There’s really no arguing about it – learning the proper basketball fundamentals is the key to learning how to play and become better at the sport.
What are these basketball fundamentals?
These are the basic skills that an aspiring player should learn and develop. And by basic, we mean the essential team and individual skills, the offensive and the defensive skills. Players would not find it surprising if the better coaches out there stress on these basics.
Among the many advantages of going back to the fundamentals of basketball is that it molds the players to becoming a valuable asset to their team. If a player does not know how to pass, dribble or shoot properly and consistently, he might as well look for another career. As a coach, regardless of the competition or skill level you are coaching, you should never fail to stress the necessity of sticking to these fundamentals, especially those that have already been tried and tested on the court.
Once or twice, you’ll probably hear the modern streetballers complain of being held back from their real flare with the old-school, traditional game. To be fair, both sides of the coin have their own advantages. If we take a close look at the best streetballers in the field, we can see that their moves have a very solid grounding on the basketball fundamentals. They are quite good in shooting, dribbling, alley-ooping, etc., and they do it in a creative and more unique way, which is in every respect great. We could do well with players who have initiative and creativity, anyway.
But what makes the fundamentalist coach apprehensive about these fancy moves is the tendency of the players to get distracted by being all theatrical and thereby losing focus on the simpler, more crucial aspect of the game, which is getting the ball and making the baskets. It’s great that the players innovate and be creative every now and then, but we have to make sure that there are no mistakes along the way because every point counts.
On another note, when we talk of basketball fundamentals, the things that immediately come to our mind are ball handling, dribbling, shooting and passing. One equally important but oftentimes taken for granted fundamental is catching. There are a lot of seasoned coaches out there who spend a great deal of drills in passing and shooting but not as much in catching. And this can be a huge mistake, given the total number of turnovers in the last couple of seasons due to improper catching.
Now let’s take a look at one of the fundamentals of shooting. Most of the time, players like to focus on their shooting skills while practicing by themselves. This is all good. But the question is do they do it properly? Bobby Knight once said that he didn’t allow his trainees to shoot freely before the start of a practice. This, according to him, is because they fail to simulate the necessary game speeds and conditions. Players often develop bad habits through this.
As for dribbling and ball handling, these are the basketball fundamentals that will always be present in every practice. The great thing about these two skills is that you can always work on them anywhere. For most ball handling drills, all you will need is an area large enough for everyone to move around, and, for some of the drills, a ball. The important thing is to be consistent in doing these drills, and to make sure to do them in game speed. There are no gospel rules on ball handling and dribbling, and so explore and don’t be afraid to try something new every now and then.
Last of all, don’t forget the physical aspect that are necessary to learning the fundamentals of basketball. Lift weights, do a couple of plyometric exercises and agility drills. Play pass and catch with a partner to enhance your reflexes and eye-muscle coordination. Develop your offensive and defensive footwork. Work on your respiratory, muscular and cardiovascular endurance. Without the proper physical preparation, you will never be able to execute all the fundamentals you’ve learned and worked hard on.
Once more, it’s time to go back to the basics. Learning the proper fundamentals of basketball never hurt anyone’s chances of going up a notch in the game. If anything, it adds to your chances of becoming the player that you’ve always dreamed of.