Even LeBron James had to start somewhere. 

If you’re new to the game of basketball, welcome! This is a fun and engaging game that’s great for players of all skill levels. The key to getting better at the sport is knowing how to practice the right way.

Today, we’re sharing 13 key basketball tips that can make you stronger and more competitive on the court. Read on to discover how to get started.

1. Get the Right Gear

Truthfully, you can play a solid game of basketball in standard tennis shoes and your favorite gym clothes. However, there are two issues with going this route. 

First, there’s the motivation factor. When you’re wearing the same duds you worked out in, you might not be as excited about transitioning from lifting weights to shooting hoops. You need clothes that inspire you to run faster, move quicker, and be more agile on your feet.

Our recommendation? Take a cue from some of the industry’s hottest stars.

With these Kyrie basketball shoes, Nike teamed up with NBA star Kyrie Irving to create sneakers that are as well-cushioned and supportive as they are great-looking. Put those on your feet and while you might not play like Irving, you’ll sure look the part. 

Another reason you should invest in high-quality gear like the best basketball shoes? If you plan to play the game for a long time, you’ll need duds that can hold up. Your go-to sneakers might be fine for a few pickup games, but they’ll wear out quickly if you’re reaching for them every time.

2. List Your Strengths and Weaknesses

Wondering how to get better at basketball? Start by being honest with yourself. 

Get out an old-fashioned pencil and paper, or open your Notes app. Then, make two columns. In the left column, list all of your strengths as a player. For instance, maybe you’re super fast, or you have a good amount of stamina.

Then, in the right column, list all of your weaknesses, or areas in which you want to get better. For instance, you might want to handle the ball more confidently or learn more advanced dribbling techniques.

Are your columns looking a little lopsided? That’s OK! You have time to even them out. 

The important thing is realizing where you need to focus your energy and effort, so you’re making the most of your time on the court.

3. Learn How to Warm Up

You don’t want to go straight from work to a heated game of basketball. To stay safe and avoid injury, give your muscles plenty of time to warm up, first. 

These dynamic stretching exercises will get your blood pumping and loosen up your muscles before you start. This is a fast-paced sport and you need stamina and agility to keep up, so don’t skip this important step.

4. Set Goals

One of our top tips regarding basketball for beginners is to set clear goals right from the outset. Reference that list of strengths and weaknesses, and decide what you want to get really great at. Then, put steps in place to help you get there. 

While you might have the eventual goal of getting drafted into the NBA, it’s better to start small and work your way upward. Aim to make your goals follow the SMART template. This means they should be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Actionable
  • Relevant
  • Time-sensitive

5. Focus on Building Lean Muscles

You don’t have to break the weight machines at the gym to play a great game of basketball. While it can be an advantage to be physically stronger, too much bulk could limit your performance on the court. 

Instead of trying to simply get bigger, focus on building lean muscles. Tone what you have, and focus on workouts that activate your core. Even workouts such as yoga and pilates can be beneficial, building your stamina while keeping your muscles long.

6. Improve Your Cardio

While we don’t recommend bulking up too much, there is one exercise you’re free to focus on at the gym: cardio! After just one game, you’ll find that basketball is great at elevating your heart rate and getting your blood pumping.

If you find yourself feeling tired and weak afterward, you may need to work on your aerobic activity a little more. Don’t overdo it, but even just 15 to 30 minutes of cardio a day is a great way to improve your heart health, along with your sports endurance. Try running or walking, as well as stationary biking, swimming, or playing another game, like tennis.

7. Find a Role Model

It might sound cliche, but if you’re new to playing basketball, get a role model! This doesn’t have to be an NBA superstar, though it certainly can be. It could be your former high school coach, an athletic co-worker you admire, or a standout player on your local high-school team.

Once you have that person in mind, reach out and pick their brain. Ask about the type of workout they do, the gear they buy, and the drills that they run during their own practice. In time, you can learn to emulate those moves yourself!

8. Perfect the Basics 

As you progress in basketball, you will have the opportunity to learn advanced moves and fancy techniques. For now, focus on nailing down the basics.

That means learning how to shoot a free throw the right way, and how to dribble. It means placing your hands precisely on the ball and knowing all the rules of the game.

You can only branch out and learn more once you have a firm foundation. If you already have your role model in mind, they’re a perfect resource to reach out to as you practice these important skills.

9. Get Better at Dribbling

Dribbling looks like the simplest move in basketball, but it can also be one of the most complicated. If you find yourself fumbling the ball, try dribbling with your non-dominant hand.

Do repetitions of 20 dribbles on that hand, and then switch to the next. In time, you will strengthen that hand until both are equally powerful and competent. While you dribble, remember to keep your head and eyes up, even if you feel tempted to look down at the floor. 

You need to be able to clearly see what’s around you, and who’s coming near you. While you should dribble fast and confidently, don’t go faster than your hands can move. Otherwise, you may lose control of the ball in your effort to be the quickest on the court.

10. Don’t Take an Off-Season

Sure, professional basketball players might not be on television all year long. However, you can bet that they’re practicing like crazy behind the scenes.

If you want to get better, the simple truth is that you can’t afford to take a season off. Most gyms are open all year round, so take advantage of the facility at your fingertips. 

Not feeling motivated? It can be difficult to find the gumption to work out and shoot hoops when it’s cold outside or everyone is on summer vacation. Find an accountability partner and commit to sticking to a schedule. 

11. Move Your Shooting Position

Learning how to shoot an accurate free throw can be a great confidence boost! However, don’t stop once you perfect that skill. Move all around the court, approaching the basket from different positions. 

Try shooting the ball close to the net, and far away from it. Soon, you’ll discover what your range of competency is, and you can work on the areas that need improvement.

Remember to hold your arm up and complete your follow-through to ensure a full range of motion. Keep your eye on the rim while you shoot to improve your aim.

12. Keep a Front Pose

When you’re playing defense, you might have a natural inclination to turn your back to the ball. You’re looking at the action all around you, and you want to be prepared for any sudden move.

When you do this, it takes your eyes off the ball. Try to maintain a front pose whenever possible. This way, you will be better prepared to make split-section decisions and you can play more defensively.

13. Have Fun

Once you put all of the above tips into practice, remember to sit back and have fun! This is meant to be an enjoyable game, and shouldn’t cause you too much stress. 

Find a group you enjoy playing with, and schedule a few pick-up games each month. The more you play, the better you’ll get!

Try These Basketball Tips Today

Now that you know a few beginner basketball tips, are you ready to shoot some hoops? Everyone has their own starting point, and today is yours.

If you know this is a sport you want to play, take the time to invest in the right gear, learn from others, and perfect the foundational skills. Then, watch as you get better and better with every game.

In the meantime, we have all of the sports and fitness news you need, so check back often for more guides!