Basketball is one of the most challenging sports. No surprise, as it typically needs everything from talent, skill, patience, hard work, and team dynamics. When you get all things right, basketball can be an enjoyable, rewarding, and exciting game to play. Yet, everything can turn into a frustrating experience when things go wrong, even putting you at risk of sustaining injuries.
With that, you need to know all the fundamentals, plus devote your total commitment to getting your way toward success in the sport. By beginning with essentials, from the skills to the proper gear and preparation, you can quickly speed up learning the ropes and eventually advance your overall mastery. So, read on below and discover the vital things you should know about playing basketball.
Basketball requires fundamental skills to play the game. Some players are naturally good at one but maybe behind on the other. Others don’t master any but can be a well-rounded player, pulling off a decent performance in each area. What’s important is that you work hard and devote time to work on each skill to improve your overall game.
Dribbling and Ball Handling
Dribbling and ball handling are the initial skills you need to learn to play basketball. It’s the act of bouncing the ball onto the floor using only one hand or both hands (if touched simultaneously.) Without mastering this skill, you can’t start any offensive or defensive move as you won’t be able to move the ball around the court legally. That is why you need to spend time working on your ball handling and dribbling skills, especially with your weak hand.
Start by practicing stationary dribbling on each hand. Dribble with your right hand, then onto the other hand, going faster on each attempt. As you get more comfortable, you can begin incorporating movements to start developing your ball handling skills. You can start running on the driveway, street, or court, adding obstacles like chairs and moving around them, or practice dribble tags with your colleagues. Soon, you’ll be able to learn more moves, like dribbling through your legs, around the back, and in other creative ways, which you can use towards your shot or defense.
Shooting is perhaps the most highlighted and favored skill in basketball. It’s no wonder as hitting the shots enables you to earn the points and win the game. Yet, it’s also one of the most difficult skills to master, given that you need to hold, aim, and take the shot while being pressured by the offensive team’s defense.
Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to work on your shots. Pick a particular area on the court when you want to take a shot. Shoot repetitively for about 15-30 minutes each day until you get the feel. Don’t fret if you miss many shots. You will get the proper mind, hand, and eye coordination needed to make those shots go in through time. Afterward, you can begin nailing your shots on other areas of the court and start switching things up, like doing jump shots, free throws, hook shots, and layups, as you get your groove.
Passing is the most crucial skill in basketball when it comes to team dynamics. Without decent passes to your teammates, your team cannot execute plays, open up shots, and score points to win the game. You should learn several types of passes, such as the chest pass, overhead pass, push pass, bounce pass, off-the-dribble pass, and baseball pass. This skill is hard to master on your own, so it’s best to get a teammate or friend whom you can play with. While it’s great to score points of your own, keep in mind that being a great passer is also valuable. You provide your teammates an opportunity to take the shot, be confident, and make a better finish – all for the entire team’s benefit.
You might have heard it before, but defense can indeed win games. With defense, you prevent the opposing team from hitting their shots and scoring, getting the possession in the process, and giving a chance for your team to score. Start developing your defense skills by going one-on-one with a teammate. Position yourself well and get in the proper stance. Be watchful of the player’s shooting mechanics and put pressure to minimize his shooting options and percentage. As you play more games, you get to learn how different players play, be more predictive of their styles, and adjust your defensive strategy.
Often overlooked but developing good footwork at the onset does a lot for aspiring basketball players. When you are adept at controlling your feet, you’ll have no issues meeting the lots of running and racing back and forth required in the sport. You can do many drills, such as scissor hops, four-step runs, forward carioca, and two-up, one-back, all aimed to improve control and agility. Once you’re comfortable, you can start using a ball and incorporating the other necessary skills like passing, shooting, and dribbling. Your footwork will become more natural and fluid by practicing and playing more games.
Essential Gear and Equipment
Aside from learning the fundamental skills, you also need to know more about the essential gear required in playing basketball. Wearing the proper gear reduces risks for injuries and allows you to move freely. Thus, enabling you to concentrate on the game and have fun. Meanwhile, you need the equipment to start the game. Here are the essential gear and equipment you need in basketball.
- Appropriate Shirts and Shorts: Don’t expect to play the game well with a tight shirt and a pair of blue jeans. Wearing such a combo will restrict your movement and may even lead to injuries. Be sure to wear shirts and shorts specifically made for athletic activity. These sports apparel will provide the freedom and range of movement you need to play the game.
- Shoes: As you do a lot of running, it’s essential to invest in good basketball shoes of a right-fit, with non-skid and excellent foot and ankle support. Running shoes aren’t enough as they don’t provide ample support, exposing you to risks of sprains, strains, and other leg and foot injuries.
- Mouthpiece: While most people don’t consider basketball as a contact sport since it doesn’t involve direct hits or tackling, getting hit in basketball is not impossible. Wearing a mouthpiece will help protect your tongue, lips, cheeks, and teeth during the game.
- Equipment: The equipment required can be pretty obvious. You need a basketball and a hoop to play with. Though many neighborhood courts are available, you can also buy a practice hoop and set it up in your backyard or garage to improve your skills. What’s great is that the sport can be played indoors and outdoors, depending on your preference.
Rules of the Game
Like all sports, there are rules governing basketball to ensure fair gameplay and to make it competitive. Many starters boast high motivation yet lack the know-how of the game. So, make sure to study the basic rules of the game when starting in the sport. It doesn’t mean you need to memorize all pages of the rulebook. You can watch the game and learn what’s legal or not. As a bonus, observe the good players and learn new moves and tricks from them.
Keep in mind that basketball is a rigorous sport. You may have the skill, knowledge of the rules, and the proper equipment, but all can go for naught if your body cannot sustain the activity. As such, you need to prepare your body physically and mentally for the sport. Start improving your cardiovascular system by running, walking, or cycling each day. Then, be sure to get ample sleep and drink plenty of water. Do stretching and warm-up exercises before the game to keep your muscles loose and ready. Lastly, clear your head and visualize the gameplay to keep you ready mentally.