Basketball Is a Game of Quickness:

Loose Ball

Quickness in Thought and in Action

Basketball requires mental alertness, good judgment, deception and creativity. It involves quick starts & stops, quick changes of direction & pace, quick passing & shooting along with quick jumping and timing. There is a big difference between being fast and being quick. Being fast on the court is certainly helpful, but being quick is critical. Therefore, by improving your quickness, you will definitely improve your game.

12 Ways to Improve Quickness

1. Think Ahead

Anticipation is a major key to quickness. Being able to anticipate in advance makes you smarter, quicker and provides for a definite competitive advantage. Larry Bird when he played for the Celtics was very slow a foot. However, he was great at anticipating and seeing the floor which allowed him to disrupt defensively and counter offensively. When anticipating defensively, You should never worry about getting beat or burnt! The better you get at anticipating the more times you will become successful and the less you will get beat.

2. Analyze Your Opponent

Analyzing your opponent will increase your quickness and provide you with a competitive edge. This is a major part of playing smart. Defensively, knowing if your opponent is a driver, spot up shooter, triple threat (shoot, drive & pass), drives left or right, etc. provides for a defensive advantage. Offensively, knowing in advanced if the defender sags off, switches, fight through screens will provide for an advantage (If the defender sages off- anticipate pull up jumpers, if the defense switches anticipating passing to the screener rolling to the basket or popping out, if the defender fights through screens, anticipate driving hard to the basket and FINISHING).

3. Move With Efficiency

You can improve quickness by moving more efficiently. Neutralize an opponent's speed by moving in straight lines and sharp angles both offensively and defensively. When you move in a straight line you become quicker than an opponent moving in an arc who has to cover more distance. When defending against a faster opponent, build cushion and play slightly off. Offensively, get to the basket quicker by cutting down the number of dribbles. For example, taking one instead of two dribbles. Note: For every dribble a defender can close about 15' Therefore, in taking an extra dribble it can make the difference of a shot being blocked or not.

4. Play Under Control in a Low, On Balance Stance

Assume a low (bent knees) stance both offensively and defensively with weight evenly distributed on both feet. Do not lean or play on your heels. Play with very active hands and feet. Keep feet chattering at all times. Do not ever stand flat footed. Stay down and move with quick knees apart shuffle steps. Have your hands up at all time. Basketball is played with hands up.

Play under control. Playing on balance under a controlled, maneuvering speed that allows for quick accelerations, quick changes of direction, and execution of quick stops. It is better to go too slow than too fast. Walk into your moves and accelerate. Develop a working knowledge of the different stops, turns, change of pace and direction with and without the ball.

Learn More Player Development: "The Importance of Keeping your Hands Up"

5. Keep Your Head & Eyes Up

Use peripheral vision to see the entire floor. Know where all of the offensively and defensively players are at all times. Lead and create open shots for your teammates. Offensively, the object is to get a good shot on every possession. The team with the best passers will definitely create more and better shots during a game. Strive to become a "Level IV" passer.

Learn More Player Development: "Raising Your Level of Passing"

6. Become a Magician in Misleading Your Opponent

Misdirection or the ability to fake in one direction and go in a different direction is one of the most important fundamentals of the game. Use short, quick head and shoulders fakes and steps instead of ball fakes or long strides. Offensively, you want to keep the ball in a triple threat position at all times. Although, primarily used on offense, the ability to fake is also a valuable weapon on defense.

7. Defensively, Cut the Court Down in Size

One of the most important principles of defense is to push the ball hander toward the sideline or baseline. In keeping the ball out of the middle it not only cuts down and minimizes the offensive operating area on the court, but it also establishes helpside defensive support. When defending the player with the ball, protect and defend the "Elbows" and "Blocks"! Whoever gets to these critical spots first wins the one-on-one battle.

Learn More "Defending Against Dribble Penetration

8. Eliminate Hesitation

Basketball is a game of habits. You should be the hardest worker on the team at ALL times! Motor skill learning and timing requires practicing at game speed. Nobody should out work you anytime you are on the court. Coaches' love hard workers and great teams are a result of the best players being the hardest workers.

Attack rather than react both offensively and defensively. By eliminating hesitation, it makes you quicker. Hesitating and doing nothing is worst than doing something wrong. Go to the floor on loose balls, assume all shots are going to be missed and move to the rebounding location and establish inside position on offense as well as defense instead of watching the ball. Putbacks or rebound shots are really big plays.

Learn More  Rebounding Skills & Techniques

9. Play Through Adversity

Don't complain or dwell on bad calls or plays. Erase bad calls or bad plays simply by increasing intensity to make a defensive stop on the next possession. A defensive stop will erase any bad call or play. Complaining or arguing keeps you in the past. To be successful you need to always anticipate and play in the future. For all great players, the game is played in slow motion because they are always thinking ahead and playing in future.

10. Warm-up Properly

Starting a strenuous physical activity, such as basketball, without proper warm-up is not only detrimental to your athletic performance, but to your health as well. Use the early time, the time before practice and games, wisely. Early time is not a time for socializing or messing around. It sets the tone by physically and mentally preparing you for practice or a game. Drills, such as tipping, Mikan Alternate Layup Drill, Rebound Shot with a bounce are not only excellent for warming up but, also, over a period of time will increase vertical jumping ability.

Learn More Player Development: "Early Time (ET) Guidelines"

11. Weightlifting Has Become Essential

Physical development has become an important part of the game. Basically, there are three different training periods: post-season, pre-season and in-season. Learn to effectively and adequately train to improved your strength and speed by partaking in a proven program designed specifically for basketball. When lifting weights be sure to use the complete range of motion! Basketball players need to be strong throughout the complete range of motion. This will also prevent building bulk which is detrimental to basketball performance. Remember that rest and diet in physical development is just as important as exercise.

CAUTION: Weight training should start between ages 14-17.

12. Sustain: Play Hard With Determination At All Times

The is an old adage in basketball that successful teams "play hard, play together and play smart." Anticipation is a major part of playing smart. However, there is one other important component to success, and that is to "SUSTAIN." Players must be able to sustain playing hard, together and smart for the entire seasons. Too many players work hard, but give up when not immediately successful. Success takes time. Sometimes years, especially when you are moving up in the level of competition or competing in a foreign country. A couple of prime examples of players who sustained include all-time great, Bill Russell. He was the 13th player on a 12 player squad in high school and Michael Jordon, another all-time great, got cut his sophomore year in high school.