Playing basketball is fun and there’s nothing better than going down to your local half court and playing some pick-up games with your friends. Not only is this a good way to wind down with some mates, but you’re also honing your basketball skills outside of training. However, occasionally the local court can get pretty empty, especially if you don’t live in a busy area. Playing alone is also a good way to practice new skills without fear of making mistakes.
Here are some suggestions and drills you can try by yourself to improve your skills:
Preparation and Warm-Up
You should always remember to wear your basketball gear, even to practice by yourself. Basketball shorts, shirt, socks, shoes, and ankle braces if you need them. Wearing the proper equipment will help you move more freely and reduce the risk of injury. Just like before practice and games, you should always warm-up before practicing by yourself and warm down afterward. Jogging to the court is a great way to warm up before practicing and stretching before will help you loosen up and avoid any strain on your muscles.
Start by dribbling low at various speeds, switching hands, and then moving up to dribbling around your legs in a figure-eight pattern. If your coach has any specific drills he wants you to work on, this is a good time to practice them.
Next, you can work on a couple of crossovers. If you have access to cones, set up a line down the court, if not you can mentally mark out points in a line. Dribble through the cones, crossing over and changing direction around each cone in a figure-eight pattern. Then, time yourself and see if you can improve on your speed. You can also practice changing speeds, dribbling slowly through one cone, then quickly increasing speed after you crossover past the next one. Another drill is changing the type of crossover each time, behind the back, between the legs, it’s time to experiment!
Always be thinking about your shooting form and follow-through, even when you’re by yourself. A good way to start is by standing 5 feet from the rim, then try to make 5 in a row without hitting the rim. Take a couple of steps back and repeat each time until you pass the 3 point line. Repeat this on either side of the hoop, making it out to the corner and also on both wings.
Now you can combine handles and shooting to experiment and have some fun! Simulate different basketball conditions and situations, such as a dribble pull up, fadeaway, running off a screen and fake and drives. You could also simulate a catch and shoot situation by bouncing the ball in a direction then running to catch it. If you want to try a new move, start slow and count the steps in your head (for example: pivot, dribble twice towards the basket, ball fake, lay-up) then gradually increase the speed. Finally, practicing foul shooting is a great way to wind down.
You can also improve your rebounding and hustle by identifying how the ball reacts before and after a missed shot and chasing your own rebound.
Conditioning can be improved by running sprints up and down the court, performing push-ups, and practicing your vertical jump. Stand under the backboard and perform 10 quick standing jumps, trying to touch the backboard. Another drill you can do alone is defensive slides. Sliding as fast as you can between two points and changing direction quickly is a good way to improve your defensive effectiveness. Remember to stretch down once you’ve finished.
If you’d like some more tips for solo basketball practice, talk to your coach and check out our blog for more tips for training!