Gaining Quickness and Improving Ball Handling
I hope you are practicing very hard in order to become the best basketball player you can possibly be. As long as you have dedication, intensity, and confidence, there is nothing that can stop you! The right combination of skills, knowledge, training, and equipment will also help you achieve your goal of domination...
IMPROVING YOUR FIRST STEP
Footwork involves getting your feet to the right place at the right time. Once you have proper stance, it is your first step that will allow you to move in the right direction with proper control. Training your first step involves direction of movement, types of steps, and maintaining positive shin angles.
-Definitions: The Negative Step: A common mistake is to take a step backwards before moving in the correct direction. Positive Shin Angle: A Positive Shin Angle is one that allows you to apply the proper force against the ground. To achieve this, your feet should hit slightly behind your center of gravity. This puts you in the best position to use your powerful hip extensors. A Negative Shin Angle would be one that is too far from your center of gravity, causing you to pull yourself towards your foot.
-Types of First Steps:
Open Step: For short distances and quick movements, your lead foot will step out while you push off with your back foot. Crossover Power Step: When you have to reach a great distance, this is the one to use. Your lead foot stays and your back foot crosses over it. You push off with your lead foot.
Jab Step: For quick reaction and shorter distances, your lead foot can actually move backward relative to your center of gravity, then push off with your back foot.
Drop Step: When you need to move backwards or diagonally backwards, your lead foot moves back and you push off with your back foot. Your first step is the one that can make the move or allow the defender to anticipate your movement. Proper knowledge of your center of gravity and those defending you will help you to catch them off guard. Often a good first step is all you need to stay a step head of them and make the play.
THE ZIG ZAG DRILL FOR LATERAL CUTTING ABILITY
Sure it's great to have 4.1 speed and a 40" vertical jump. However, among players with equal speed and hops, it's lateral cutting ability is what often separates the superstars from the mere journeymen. Jim Brown, Gayle Sayers, and Barry Sanders could shake free from defenders as if they had higher gear. What they had was superior lateral hip strength. You can improve your lateral hip strength dramatically with the Zig Zag Drill. Lay out two 10 yard lines of masking tape on the floor. The lines should be 24" apart. Stand on your left foot only and hop from one line to the other and back. You should be able to do about 15 hops over the course of 10 yds. Repeat the drill off of your right foot. Now, here's where the drill gets interesting: When you've gotten used to lines 24" apart, space the lines farther apart at 36" and do the same drill. Very difficult. Try 42" apart. Super difficult!
IMPROVING YOUR BALL CONTROL
In basketball, dribbling and controlling the ball are key aspects of the game. When defenders rush you, you have to be able to control the ball, almost as if it were part of you. Exercises like the Figure-8 Drill can help with your ball control.
The Double Figure-8 was used by Golden State's assistant coach Tom Sterner to coach Gilbert Arenas, who received the 2003 Most Improved Player Award.
The Figure-8 Drill - A commonly practiced exercise. Bend your knees and rotate the ball through your knees in a figure 8. You do this by rotating the ball around your right leg with your right hand, passing it to your left hand, then rotating the ball around your left lsg. Make sure you can do it both ways, and speed up as you get better. The ball should never touch the ground.
The Double Figure-8 Drill - Now with a partner facing you, do a figure 8, then pass it to your partner, who does a figure 8 and passes it back. You should pass to the same hand, so your right will pass to his right. Switch sides and continue to speed up as you get better. The ball should never touch the ground.
1. Try not to look down while you are doing your figure 8. Using your peripheral vision and using the muscle memory in your hands will help you improve your handles.
2. Use a 3 lb. Heavy Basketball to improve your strength! This drill will strengthen your arms and hands for better dribbling and control. Once you use the 3 lb. Heavyball, a regular basketball (1.3 lbs) will feel light and easy to handle.
BONUS TIP OF THE MONTH!
Core Power with the 3-Point Forward Roll - Get a spotter. Rest your forearms on a Swiss ball and keep your core tight. Slowly roll forward while trying to let your core do all the work. When the ball reaches your elbow, reverse the movement to the starting point. If you are interested in Swiss Balls and other great training aids to give you a DOMINANT edge on the competition, read the section below:
Great Ball Handling
THE BEHIND-THE-BACK DRIBBLE
The behind the back dribble is what Magic Johnson made his living on during his days leading the Lakers’ fastbreak. It is one of the most effective tools to get by a defender in the open floor, because it does not require you to slow your body down in order to complete the move. It is especially useful when a defender reaches for the ball. One good behind-the-back dribble and the defender is out of the play for good, and you haven’t missed a step. It, like the between-the-legs, also has the advantage of using your body as a natural shield against the defense. If the move is executed correctly, the ball is the farthest thing from the defender, which allows you to move confidently down the floor.
How to do the behind-the-back dribble:
Stand at one end of the court. Begin with the ball in your right hand. Step forward with your left foot, simultaneously dribbling the ball once with your right hand. As you begin to step with your right foot, lift the ball in your right hand and, rather than dribbling it on your right side as you did on your first dribble, slightly cup the ball, and move it behind your back in a circular, descending angle. Do this in such a way that the ball will touch the floor directly outside your left thigh. As the ball is about to hit the floor, you should be stepping forward with your left foot, and preparing to move the ball behind your back again. In essence, one dribble to your right, behind the back, one dribble to your left, behind the back, etc. This drill is predicated on your body achieving a fluency of motion allowing you to comfortably move the ball back and forth.
Keys to Effectiveness:
Make sure not to place your palm directly beneath the ball when moving the ball behind you, because this is an illegal infraction, and the referee will whistle you for carrying the ball. Make sure your hand remains on the outside of the ball as you move it, ensuring that you do not illegally “lift” or carry the ball.
NBA Players with a great behind-the-back move:
Though he’s been retired for almost a decade, Magic perfected this move. Nobody else even comes close. He was the master.
THE CROSSOVER DRIBBLE
The crossover dribble is one of the most effective ways to maintain control of the ball against heavy pressure, or, while attempting to go by your man. It is the primary tool used by the point guard while travelling up the court under defensive pressure. However, it is also a great way to free oneself up for a scoring opportunity. It can be used to get to the basket and to create space between you and your defender, the crossover dribble will assist to set up your jump shot (a move we will go into later).
How to do the Crossover: Begin at one end of the court. Place the ball in your right hand (For purposes of this drill, whether you are right or left handed is not important, given that you need to be able to perform this move with equal effectiveness using either hand).Then, while stepping forward with your right foot, move the ball—in one dribble—from your right to your left hand. If done properly, your left foot should be hitting the floor just as the ball has reached your hand. Repeat this movement, beginning with the ball in your left hand. Do this drill at a walking pace until you feel confident enough with both your footwork and control over the ball, to the point when you can do it while moving at a joggers’ pace. Ideally, after a few weeks, you will be able to do this at a full sprint, up and down the floor. This drill should be done for ten minutes, with the player stopping at one minute intervals for a thirty second rest.
Keys to Effectiveness:
1. The purpose of this drill is to improve the quality of one’s ability to shield the ball from his defender, be it against pressure or, in the open floor. Therefore, it is of prime importance that YOU DO NOT LOOK DOWN AT THE BALL DURING THIS DRILL! A good ballhandler is confident enough in his abilities to be able to channel his focus to the events surrounding him, rather than whether he is going to be able to maintain control of the ball.
2. Make sure the drill is done in a speed in which the player feels comfortable doing the crossover; no improvement is made if one is moving at a high speed, but is wildly out of control with the ball.
3. The footwork needs to be done properly. Michael Jordan, when he was playing, did not have the best crossover in the league because of his hand speed. It was, however, his perfected footwork, which made this move so useful for him. He beat his defenders with his legs, rather than hoping his moves with the ball would do that for him.
NBA Players with a Great Crossover Dribble: Allen Iverson, Tim Hardaway, John Stockton.
Ball Handling Secrets to Impress NBA Scouts
5 SECRETS TO IMPROVE YOUR BALL-HANDLING
As zone defenses and full court presses close in and double and triple teams become more popular, ballhandling is growing more and more crucial. You must be able to dribble without looking down at the ball and be able to dribble well with both hands. Most people are good with one hand and not the other. Dribbling with two balls is the best way to get better at this. Here are some exercises you can do:
1. Two Ball Simultaneous - Dribble down the length of the court with one basketball in each hand, with both balls hitting the floor at the same time. Go the length of the court and come back for one set.
2. Two Ball Machine Gun - This is the same exercise but the balls should hit the floor at opposite times (picture 1)
3. Two Ball Crossover - Once you get the first two down well, crossover the balls at the same time.
4. Two Balls Between the Legs - Now go between the legs with one ball (picture 2) and if you get better you can go behind your back.
5. Two Ball Spin Moves - Probably the most challenging, see if you can do spin moves while dribbling two balls. If you can do this your handles should be amazing. These are the sorts of exercises that impress NBA scouts!
LOSE YOUR GUT FAST
High strength to weight ratio is a key component of running speed and vertical jump. For speed and quickess, light and strong beats heavy and strong. To shed excess weight, your best results will come from a balanced combination of cardio and strength-based exercises. As long as you burn more calories than you replace with quality-nutrient food, your body has no choice but to lose weight while staying strong. You'll get excellent results from a workout which includes cardio exercises such as jumproping or medicine ball plyometrics, and strength based exercises such as pushups, pullups, crunches, and weightlifting.
Have a gut? Good news: A recent study found that for men, you will lose weight specifically around the belly if you work out properly. Better than any diet alone, a balanced cardio-strength exercise program will preferentially reduce your abdominal fat (more than other areas of the body, for example- hips) and prevent eventual weight regain that typically follows diet-alone-induced weight losses. (Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 35, No. 2, pp. 207-213, 2003)
EXERCISE SETS X REPS Jumprope (regular or 1 lb. Heavy Rope for better results) 2 sets X 2 min (with 1 lb. Heavy Rope - 3 sets X 1 min) Medicine ball throws against wall 2 sets X 10 reps Pushups 3 sets X 15 reps Pullups 2 sets X 10 repS Crunches on a Swiss Ball 3 sets X 15 reps Curls 3 sets X 10 reps
Speed Training Tip of the Day
Training your muscles to put out more energy is of course fundamental for speed training, but that's only the half of it. It's equally important to train the nervous system. You want to reawaken your nervous system and force it to adapt for more speed. This is best done by overspeed training. This training technique forces your body joints to move through a range of motion faster than is normally possible. Itstimulates the nerve to conduct an impulse to the muscle faster and more accurately than against regular resistance alone. Parachute training is an example of overspeed training.
You run at full speed while the parachute provides resistance. At the peak of your run you break free of the chute and experience a "shot of a cannon burst of speed" briefly running faster than you could otherwise. Your nerves adapt to this new stimulus, and adapts by running faster. Other ways to over-speed train is by using ankle weights and heavy clothing.