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How to Become a Basketball Player: A Quick Overview & Guide

Publish Date: 19.06.2024
Fact checked by: Jackson T. Pierce

Basketball is not a difficult sport, but it does have quite a few subtleties that can be hard to grasp. Not only that, but the road to mastering it is a long and arduous one. Nobody becomes a basketball player overnight. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication.

There are several key steps to becoming a basketball player, and following each one is critical for those who want to succeed on the court. It’s not just going out and doing it all on day one. It’s about steadily building up to becoming as good as you can be.

Practice, the proper mindset, and determination are all critical in that endeavor. It’s a long process, but one that anyone can take part in if they’re willing to go on the journey.

1. Fundamentals of Basketball

Despite all of the flash, dunks, and incredible shots, basketball is a game of fundamentals. Everyone has to start learning the basics before they can go onto more advanced moves. That includes aspects like dribbling, passing, rebounding, and proper form.

While such characteristics aren’t as exciting as some of the splashy plays, one cannot exist without the other. Huge dunks don’t happen without leg workouts, fancy layups don’t exist without dribbling drills, and deep threes don’t go in without ample practice.

It’s critical to always work on form before anything else. Knowing how to shoot and dribble the ball is the start of any workout. Once you get familiar with handling and understand form, then you can work on getting fancier or attempting more difficult moves.

It’s also important to work on moving without the ball and to understand proper positioning. A lot of basketball occurs off ball or on defense. Being in the right place at the right time is critically important, and that’s a step a lot of players miss when building up their base.

Don’t just get caught up in the scoring. That’s one of the most fun parts of the sport, but knowing where to be is just as important when it comes to working as a team. The early work should be about becoming as well-rounded as possible.

2. Physical Training and Conditioning

It goes without saying that basketball is a physically demanding sport. It takes a lot of stamina to run for an entire game, especially as the competition ramps up. That’s why staying in shape is such a key part of being a good basketball player.

All athletes need to stay in shape if they want to succeed. That typically means a combination of cardio as a way to work out the lungs and increase general endurance, as well as strength training for speed and power.

There’s no wrong way to work in both of those disciplines as long as you properly understand how to do so without pushing your body or yourself too far. Recovery is also important, as is taking rest days to earn the best possible results.

When training for basketball, it also helps to work or focus on basketball-specific workouts. That includes things like squats, lunges, and short sprints. Mixing up leg workouts with a strong running routine is the quickest way to increase vertical jumping and short burst quickness.

It’s a good idea to lift for upper body as well. Bench press and arm workouts both quickly increase general strength, which will help with defense, positioning, and rebounds. Shoulder press and overheads go a long way to increase shooting range too.

3. Skill Development

Once you have the fundamentals down and work on creating an aerobic base, the next step on how to become a good basketball player is to develop those fundamentals into tangible skills. That takes a lot of work and practice, but it’s critical if you want to improve.

Besides working on shooting and dribbling drills, the other important aspect is to focus on specific areas you want to improve in and then do them as much as possible. That will work them into your routine until they become second nature.

For instance, if shooting is going well but dribbling needs some improvement it’s often a good idea to get a few dribbling-specific workouts done a week. That can be anything from cone work to just taking the ball and dribbling with both hands around the block.

Skill development is about repetition. As with conditioning and strength training it’s something you have to work on over and over again. Shooting a few shots or working on defense once a week isn’t enough. It’s about practice and getting more comfortable with the game.

4. Mental and Tactical Preparation

One part of basketball that often gets overlooked is the mental aspect. It’s a high-intensity spectator sport typically played in front of fans. That makes it easy to get overwhelmed, especially when things aren’t working out as intended.

For those who want to know how to become a basketball player, mental sharpness is key. Staying locked in on the game and never getting tilted are two critical aspects of peak performance. Meditation, breathing, and routines all help towards that end.

On top of that, it’s also important to develop a strong basketball IQ. That refers to how well someone can see and read the game as it’s happening. Those with a high IQ are able to make the right play, pass, or shot depending on the situation at the exact right time.

Running drills within an offense or defense is a good way to develop that IQ and learn how to properly read defending players. Another way to develop it is by watching game tape and studying professional teams to see how they move.

5. Getting Noticed by Scouts

For most people, the journey of how to become a good basketball player ends in their teens. However, a select few do have what it takes to make it to the next level. Those that do typically increase their stock by getting noticed.

There are many scouts out there looking for the next big talent. Bringing in that talent is easy, but only if the scouts know it exists. That’s why it’s important to build up hype and try to get as many eyes on a player as possible.

Exposure is key, and it’s much easier in today’s digital age than in past eras. Videos are easy to make, the internet is simple to access, and a few strong highlight videos or mixtapes is all it takes to make someone go viral.

That’s one of the best ways to get scouts’ attention, and it’s one of the most effective methods for those who want to reach the next level. Of course, playing in big games, leading a team, or going to important tournaments matters too.

In that way, players can get noticed online or in-person. Online videos go a long way, but actually going out and participating in camps or high-end tournaments where scouts are in attendance adds an extra level that can go a long way towards building important relationships.

6. Playing Collegiate and Professional Basketball

Getting past the last phase is one of the most difficult things to do in all of sports. Those that do will have a chance to play in college, where they enter into a much larger arena of players who are both hyper competitive and extremely skilled at the same time.

There are a few ways to make that happen. First, players can go directly from highschool to college by way of a scholarship, where a school will waive their tuition fee (letting them attend for free) in exchange for them playing on the team. Partial scholarships are available too.

If someone is extremely skilled but doesn’t quite have what it takes to earn a scholarship, they also have the option to walk-on to a university team. As the name suggests, that is when a player simply tries out at the school and gets onto the team that way.

In certain situations, if collegiate athletes are skilled but not quite ready, they may go to junior colleges or smaller division schools and then transfer to a big program. Success in that way is rare, but it does happen and is another avenue players can take.

International players can also come to the United States to play high school and college ball, but they also have the option of playing in European leagues. Succeeding there typically gets eyes on them, and is one of the best ways for them to take the next step.

7. Continual Improvement and Networking

When playing at higher levels, skill only gets you so far. Being technical is important, but being able to adapt matters as well. Very few players come into college or professional sports ready to play. Most of the time, it takes practice.

Everyone who wants to know how to be a good basketball player must never stop practicing. It’s easy to get complacent or take days off, but doing that can cause issues to your game and ruin a lot of hard work.

On top of that, networking is critical too. Many players, scouts, and coaches know each other. Getting in good standing with one often leads to other opportunities down the line. It’s important to meet as many people as possible.

Conclusion

The road to becoming a basketball player is a long one, but it’s more than possible for those who follow the above steps. Starting out slow, practicing different skills, and building up the proper fitness are all critical parts of the game.

Though some days can get hard, especially for those trying to move up beyond the high school level, it’s more than possible to succeed with hard work and determination. Even if you aren’t headed that way, improving is always possible as long as you want to succeed.

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