Good Basketball Drills for Beginners

Lebron James shoots over Yao Ming.
Lebron James shoots over Yao Ming.

It is important that the basketball drills you are using help you improve all facets of your game. If you are new to the sport, you are probably spending a lot of time working on your dribbling and shooting. This is good, you need to work on these things, but you need to develop strong fundamentals as well.

To do that you need to make sure you are working on developing a well-rounded skill set. This doesn’t mean you should stop working on your shot or your ball handling. It is just important that you find a way to work in some time for other drills that will make you a better all-around player. You might be wondering what kind of things you need to be working on, and I have some suggestions.

Two often overlooked skills in basketball are defense and rebounding. Even if you aren’t the best shooter or ball handler, if you can play solid defense and get rebounds, you can be an asset to your team. To excel at these skills, it is important to develop proper form and learn how to maintain position on your opponent. Let’s look at some beginner basketball drills that can help work on your fundamentals, and maybe one day you will be able to represent your country like Yao Ming and Lebron James.

Drills To Improve Your Fundamentals

These two drills will help you develop your defensive stance and learn how to position yourself for rebounds.

  • Defensive Z’s:

    While this is not the most fun basketball drill you will ever do, it will help you develop good form and mental toughness. Ideally, you should do this as one of your last drills of the day so that you learn to keep proper form even if your legs are somewhat fatigued, but you may want to do it a few times with fresh legs until you get comfortable with it. Start on one baseline get into a low defensive stance (feet more than shoulder width apart, open hips, thighs parallel to the floor, back straight, hands up to block passing lanes). Now start sliding across the base line moving one foot at a time. Do not rise up with each step, stay low. When you reach the end of the baseline, pivot on your lead foot and take a diagonal path across the court to the half court line. When you reach the half court line, pivot on your lead foot and go straight across on the half court line. When you reach the end, pivot and cut diagonally across to the far baseline. Slide across the baseline and return down the court following the same pattern. Concentrate on keeping your butt down, your back straight, your head up (always be looking ahead at an imaginary ball handler), and your hands up and active (blocking imaginary passes and swatting at imaginary dribbles). You can make this competitive by doing the drill with a friend while facing each other. Take each step and pivot in synch, critiquing each other on your form, making sure you both stay low, keep your back straight, etc.

  • Box-out Drill:

    This drill requires that you work with teammates or friends, and will help you develop good box-out and positioning skills. Divide into teams with an equal number of players on each. Designate one team as offense and the other as defense. Start off with the offensive players spread out around the floor like they are running an offense and the defenders in good defensive positions between them and the basket. Designate one of the offensive players as the shooter (or if you have an odd number of people have the odd one out be the shooter). The shooter needs to take shots from around the top of the key, but should be trying to hit the rim to cause rebounds. When the shot goes up, defenders should all box out their man and try to secure the rebound, while the offensive team should try to beat the box-out and steal the offensive rebound. When boxing out, locate your man and use your back and your butt to block him from getting to the rebound. You’re not allowed to use your arms or hands to push or hold him, and you’re not allowed to just back over him. It is legal to block and hold your position, but it is not legal to shove or grab the opponent. Do ten rebounds, then the offensive and defensive teams should switch roles. The shooter should try to cause a variety of rebounds (long and short, left and right, etc.). The defense should get the majority of the rebounds. If they aren’t, they aren’t boxing out well. When we used to do this drill, coach provided motivation for both teams by making the team that didn’t get the rebound do pushups. Usually the offense had to do five and the defense either fifteen or twenty (because the defense should get the rebound).

Vary Your Drills to Keep Them Interesting

While it is important to work on these fundamentals, you do still need work on other parts of your game to make sure you’re not a one dimensional player. Also, if you just do the same thing all the time, it will get boring quickly.

Another thing is, you won’t always have people to work with on drills like the box-out drill. So, you need to know some individual basketball drills to do. That way, you can work on your game whenever you want to. There are some great shooting and dribbling drills that you can do with just a ball. Learn some drills like that so that you can work on your game anywhere and anytime.