Basketball is a game built on fundamentals. While flashy dunks and deep shots get most of the spotlight, those are the result of good basics. Before getting to do the hard stuff, players need to master the easy aspects first.
The sections in this guide break down basketball footwork and then go over a series of ways all players can improve their skills on the court. It’s not an easy road, but it’s something anyone can achieve as long as they know the right steps.
The Importance of Footwork
Footwork is not as easy to identify as a good shot, athletic jump, or strong build, but it might be more important than all three. It doesn’t matter how tough, fast, or skilled a player is, if their footwork isn’t tight and on point, they will suffer on both sides of the ball.
Every player at every level needs to be able to move their feet in the right way. That can mean keeping in front of an offensive player while on defense, pirouetting through the lane on a quick drive, stepping for a tough shot, or using different post moves to get up a tricky shot.
All of those situations start with the feet. On defense, good footwork ensures the offense can’t get an easy drive or open shot, while on offense it’s all about shaking the defender and getting a little bit of room. However, making that happen is not always easy.
A Strong Stance
As critical as footwork is, building it takes a bit of work. There are various ways to improve it, and the best method differs from person to person. It’s all about finding the correct way (or ways) and then putting in the effort to make it work.
The first path to getting better footwork is creating the proper stance. In basketball, it’s important to never get caught flatfooted. Players should always be slightly bent and ready to react to any movement at a moment’s notice. Working on such traits is critical.
To do that, players should work on quickly getting into the ready position. They need a wide base, their knees bent and flexible, heels up, and a solid point of contact. Once all of those are achieved, the player will be able to readily move in any direction without losing balance.
Going over those traits, and ensuring you can keep them while tired, is one of the best ways to improve footwork and ensure you never get out of position during a game.
Getting the Drills
Beyond working on the right stance, the other main way to get better footwork is to practice. There are many, many footwork drills out there. To get the most out of them, players should perform them a lot and take their time to make sure they do them right.
The ones you pick are completely up to your personal preferences. Some players might want to do agility drills, or focus on ones that get them into a lower stance, while others might want to work on mirror drills that help with quickness or in and outs to stay on their toes.
It’s best to figure out where your footwork is lacking, and then go with drills that help in those areas. On top of that, don’t get caught up with a single drill. Even if you only have one weak area, it’s always best to spread out your drills to avoid over focusing on a single area.
Though they aren’t directly tied to footwork, agility, speed, and quickness are important as well. All three of those traits are something all basketball players want to develop on their own, and they are extremely critical when it comes to developing good footwork as well.
A strong stance develops a good base, while the drills help reinforce the small movements that make footwork better. Next, you need to do both as quickly as possible. Knowing the movements is one thing, but doing them at game speed against an opponent is another.
Running sprints is one of the best ways to up speed and quickness. Running them flat or on hills goes a long way. Beyond that, doing any sort of quickness exercise or mobility stretches to enhance lower body flexibility will go a long way too.
Those workouts will make it easier to get into proper basketball position, and enable you to move or twist quickly in a way that will make your footwork even better.
Getting to good footwork is not an easy road, but it’s more than doable with the right amount of practice. There are plenty of ways to get better at it, they all just take a bit of time. Going over the three above steps will improve all parts of footwork, and they will do it efficiently.