5 Ways Basketball Players Can Improve Immediately

I received this article from Mano Watsa from PGC Basketball.

Like most people, a lot of basketball players are looking for that one thing that will create an immediate impact for themselves and their team. Let’s take a look at five things any player can do to gain immediate improvement:

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 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 they don’t make very often.

To evaluate your shot, ask yourself these three key questions:
1. Was your shot on balance?
2. Was your shot within range?
3. Was your shot in rhythm?

If the answer is ‘no’ to any of these questions, you have attempted a shot that will make you a less efficient shooter. In addition, the shots you are taking will cause your teammates and coach to lose confidence in you. Earn your coach and teammate’s trust through your shot selection.

It’s been said that it doesn’t matter how beautiful a swing a baseball player has. If he always swing at bad pitches, his 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 during a game can increase your shooting percentage significantly. Good coaches love that.

2. Increase your Activity on Defense

Imagine before your next defensive possession, you step into 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. 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. Your defensive coverage is immediately adjustable. It requires no training or practice. It only requires a commitment of focused effort. Become pretty in pink.

3. Increase your Talk

Dale Carnegie has said, “Communication enhances every human experience.” Saying you’ll do something makes you more likely to actually 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 desire to achieve something, say it. You are more likely to hold yourself to the standard you set.

4. Hit Someone

“Honestly, you’re just too physical. You’re too tough. You box out too hard and screen too rough. You 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! All athletes can find ways to be more physical. Tomorrow you can be a better defender, screener, driver of the basketball, and rebounder if you HIT SOMEONE. I don’t mean to haul off and punch anyone. I mean playing physical within the rules. Make contact with your hip, shoulder, forearms, and butt. Basketball players who 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. This will make you instantly tougher to guard, more difficult to box out, more challenging to post up on, more frustrating to play against, and completely indispensable to your coach.

5. Question Yourself

Few athletes constantly question themselves. Most just react to the situation or experience during a game. I will offer you – the motivated athlete – this challenge. At your next basketball practice question yourself each moment there’s a stoppage to breathe and think. Which 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. 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 and hold your feet to the fire. You will be amazed at how many things you recognize that you could be doing to improve your game. As you continue to perform better, the amazement will spread to your coach and teammates. Never fail to ask yourself this crucial question: “Is there anything more I can do?”

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