If you live in the US and wanted to start playing basketball at some point, then chances are you already have. However, the sport remains popular around the world, and perhaps more so in some countries than the available facilities would suggest. No matter where you’re based, if you want to start playing, then we have some great sporting tips to get you up to speed and ahead of most other beginners.
We won’t cover finding somewhere to play in this feature – we only have space for 10 tips after all, and your options will vary depending on your location. What we will do, however, is go over basic techniques and requirements for anyone seeking to get into the sport and to turn it into a hobby or potentially something more.
1. Get the Right Equipment and Kit
One of the best things about trying basketball for the first time is that you’re under no obligation to buy much by expensive equipment. We can safely say that you won’t need as much as if you wanted to try ice hockey for the first time! However, there are a few essential pieces that even brand new players cannot be expected to do without. Every basketball career, amateur or otherwise, begins with a decent pair of basketball shoes. Take the time to find a pair that fits right and is otherwise ideal for your style, as they can go a long way towards the prevention of injury. High tops are best for those with past ankle issues, while a regular fit is better for those that prefer a lighter shoe and the boost to your movement they provide.
2. Warm-Up Before Every Game
Whether you play competitive basketball or pickup games, its best to start your stretches right away. We’ve covered a lot of sports, health and fitness topics recently here on the site, and we cannot overstate the importance of warmups for anyone that would rather be on the court than watching from the sidelines with an injury. Get your heart rate up and stretch the most important muscles at the very least, but ensure you don’t use up all the energy you have stored up for the game ahead.
3. Focus On Getting In Shape Outside the Court
If your goal is to get into better shape or lose weight, then the fast pace of basketball can be great for you. However, we’re big fans of moderation and variety and you’ll improve your performance on the court if you focus on your health elsewhere too. Check out our tips on diet and exercise elsewhere on the site and implement them into your routine for better stamina on the court and a reduced risk of injury every time you play.
4. Make Time to Practice
You’re not going to become a legend of the court the first time you play, even if you demonstrate some natural aptitude. There’s a reason why even the biggest names in the NBA continue to practice regularly and you should endeavour to do the same if you want to be the best player you can be.
5. Make Wrong-Hand Dribbling a Priority
It may sound counterintuitive to focus on something specific and undoubtedly tricky early on. After all, you might not even be great with your strong hand yet and that needs work too. However, being equally proficient at dribbling with either side is a crucial skill in basketball, so it makes sense to work on it early for fast results and rapid improvement.
6. Practice Shooting Every Time You Hit the Court
No matter the role you envision for yourself on the court, the more reliable you are at getting the ball through the hoop, the more opportunities to play you’ll receive – teams love a good scorer. Even if you’re hopeless at your first attempt, shooting in basketball is something that can improve with time and effort, so put that time in until you can back yourself to score from anywhere on the court.
7. Work on Your Leap
When it comes to shooting, it’s best to practice on the court. There, you can judge distances, real game situations and use a real hoop. You won’t be on the court all the time, of course, but you can still work on your jumping. Whether you’re at the gym or even at home, there are opportunities to work on your leap just about everywhere, so don’t pass up the opportunity.
8. Relax on the Dribble
When you’re just starting out, it can be tempting to almost hammer the ball into the floor when you dribble. However, the best advice we can give when moving with the ball is to relax. Keep your head up, back straight and knees bent, with a focus that should always be on close control rather than excessive power.
9. Decide on an Area of Focus and Perfect It
Even if you’re brand new to basketball, you’ll be well aware that there are crucial aspects of the game that set good players apart from even better ones. In this feature, we’ve outlined the basics as these are the parts of the game that every player should be strong in. Once you’re comfortable with these basics, it’s time to up your game and move on to the more difficult skills. This could be dunking, long-range shots, trick dribbling or anything else that can enhance your game. Choose one to focus on and put all your effort into getting better at it, then move on to something else on your checklist of desired skills.
10. Surround Yourself with People with the Same Goals
You might have decided to get into basketball alone or with friends. That’s great, but you need to find somewhere to play where not everyone is a complete beginner. In effect, you need someone you can learn from, whether that’s a coach or just better players. Online guides and instructional videos have a part to play, but nothing beats on-court experience and you should constantly seek to take on board as much as you can from those at a more advanced stage than you’re currently at.