Many basketball players assume that without the proper environment (i.e. Gymnasium, courts, weights), their ability to refine their skills will diminish. But that’s not true in the slightest. More and more, athletes are discovering new ways to implement drills right at home. With this outlook of ‘thinking outside the box’, you have no excuse not to try some of these drills yourself.
Fortunately, we’ve compiled a list of 10 simple basketball drills that anyone can pick up in the comfort of their own house:
- Passing Off the Wall/Roommate
- Train Your Non-Dominant Hand
- Shooting Without a Hoop
- Incorporate Other Balls for Dribbling
- Crossover Variations
- Increase Your Vertical
- Two-Ball Handling
- Visualizing Success
- Emphasize “Basketball Fitness”
- Use a Basketball to Train Your Core
The first step is often the hardest to take. But with these 10 drills, you’re presented with a golden opportunity to branch out and refine your skills. Basketball drills may make more sense under the right settings; hardwood floor, backboard, and hoop. All those factors aside, this should not limit your ability to practice.
By implementing changes into your daily routine, you’ll find great success breaking out of any plateau; thus, becoming a better player by the end of it. Trust us, nothing will be more satisfying than seeing the envious stares of those who wasted a golden opportunity to train as hard as you did.
Most of these drills will require a good basketball. I like to use the Spalding NBA Outdoor Basketball (link to Amazon) when I’m practicing outside in the driveway or street.
1. Passing Off the Wall/Roommate
You must remember that basketball is a team sport. While your skills may excel over others, there will come moments where you must hand the ball over to a teammate. Passing is a vital skill that every player should polish.
Using a concrete wall opens a lot of options to work on your passing. You can start with a chest pass, catching the rebound and passing it again. As you build up endurance, try trickier passes to improve your dexterity and endurance. This drill will help simulate the unpredictability that comes with any pass.
While you may have expectations for where the ball will travel, you should still be prepared for any deviations caused by the other team.
With a roommate, you can further simulate the feel of the game by having a “teammate” to practice with. You can try to send him different passing tricks or have them send you passes while in motion. Either being the receiver or sender will offer a diverse dynamic in terms of passing. Remember, there is no I in team. By developing the skills to efficiently pass the ball to others, you’ll become a player that the team will rely on.
Here’s a video on passing tips and techniques to keep in mind while practicing.
2. Train Your Non-Dominant Hand
A basketball player’s skills aren’t complete without competency over both their hands. To be fair, your non-dominant hand will never be as good as its counterpart. But solely relying on your dominant hand will put you at a severe disadvantage. The opposing team will immediately put pressure on your dominant side, leading you to lose possession.
Without the proficiency to switch hands, you’ll be at your opponents mercy.
The drills required to boost your proficiency aren’t anything extraordinary. All it takes to start is to practice dribbling and shooting with your non-dominant hand. The goal isn’t to immediately be skilled at this, it’s to build general confidence switching hands.
Once you reach the stage where you can switch seamlessly, then you can implement advanced skills and more into an actual game. Most people will agree that you’re only as strong as your weakest link. In that case, don’t let that be your non-dominate hand.
Here’s a good video with some drills you can use to improve your weak hand.
3. Shooting Without a Hoop
Besides a basketball, don’t I need a hoop to practice my free-throw? Not at all! You can practice proper shooting form in the comfort of your house. If you have a sturdy wall outside, you can mark a square area and call that your backboard and hoop.
The goal of this drill isn’t to score, it’s to work on your precision. Try shooting at different points and angles around the square, ensuring that your following through with proper form. A good game to play for this objective is “Around the World”; where you speed through different points on the court after making a shot.
This mobility drill adds the extra benefit of increasing the strength of your shooting arm. To be able to make a multitude of shots, your strength and technique must both be polished.
If you find yourself without a sturdy wall, you can still practice your shooting form. Lay down on the floor with a basketball in your shooting hand. With only that hand, shoot the ball upward. If the ball stays straight with good rotation, then the form was good.
Keep working on this until it becomes second nature. Depending on ceiling space, you can increase the difficulty by shooting higher. Just make sure not to knock anything as a result.
Here’s a helpful video for practicing your shot without a hoop.
4. Incorporate Other Balls for Dribbling
Most competent basketball players will agree that at some point, the ball becomes a natural extension of themselves. As soon as the ball reaches their hands, they’ll be able to manipulate it any way they see fit. This showcases the amount of training essential to master this spatial awareness.
Yet you shouldn’t grow complacent, it’s easy to become over-confident with your dribbling skills.
Many experts have noted that their dribbling skills have increased immensely by applying the same drills with a tennis ball. By working with a smaller ball, you must exercise total concentration towards its spatial-positioning.
You can practice this in two ways:
- Dribbling the Tennis Ball
- Tossing the Tennis Ball while Dribbling
With both methods, ensure that you’re dribbling the tennis ball. It’s easy to get into the habit of catching the ball and throwing it downward; you should not be doing this. Treat it as you would a regular basketball. This will be frustrating at first but over time, the tennis ball will become another extension of yourself. The goal is to expand your spatial awareness of the ball so you can keep your head up, prioritizing your focus on the court.
Here’s a video showing some other ways to use a tennis ball to practice dribbling.
5. Crossover Variations
The “Ankle-Breaker”: this maneuver is the epitome of a power-move on the court. This simple move will put the brakes on your opponent’s defense while generating confidence for yourself and the team. This technique should be one of the deadliest weapons in your arsenal.
Most of us are familiar with the basic crossover, where the ball is crossed over from one hand to the other in front of your opponent. This method is all well and good but with some added work, we can put some flair into it.
A crossover behind your back or through your legs will give you a lot of flexibility with this maneuver.
- To practice, start by lining cones or chairs in a row with enough room to move between them.
- With each opportunity, try to work on your crossover variations.
- After a few attempts, you should develop a rhythm as you progress.
- If you want to challenge yourself, increase the speed, or change the directional shifts.
A crossover is just a quick dribble in nature. But with enough variation, it can easily be the tool that shifts the tide of any game.
This is more of a fun video of some of the best crossovers. But you can watch how the crossover is done and how powerful of a move it can be.
6. Increase Your Vertical
Most basketball players associate a good vertical with dunking on their opponents. We can’t disagree that performing a dunk is one of the most satisfying moments on the court. But that’s not all a good vertical can assist with. Steals, blocks, rebounds; a good vertical jump is essential to excel at all these marks.
To increase your vertical, we should see where we’re starting from.
- If you have access to a high-pole or wall, that would be perfect.
- Put chalk on your fingertips; this will be used to measure your jump.
- Reach up and plant your fingertips on the object; this is your standing vertical.
- After a quick re-apply of chalk, resume the same position, and jump as high as you can, tapping the wall.
- The distance between the two marks is your vertical jump.
- You can even record your running vertical jump using the same principles, just be sure to place the mark parallel to your standing mark.
With this method, you can track your vertical progress every day. The appropriate conditioning that targets your glutes and calves (toe raises, box jumps, lunges, etc.) will yield results. We recommend recording your vertical progress three times every week. Each small increase should fill you with confidence that progress is being made. Don’t expect huge improvements immediately.
Increasing your vertical is a difficult task even for the most seasoned athlete. So, expect to exercise some patience when increasing your vertical.
7. Two-Ball Handling
Why bother training with two balls, if we can’t use that many in an actual game? That’s what most people consider when we offer this drill. You are correct in this sentiment but there is a valuable benefit with this drill. By dribbling with two balls simultaneously, the player is placed in a strenuous type of “over-training”.
Both balls require an equal amount of concentration. By losing focus on one, we inevitably slip up with the other as well. We tend to think about it as a form of mental conditioning. It makes sense that moving back from a difficult task will make a simpler task much easier. In this case, that would be dribbling down from two balls to one.
You also have a ton of flexibility with how you dribble both balls:
- Alternating Heights
By pushing your dribble outside its comfort zone, the efficiency of your one ball handling will increase immensely.
8. Visualizing Success
Now we’ve covered a lot of drills that involve hands-on contact with the ball. There is no other way to build proficiency than this. But at times, we can pick up valuable knowledge based on the performance of others.
When we’re practicing on our own, it’s difficult to narrow down the drawbacks of our technique. Without a second pair of eyes, how else can we point out these flaws? Fear not, the internet is a handy resource to work on our technique.
When getting stuck on a problem, it’s best to take a step back and think about what went wrong. A way to tackle this is to view tutorial videos by coaches and athletes, working on the same drill you’re struggling with. Often, they will elaborate on key tricks that you will want to hone in on as well as advice for trouble areas you will inevitably encounter.
I like to spend free time watching videos and tutorials when I can’t be practicing.
Having the ability to rewind and control the speed of the video will deliver a lot of insight towards nailing the move. While it’s agreed that getting your hands dirty is the most efficient way to advance, that doesn’t eliminate the merit of learning from others.
9. Emphasize “Basketball Fitness”
Thus far, we have demonstrated many drills to improve your dribbling, shooting, and passing capabilities. All are vital to the overall flow of the game but we can’t neglect our fitness to endure it. Think about it. All your improvements would be meaningless unless you have the stamina to last the entire game.
Now I know what you’re thinking. You think that you need an elaborate gym to condition yourself but that’s just not true. All that’s required is a decent pair of sneakers and the willingness to sweat.
Implementing a workout routine consisting of running and basic strength training will build up your physique.
A simple Google search will yield so many [Home Workouts] that it will never feel boring or repetitive. The gradual addition of strength training will deliver a greater performance during game time.
With your running, we recommend mixing it up between tempo runs and full-on sprints. Tempo will assist with strengthening your endurance over longer runs. Sprints, on the other hand, will emphasize the power needed for huge “power-plays” during the game. If you see an opening in your opponent’s defense, you need to be able to quickly move from one end of the court to the other.
Here’s an at-home basketball conditioning workout video to give you some ideas.
10. Use a Basketball to Train Your Core
While this goes hand to hand with the previous step, we must point out why the core is so important. Often being mistaken for just consisting of the abs, the core encompasses every muscle that emphasizes balance and stability. A strong core leads to a strong posture and vice versa.
By going the extra mile to strengthen your core, you’ll protect yourself from potential shock injuries.
To use a basketball to train your core, we should look at it like a medicine ball. A personal favorite is to incorporate it with planks. While assuming a push-up position, dribble a basketball with one hand. The added instability with one hand will force you to work harder to maintain your form.
But why stop there? You can increase the difficulty by having both hands planted on the basketball. The curvature of the ball will centralize the tension needed to maintain a straight torso. Increasing the duration from seconds to minutes will show you just how easy it is to train your core with the bare minimum.
As we like to say, you don’t need elaborate equipment or an instructor to push yourself. The only limiting factor for your progress is yourself. What began as a heart-pounding 30-second hold, will eventually transform into 2 minutes and beyond. You just need to apply a bit of effort.
Even without the essential setting, there’s still plenty of ways you can improve with basic basketball drills. Word of caution though. Don’t expect to fluently implement these newly developed skills at your next rec game. While practice makes perfect, you need to incorporate them at game-speed.
Both your team and your opponent will not wait for you to adjust to your new style, you must hit the court with total confidence.
To emphasize, these 10 simple drills do not cover the entirety of what is possible for you to practice at home, nor does it mean you will come out an entirely new player. The point is to build up the confidence to build new strengths and refine your established skills.
By picking up that ball, you’ve already made better progress than those hesitating to make the next move.
As we said, the newly-honed skills and improved mentality is not aimed to make you a better player. It’s to make you a more confidant one on the court. In this instance, we would wish you good luck but we’re feeling confident that you’re prepared to give it your all.