use a spread hard, low dribble using finger tip control.

Always dribble with the hand away from the defender.

Protect the ball by keeping the body between the ball and the opponent.

Employ changes of pace and direction to get past a defender.

Front Crossover – switching from one hand to the other in front of the body.

In and Out – this is a fake front crossover dribble. A front crossover dribble is started with a strong head and shoulder fake, but instead of switching hands the ball is retained in the same hand continuing dribbling in the same direction.

Behind Back – switching from one hand to the other behind the back.

Spin – switching hands by turning back to the defender using a reverse piviot.

Between Legs – switching hands by bouncing the ball between the legs.

Always end the dribble with a shot or pass.

Mental Fundamentals

Develop the ability to dribble and change directions with either hand.

When used properly, the dribble is a real asset to a team. However, used improperly it can wreck a team from both a morally and technically.

Never dribble when it is possible to pass. Too much dribbling ruins team play.

Dribble with a purpose. To advance the ball, drive to the basket or to avoid trouble.

Never trap or one bounce dribble.

The dribble is the slowest means of advancing the ball down the court on a fast break.

Stay away from the corner trap zones.

Avoid dribbling violations such as double dribble, palming the ball and traveling.

On long passes always lead the receiver to the basket. Never pass directly to them.

Passing Techniques

Physical Fundamentals

Take pride in your passing and work hard to perfect all types of passes.

Chest – two handed pass thrown from chest level.

Bounce – a pass that bounces off the floor to a receiver.

Baseball – a long distance, one hand over arm pass.

Push Pass – a one handed pass thrown from the shoulder usually off a dribble.

Two Hand Overhead – a two handed pass thrown from directly overhead.

Behind Back – a one handed pass thrown behind the back.

Lob Pass – over the top pass, leading the post or receiver to the basket.

Passes should be sharp and accurate. Do not "float" the ball to the receiver.

Eliminate all unnecessary movements like winding-up.

Close the distance and pass through or by the defender not over.

Do not telegraph or stare down you receivers, use split vision and fake in the opposite direction of the intended pass.

Pass to a specific target such as a hand or finger not to the person. Target is usually on the side opposite the defender.

Move with a purpose after making a pass. Cut, screen, rebound, etc. do not stand still.

Mental Fundamentals

A great passer is a valuable asset to a team.

Maintain proper spacing. Most passes should be made within the 12’ to 15’ range.

Never pass or save the ball under the opponent’s basket.

Move the ball. The ability to anticipate and make good, quick passes cannot be over emphasized.

Be clever, not fancy. Clever passes will receive praise while fancy ones will bring ridicule.

Don’t just pass to get rid of the ball. Always have a definite purpose in mind.

Do not pass to anyone who does not verbally or with body language call for the ball.

The ability to move the basketball and hit the open man is a characteristic found in all great players and teams.

Levels of passing:

Level One. Throws the ball to an area just to get rid of it. Common among beginning players.

Level Two. Just throws the ball toward a teammate no matter if they are ready to receive it or not. This is why players get hit by the ball during practice when just standing around.

Level Three. Surgeon. Passes to a specific target (hand or finger). Leads receivers into good shots. Rarely throws the ball away.

Level Four. Magician. A rare individual that can create open shots for teammates. Makes no look passes. Never throws the ball away.

Offense Without the Ball Techniques

Physical Fundamentals

Move with a specific purpose. Each movement should result in a pass reception, screen, good rebounding position or a chance to score.

Work for the ball, do not stand and call for it. Use fakes, change of pace and direction to get open.

Meet all passes. Receive the ball with the inside foot forward for protection. Catch the ball with finger tips and pivot into a triple threat position.

Set and use proper screens. Run your defender into the screen. When setting a screen be stationary and maintain vision on the ball.

Be alert to execute the pick and roll against defensive switches.

Back cut to the basket when the defender overplays or takes their eyes off you.

In executing a back cut, cut all the way to the basket. Do not head fake and fake out the passer.

Run wide lanes on fast breaks.

Mental Fundamentals

Ability to fake direction of movement is as important as faking a shot or pass.

It is a must to keep your defender occupied to prevent sagging and double teaming.

When setting screens be stationary. It is up to the receiver to run their defender into the screen.

Be alert for situations in regard to out-of-bounds, jump balls, free throws, sudden presses or executing any maneuver that can help the team.

Study the moves of your defender and the habits of other defensive players who might guard you in order to decoy them or set them up for your own moves.

Offensive Rebounding

Physical Fundamentals

Offensive rebounding is mainly an individual effort requiring agility and movement.

Assume every shot will be missed, and gain inside position.

Step in Front – technique of gaining inside position by simply stepping around a defender who does not box out.

Arm-over – move that can be use to step around a defender who boxes out.

Duck-under – move that can be use to step around a taller defender who boxes out.

Spin Move – technique used to combat and gain inside position against a strong defensive rebounder.

Want the ball! Hustle and determination play important roles in rebounding offensively.

Mental Fundamentals

When rebounding offensively, you must be aggressive and develop an attitude as well as an instinct for the ball.

When a shot is taken establish good rebounding position or maintain defensive balance if assigned.

On offensive rebounds, timing is just as important and height or jumping ability.

Never get caught too far under the basket where you are only in position to catch the ball if it goes through the basket.

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Individual Defensive Skills & Techniques

Defendin Player with Ball

Like their offensive counterparts, defensive fundamentals must be broken down and practiced constantly on all levels of basketball. Players need to know and practice how to guard the player with the ball, how to guard a player without the ball, how to guard a cutter, how to guard a player in post area, and how to box out and rebound on shots.


Guarding Players With The Ball Fundamentals

Defenders must take the initiative and attack, rather than react to offensive actions. Eliminate the “triple threat” (shot, pass, drive) options by taking away the shot and pass options, and forcing the ball hander into dribbling. The reason being is that the offense cannot score when dribbling.

Guarding a Ball Handler

The On-Ball defender must maintain a low, bent knee “Nose on Chest” stance with active hands and feet influencing the ballhandler towards a sideline or corner trap zone. Be aggressive and keep the ball handler off balance with defensive fakes.

Guarding a Dribbler

Containing a dribbler by pushing them toward a sideline or corner trap zone. In today’s basketball, most players are highly skilled in ball handling moves such as crossovers, between legs, spin and behind the back moves. Since most these offensive moves are predicated in getting past a defender, rather than trying to counter every move, the defender should just contain a dribbler once the ball handler initiates the dribble. To do this, the defender must stay down using knees apart, push or shuffle steps until ball handler picks up their dribble. Guard the dribbler not the ball. Do not reach or go for the steal unless the ball handler commits a flagrant dribbling error.

Attacking the Picked Up Dribble

Anytime a dribbler stops and picks up the dribble, the defender must immediately and aggressively attack and smother the ballhandler. The defender should exert maximum pressure by crowding the opponent and tracing (following) the ball with both hands. Force the opponent into making a bad pass or, better yet, taking a valuable time out.

Guarding A Player Without The Ball Fundamentals

Off Ball Defensive Fundamentals

Off Ball fundamentals are the building blocks of a strong team defense. Off Ball defensive fundamentals require that players become highly skilled and proficient in first pass denials, disrupting cuts, sagging off and providing backside support, and quick close outs.

First Pass Denials

Attacking the passing lane on ballside by assuming and maintaining a low bent knee “Ear on Chest,” position between opponent and the ball extending the near arm straight out into passing lane with the palm to the passer. Maintain a position between the passer and receiver. Use split vision see both the opponent and passer.

Helpside Support

Assuming a sagging off defensive position on the weakside. In assuming a Helpside positions, the defenders are in a position to help out teammates on dribble penetration, double team, deny ball cuts, and rotate to the nearest player if/when a trap occurs. In providing strong backside support, it also allows “On Ball” defenders to become more aggressive and confident by eliminating any fear of getting beat off the dribble.

Quick Close Outs

When the ball is passed from one side of the court across to the other side, defenders must rotate quickly and match up against the closest offensive player. Close out rotations must be initiated as the ball leaves the passer’s hands. The ability to close out quickly and effectively is a real key to defensive success.

Defending Cutters

All direct basket and ball cuts should be disrupted and denied by physically blocking and assuming strong pass denial positions. Defenders must NEVER allow the cutter to make an uncontested cut or trail a cutter to the basket.

Post Defense

Post defense is played before the post receives the ball, not after. Force the opponent to adjust and set up out of their normal operating area. Defender must be active assuming a low in an “Ear on Chest” pass denial position. If the post wants to set up with back to basket in a low position, push high. If the offensive post likes to set up high, force low. Front and deny the passing lane against a good scoring post player. When playing behind the post, push off the block and away from basket. If a pass should get into the post, quickly assume an On-Ball defensive position.

Defensive Rebounding

Defensive rebounding requires a total team effort relying mainly on positioning and strength. In defensive rebounding, to be successful, every offensive player’s path to the basket and ball must be blocked. Therefore, boxing out an opponent is just as important as obtaining the rebound.

Boxing Out

Defensive Rebounding Techniques

"Arm Bar" – technique used when opponent watches the flight of the ball and does not attempt to rebound.

"Box Out" – inside position is maintained on shots by using a simple front pivot, “Hand to the Shoulder – Butt to the gut,“ technique.

"Find & Go Get" – boxing out on the weakside differs from boxing out on ball side in that the defender is sagged off in a support position and stance. Therefore, weakside boxing out requires the defender to first step out and locate their opponent prior to boxing out.

Post Rebounding - when guarding a player in the low post player use the offensive techniques in rebounding.

Step in Front – technique of gaining inside position by simply stepping around a defender who does not box out.
Arm-over – move that can be use to step around a post player who boxes out.
Duck-under – move that can be use to step around a taller post player who boxes out.
Spin Move – technique used to combat and gain inside position against a strong offensive post rebounder.



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