You notice something as you walk onto the basketball court.
Nobody’s on the court with you!
Somebody else might join you later. But for now, the court is all yours!
No matter how long you have on the basketball court, picture the drills you will do by yourself.
What drills should you do?
Ask yourself this question: what drills will prepare you to succeed in the game? How will these drills make you a better basketball player?
The key to getting better is to consistently perform as many game-like reps as possible in practice.
You practice like you play. But you will also play like you practice!
So what do your practice habits looks like?
Whether consciously or subconsciously, how you end up practicing will translate over to the game.
If you practice HARD, then you will end up playing HARD.
If you do NOT practice hard, you will be used to playing SOFT.
So how do you want to practice?
With that said, here are the top 10 basketball drills to do by yourself!
Drill #1 – Warm Up & Ball-Handling Combo Drills
When time is limited, it is essential to multi-task while practicing on the basketball court.
Lunges and Dribbling – the main benefit of doing lunges while dribbling the basketball is that you are improving your basketball skill while simultaneously warming up your muscles.
You are taking two productive steps at once!
To start, do 10 lunges down the court while dribbling with your right hand. Then do 10 more lunges while dribbling with your left hand.
Lateral Dribbling – there are three benefits for lateral dribbling: dribbling while maintaining an athletic stance, sliding your feet, and controlling the ball while moving laterally.
To do this exercise, dribble down the court with one hand while simultaneously doing defensive slides.
As always, stay in an athletic stance and pound the ball.
Jog in Place Dribbling – this dribbling exercise is also a great way to warmup your muscles while also developing your basketball skills!
It raises your heart rate. It reinforces your ability to change directions and to dribble while looking up.
Box Dribbling – changing direction/speeds; defensive slides, and eyes up.
Ultimately, your warmup should raise your core temperature and to give you a dynamic stretch in each muscle stretch in each body part.
Drill #2 – Find your range shooting
There are four key teaching points for this drill.
- Try to put the ball right over the front of the rim
- Put your hand and elbow under the ball (remember, your arm should look like an L when you are about to take the shot)
- Hold your follow through
- Stand up on your toes
To begin, take 10 shots about five feet from the basket. Make at least 6 of 10 shots before advancing to the next spot.
After making at least six shots, take a step back and again make at least six out of 10 shots.
Then, take another step back and do the same thing. By the third or fourth step, you should be at the free-throw line.
After you make at least six out of 10 free-throws, then move out to a step behind the top of the key.
Knock down at least six out of ten three-pointers and then take a step back.
You probably want to go no further than 25 feet from the basket while doing this drill.
If you find that your shot is consistently falling short, move closer to the basket to readjust your shooting form.
The main point of this drill is to develop good habits while shooting the ball. Maintain perfect shooting technique as you move back.
As a rule of thumb, where your shooting limit is located is also where you have to alter your shooting mechanics in order to generate enough power to get the ball in the basket.
I would not extend past that point in this drill. Wait to develop the strength to shoot behind the three-point line until you practice shooting three-pointers.
Your mind and body mechanics will subconsciously adopt the habits that helped put the ball in the basket.
If you are shooting the ball correctly in this drill, then your shooting form will look good come game-time.
Drill #3 – Defensive Slides with Jumper
This drill is intended to improve defensive agility, shooting, and footwork at the same time!
To do this drill, you do a defensive slide to the opposite free-throw lane and back. Then, you grab the ball to take a short jump shot.
Like in drill #2, focus on shooting the ball with good form.
It is important to develop the muscle memory behind moving laterally in a triple-threat stance – on both offense and defense!
Drill #4 – Attack, Retreat, and Finish
This drill improves ball-handling, conditioning, and finishing skills at the basket.
Start the drill at the elbow. Dribble the ball hard to the block.
Then take a retreat dribble back to about 10 feet away from the basket.
On the right side, plant your left foot as you are making the retreat dribble.
You will need to explode off your left foot to create separation between you and your defender.
Normally, you would go in a straight line while attacking off a retreat dribble. However, you can also cross over as a more advanced technique.
This drill also presents a good opportunity to practice your footwork while finishing at the basket.
You can take two normal steps, jump stop, or even practice your Euro Step during this drill.
Drill #5 – Shooting Footwork
What do the greatest shooters in NBA history have in common? They ALL have mastered their shooting footwork!
This drill teaches you five scenarios that will test your shooting footwork.
Part #1: 1-2 footwork, alternating
Alternate your pivot feet after each shot. The goal is to develop a muscle memory of your catch-and-shoot mechanics for both your right and left feet.
Once your shot mechanics are intact, your muscle memory will allow you to shoot the ball when you’re tired.
You will also improve your footwork while coming off screens in both directions, in transition, or when shooting off the dribble.
Get into your shooting footwork quickly as you catch the ball. Getting into a quick stab will allow you to shoot the ball much more quickly.
Part #2: 1-2 footwork, lateral
This is the perfect warmup drill for players who rely on sidestep jumpers, such as Chris Paul.
You will improve on your catch-and-shoot footwork from drive and kick passes from your teammate.
And if your teammate’s pass is off target, you will also improve your footwork from having to slide your feet laterally to catch the ball in your shot pocket.
Moreover, this will also improve your ability to come off flare screens.
To start, alternate stepping between your right and left foot after each shot.
Focus on staying in a low, athletic stance before you get into your shot. If your stance is too high, you may drift to the left or to the right when you shoot the ball.
Part #3: Hop footwork, forward
For this part, you roll the ball to yourself and jump stop just as you receive the pass.
A good habit to start now is to hop to the ball BEFORE you receive the pass. Oftentimes, players catch the ball and THEN setup their footwork, which can be a travel if it takes two or steps to square up for the shot.
Part #4: Hop Footwork, Lateral
Like when practicing the lateral movements for the 1-2 footwork, it is imperative you stay in a low, athletic stance.
Make sure to jump before you receive the pass. Ideally, your teammate will lead you to where you can immediately catch and shoot. But if not, you may have to slide back to the correct spot.
Part #5: Coming out of a curl screen
Start off with your back to the basket and throw the ball to yourself. Then, turn your hips and feet towards the basket right after you pass ball to yourself.
As you spin the ball, make sure your inside foot is tight and directly towards the basket.
Drill #6 – Stationary Dribbling Into 1V1 Jumpers
This drill develops your off-the-dribbling jump shot via the crossover, through the legs, and behind the back dribbles.
The key is to stay in a low stance and to go full speed!
If this drill is done correctly, your eyes are up, you pound the ball, and you keep the ball close and tight.
Once you pull up for the jump shot, then you progress into your quick 1-2 footwork you practiced in drill #5.
Part #1: Crossover
Make sure your eyes are up, you pound the ball, and your dribble is tight as you dribble up the court. Go into your 1-2 crossover as you cross the top of the key.
Alternate between going left and right on the crossover.
Part #2: Through the Legs
The key is to chop your steps as you approach the three-point line. Going through the legs has a similar idea to the hesitation move. Chopping your steps will make the defender think you are about to shoot the ball.
By going through the legs instead, you can use the defender’s temporary pause to get yourself an open midrange shot off the dribble.
Part #3: Behind the Back
Similar to going through the legs, you will almost come at a jump stop as you go behind the back. Going behind the back is a good move when you think your defender is anticipating either a straight line drive or a crossover.
Once you master the three basic moves, you can move into an advanced drill progression: attack with double moves.
Drill #7 – Spin Out Shooting
Spinning out the ball to yourself is a classic way you can pass the ball to yourself! Time out your spin-out pass to yourself as if you are receiving a live pass in the game.
There are several spots on the court where you can practice your shot!
But where should you shoot the ball?
You should reinforce your strengths! Prioritize taking shots where you make them in the game.
Once you take enough shots from your strong spots, then address your weak points where you are struggling to make shots in the game.
Drill #8 – Perimeter Footwork with Jumpers
Be creative with this drill – but start simple. This will reinforce your footwork and shooting skills as long as you practice with game-like speed and intensity.
Make sure to practice going both right and left from various spots on the court.
One thing to remember: most of these off-the-dribble shots will be taken in the midrange area during the game. I would practice shots that would be forced to take during games.
As defenders aggressively closeout on three-point shooters, the off-the-dribble midrange shot will be open more often than not.
Part #1: Jab Step Then Jump Shot
Your jab step is intended to make the defender react to your initial move. Make sure you take a hard and decisive jab step before putting the ball on the floor.
Also, practice taking a pump fake before going into your jab step. Take one dribble and then take a pull-up jumper from the midrange area.
Part #2: Back Pivot Then Jump Shot
Back pivots are great to use against pressure defense. The pivot gives you extra space against your defender.
Then you can attack the defender’s lead foot to take an open pull-up jumper.
Drill #9 – Spot Up, Pull Up, Layup Series
For all three components, be sure to hustle, get your rebound, and come back to the same spot. Maintain your good habits in order to reinforce the skills developed earlier in the workout.
Also, practice going to both your right and left. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to be able to finish going both ways.
Part #1: Spot Up
Spin the ball to yourself and shoot the ball immediately off the catch. Similar to drill #7, prioritize your strengths and then address your weaknesses.
Part #2: Pull Up
This is similar to drill #8. Do not forget to practice your footwork as you get into the drill.
Part #3: Layup Series
Use this as an opportunity to practice your finishes at the basket.
Given this is towards the end of the workout, it makes sense to practice layups when you are tired.
Drill #10 – 1V1 Moves Into Jumpers
Part #1: In-and-Out Dribble
Start by staying stationary. This part of the drill is intended to reinforce your in-and-out dribble at the top of the key.
Jab with your left foot as you are going left to right, and vice versa.
Part #2: In-and-Out Crossover
This is an extension of Part #1. Now you add a crossover immediately after the in-and-out dribble.
When doing this crossover, do not allow your shoulders to get too far forward. This will help you stay balanced.
Part #3: In-And-Out Crossover Then Through Legs
In this part, add a through the legs dribble right after the crossover. When a defender is anticipating the crossover, this is a good countermove to still get to your spot on the court.
Of course, there are several other variations of this drill that you can do! Be creative!
Struggling for ideas? See our PDF workout for even more variations of this drill!
You can download this FREE Top Drills Workout schedule PDF that gives you a recommended plan to follow and shows you exactly how to utilize the drills to get the biggest benefit…