Like most people, a lot of basketball players are looking for that one thing that will create an impact for themselves and their team right away. Let’s take a look at five things that any player can do immediately to improve:
1. Take Higher Percentage Shots
All basketball coaches love having a good shooter on their team. The way to instantly improve your shooting percentage is to eliminate any shots that are difficult to make. If that seems simple, it is. It’s amazing how an athlete can appear to be a good (or better) shooter when they stop taking shots that they don’t make very often.
I’ll give you three keys that you should use to evaluate each shot: Was your shot on balance? Within range? And, in rhythm? If the answer is ‘no’ to any of these questions, it was an shot attempt that will not only make you a less efficient shooter, but also, in the eyes of your coach and teammates, make them lose confidence in you. Earn your coach’s trust through your shot selection. It’s been said that it doesn’t matter how beautiful a swing a baseball player has; if they always swing at bad pitches, their batting average will be embarrassingly low.” The same applies in basketball. It doesn’t matter how sweet your stroke looks if you constantly shoot poor shots. Eliminating poor shots a game can increase your shooting percentage significantly. Good coaches love that.
2. Increase your Activity on Defense
Imagine that before the next defensive possession you play, you step in a tray of bright pink paint. How much of your team’s backcourt would be covered by your footprints? I have the pleasure of observing high school and college basketball players across North America as I travel teaching the game. The vast majority might only sprinkle a few footprints across their side of the court. It’s amazing how many more steals, leather touches (deflections), bothered passes, altered shots, and tipped rebounds basketball players could get if they would just ‘PAINT THE FLOOR.’ Paint the floor with your feet, always be moving, and cover the court with your activity. This is the universal sign of a good defender. It is also immediately adjustable. It requires no training, or practice, but only a commitment of focused effort. Become pretty in pink.
3. Increase your Talk
Dale Carnegie has said that, “Communication enhances every human experience.” I would say that saying you’ll do something makes you more likely to do it. If I tell my check before a game that I won’t give them an easy shot all night, I’m more likely to be hell-bent on making their evening as difficult as possible. If you want to be a better help side defender, communicate emphatically that you have your teammate’s help on a dribble drive. If you want to make more lay-ups around the rim, run down the floor telling the ball handler you have the finish. If you achieve anything, say so, then you will be more likely to hold yourself to that standard.
4. Hit Someone
“Honestly, you’re just too physical. You’re too lough, you box out too hard, screen to rough and are so physical on defense that I think you need to back it off a little bit to be more effective.” NO ONE HAS EVER HEARD THESE WORDS! Athletes can all find ways to be more physical. Tomorrow you can be a better defender, screener, driver of the basketball, and rebounder if you HIT SOMEONE. Within the rules make contact with your hip, shoulder, forearms, and butt. Basketball players that excel in this game, thrive by learning how to create contact to create advantages. Bump, nudge, check, shiver, and move your opponent the entire game – both on offense and defense. Instantly this will make you tougher to guard, more difficult to box out, challenging to post up, frustrating to play against, and completely indispensable to your coach.
5. Question Yourself
Few athletes constantly question themselves. Most just react to the situation and experience in the game. I will offer you – the motivated athlete – this challenge. Next basketball practice, each moment that there’s a stoppage to breathe and think, question yourself. What question should you ask? Is there anything more I can do? You will always get the same answer: Yes! Then DO IT. Do it immediately, do it again, and make it a habit. Average athletes are always satisfied with what they have done previously. Elite athletes live in a state where they are always asking themselves how they can increase their contribution. Become anxious; hold your feet to the fire. You will be amazed at how many things you recognize that you could be doing. As you do them, the amazement will spread to your coach and your teammates. Never fail to ask yourself this crucial question.