12 Incredible Health Benefits of Basketball

For years, fans from around the world have enjoyed the incredible health benefits of basketball. And it’s no secret that the impressive fan base of 50 million strong are some of the healthier sports fanatics in North America. Unlike others, basketball fans usually love getting out there and getting their hands dirty playing the actual game; as much if not more than they love watching the game on TV.

Basketball can improve your health in just about every aspect of your life. It has so many unique moving parts to it and because of the different positions or the option to shoot hoops by yourself, virtually any person can enjoy improved health by playing.

The game can make a person of any size quicker, faster, and stronger, but the sport also goes beyond physical health benefits. I have played the sport for just about my entire life, and can personally say that I have felt and seen the benefits it brings. So let’s go over 12 of its very real health benefits one by one. Maybe I’ll even throw in a bonus one at the end!

Baller Benefits

12 health benefits of basketball infographic

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Biggest Health Benefit of Basketball? It's a Stress Reliever

Basketball stress reliever

Basketball is a great way to remove some of the stress from your life. The game can be played any time with one person, two people or an entire team. I have often hit the court with the sole purpose in mind of letting off some steam. There is no better feeling than hitting those three pointers with some serious swish-power.  

If there has been something on your mind that’s been nagging at you for a long time, it’s a great idea to just grab a ball and go shoot it out by yourself. Throw on some music and just work it out on the court hard until you find yourself in the zone. You begin to forget everything and escape the real world for a bit. This is a much healthier way to deal with the stresses of life when compared to other more destructive things you could be doing. Put your heart into your workout and focus on your game.

Basketball Burns a LOT of Calories

Basketball includes so many movements that it would be hard not to expect to burn off some serious calories. From quick spurts, to long ups and downs; not to mention the jumping, crouching, cutting side to side, this sport has you doing just about everything to burn off those unwanted calories.

According to ShareCare.com shooting hoops without playing a game helps burn around 300 calories an hour. That’s not too bad for just throwing a ball around. Playing a half court game brings it to about 558 an hour but I would assume that all depends on how hard you play. A full court game can burn around 747 calories or more with the same assumption; that it all depends on how much effort your putting in.[1]

You can’t begin to compare the amount of calories you burn playing a hardy game of basketball to the stereotypical straight cardio; say on a treadmill or stationary bike. With the wide range of movements needed for the game, it quickly becomes a full body workout that leaves you tired but feeling great! It’s a fun way to shed fat and get fit.

Basketball Builds Strong Muscles

man flexing muscle

Due in part to the large variety of movements required to play the game, basketball players end up working a wide range of muscle groups all at once. Playing defense in a good defensive position for example, will build muscles in your calves, hamstrings, quads, and glutes. The continuous running and jumping works those muscles to their max.

You also have to be able to withstand getting the pushback from someone your guarding using your leg muscles, abs and arms to prevent them from making headway up the court. This gives both the upper and lower body a great workout.

When playing offense your muscles take a beating. Between trying to get a quick shot off, jumping, passing and dribbling; your arms are forced to really stretch and move quickly. If you’ve ever been in a practice where you concentrated solely on three pointers you’ll know exactly what I mean.

All the little movements in basketball can go unnoticed. Take a rebound for example:

  • The shot goes up.
  • It’s flying towards the net.
  • You’re about to leap up to grab the rebound.
  • Your leg muscles tense up.
  • Your legs bend.
  • You jump up, stretching those same leg muscles.
  • Your arms stretch out above your head to reach for the ball.
  • You grab the ball squeezing it tight using your arm and hand muscles.
  • Your core tightens to brace yourself for impact as you return to the ground.
  • Your legs cushion and protect you as you hit the floor.
  • Your arms come back down to normal height bracing the ball still tightly held.

All this, requires so many different groups of muscle to make it happen successfully and when repeated over and over again it can quickly begin to build and tone some of those less used muscles.

The ballistic, static and PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation) stretching activities that go along with the game have an amazing ability to stretch and strengthen the muscles [2]

The fact that playing one game of basketball can work so many different muscle groups in your body all at once makes it so worthwhile as a goto sport for building yourself into a lean, mean,  ballin-machine.

Balance and Coordination are Amazing Health Benefits

Basketball improves balance

If you’re a clumsy person at all and want to  , basketball is a great place to start.

The more you play, the faster your game gets and your balance and coordination subtly get better without you noticing. The small changes make a big difference over a long period of time. From catching passes in the air, off the bounce, on the run, off the backboard and at all sorts of angles your body will improve its ability to maintain equilibrium under every sort of situation.

To do a proper layup smoothly and with speed is not something that comes naturally to most people. It can be downright painful to watch someone new at the sport try to put the ball in while running and dribbling at the same time. Take that same player after practicing that move for two to three weeks and the timing and coordination improves drastically.

They are able to compose the run, the jump and the release much easier and with much greater balance. Another week and they may even have the two-steps without traveling, down pat. It really is awesome how quickly the balance and coordination can kick in, especially if you are naturally sporty in nature. But it does wonders even if your not a proven athlete.

Basketball WILL Improve your Reflexes

Like balance and coordination your reflexes can quickly improve as well.

While playing defense against other people you’re forced to react to their movements, and if you don’t, well at best they score on you and at worst you may just end up tripping over yourself and landing on the floor of the court.

The more you play the faster your reflexes will begin to react. You’ll slowly be able to jump ahead of the quicker guys or make an offensive move that can get you by a defender. Perhaps your able to catch a ball coming at you at the last second where a few months ago that would have hit you in the face.

Reflexes have a bit of a snowball effect when it comes to improving your game. Once you become faster at reacting and better at making split second decisions, you also become much more difficult to guard and an all-around better player.

Endurance Helps Build a Healthy You

Like any sport that includes cardio training (and I know of very few that don’t); basketball will improve your overall endurance level. If you’re looking for a way to build a strong heart and improve the health of your lungs this will do it for sure!

Running up and down the court, cutting from left to right to avoid the defense, jumping backwards and forwards; all of these build up your stamina. But basketball doesn’t only build up running endurance, it can also build muscle endurance. Throwing the ball and pushing against other players builds up your muscles natural ability to resist more and take more pounding. It’s constantly working you so that your able to handle more pressure.

Building up endurance isn’t always seen on the outside, like losing weight or gaining muscle, but it will make you feel much more confident and you will start to notice throughout a normal day how much easier everything becomes and how much extra energy you have.

Basketball Builds Mental Toughness

Basketball builds mental toughness

Personally I think this one of the more important health benefits of basketball and also one of the more frequently overlooked. Playing basketball can be one of the better ways to increase your ability to cope mentally with some of life’s everyday challenges. From fighting through the fatigue, to facing up against opponents double your size, you will mentally feel stronger and more resilient

You’ll start to realize that you’re capable of doing much more than you ever thought and you’ll find yourself pushing harder through difficulties and challenges that may otherwise have brought you down. You will also start to see that you can handle adversity and confrontation in a healthier way.

In basketball you don’t always get the calls you want, but you have to keep playing while maintaining an optimistic outlook on the game. Dealing with trials in basketball helps prepare you for the real world to a certain extent. The many different situations playing the sport will bring can be a microcosm of the real world. For example you’ll have to deal with a diverse group of people, get put into scenarios that you don’t feel 100% comfortable with and learn what it means to have a close relationship with fellow teammates.

Basketball Builds Bone Strength and Structure

According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development weight-bearing, physical activity like basketball and other popular sports cause muscles to push and tug against the bone. This stressing over and over again allows new bone tissue to form which in turn increases their strength. [3]

Building bone strength can be very important as we grow and develop. It helps prevent future injuries from occurring and can speed up the healing process when we do injure ourselves.  .

Spraining or breaking your ankle can cause a lot of pain and prevent you from doing the activities you love. So go out of your way to make basketball part of your fitness regime. Its health benefits will make for a stronger, more fit you .

Basketball Can Increase Spatial Awareness

Basketball can increase your spatial awareness and recognition skills. If you find yourself playing on a smaller court or a half court it can force you to be more aware of your surroundings and how close you are to your teammates. It also causes you to be more aware of the location of the opposing teams players especially if you’re on defense. You have to think like a team to play like a team and knowing where your team is at all times plays an important part in that.

Playing Basketball Can Increase Your Confidence

Basketball is a great way to build confidence for many reasons. One of the big ones is how it affects your body image. The physical activity basketball can put you through when you really push yourself can certainly help increase your muscle mass which for many will increase their self esteem as well. As they say, “There’s nothing as good as healthy feels”.

Basketball can help you gain self-confidence through all the small victories that you take away with you. Something as simple as making a great play or a difficult shot can make you feel like you’re on top of the world. It sends out a really large dopamine hit to the system that is hard to replicate anywhere else.

If you play at any sort of competitive level you get that same rush from hearing the crowd cheer your team on. But you can also feel that confidence boost while playing by yourself and knowing that your working hard at something that can really improve your life.

As your balance and muscles build your confidence will as well so stick with the game.

Your Teamwork Skills Will Improve

Like many of the benefits in this article this one is more forced upon you without you even noticing it. The more you play basketball at a competitive level or even pickup games with more than a couple players, the more you’ll find yourself creating skills, tricks and plays that involve multiple team members. You’ll also notice how much more effective your team becomes when you work in sync towards the final goal.

The values and team-built skills you will pick up are the type of skills that can benefit you throughout the rest of your life. They can help in other types of sports, in business and in your family life.  

Playing Any Sport Can Help Build Routine

Although it doesn’t seem like it, basketball helps build a great routine in your life. If you set aside time each day or even every few days top work on your skills you may find that your life becomes a bit more regimented. It begins to feel more focused and when you succeed in one area (like sticking to a workout or practice schedule) it becomes easier to take that and apply it to other parts of your life.

You may also find it easier to set aside regular time for homework or sticking to a schedule at work, or even blocking out time for your family.

Setting up a routine can be a very basic thing to do but it can take your game to a whole new level. Especially with basketball where all you need is a ball and hoop to really get to work. Don’t let a busy schedule prevent you from making headway with your game. If you don’t have a lot of time, put in the time you do have. 15 mins here or 45 mins there is great when all you need to do is throw on some shorts, shirt and shoes and then hit the court.

One of the best routines and health benefits that can come out of playing basketball is a regulation of your sleeping patterns, one of the more important routines in your life. The physical activity can help make you tired, let you burn off some steam and relax a bit throughout the day so that by nightfall you are ready to hit the pillow hard. Hopefully you’ll awake the next day refreshed and ready to play again.

Freebie, yep it's a baker's dozen here folks - There is a Huge Social Aspect to Basketball

I’ve met some really great people on the court and pickup games are the best. It’s great walking on by yourself and finding gals and guys to play a pickup game with. It’s kind of an unspoken code that when it comes to pickup, it doesn’t matter what skill level your at. Whether the other players have played for years or a few hours, there is always something you can learn by playing with someone else.

It’s a great way to bring people together as long as no one takes things too seriously. Have a positive attitude when you play with others and remember that it’s just a game and you’ll always have a good time.

Final Thoughts

Overall the health benefits of basketball are nothing to scoff at. They can be a fantastic part of a healthy lifestyle and keep you in shape for years to come. It can better your life in so many different aspects and is so easy to pick up and play anytime.

On top of all that it’s just plain fun! Nothing can beat an intense game or a random round of pickup on a bright sunny morning.  So if you’re looking for a fun activity with some amazing benefits, grab some buddies, a basketball and hit the court!

Sources

How Much Does it Cost to Build Your Own Basketball Court

A well designed and well built basketball court can have a wide price range. The minimum price tag for an outdoor court seems to be in the $5 500.00 area however if you were to do most of the work yourself you may be able to cut that down a bit. 

The type of material being used for the flooring and its location is the main factor in determining price. An indoor, full court, hardwood floor on top of concrete is going to be far more expensive than a half court concrete pad in your side yard. 

Don’t forget that when making decisions on your courts design, to consider the Cost Per Use Analysis from Chapter 1. 

Preparing Your Court Area

There are a number of pre-building costs that should be considered as these types of expenses can quickly increase the overall price tag of your court. 

Permits

Many municipalities require homeowners to apply for permits to build these type of larger structures. Make sure you check with your city office prior to contacting a builder or beginning any work. This helps ensure you aren’t breaking any rules that may result in fines or the tearing down of work already in progress. 

As an example, construction permits at my local office are approximately $100.00 but this will vary by area and municipality.

Clearing Land

For a half size court your looking to clear a minimum 60 feet by 40 feet for an outdoor court. You can expect to pay anywhere between $500 to $2 000 per acre of land for a lightly wooded lot depending on the company. This means small shrubs, very thin trees and brush. A more heavily wooded area with lots of mature trees will cost substantially more. Your going to be seeing estimates between $3 000 and $6 000 per acre at least, for these more dense areas. 

If we overestimate on our half court area and opt to clear a space 65 feet x 65 feet we come up with 4225 square feet. Converted to acres that’s approximately 0.1 acre. So for a lightly treed area that would cost about $200 to $600 though there may be a higher minimum charge especially if they have to take away the trees. When ready, have a tree removal company come and give you a full estimate.

Excavating

If you’re building a court alongside a new home, getting the excavating crew to dig the court area at the same time as they dig the foundation of the home can provide substantial savings. The same can often be said for digging a swimming pool. Combining projects allows for a more efficient timeline as well. 

The excavation work will be done similar to that of a driveway where asphalt is laid on top of gravel creating a raised surface. It can also be excavated similar to a patio area where we would dig down 12 inches plus and backfill with gravel then concrete. 

There are a number of suitable ways to accomplish this and much of the process will be determined by your contractor and location. 

Tamping and Leveling

A solid foundation that allows moisture to escape and protects from small changes in grade is a key element to the longevity of your court. If you are simply laying a patio area on top of various sizes of gravel, ensure that the tamping is thorough and that you have ample depth of gravel acting as protection. Too much is better than too little in this case. 

The cost of laying the gravel and tamping to create a solid base will vary depending on the cost of gravel in your area. As an example, in my area the cost of gravel is approximately $1.50 to $2.00 US per square foot. 

General Labor

The amount of labour it takes to complete the task of laying hardwood properly, pouring cement or excavating plays a major role in the overall cost of the court. It will take far longer and require far more man power to lay each piece of hardwood, sand it and seal it that to have a crew pour a pad of asphalt or lay some form of quick-click sports flooring. 

Climate Control

Heating and cooling an indoor area the size of a basketball court is no simple task. Proper air flow, moisture control and temperature adjustment are essential to the longevity and comfort your court can provide you. 

Talk to an HVAC professional in your area about ERV/HRV systems and other suitable options for your gym. It’s important this step be completed by a competent professional. Heating and cooling a gym is a bit different than heating and cooling a home as you are creating a lot of excess heat as you exercise and you want the room to be able to compensate and regulate for that. 

Lighting

Lighting is in my opinion, one of the more important aspects to a solid and usable indoor or outdoor court. Being able to play in the evening can really add to the enjoyment of owning a private court and increase the amount of use your court can get. 

It can take a lot of energy to light a large indoor court and can be even harder for an outdoor court. Luckily with the development of high efficiency LED flood lighting a lot of the cost of running larger lighting units has fallen sharply. Consider incorporating a timer into your lighting system so that your lights go off after your in bed in the event you forget and leave them on. 

What should we be looking for in a lighting system? Well some of that depends on what sports you would like incorporated into the court. For example, if you want to be able to play basketball as well as hockey, pickleball, badminton or volleyball you need a broad spectrum light that will evenly illuminate the court without leaving darker areas. Notice in the photo below the shadows and uneven light distribution. We want to do our best to limit these potential distractions.

We also want to ensure bright lighting that will allow the players ample time to react. A tennis ball for example is small and when traveling quickly across the court may be difficult to track and see if your lighting is poor. A tennis ball also travels a bit high at times before returning to the court. You want to make sure the ball will be well illuminated while flying in the air as well so that each player can react to its trajectory. 

When dealing with lighting specifically designed for basketball we want to add in hoop area lights that really illuminate the net. We want to get rid of any shadows caused by odd placed lighting that may make shooting at the net difficult. 

Don’t forget to plan your lighting in a way that makes your playing space inviting and fun. Additional lighting for pathways to your court or speciality lighting for seasonal holidays can be a great addition and make your court even more appealing and attractive.

Flooring

There are many different flooring options whether you decide on an indoor court or an outdoor one. Here are some pricing ideas that may help with your decisions and planning.

Synthetics

Synthetic surfaces such as rubber or polymer based tiles have come a long way over the last number of years. The price associated with them has come down a fair bit in the same time period, making them a more economically feasible option. 

That being said it can still cost upwards of $30 000 to install a polymer surface over a full size court. 

Concrete Surface

Concrete runs somewhere in the $1.30 to $2.00 per square foot range for the material itself and another $3.00 to $9.00 for labour. Concrete will last a very long time however it can be very hard on your knees.

Asphalt Surface

Asphalt is slightly more expensive for the material (although the price has been increasing as of late) and is around $4.00 to $5.00 per square foot right now. Labour for this type of work is a bit cheaper running around $4.00 to $6.00 on average. 

Asphalt or blacktop can be hard on your basketball and will leave your hands very dirty after playing. 

Asphalt is a bit more forgiving on the knees than a concrete playing surface would be. 

Hardwood

Maple hardwood is the traditional flooring used in gyms around the world but it is not a cheap option. The wood itself can run from $4.50 per sq foot to $7.20 per sq foot. Installation is not easy either which drives up labor costs. They can run anywhere from $4.00 to $10.00 per sq foot.

Vapor Barrier

When using hardwood flooring it is always important to offer some sort of protection from moisture that may seep through future cracks in concrete. Normally a hardwood gym floor would actually be two layers of wood laid in opposite directions so there is additional protection and cushioning. This may not be necessary for a home court. If you do opt for the traditional it can also mean some additional expense for the underlying wood. 

Basketballs

The cost of a high quality basketball can range from $50.00 for a composite ball to $150.00 for a leather pro ball. If you’re going to be investing all this money in a home court, don’t skimp out on what may be the most important piece of equipment. The ball itself. 

Check out our favorite, reasonably priced basketballs here:

https://ballercoach.com/training-guides/the-best-outdoor-basketball/

Basketball Hoops

Choosing the right hoop for your court is no small task. Some serious time and consideration should be put into making this decision. Here are some things to consider while looking for the right hoop. 

In-Ground Hoop

Stability is the key to a solid, secure and long lasting net. An in-ground hoop is going to offer you the most accurate playing area once your lines are down as it is fixed and won’t move with the ball pounding against it. You can be as hard on these nets as you want (within reason) and not have to worry about them standing tall and strong for many years. 

Fixed or in-ground outdoor hoops often use a wooden or metal backboard and are the type commonly found in parks. These have a nice enough feel to them when you shoot. A wood backboard tends to be in the middle of the price range between plastic and plexiglass.

Indoor courts more often choose the plexiglass or tempered glass backboards for their looks and stability. They can take a real beating and still look great after many years of use. They tend to be a fair bit more expensive than their wooden counterparts. 

There is a large selection of these hoops including ones that are height adjustable to allow people of different levels and heights to enjoy. But let’s be honest here, the real reason adjustability is so great is that it allows those who can’t dunk on a 10 foot net to live out their NBA dreams on a 9 or 8 foot adjusted net. 

Portable Hoop

Portable hoops almost always have built in height adjustability. These stand alone units often include a large base that can be filled with water or sand to give the hoop its stability. They tend to use plastic as the backboard material in the manufacturing of cheaper versions and this can be frustrating to shoot on at times. There can be too much movement as the ball contacts the board giving a less than desired trajectory to the ball. 

The wonderful thing about portable hoops is their ability to be moved as desired. If your court is going to be doubling as a garage or a party area, the ability to move the hoop out of the way at times may prove very useful. 

The best practice for choosing a portable net would be to go with a large backboard made of something other than plastic if possible and do not cheap-out in this area.

For more info on choosing the right basketball hoop visit: https://ballercoach.com/shoe-guides/cheap-basketball-goals/

Mounted Hoops

Mounted hoops are nice options if your limited on space. They can be mounted on top of the edge of a garage or on a wall. The downside to this approach is that there is little to no room under the net. If you are running at the net you have very little room to stop before hitting the wall or garage.

This option is fairly inexpensive as it does not need a post to help support it when mounted to a wall. If you need a support bracket for mounting on a roof than the price will go back up. 

Backboard Size

Backboards come in a variety of sizes ranging anywhere from 44 inches (110 cm) to 72 inches (182 cm). If your looking to save some money it is possible to build a decent backboard yourself. Just make sure it is thick enough to provide the ricochet needed to let the ball fall properly into the net. This will be a trial and error exercise. 

Netting

Chasing loose balls through the grass can get annoying after a while and why do it when you can add netting to your court that can save you the hassle and protect windows, cars and other items nearby. 

Sports netting or perimeter netting as it is sometimes referred to; is a thick mesh that can be strung between two poles to keep the ball inside the court area. Most often this mesh is made of high density polyethylene with properties that help protect it from UV rays and harsh weather. 

Prices vary but expect to pay somewhere in the neighbourhood of $150.00 for a 10×35 foot section. These nets are quite easy to install if the posts are pre-installed by your contractor. 

Quick savings tip: Building your court between two large trees may also help allowing you to tie the netting to them. This would eliminate the need for netting posts and also provide some shade. 

Protective Padding

Safety should always be at the top of anyone’s mind while taking on any sort of project. There is no exception here. Running head on into the basketball hoop post or the wall behind it can put a quick end to any game. Protect yourself, your family and your friends by incorporating protective padding wherever it is called for. 

Padding can be quite expensive so you may want to protect the most vulnerable areas first such as the hoop post. 

A standard 2×6 foot wall pad sells for around $50 to $75 on average. A hoop post pad can vary widely from $75 to $200. 

You can also get padding for around the backboard itself and if you are in the habit of lowering your net frequently this could end up being an important option. These tend to run a similar amount to the pole padding. $100 to $200.

Increased Land Taxes

Many cities and municipalities use the square footage of a home to calculate in part, the taxes billed to that particular residence. By adding an indoor court to your home you may be adding a large amount of square footage to your home as well and you may see a large jump in taxes the following year if the city is made aware. Talk to your local municipality office to determine the yearly impact an indoor court may have on your pocket book. 

Though outdoor courts are often exempt from taxes, it is definitely a good idea to check with your local bylaws officer to see if there are any road setbacks or space requirements that you need to meet to begin a project in your area. 

If you have neighbors nearby there may also be noise bylaws that a court may infringe upon. 

8 Powerful Basketball Training Apps To Up Your Game!

As almost everyone on the internet now owns a Smartphone, the rise of mobile applications is at its peak. These smart applications have become a huge part of our lives and provide us with amazing solutions to many life’s smaller problems. 

Mobile applications can be used for educational purposes, to get rid of our boredom, a solution to keep us connected with all our friends and so much more. App solution providers have more than 2 million applications available on their network and many more are being added to this phenomenal list each and every day.

So, our team has compiled a list of the top 8 applications you must install on your phone right away to improve your overall basketball game.

8 Basketball Training Apps for iOS and Android

Our very first application, HomeCourt is unfortunately only available on iOS so our sincerest apologies to Android users. This specific application is a revolution in the world of basketball and will prove to be your best companion on the court.

It uses your iPhone camera to track all your moves, count your baskets and create a chart of your basketball game stats in real time. The application instantly provides you with a deep statistical analysis of your game while also reviewing your overall game performance.

This application is exclusively designed for coaches. With the help of this application, they can design game plays, assign tasks and keep a proper record of all the previous games that have been played. The application consist guidance from over 4,000 professional players so you can always get their opinions and design your strategy by keeping their suggestions in mind.

This application is exclusively designed to help you out with your pre-game prep. It consists of videos, pre-game checklists, basketball officiating glossary, official rule interpretations, drawing tools, technical manuals, coverage area symbols, full & half court referee and FIBA basketball rules. As you can see, it has everything that a basketball referee needs to prepare for the game.

Almost every basketball player uses the HUDL Technique to prepare for their games. It uses slow motion video analysis to breakdown the players moves on the court and show where you can improve technique and process maneuvers. You can use your phone to record your own video and then watch it back breaking down your game play frame by frame. Use your newfound information to compare as you improve your game play.

With NBL TV, you can stream minute long videos and on-going games for your own benefit. It comes with a wide range of content that you’re probably not going to find anywhere else. 

The BQ coaching application is perfect for every coach out there. It allows you access to a wide range of features including upcoming coaching events, various training drills, available coaching jobs and so much more.

The company that launched this app made it to be one of the most comprehensive coaching applications on the market making it an invaluable tool.

The Clipit application was created by a Queensland referee and allows the user to create a real time schedule of referee calls. It will record everything happening on the court in the background and will only save the information most important to you.

SportsTG (aka GameDay)

If you happen to be someone who wants to stay up to date on the latest match results and keep an eye out for what is happening with your rivals then SportsTG is something that you totally need to go for. 

With this application, you can get your predictions for the upcoming game and get an idea of where your team stands. It will also create a performance based chart on all your previous games that will help you plan your future game strategies.

Final Thoughts

If you want to improve your game in the best and most efficient way possible, consider downloading these incredible applications. Trust us, you won’t be disappointed!

Winter Running – Basketball Cardio

Cardio is an incredibly important part of any sports training program and the cardio shouldn’t stop just because there’s a chill in the air. It takes a special person to wake up on a cold, frosty morning in February, strap on those runners, layer-up on the clothing and go for a run in the fresh fallen snow. With these tips and ideas you can be that person and here’s how to do it safely and effectively.

Running In the Winter - F.L.A.S.H.

Running in the winter infographic - F.L.A.S.H.

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Why Do Cardio in the Winter

There are a number of reasons to go for a run in the winter rather than heading to the indoor gym.

Strengthen Your Mind

It is incredibly cathartic to go for a run while the snow is falling all around you. It can be so peaceful to see the flakes dropping from the sky as you leisurely jog down a wooded path or through a quiet city street. It can be exhilarating to run as the wind blows flakes past you giving them a laser like effect, prompting you to push harder to make them fly by faster. This feeling is even greater in the evening light as the streetlights highlight the falling snow.

How Tough Am I

I get a rush from knowing that I’m tough enough to get out there while everyone else is warm in their homes or working their basketball moves in a gym. It makes me feel like a hardcore running animal to be so determined to get that run in that I’m willing to brave the elements to reach my goals and better myself.

Better Air Out There

The air inside in the winter can feel stale but once you’re out that door everything is fresh and cool feeling. It’s positively psychological the way the fresh air can lift your spirits and give you a feeling that your health is improving with every step.

Sure, you can reap the same muscle building rewards from an indoor run or treadmill run but the psychological and elemental benefits that running outside provides are huge and I just can’t see them being duplicated in any manner on an indoor track.

Winter Running Safety

As wonderful as running in the winter can be, we can’t overlook the fact that there are some real safety concerns that need to be addressed to make each and every one of your runs a resounding success. You don’t want to not make your next basketball game simply because you didn’t pay attention to some simple safety measures while getting your cardio in.

Visibility

Your number one concern should be visibility in my opinion. You can put a real quick end to your running career by not being visible to those around you. Roads just aren’t as wide in the winter as they are in the summer. All the snow piling up on the sides of the road can make it difficult for cars to safely get by you and see you at times.

Wear reflective gear to help with visibility. Headlamps and flashlights make it much easier for motorists to see you and avoid you. Run on the sidewalk where appropriate and possible, just be aware that roads are generally kept cleaner than the sidewalks so adjust your running path accordingly.

If your city has designated, paved running paths through it, you could make a request to your city council to have those added to the snow removal schedule. They are already doing the sidewalks so it may not be too big a deal for them to add the paths as well. This could also be a task for running clubs to undertake.

Slips, Trips and Falls

Most winter running accidents happen when a runner slips or trips on slippery roads and sidewalks. Running cleats are a way to increase your traction without having to wear heavy boots. Some say they take a bit to get used to and that’s my feeling towards them as well but once you do, you’ll feel much more at ease and be able to really put some miles on those bad boys.

Whenever possible, run after the snow ploughs have gone by. They often clear the snow while salting the ice at the same time and this can make for much safer running conditions.

Increased Heart and Lung Strain

If your not used to running in the cold, it can be a bit of an adjustment. This is especially true when it comes to breathing. Icy and colder air can be a bit more difficult to breath.

This can be especially true for someone who has asthma related health issues. The air in the winter can be dry which makes matters even worse. But there are ways to make it easier to breath during the run.

Start with a scarf or something similar. This will allow the air to warm up a bit as it’s passing through the material. Your exhaled air will warm up and moisten the scarf a bit allow the inhaled air to warm as it passes between the fabric and your skin. Keep your face and neck covered at all times and it can make a huge difference.  

Extra Warm Ups

Getting your body fully warmed up before going out in the cold is incredibly important. It may not take you long to warm up for a run in the summer but in the winter and on cool fall evenings, you really want to take your time and really get limber. You wouldn’t rush a basketball warm up so take the same precautions for your running warm up.

It can be difficult to warm up properly outside due to the cold temperatures. This can lead to strains, pulls and sprains of the joints and greatly increases your chance getting injured and not enjoying the run.

Take the time to do a full, dynamic and complete warm up. Get the blood flowing and the heat built up and you may find it that much easier to start warm and keep warm throughout the entire run.

Stretch

Oh the mighty stretch. If you thought it was important to stretch in the gym or in the warm weather, multiply that by 5. Your body has been trying to stay warm in the cooler temperatures all around you so you may find your muscles tighter than normal. Take your time and really focus on each area of your body. Start at one end, top or bottom, and work towards the other. Ankles, legs, hips, torso, arms and neck. Get it all in, don’t limit yourself to just your legs. Make sure you are very thorough. Those extra few minutes could make all the difference and can make your run safe and fun.

Run With a Buddy

Running alone can be peaceful but once in awhile it can be beneficial to run in a group or with a friend. It can be really motivating to have others around to push you to work harder and go that extra mile or two.

Don’t underestimate the value of running with your basketball teammates. There is an extremely important safety aspect to running with a partner, especially in cold or snowy conditions. If you get injured there is someone there to help you back home. It can be a long way to limp if you get injured halfway through your run. Which brings me to another important tip.

Run in Circles

Running in a circular route around your home can help you return quickly if you injure yourself. For example, if you were starting your run at the pink circle in the image below and decided to run for 25 mins in a straight line, then twisted your ankle at the halfway point (the red “X”). You would then have to hobble back 25 mins to your house.

How to run in a circle pattern

If you instead ran 50 mins in a circular route similar to the one in the image below starting again at the pink circle, you may be able to cut back across some streets (the purple dotted line) saving you valuable time and pain.

How not to run in a circle pattern

Follow the Snow Plow

In the winter some streets tend to get ploughed more than others. Keeping to the main streets where possible may give you the best chances of being able to run in freshly ploughed areas. These roads and streets tend to be better lit at night, salted sooner than other streets and salted more often than the back and side streets. Just keep in mind that they may also be busier with traffic as well.

Know When NOT to Go

There will be times when even the most seasoned, the most hardy and the most adventurous runner should know enough to cancel the run for the day and stay inside. Freezing rain can be a major bummer and cause all kinds of accidents to happen so check the weather before you go and when in doubt, play it safe.

That being said, it doesn’t mean you need to forgo the workout all together. I doubt many people have an indoor basketball court they can train in at home but many families do have a treadmill, stationary bike or my favorite, an elliptical they can use from the comfort of their home instead. Take advantage of these otherwise, glorified clothes hanging racks and put up some miles.

Be Flexible

As much fun as it is to run in the winter, staying safe and keeping things fun should be your top priority. Sometimes this will mean being flexible about your run routes and schedule.

It may require cutting back on your distance or pace to get the run in before dark.

It may require you to stick to streets that you don’t normally take.

You may need to alter your route from time to time in order to run into the wind at the start of your run and with the wind at the end.

It may require you to run during the day when you may be used to running at night. Running in the daytime does have it’s advantages including warmer temps and safer conditions.

Clothing for Winter Running

Just as a good pair of basketball shoes or ankle braces protect you on the court, your best protection off the court from the cold and snow are the clothes you wear there as well. The cold can take all the fun out of running if you don’t dress appropriately. “The right tool for the job” I always say and proper clothing is the right tool in this case.

Shoes for running in the winter

A normal everyday running shoe is fine when the weather is clear and the roads are dry but for really moving in the ice and snow you need something with traction and perhaps even picks. Choose a shoe that offers deep treads while also providing the ability for your feet to breath. If your feet sweat and your socks end up wet then your going to end up cutting your run short to get back where you can warm up your toes. Allowing air to circulate within the shoe will help keep those feet warm and toes toasty. Again, the right tool for the job.

Keeping Your Face Warm

It’s amazing how big a difference a scarf can make but when it comes to keeping your face warm and making it easier to breath, you really can’t go without one. Even just wrapping it around your neck to keep the cold from going down the front of your coat can go a long way to keeping you warm.

I’ve seen some runners wear slim, light ski goggles to protect and shield their eyes when it’s snowing or extra windy outside.

Ski masks are another great way to beat the cold just be careful not to scare any children. Remember that its fabric should breathe well.

Dress in Layers

It can be difficult to regulate your temperature while pushing up a hill in the cold weather. One of the easiest and best ways to reduce the chances of frostbite or hypothermia is to keep an even temperature. Keeping an even temperature can be done by adding and removing clothing as needed.

Dressing in layers allows you to remove clothing to cool down and add it to warm up.

Make the layer closest to your body one made of materials that can wick away moisture such as high-tech polyester or polypropylene clothing. These will help keep you warm and dry as you work up a sweat. It can trap that moisture in tiny pores that help keep it off your skin.

By wearing several layers you don’t need to worry about underdressing but overdressing can be an issue. As you begin your run your body will generate heat and you’ll find that you don’t need as much clothing to maintain a good temperature as long as you keep up a good pace. It’s alright to feel a little bit cool when you start your run and as you get running you should warm up quickly.

Overcoming the Mental Barriers

There is a very strong mental aspect to basketball, to most sports really and running is no exception. For some people, running can be a real challenge. Some need to push themselves hard to get out the door for the first few days before it becomes truly enjoyable. For me it was about a week. It got easier and easier with each run until I found myself running for really long distances without even thinking about it. BUT the winter? Well that’s a whole new basketball game.

If you have been running all summer and into fall, the transition into the winter months is much easier. But if your just beginning your running career in the dead of winter, say as a New Years resolution than not only are you a real trooper but your battle will be a bit of an uphill one.

Here are some ways to get over the mental hurdles that can accompany winter running.  

Reward Yourself​

Rewarding yourself for a run well done is a great way to keep that motivation up. A warm shower and warm drink after a cold, brisk run is truly a thing to look forward to as well as an important part to getting your body back to a good temperature. Maybe a gift card for every 40 miles or 65 kms you run to a sporting goods store. Hint hint, new basketball shorts?  

One thing to keep in mind is that warming up after a run should be done safely. Rapid temperature changes can be harmful to your body so remember that slower is better.

Dr. Cari Dillard, an Emergency Department physician at Forsyth Medical Center cautions that “You don’t want to go from extreme to extreme.” She recommends warm, not hot water when preparing in a bath. I would avoid hot tubs until after your body has warmed up to room temperature.

My favorite drink after being out in the cold is a warm hot chocolate. It makes you feel good and gives you some extra calories.

Dr. Cari Dillard also suggests that changing your clothes once returning from a run will help you get warm quickly. She says “It is really important to remove those outer layers that are also chilled, because otherwise you just insulate yourself from the warm air in your home. You want to make sure that you take off that layer, put back on warm clothes and therefore you can make sure that you have a nice, warm layer next to your skin.”

Invite a Friend

A running buddy can make getting out in the cold so much easier. If you are holding each other accountable that can be some serious motivation and will help you get out there.

Find a friend that is motivated like you. If you are the only one in the relationship pushing to get that run in before dark, there is a good chance it could backfire on you and that friend ends up holding you back. Be selective about who you pick as a running partner.

Good Tunes

Another motivating factor can be the music you listen to. If you have 5 songs on your phone that end up playing on repeat you may actually go insane before completing your run. Find some music with a beat that makes you want to move. If the beat makes you want to dance, it may also make you want to run. Running’s like a dance with only one move anyways! Keep the beat, move those feet!

Summer Body

By starting or continuing to run throughout the winter you are getting a head start on being beach-ready. Think about how toned your going to be after a long winter of hard-core training or how much faster you’ll be on the basketball court then all those players that stopped training in November.

Just do it

As with all runners, there is a point at which we need to just get out there and get it done. We need to take ownership of what it is we want to accomplish and put our thoughts into action. At some point we have to say to ourselves “today is the day” and not let anything stop us from getting those shoes on and start running.

Overcoming the Physical Barriers

Just getting out there and doing it may work for the mental side of things but there is a very real physical side of running in the wintertime that should be addressed as well. There are a number of tips and tricks to make it more enjoyable and easier on your body as you venture out into the cold.

Should I Run on the Road or the Sidewalk?

There are advantages and disadvantages to running on both the road and the sidewalk. For instance, running on the road allows you to take advantage of the cleaner streets. Streets are often kept clear of ice and snow buildup whereas sidewalks tend to be paid less attention, in smaller towns at least.

Roads also benefit from being cleared sooner than sidewalks. I’ve seen where a street will be ploughed an hour after fresh snowfall but a sidewalk on the same street will go days before getting a sweeping.

Roads however also add an element of danger in that you find yourself running alongside cars and other vehicles. If your running on the road, remember to run against traffic so that you can easily see oncoming vehicles and be seen by them as well.

Running on the sidewalk can be a much safer way of avoiding a traffic accident but can be deadly for your ankles. One misstep and you may find yourself twisting your ankle on a chunk of ice that hasn’t been cleared from the last snowfall. Snow ploughs will often take two or three passes down a busy street but rarely are they going to hit the sidewalks more than once unless the snow really piles up.

Endurance Running or Sprinting in the Winter?

Basketball players do a lot of sprinting. Quick starts, quick stops then a full court dash on a breakaway. Winter running doesn’t really allow for a lot of quick starts and quick stops due to ice, snow and just an overall need to be more cautious. Save your really hardcore sprinting for the gym in the winter and focus more on endurance running outdoors in the winter.

If you are someone who has troubles breathing in the cold of the winter you may want to go easy on the sprinting. You can slightly reduce your amount of cold air intake by choosing a slower distance run over a fast paced or HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) type run.

Start off slow and long then work up your speed as you feel able. Your distance and speed should change each day with the changing temperatures. If it’s a nice sunny warm-ish kind of day, go ahead and push yourself a bit, but if its rock bottom cold out there than try to limit the amount of cold air that you have to breath in by reducing your running tempo.

Stay Hydrated

Just as staying hydrated in the summer is a key concern, winter running can be just as dehydrating to the body. The cold air is dryer and it’s easy to forget that you still need water even though your body isn’t overly warm. This will not only increase your stamina but can assist with your bodies ability to moisten the cold air, helping you breath easier.

Keep a bottle of water close to you, even under your clothing as you run to keep it at about room temperature and to prevent it from freezing.

How to Prevent Cold, Wet Feet

Cold or wet feet can be an instant buzz-kill on a run. As soon as your feet get wet they will begin to lose heat and make your outing much less enjoyable.

When I was younger, I would come in the house at lunch time with wet shoes after playing outside in the snow. After lunch I’d be all warmed up and ready for another outdoor adventure but my boots would still be sopping wet on the inside. My mother would give us extra socks and put plastic bags over our feet. We could then, somewhat comfortably continue to play outside.

You can take the same idea and use it as a preventative measure. Simply slide some plastic bags over your feet to give them an extra layer of protection on extra wet days. I would not recommend doing this all the time as it does prevent your feet from breathing properly but in a pinch it can really help keep out the water.

How to Prevent Blistering and Chapping From the Wind

Similar to skiing, running in the cold wind can quickly dry out exposed skin and cause blistering. Prevent chapped lips and dry skin by applying a bit of vaseline or lip balm to your lips. Body Glide is a great product to prevent drying as well.

After your run, as you are getting out of your warm shower, consider using some sort of moisturizing cream to really get your skin feeling good again.

Cold Weather Warm Up and Cool Down

It’s more than likely going to be a warm-down rather than a cool-down as you may come in a bit chilly from your cold-air-run but stretching is so important both before and after. You may find you’re using some extra muscles to keep your feet from slipping and sliding on the ice and snow while running.

Take the time to stretch out your muscles and tendons, especially your calf muscles and achilles tendon both before and after you run.

Run During the Day

There is no better feeling than running on a beautiful summer evening. The fireflies are out, a warm breeze against your face. It’s magical! But in the winter running at night can be even colder than during the day and even a bit perilous at times.

Temperatures plummet when the sun goes down, drivers have a hard time seeing you and you miss out on the opportunity to increase your vitamin D intake. You may not have as many hours of sun during the winter and if that’s the case you want to make sure that you’re getting as much vitamin D from your runs as you can.

Conclusion

Runnings great. Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall. And making the most of each season is simply a matter of getting some of the strategies under your belt.

Make yourself get out there and you’ll enjoy it. Keep up your momentum from the rest of the year by continuing right on through the four seasons and don’t let those winter blues slow you down.

Quick and Easy: The Best Outdoor Basketball 2019

Why Outdoor Basketballs

As a lifelong basketball lover I’ve come to understand the importance of playing with a decent basketball on a clean court. Whether indoors or out, having the right tool for the job will make all the difference in both your ability to play effectively and the feel of the ball in your hands as you make that buzzer beater shot.

I’ve played with a large number of different indoor and outdoor basketballs and I wanted to go over some of my favorites, what I like and dislike about them and which I think are the best outdoor basketballs on the market. This will take us on a journey into the deep dark realms of the gym equipment room to determine which balls can compete and which come out flat.

What is the Difference - Outdoor Basketball Courts vs Indoor Basketball Courts

Indoor courts include surfaces such as gym floors made of wood, low pile gym carpets, rubber flooring and other synthetic materials

An outdoor court generally consists of a solid, outdoor surface with basketball hoops where a ball can be bounced. This court might be made of cement, asphalt, packed pea gravel or even hard packed dirt.

What's the Difference Between an Indoor Basketball and an Outdoor Basketball?

Indoor Outdoor Basketball

That’s a bit of a loaded question. In some ways there are huge, massive differences that can totally destroy your basketball and then in other regards there are absolutely zero differences and make the topic seem almost mute.

The big difference lies in the material used to create the different game basketballs. For example, a quality leather basketball is commonly made of full grain leather. A composite basketball is made of chemically treated and reinforced vinyl. The rubber basketballs are made of, well, rubber … as well as nylon threading.   

Where Should I use Which Type of Basketball?

Knowing what type of basketball you should be using and where you should be using it can be tricky at times. Here are the strict rules to remember:

Outdoor Basketball or Indoor Basketball - Does it Really Matter?

Actually it really does. Each type of basketball has a specific use in mind while being designed. Manufacturers then select the best materials based on their design goals, each with different qualities and properties that help improve the balls performance.

Some materials such as leather provide a great feel and have good gripping qualities so that the ball doesn’t slip out of the basketball players hands while catching a hard pass. Even with its 35000 individual grip pebbles, using a leather ball outdoors would cause the ball to become slippery as dust and dirt collect on it. A slippery ball can cause injury to the players or have a negative effect on the players ability to dribble a basketball if not properly cleaned before a game.

Composite has good durability and an overall pleasing feel allowing the ball to be used competitively indoors and out. This is the material most indoor outdoor balls are made of. It requires very little if any maintenance. However when used in a professional capacity such as in the NBA, the high speed of the passes can actually cause small cuts on the players hands when they catch the ball. This doesn’t seem to be an issue for high school players however.

Rubber basketballs are very inexpensive to manufacture and completely waterproof making it a good choice for use in the pool or for children. Problems may arise however when using a rubber ball on an indoor, wooden court. The ball and the floor work together adding too much extra bounce. Rubber balls also don’t offer the same feeling of control when compared to the leather or composite balls.

You can see that each material has its place and purpose and so it really does matter which ball you use on an indoor or outdoor court.has

What Should I Know Before Buying an Outdoor Basketball?

There are a number of key factors that any would-be outdoor street basketball purchaser should know before spending any money.

What does an Outdoor Basketball Cost?

Outdoor basketball price chart

With the vastly different cost in materials and the unique design techniques required to make each type of basketball it’s no wonder the costs vary so wildly. That being said, the best outdoor basketballs will not necessarily be the most expensive one. The price of a composite outdoor basketball can pale in comparison to a high quality, full grain leather indoor basketball but this is really an instance where you get what you pay for.

So what do US prices look like for different types of basketballs?

  • A quality rubber basketball will usually run in the neighbourhood of $10 – $20
  • A good synthetic leather or composite leather street basketball can often be anywhere from $25 – $65
  • A quality leather basketball can range anywhere from $60 – $170

What Level of Basketball Player Are You?

Players use different basketball sizes and types depending on their age, sex and what level they are playing at competitively.

Basketball Type for Children

children team playing basketball

Children may prefer to use rubber basketballs. It’s quite easy to find a ball that’s lighter in weight and due to it being so inexpensive it’s less of an issue if the children don’t take as good care of the basketball as they should. It’s durability means that it’s also quite forgiving when left out in adverse weather conditions or used in the water.

Basketball Type for Beginners

boy shooting basketball (700x467)

Beginners are likely best served by using rubber or composite indoor outdoor street basketballs. These players will find themselves spending time playing in the driveway or on outdoor courts. If you must pick between the two and you are a teen or adult than go with composite.  A smaller sized composite is also a good choice for an elementary school game basketball. A number of schools have set up teams to help teach children leadership principles. [2]

Basketball Type for Intermediate or High School Players

Highschool basketball is often the beginning of competitive ball and so a more professional grade ball should be used. The majority of their playing time will likely be spent on indoor courts with the occasional outdoor game. Composite indoor outdoor is probably the best street basketball type for this level of play.

Basketball Type for Advanced and Professional Players

professional basketball player dives for ball

Any competitive basketball beyond highschool should certainly be played with a very high quality composite ball or a full grain leather ball. These players will be on indoor courts 99% of the time. The NBA at one point switched over to playing with composite basketballs but had to revert back to leather basketballs at the request of the players.

Keep in mind that the goal is not really to work your way up to a leather ball but rather to play with the ball that handles the best for you on the court it’s designed for. That’s probably going to be leather or composite in the majority of situations. I have played with both and I have to say that there are some incredibly well designed composite basketballs that rival many of the leather balls I’ve seen.

What Materials are Basketballs Made From?

Basketballs are made from a variety of different materials and it is these materials that determine where and how a ball is best used.

Full Grain Leather Basketballs

basketball sitting in rack

There is an Important distinction between products labeled as “Full Grain Leather” and “Genuine Leather”. The quality between the two grades of leather couldn’t be larger. Full grain leather means that the leather is 100% genuine, no messin around, real as real gets, leather straight for the back end of the cow. It’s the complete solid grain and not made up of left over parts pieced back together which allow for greater chances of tears and are less durable. It’s the highest quality of leather available on the market. Full grain leather will normally far outlast any stitching used in product manufacturing. This explains its hefty price tag.

Genuine Leather Basketballs

Genuine leather is indeed still leather. It encompasses ANY type of leather and technically includes “Full Grain Leather” as well so there is no question about its authenticity. However it’s also essentially another word for “garbage” leather when it comes to marketing. It can be made of several animal skins and is normally made from the parts that are less durable. It is often chemically treated to improve it’s feel, look and durability.  A manufacturer would never label a product that is made from full grain leather as “Genuine Leather” as this label carries a negative connotation in the leather world.

“Genuine Leather” is a marketing term used to disguise and sell low quality leather at high end prices. Imagine you pay top dollar for a beautiful “Genuine Leather” basketball only to find out that a lower priced composite ball would have outlasted and outperformed for years. By labeling it “Genuine Leather” the manufacturers are telling the consumer that it is indeed made of leather and then hoping they don’t ask any further questions about quality. [1]

 

Note About Leather Basketballs

Aside from the price point there is one other slight downside to the full grain and genuine leathers. When brand new and just out of the box the ball seems overly firm. This is normal as all freshly purchased leather basketballs need to be broken in. It’s a process that can actually take a few months but not to worry. The breaking in process simply consists of playing with the ball. The natural oils from your hands condition the ball helping it to gain more and more traction for an overall better grip in the long run.

This is something to be aware of if you have an important game coming up. In this case you may want to hold off on using the brand new leather ball. It can be frustrating to players as the ball may seem slippery before the break in period is over.

You should never use a leather ball on an outdoor court. In fact you shouldn’t even dribble the ball outdoors while on your way to the gym. Water can also damage the ball so be sure to wipe the ball periodically with a dry towel or anytime it accidentally gets wet.  

Composite Leather or Synthetic Leather Basketballs

Basketball sitting on court

Composite leather basketballs make a fantastic alternative to full grain leather balls. They have a similar feel and playing experience without the higher price tag and offer a great deal of water resistance. Contrary to many beliefs, real leather is not used in the creation of composite leather.

Composite leather is designed using a chemical bath of powdered vinyl which is tinted and then applied to a thick, leather-like paper. The vinyl is then oven heated and dried taking on the same texture as the paper.

A second coat of vinyl with a thickening agent is then applied to give it shape and structure. This now double layered vinyl coating is again heated causing the thickening agent to react, expand and harden into place.

Once dried, a fabric sheet is glued to the back side and a machine peels away the original piece of paper revealing a textured vinyl layer. At this point the manufacturer may also print patterns on it to give a varnished or two toned look.

A final coating solution is applied to increase the new synthetic leathers durability and the product is tested through repetitive rubbing, stretching and burning to verify its abilities.

Basketballs made from this extremely durable substance have many benefits and very few cons. They play well both indoors and outdoors. They are water resistant and fire retardant (in case your on a hot streak :), and they are fairly inexpensive to manufacture when compared to full grain leather.

What’s really nice about many of the name brand companies that manufacture composite basketballs is that they ship the ball pre-inflated. Just open the box and your ready to play.

Rubber Basketballs

Man playing basketball in pool

Rubber basketballs don’t have a lot to them. They are basically a rubber covered balloon. The Rubber is pressed through a machine over and over to flatten and stretch it to a very thin size of approximately 0.5 to 1mm. The rubber is then cut and formed into a round shape creating a bladder or balloon that is able to hold air.

Nylon thread is then woven around the ball over and over to give it strength. This helps it maintain a round shape and protect that inner bladder. This nylon covered bladder is then covered with another protective layer of outer rubber pieces and any stenciling or printing is completed.

Rough edges will be trimmed at this point and any final touches such as painting of the deep channel design lines is done by hand. Balls are then inflated and checked for leaks after sitting for 24 hours. Final testing includes shooting the ball thousands of times and then measuring the diameter in several areas to ensure the ball has maintained its shape. The basketballs are then deflated and shipped out.

The benefits of rubber basketballs is that they are completely waterproof, very durable and often dirt cheap, hovering between the $10-$20 mark.

What Basketballs Have the Best Level of Grip

pebbling on a basketball

Different basketballs have varying levels of grip. Grip can come from a number of areas including the number of pebbles or bumps on the balls surface, how clean the ball is and the material type the ball was made with.

The more grip the better the ball handling abilities and the less chance the ball will slip from your hands during game play. By design, leather has the most grip followed by composite and then rubber however remember that a non-broken in leather ball is quite slippery and an overly dirty composite ball can get quite slippery as well.

The Overall Feel of Different Basketballs

Different basketball materials offer a different feel when practicing or during a game.

Leather basketballs once broken in will give the player a really nice sense of ball control. The pebbling becomes better worked in and produces an area that allows the ball to stick to the players hand a bit.

Composite indoor outdoor basketballs offer a bit of the same overall feel right out of the box. That being said, there really is a difference (however small it may be) between the leather and composite when it comes to catching a pass and the release of the ball from your hands on a shot. The composite is a bit more harsh or rough. These differences may not mean much in the overall game play so if the price is a factor, your getting a somewhat similar feel in the composite at a better price point.

Rubber has a somewhat mundane feel to it in my opinion. It bounces, it has decent grip, but there is no real satisfaction to its overall feel. Would you notice the difference between rubber and composite in a game? Yes. Would it be enough to make you not want to play? Probably not.

The Best Outdoor Basketballs Should Be Durable

A well looked after, high quality basketball should last a good number of years especially an indoor ball however an outdoor basketball takes a lot more beating. It’s exposed to the harsh pounding against the pavement for hours on end and the pebbles, sand and dirt that seem to frequent outdoor courts can mar and slice the balls outer layer of protection.

This abuse and the wear and tear of even a single game can be quite extensive. Luckily a solidly built composite indoor outdoor ball can withstand these rigors for a few years without any issues. Choose a high quality composite ball and store it indoors when not in use for years of outdoor fun.

Using an indoor ball outdoors will significantly reduce the balls lifespan and void any sort of warranty associated with it so play with and store any leather balls indoors.  

Do the Looks of a Basketball Matter?

I would have a hard time sacrificing functionality for looks in a basketball but ….. they do have some really cool looking basketballs out there. 

If your interested in some seriously competitive gaming than the looks should not really be a factor. The standard orange and black look pretty cool in my opinion anyway.

For those just playing for fun and who like a showy looking ball than by all means, go for it. Just test the ball out first if you can in the store or send it back if it’s lacking in quality if it’s shipped to you. Basketball is a lifestyle choice and the look of your ball can play a large part in that lifestyle.

If your the creative type, you may even be able to dress up a standard, high quality ball. They have spray paints for rubber surfaces that may work well for this. 

The Weight of a Basketball

I’ve played with basketballs that carry too much weight and ones that are slightly on the light side and it can really throw off your game. An overweight ball can feel slightly heavy and you may find yourself shooting short of the net whereas a ball that is underweight tends to be flighty. It may over bounce and under perform.

Some budget friendly knockoff balls out of China are often slightly heavy or light so again, buy name brand when possible for the best chance of getting the perfect ball.

Basketballs Should be Perfectly Balanced

Basketball player

My son got a new ball for Christmas and there was something off about it. It took me about 30 seconds to figure out that it was not properly balanced. Some gentle wobbling as I spun the ball on my finger confirmed my suspicions. There may have been too many interior windings on one side of the ball and not enough on the other causing a slightly off feel.

This isn’t too big a deal unless you do a lot of dribbling in which case you may find the ball moving in ways you can’t anticipate.

What is the Best Brand of Basketball?

This is actually a fairly easy question to answer. Wilson and Spalding. That’s not to say that there aren’t some other companies such as Nike and Under Armour making some great basketballs; they just pale in comparison to the quality of workmanship. Spalding was the first to create a dedicated basketball in the late 1800’s so to say they have some experience is an understatement. They also provide the official NBA basketballs. Wilson also has a long history of manufacturing basketballs and currently supplies the official basketball of the NCAA.

Keep These Things in Mind When You Buy

There are few important takeaways to keep in mind when your ready to buy that shiny new ball. Stay away from rubber balls if your going to play or practicing in any serious and meaningful way at all. It’s just not a great feel and it can really throw your game off. I would almost consider it a novelty item rather than a serious basketball.

Leather is for serious, indoor play and really only if you can afford the extra cost. You do get a better quality ball and a slightly better feel over the synthetic ball once it’s broken in but is the price really worth the small increase in performance? Perhaps.

A high quality composite indoor outdoor ball is definitely going to give you your bang for your buck. Go brand name if you can and you won’t be disappointed. You are giving up a bit of quality compared to leather but your cutting your cost in half.

This is the Best Outdoor Basketball

SPALDING

The Spalding Zi/O Excel is a top of the line hybrid basketball meaning it plays flawlessly both indoors and out. A slightly pricier option than some other decent basketballs but in this case that is money well spent.

Immediately out of the box you can tell that there is some serious quality workmanship that went into creating this piece of art. Be mindful that it may feel a bit slippery at first and that’s ok because once on the court that slip turns to stick and allows for some amazing grip. The feel is better than anything else available in hybrid form in our opinion.

The balls synthetic cover provides a really good feel similar to that of leather right down to the pebbling. Release of the ball feels smooth and comfortable which can only help improve accuracy.  

The channeling has good depth and seems durable. It gives you a solid feeling of quality and a knowledge that this ball is going to last a long, long time.

The Spalding Zi/O is standard NBA official size and weight with 29.5 inches in width and a proper 1.4 lbs (22 oz) weight. It sports the ever famous NBA logo wearing a standard of quality on it’s outer skin. The gold and black coloring accent each other nicely and give the ball a very professional look.

This ball comes perfectly inflated out of the box so there is no need to pump before you play.

It really is a really solid ball that will give anyone years of happy playing!

Other Great Outdoor Basketballs

SPALDING NBA REPLICA GAME BASKETBALL

The Spalding Replica Game Basketball would be my second choice of outdoor basketballs. Again, brand name and they are trying to mimic the official leather ball used in the NBA.  Made of composite leather. Indoor outdoor basketball. Official size and weight.

SPALDING NBA STREET-PHANTOM

Another solid ball to play with, the Street Phantom mixes great looks with great performance. Made of composite leather.  Indoor outdoor basketball. Official size and weight.

WILSON NCAA REPLICA

If you like a splash of color when you play basketball this may be the ball for you. The Wilson NCAA Replica basketball has a few other colors to choose from as well. Made of composite leather.  Indoor outdoor basketball. Official size and weight.

Sources

How to Shoot a Basketball

There’s no better feeling than enjoying some fresh air in the sun with some friends shooting hoops, or spending time in the winter on the indoor court getting in a good workout while focusing on your technique. Weather your a beginner or a seasoned pro, there is always something to be gained by going over the basics. This article will take you through some of the do’s and don’ts of shooting a basketball and help you get those jump-shot techniques just right.

How Can I Learn to Play Basketball? - The Basics

Shooting is generally done with two hands. One hand guides and directs the ball, supporting it during the shot. This is called the guide hand. It’s usually your non-dominant hand.

The other hand is your shooting hand and it is the hand used to give the momentum and power to the ball to get it to the net. There are many other names for these hands but these are the terms we will use in this article.

How to Shoot a Basketball - B.E.E.F.

BEEF is a popular acronym for remembering the key elements of a technically good basketball shot.

  • B – Balance – Good balance helps you control both the ball and your shot
  • E – Elbows – Keep your elbows up and inline with the net during the shot
  • E – Eyes – Keep your eye on the rim during your shot
  • F – Follow through – The shot is not complete until it’s hit something, weather that’s the basket or the floor
How to shoot a basketball infographic

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Pre-Shot Grip

Proper shooting begins with your pre-shot grip. By this I mean, the way you are holding the ball during a free throw or after receiving a pass from a teammate. It can also be the way you’re holding the ball as you transition between dribbling and shooting.

In all three of these scenarios, make sure that the ball is gently resting on your fingertips and not touching your palms.

If you have large hands you can place the thumb of your support hand just slightly in between the thumb and index finger of shooting hand. For smaller hands you may need your support thumb further out away from your shooting hand but try to have your thumb still in that general area if possible.

Your guide hand should rest on the side of the ball gently to stabilise and direct it towards the hoop during the shot.

Free Throws

In a free throw scenario, when you have some time to examine how you are holding the ball, line up the shot, take that deep breath, exhale and shoot, there is no reason not to hold the basketball properly.

I like to keep my thumb in the seems if possible and ensure there is a bit of space between the palm of my hand and the ball.

Shooting hand is behind the basketball and the guide hand is on the side of the basketball.

I’m now ready to take the shot.

Catching a Pass

Generally speaking you would catch a pass with two hands. Transitioning between two hands in the catch position where there is one hand on each side of the ball to a shooting position with one hand on the side of the ball and the other behind the ball is fairly simple.

Using your shooting hand begin to turn the ball towards your guide hand and slightly downward, almost on a 45 degree angle, to prevent your two thumbs from making contact. Allow the ball to slip across your guide hand until your shooting hand is behind the ball inline with your body. Remember that your guide hand should still on the side of the ball.

The shooting hand moves. The guide hand does not. Your now ready to begin the shot.

From Dribbling to Shooting

As you are dribbling the ball plant your feet and begin to sweep the ball towards your other hand as the ball reaches the top of the bounce. Once you have the ball in both hands quickly move your shooting hand, turning the ball with it until your hand is behind the ball and lined up with your body.

As with the “Catching a Pass” senario, your guide hand should allow the ball to slide across it as necessary to get the ball and your shooting hand inline with your body and behind the ball.

Your now ready to take your shot.

Body Posture and Positioning

A well prepared stance and being in a good position before and during a shot can really increase the chances of scoring on your opponent. Proper posture can improve your technique and make you open to quick maneuvering and being ready to make that explosive jump into a stellar shot.

Remember to keep your footing in check. Get your feet lined up square with basket before you take the shoot or while your in the air. This will help you line up the rest of your body including your arm which is doing it’s best to adjust the aim so the basketball goes in.

Don’t space your feet too wide or too close together at any time. You want to be able to quickly react. Place your feet approximately shoulders width apart but not too much more than that. It can be difficult to go into a jump if your feet are spread too wide.

A slight bend in the knees is important. It will play a large part in momentum you need to get the desired height from your jump. Most of your jumping power will come from your caves and thigh muscles.

The bending helps release that power in the calves which transitions into a powerful shot and can get you up over other players trying to block your shot.  

The Jump

A jump shot is a full body action. It requires so many muscles and so much strength to get high in the air and shoot the ball in a meaningful way.

Your feet balance you and help transition from standing flat to being on your toes just before leaving the ground and finally to landing safely and cushioning some of the impact on your body.

Your legs act as the spring, coiling as you bend your knees then releasing and propelling your body upwards into the air.

Your arms lever forward pushing the ball towards the basket and guiding its aim.

And your wrist flicks with a smooth transfer of power that gives the ball its arc allowing for the best possible chance of making a clean swoosh sound in the end.

All these muscles and joints act in coordination to create the perfect basketball delivery system with the ability to take a ball 9.55 inches wide and sink it in a net only 18 inches wide from more than 23 feet away and do it with ease!

As you begin your jump, the heels of your feet should first come up a bit. There is some jump height advantage that comes from a strong, quick punch of power when you transition from being flat footed, going to your foot pads, then to your toes and from there into the air.

Keep a gentle, forward momentum as your going up but also keep your body as straight as possible in order to get the maximum height. It’s a bit of a balancing act to get that just right but it will come with practice.

Most importantly, think “Power”. Power is the key so a burst of energy propelling you upwards as you jump and then the release of the ball at the top of the jump should be powerful and focused like a laser.

Aim

Aim is tricky. Aim is something that can only come with practice. There are some players who have a gift for this but with enough practice, anyone can get the aim down.

Visualize the shot before you take it if you have time. The game is only part skill. There is a large mental aspect to it as well. So imagine the trajectory of the ball and visualise it going in, then try to copy that trajectory as you shoot.

Keep your eye on the target from beginning to end of the shot. You can’t hit what you can’t see, at least not consistently. Do not follow the arc of the ball with your eyes, just focus on the rim and get comfortable with letting the ball naturally leave your hands. Your eyes should stay locked on the rim no matter what.

Get your body square with net before takeoff if possible and during the jump if necessary. Keep your head straight as much of your balance comes from your head being in line with your body and the net.

Maintain a good follow through at the end of your shot. Keep your hands up in the air until the ball reaches its mark. This keeps you from accidentally upsetting the angle of the ball as it’s leaving your fingers.

Your aim will improve as your form improves and good form relies on the use of both hands working together. As mentioned before, each hand has its job. The shooting hand shoots and the guiding hand guides.

Guide Hand

The guide hand is key to having good aim. It steadies the ball and provides much need support so that the shooting hand can focus on getting the amount of power needed just right.

When holding the ball to shoot, the guide hand stays on the side of the ball, out of the way. If this hand gets too far forward it will be in the way of the ball as its trying to move forward. It will prevent the shooting hand from being able to smoothly release the ball.

Too far back and you end up almost trying to two-hand pass the ball into the net. Only one hand should be powering the ball.

With your fingers comfortably spread, use your guide hand to keep the ball straight and on target as your shooting hand pushes the ball past it.

Shooting Hand

The shooting hand is responsible for releasing the ball with just the right amount of energy. The main power comes from your legs and arms but in order to give the ball just the right amount of power we need something a little more precise. This precision can come from the flick of the wrist as the ball is leaving your hands. A harder flick will give a lot more power and gentler flick will give a little more.

The flick is key as it provides a smoother shot than a stiff arm would give. Remember to keep that wrist up in the air after to ensure that the shot is smooth and on target.

The Shot

Taking the actual shot can be something you end up working on the rest of your sports life. It’s not that it’s all that complicated or difficult to get good at, it’s more about doing it consistently. After years of playing basketball I still catch myself not properly lining up my arm with my body or flicking my wrist lazily rather than with the appropriate amount of force. It’s more about focus and concentration once you get the movements down.

  • Begin by placing your guide hand on the side of the ball and your shooting hand on the back of the ball. As you begin to bring the ball up to shoot you’ll find that the shooting hand is then  automatically positioned almost underneath the ball.
  • Continue to bring your shooting arm up to where your elbow is sitting around chin height or slightly higher. Your forearm and upper arm should form a 90 degree angle until you release the shot. The amount of power you use will mostly come from that release as your 90 degree bend rapidly straightens out and the ball is ultimately released into the air.
  • A key point of this release is a smooth flick of the wrist at the point of release, which is normally the peak height of your jump. I like to begin to release the ball as it reaches my forehead level or just above there to ensure I get enough arc to overcome any potential players blocking and to optimize the chances of the ball going in the net without hitting the rim. A swish! Too shallow an arc will increase the chances of hitting the rim rather than making a clean goal.
  • Make sure you keep your elbow, wrist and hand lined up vertically under the ball in front of your face. The ball should rest gently on the pads of your fingers.
  • Practice completing all these steps in one fluid motion.

There’s a lot to explaining it but once you try it a couple times you will see how easy it is to get a good shot going.

Technical mumbo jumbo aside, remember that not every player has a perfectly straight shooting arm. Many with amazingly accurate shots have the arm slightly off tilt or slightly to the side. It really ends up being about what you are most comfortable with and what helps you make the shot. There have been some fantastic players with seriously ugly shots so don’t get discouraged if your not right on point with all the technicalities. Do what feels natural.

Preventing Injury

Often overlooked is how important it is to try to prevent injuries.

A controlled landing is what allows you to quickly transition from shooting to rebounding or defending in the case you miss.

Before taking the shot, make sure there is no one coming at you in an overly aggressive manner. If you are hit mid air you may lose your balance and wind up with a severe ankle sprain or even a broken arm or leg.

My most cringe-worthy injuries occur after coming down from a jump and landing on someone else’s foot, then SNAP! A severely twisted ankle that puts me out for months.

Repetitive motion injuries are another problem if not remedied early on while learning to play basketball. Try to cushion the impact from landings by adequately bending your knees to absorb some of the downward force.

Proper equipment such as mouth guards, clean basketball shoes in good condition and ankle supports where needed will limit some injuries and completely prevent others.

Once injured, quick and proper care of the injury will make all the difference in a fast recovery and get you back on the court sooner. Finishing a game after you strain or sprain a wrist, finger  or ankle can often worsen the injury and turn a 2-3 week recovery time into a 2-3 month recovery time. I know there are lots of tough-toughs out there that can handle it but be willing to walk away and take a break for a few weeks so that you can get back out there sooner.

Bottom line is that proper technique and equipment will ultimately help you limit sprains, streigns and a number of impact injuries.

Important Additional Tips

There are a number of times to help you improve your game and master your shooting techniques.

  • Dipping is a technique that allows you to get a full, clean, momentum filled shot off every time you shoot. As you slightly bend your knees to begin your shot, dip the ball towards your knees to about calve height and then continue with the shot. It’s a gentle, quick motion that can add to your feel and coordination. It can make or break your shot at times and also provides for improved technique. It also provides a look of fluidity when you shoot.
  • I’m a big proponent of muscle memory. Making a shot from anywhere on the court without thinking too much about it is key to an aggressive offensive game. This means practising every shot over and over again until it becomes part of your nature. There is no substitute for repetitive actions during frequent practices in order to commit winning movements to memory
  • Practice, practice, practice! And did I mention practice?
  • Coordination is key and very much linked to muscle memory and practice so work on smooth transitions from dribbling into a shooting stance and also from receiving a pass into a shooting stance.
  • Exercise and strength training can take your game to the next level. There are so many exercises geared towards improving your basketball shot.
  • Push Ups to strengthen your arms which in turn will increase the power of your shot
  • Squats to strengthen your legs and calves and thighs in particular to get you extra height on your jumps
  • Any ab strengthening will help with your explosive power and overall fitness
  • Running and jumping rope for your cardio and jumping

Conclusion

It’s not incredibly hard to learn how to shoot a basketball with the right techniques under your belt but to become proficient and look natural doing will take patience and a lot of practice. Focusing on proper technique and smooth transitions will make all the difference and will ultimately increase your confidence and influence your overall skill.

So whether your a newbie or a seasoned pro, focus on the tips in this article and go take on the competition with ease!

How to Get Better at Basketball

As with all sports, to get better at basketball you really need to practice. That being said, there are a number of ways to help you use that practice time to make quick progress and really turn up the heat on your game in a minimal amount of time. The following tips, tricks and thoughts are designed to get both your body and your head in the right place to really up your game on the court

Practice Under the Net

Ok, so I’m going to start off with what I think is kind of a cheap trick but that being said, everyone can use some time up close and personal with the net to improve those under-the-rim area shots. It can take a bit of time to take a shot from the three, go retrieve the ball and and then get back to the three point line to take another shot. Practicing threes takes a bit of time if you don’t have someone feeding the ball back to you. But you can make 5 shots in the same amount of time when your close to the basket.

If your not great under the net this is one of the quickest things to work on that will really up your game quickly thanks to the sheer volume of shots you can take. Just stand there and focus on good form and getting your hands up as close to the rim as possible with every shot.

I like to do 100 bank shots each from 2, 4 and 6 feet away on a bit of an angle in a single practice. It takes some time but I try to keep focus and form the entire time.   

Do Cardio

I think when I began playing, I under appreciated the amount of skill that you could introduce to your game just by simply being a fast runner. Working on your stamina and cardio will give you the energy you need to make fast breaks and really move from one end of the court to the other with breakneck speed.

Sometimes better speed comes with better form. Work on the dynamics of running and practice them so that they become part of you, part of your muscle memory. This will help you ditch old, bad, slow habits in exchange for proper movements and a better running foundation that will give you that added boost your looking for.

There is No Substitute for Practice

Sorry, you all knew this one was coming. It just can’t be avoided. You need to put in the time. Now if you really love basketball you won’t mind one bit putting in the time. Though it does get a little harder to be motivated when you are going strictly to work on some specific parts of your game rather than just playing a game of pickup but trying to imagine yourself playing a game while your practicing can take the edge off a bit.

The bottom line really is that someone who practices will ultimately be better than someone who doesn’t with the exception of natural born talent but I have seen many a player go from terrible to really good over the course of a year when playing regularly.

If you have trouble getting out there than treat your practices like workouts (which they really are anyway) and create a schedule. Mark down what aspects of your game your going to work on that day and then stick to it religiously.

That brings me to my next point…

Strength Training

Basketball has evolved over the last hundred plus years and has become a sport where strength can really boost your performance. Leg days and arm days will make all the difference when it comes to your vertical leap and your ability to out-rebound your opponent.

Strength training is important in any sport you play and can really reduce the amount of injuries you sustain. Take the time to schedule your workouts and really put some effort and focus into tailoring them for basketball. Interestingly however, just having legs like a horse doesn’t mean your going to have a striking vertical jump. You still have to do the work on the court to figure out the rhythm and form you need to get your body up high enough to dunk or even get near the rim.

Focus On Quality Over Quantity

It’s really not enough to hit the court and stand in the same spot and shoot hundreds of balls. Yes that does help but you can get so much more from moving and grooving as you shoot. The number of times in a game where you have the time to stop, line up the shot, calculate the wind resistance, account for the curvature of the earth and make the shot is few and far between.

In a real game you could be going from a full tilt run to a dead stop, popping up into the air and releasing at the peak of your jump and hopefully doing so with the grace of a swan. This is what you do in a real game so why not practice the things you do in a real game?

When you shoot a three, don’t just stand at the three point line a shoot. Start with your back to the hoop and pivot, then shoot. It’s just a bit more realistic.

When your playing one-on-one don’t concentrate on winning, focus instead on your release, your posture, your ball handling.

I can’t stress how important it is to practice good form, AT ALL TIMES!

Work the Court in Practice

I see this all the time. Someone has a sweet spot on the court. Maybe they excel at free throws so the majority of their shots go of from the free throw line or maybe they are a three point champ and take three points like the game depended on it.

If you find yourself doing this, stop! Mix it up. You will have a much stronger game if you can make that ball drop from multiple areas of the court and you will be much harder to guard if you can be unpredictable. I know that means giving up some points at first that you might have made from your safe space but expand your horizons and don’t be afraid to get taken to the cleaners in the name of improvement.

Another benefit to moving about is that you will confuse your shooting muscle memory. It can become second nature hitting two points from the top of the key but you want it to become second nature to hit that shot from anywhere on the court.

Try dividing the court into 3 areas. Left, middle and right. Now mix those three area up as you shoot while playing two-on-two or three-on-three (assuming your not playing some sort of zone set up). It may help confuse your opponent a bit as a bonus.

Don’t miss any areas of the court during practice. Hit your threes from the sides near the baseline. It’s a tricky shot to master but if you do, it can get you out of a lot of sticky situations. Don’t forget about that slightly weird, off angle shot, just back and to the side of the free throw line.

Bring Your "A" Game to Practice

We all have our off days. Maybe we were up late or maybe we are doing an early morning practice. That’s all good but don’t let that stop your progress. If you don’t feel like practicing one day, change things up.

Go for a run and get things pumping before practice starts. Just getting moving can turn an early morning slump into a great warm up. Or skip the practice (not too often though) and hit the weights instead. Just do something to keep the momentum up.

Warm up with some Barry Manilow! Ok, maybe not Barry but get the tunes pumping and work to the beat. It will help you zone-in on the practice and get your head in the right space.

Playing ball with other people when your mad or upset is not usually a good idea but practicing mad is great! It can really help relieve tension and pressure from the day or week. Basketball in itself can help you forget for a while, your challenges and give you a bit of a break.

Playing angry can also bring another dimension to the practice that you may not otherwise get in a game and that anger can get the adrenaline moving inside you at higher rate than just a regular day. You may find that extra little bit of adrenaline helps you jump a little higher.

Don’t be lazy when you play. Use that time to work and hustle. Your not there to just shoot around. If I play with someone who’s not really into the practice that much we end up spending more time talking than really shooting with purpose. In that case I can get a better workout on my own than I can with someone who doesn’t feel like getting their heart rate up at all.

Be Determined

Determination is key to quickly improving your game and no one can be determined for you. It’s all on you. If you fail because you didn’t want it enough, well that’s on you unfortunately.

Take it one practice at a time and remember before each practice that one determined and focused practice is worth ten lazy ones. Putting out the effort consistently will help you progress not just in your game but your attitude, your cardio, your strength and your stamina.

Be a Better You Each Day, Not Better Than Someone Else

The number one mistake players make when trying to get better at any sport is comparing themselves to others. Yes you want to be better than others, that’s the competitive side of the sport speaking to you but that will come on its own naturally as you focus on being better today than you were yesterday. Focus on improving yourself each day and you will actually improve yourself each day until you are better than others, that’s just the way it works.

Watch NCAA/NBA Games

Need a new move? Maybe some motivation? The NCAA games are where it’s at. Top athletes competing for a the NBA and working their tails off to get there. I prefer the NCAA to the NBA because I find that it feels like they are trying to impress the scouts to make the leap into the pros. They also seem to have a greater love for the game at this point.

That being said, don’t watch too much TV! You really want to be playing the sport not watching it. I find there are tons of people who know every player, score and coach on every team but put an actual ball in their hands and it might as well be a brick. Be a player, not a spectator.

Watch for smart plays that solve a specific problem. A turn that gets a player out of a pinch. A tricky pass at the right time that sets up his or her teammate. Watch their crossovers and dribbling moves and remember them. Mimic them in practice. And if you can’t quite get them than go back and watch replays on youtube to help you figure out and master the technique.

Play Pick-Up With a Purpose

Pick up games are the best! You make new friends, meet new people and best of all, steal other players moves! I doubt there are many players that wouldn’t be happy to teach you a move you like of theirs. I can’t think of a better compliment to be given then to have someone ask me to show them how I did “that” move. Some of my favorite moves are from others I’ve watched and copied.

Playing with strangers gives you greater experience with a wider variety of player types and can help you hone your techniques.

Don’t focus on winning, focus on the technique while in a situation with a little pressure. Besides, the more you play, the better you get. Extra games are always a good thing.

Take a Personal Day

It’s ok to be a loner once in a while. To take time to focus. You don’t need others to get good with stationary shots, work on your layup or really spend some time on your ball handling.

Personal time will allow you to focus on any weaknesses and use repetitive moves without boring others. Sometimes there is a new move we’ve been dying to work on and if you aren’t sure your ready to let others watch as you fail miserably trying it out this will give you space to fail on your own until you get it.

Another important reason to go solo is to commune with the game and really develop a personal relationship with it. If you never play alone than when you do you will notice your love for the game really grow during these workout sessions. It will become more a part of your day to day life.

Play With Players That Are Better Than You

This is by far the MOST important tip you can learn here. This will improve your game almost over night. Well maybe not overnight but crazy fast. Stop looking for players you know you can beat and find the ones you can’t and stick with them until you can.

The idea is that you up your game by upping your competition. Your creating an atmosphere of greater challenge and by doing so “Challenge” becomes the norm and you will get used to overcoming it. You will learn ways play better under pressure.

They say that if you want to be rich, surround yourself with rich people and learn from them. The same can be said for sports. Watching others with better form and taking notes will improve your game massively.

Technique

Focus on your technique at all times. You can make leaps and bounds improving your game if you work on improving your techniques. Get that basketball shot just right and make it repeatable. Make it second nature and you will gain confidence and beat out the competition.

Conclusion

Again, there really is no substitute for daily practice but hopefully these ideas will help get you thinking out of the box a bit and help you improve your game a bit quicker than you would if you just went to the court and shot around.  

Preventing Common Basketball Injuries

The most newsworthy basketball injury in recent memory was surely the sprained knee suffered by Duke’s Zion Williamson after the blowout of his Nike sneakers. The company clearly wishes they could’ve prevented this unfortunate incident which wiped more than a billion dollars off their balance sheet in a single day. In this article we’ll go over some of the most common basketball injuries and how to prevent them from happening to you.

Gordon Hayward basketball injury carried off court on stretcher

Photo By: Erik Drost

General Basketball Conditioning Tips and Techniques

  • Strength-training involving squats and core exercises is key to being ready for your next game
  • Never overdo it. Sometimes more is less and when it comes to over-exercising, injuries are the unfortunate side effect and can result in damaged bones and muscles [1]. I had someone tell me just last week that they workout 7 days a week. This may be way too much. Talk to your doctor about what a realistic workout regime may look like to you.
  • Remember to keep out of the sun on overly toasty days. Wear a hat and sunscreen if your going to be playing in straight sun.
  • Jumping drills strengthen your legs and increase your vertical at the same time
  • Plyometrics will help increase power and speed and improve your endurance
  • While your at the doctors, get a checkup. Make sure everything is in tip top shape before going into a new season.
  • So many on-court injuries or illnesses could be avoided if players knew enough to stay hydrated. Water or other sports designed fluids are the life lines that can keep you playing at peak performance.

Basketball Injuries Happen to Us All

We’ve all had our share of basketball injuries. In my particular case, I was on the verge of knocking out my brother, once and for all, in a driveway basketball game. And then, suddenly, I rolled my ankle. Alas, it took me some time to get back on the court, and feeling at full strength. Once back though, I decided to challenge the local high school kids to some hoops. Wouldn’t you know: The first hard pass from my new teammate sprained my ring finger. Lucky for me, I wasn’t alone. Innumerable weekend warriors suffer these same common, and preventable, basketball injuries.

Rules of Basketball that Prevent Injury

Woman stretching warming up

But you may ask: Why was I playing basketball against my brother on an icy driveway in the first place, rather than sitting inside sipping a hot chocolate on that blustery afternoon? I remember it well, though it was many years ago, right in the middle of March Madness. Our beloved UConn Huskies had barely survived another elimination game, but inspired us to take the court. Naturally, we ignored two “rules” that would’ve saved me from such frequent injuries:

  1. Always warm up well before playing, and
  2. Wear high-top sneakers to support your ankles (rather than the low-tops I quickly flipped on to challenge my brother in the driveway).

Let’s also assume that the Air Jordans you bought from the aforementioned company will secure your ankles a bit more than Zion´s (999,999 times out of a million).

Top 5 Common Basketball Injuries

Let’s start by looking at a list of the most common basketball injuries, and then get to the specific steps you can take to prevent them, and in the meantime, keep yourself on the court to challenge the little brothers and local high schoolers of the world.

Ankle and Foot Injuries

Girl wrapping basketball foot injury

By far, Injuries to the feet and ankles are the most prevalent. According to some estimates, 42% of basketball injuries occur to the foot and ankle or lower extremities. You can easily roll your ankle, get bashed in a mad scramble for the ball, or even get stepped on (not a pretty sight if you should happen to tumble in the land of the bigs going for a rebound). Basketball is a fast and “foot-loose” sport that naturally leaves athletes vulnerable to these kinds of injuries.

How to Prevent Them: In order to prevent foot and ankle injuries, you need to think about proper support. Before stepping on the court (and possibly getting stepped on), invest as much as you can in the right footwear for the best wooden courts, the sticky rubber ones found at many schools, or the most challenging of all, the hard cement courts that spawn the greatest city players—and that are often covered with water, or even ice, if you´re lucky enough to live in the North.

Indoor basketball shoes help prevent slipping on indoor playing surfaces, and in general, a good pair of basketball shoes will provide a higher profile and more support around the ankle. If you need help choosing which shoe is right for you, check out these great shoes designed for ankle support. It also doesn’t hurt to tape up your ankle with athletic tape before a game with the permission of your doctor if you want to take extra preventative measures or are prone to ankle injuries.

Doing yoga balance poses on a regular basis can also help prevent injuries. Improved balance can help improve stability and decrease the potential for trips and falls.

Knee Area Injuries

Paul Pierce on floor basketball injury

ACL tears and other extreme knee related injuries are less common in the game as they can be in other sports, but don’t let that put you off guard. Knee injuries are still a huge player in the number of basketball related injuries sustained by players throughout the world.

How to Prevent Them: Strength training is your best friend in this case. Build up the needed support in your knees by working out your legs and other supporting body structures in that area. External supports such as knee braces and physician-applied medical tape can support the knee area as well. Don’t feel bad about using a support device during the heeling process. It’s a far better choice than risking another fall and damaging your knee further. [2]

Players who are outside their ideal weight may put added streign on their joints and muscles, especially their knee joints. Do your best to maintain an ideal weight by eating healthy, staying well hydrated and getting regular exercise, which if your playing a lot of basketball you are probably already getting!

Wear stable and properly supportive shoes that can help cushion landings and prevent slips and falls while playing basketball (here are some great shoes for basketball guards) . Wearing high heels on a regular basis can dramatically increase the potential for knee injury while off the court. Now that I think about it, it could also cause injury if you wear them on the court to play too!

It’s a recurring theme throughout preventative measures but keeping your muscles strong and your body limber are really some of the best things you can do to decrease injuries. Stretching and working out the legs and core muscle groups can help to support the knee area and give it added flexibility.

Wrist and Hand Related Injuries

You would think with the amount of work your hands do in a basketball game and how much they play into your ability to rule the court, that there would be more hand and wrist related injuries, but it’s only slightly more than 10% of the injuries that are attributed to this area of the body. That being said, I can’t begin to count the number of times I personally have jammed my finger with the ball. Man that hurts!

How to Prevent Them: Keeping your hands and wrists in peak condition is as important as exercising your legs or arms. But how you look after them is slightly different. Spatial awareness can be crucial. When the ball is coming at you, keep your focus on it right up until you’ve got hold of it in your hands. Looking away seconds before you’ve caught the ball is bound to result in some jammed fingers.

Don’t be afraid to stretch out your wrists like you would any other area of your body before playing. Optimal dexterity can go a long way to keeping you safe and pain-free. Rotate your hands in a circular motion in the air to get them moving and warmed up.

Head, Neck and Face Injuries

neck injury from basketball

Going head to head with another player is great unless it’s in the literal sense, than it’s just downright painful. Lost teeth, black eyes, bloody or broken noses are all par for the course if your not careful and paying attention.

How to Prevent Them: The most simple but obvious way to prevent these types of injury is to keep your head up and your wits about you. Looking out for other players and keeping an eye on your surroundings is going to make all the difference between weather or not you leave the court with all your teeth. I’ve seen so many players take a ball to the face because they either didn’t have their head in the game or they were distracted by the crowd on the sidelines. There is no reason for that to happen if your head is in the game and you are focused on where on the court the ball is. Focus, focus, focus!

Hip, Pelvic and Thigh Area Injuries

Pivoting, running, jumping, and rebounding are all common moves that place extra strain on the players body. Legs, hips and most muscles in that area are prone to a variety of basketball related injuries. Hip strains and bruises can occur from contact on the court or over-extending of muscles and ligaments.

How to Prevent Them: It can be extremely difficult to prevent injuries that occur from contact and some just can’t be prevented at all. Keep in mind that stretching is the number one way to reduce the possibility of injury in this area of the body. Greater muscle flexibility means that you’ll be less likely to over-extend them and injure yourself. Stretching out hips and legs is the smartest way to warm up and be ready to play at peak performance.

Start your morning with exercises that target, activate and engage your hips, pelvic and thigh areas to get the muscles working so they can support you properly the rest of the day. [3]

Squats and lunges are great exercises for injury prevention. They will stretch and strengthen the hip joints and help you begin to build up that flexibility.

Consider exercises that are designed to target your core. This will help improve your balance and stability overall.

Wear appropriate footwear. If your shoes are not well kept and supportive they can exacerbate any previous problems you may have with your hips or thighs. (read The Best Basketball Shoes)

How to Prevent Basketball Injuries in General

Woman stretching before playing basketball

Basketball injury prevention through proper training should begin weeks in advance of training season. Make sure to include pre-season training prep in your calendar as it gets closer in the year.

An astounding number of injuries occur in the second half of a game rather than in the first,. You can probably guess why. injuries occuring in the second half of games may suggest that fatigue plays a big part in court safety. Cardio training can help give you extra energy and endurance to lessen these risks.

Don’t let a lack of time prevent you from getting in a proper warm up. A coach may not like you to be late, but he will definitely not like you to get injured. Take the needed time to do a full and complete warm up with injury prevention in mind.

Remember during your warm up that many injuries stem from three common points of interest in the game.

  • Short portions of high intensity actions
  • Stops and starts of activity
  • Some forceful bouts of physical contact

Keep these things in mind and warm up in a way that will limit the impacts these points can make on you.

Closing Thoughts

The one time I suffered an injury in hoops that wasn’t considered common was as a 16-year-old, already showing some tenacious one-on-one defending, I leaned into my man from behind until he gave me an exaggerated head fake. Unfortunately, my top front tooth stuck into the back of his head. I was guarding a bit too close, and had to have a root canal as a result. True story.

Sources

How to Dribble a Basketball

Basketball is a game of many skills, but few are as important as dribbling can be. Knowing how to dribble a basketball as well or better than your competition can be the key to winning your next game. What’s even better is that there are very few items required to practice. A ball and a flat surface. That’s it. So there is really no excuse to not putting in the time to work on one of the key elements to the game.

Player dribbling basketball

Techniques to Improve Your Dribbling

Speed

A key element to dribbling is maintaining control of the ball and I don’t just mean controlling where the ball goes and when, I mean keeping possession of the ball at all times. It’s easy for an opposing player to steal the ball if you are slowly dribbling around the court. It can however be very difficult for someone to steal the ball when the ball is moving quickly through the air. The less time the ball is out of your hands, the less opportunity there is to have the ball stolen from you. Your aim should be to minimize the amount of time the ball is out of your hands.

How do you increase your speed when dribbling? Simply bouncing the ball harder will increase your speed but you shouldn’t feel like you’re forcing the ball away from you. You should feel like you are using just a little bit more pressure to increase the momentum of the ball as you crank up the speed.

Another benefit to increasing the speed of your dribbling is in it’s ability to make faking more convincing. There is nothing convincing about a slow fake and you would probably lose the ball rather than open yourself up for a shot or breakaway from the player guarding you. Work on increasing your dribble speed to increase your ability to fake and keep control of the ball.

Rhythm

Basketball is an incredible sport full of skill and technique, but it is also sport of rhythm. It takes timing, consistency and the ability to use those things to your advantage. It is a game that requires an ability to know when to break that rhythm as well and how to use it to your advantage.

 

There is a rhythm to bouncing the ball up and down. You get to know when the ball will return to your hand and and when it feels right to speed up or slow down that rhythm. If you don’t feel the rhythm when you first begin to play or dribble don’t let that discourage you. It can take many hours of trial and error to get the feel for the dribble. Once you do, practice altering that rhythm to get the ball to do what you want, to speed things up or slow things down.

 

Altering the rhythm is useful in preventing the player guarding you from anticipating your next move. If you’re dribbling at a medium pace and then switch to a fast pace to fake out the defense, you allow for a certain amount of surprise which can help you throw the competition off their game momentarily. Upset the rhythm to gain the advantage.

 

We talked earlier about speed and there are definitely times when you want time to slow the rhythm down, when you need to catch your breath and plan out your next move. At these moments you want to make sure the ball is protected. Keep your dribble away from prying hands by putting yourself between the player guarding you and the ball. This is not a super useful technique when your playing a team game but in a one on one scenario, this can be a life saver.

Don't Look at the Ball

In baseball they say to keep your eye on the ball. When it comes to dribbling In basketball things couldn’t be more different. Where should you be looking when you’re dribbling? At the ball? At the floor? Nope, you should be looking at the defense and your teammates.

Get used to looking away from the ball. When you learn to drive a car, they say to be mindful of the fact that you will often drive the car in the direction you are looking. You look to the left and unconsciously you begin to steer towards the left. Eventually you get to the point where you have overcome that natural urge to drive the car in the direction you are looking. The same goes for dribbling. Don’t look at the ball. At the beginning look where you want to take the ball or look at what others are signaling you to do or even just look straight ahead so that you see the court in front of you.

Most important is looking at the person guarding you. You want to be able to predict what they are going to do and the best way to do that is to watch them. If your eyes are on the ball that’s just not going to happen. Use this time to predict their next move and figure out yours.

Get used to having your head do one thing while your hands do something completely different. It takes A LOT of practice to get there but don’t get discouraged. Just make it a habit while your playing and practicing to keep your head up. This is also a safety concern. If you’re constantly looking down at the ball, you are not looking at where you’re going.

Let’s go back to rhythm again for a moment. Try looking at the ball and concentrating on your dribble while keeping a rhythm. It can be very difficult to keep even pressure on the bounce. It almost messes with your head a bit. Looking away from the ball is a much more natural feel after a while and it becomes very easy to feel that rhythm. Even rhythm can be affected by looking at the ball so keep your head up at all times.

Maintain control

Stay calm, keep control. You want to know where that ball is at all times no matter what’s going on around you. Remember, control and speed are intertwined. You can’t have one without the other. The less time the ball is away from your hands the more control you have. The faster you dribble the less time the ball is away from your hands. So that leaves only one conclusion. Speed equals control in many circumstances.

Now let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves with that. If you’re a hot mess of a dribbler on the court and your spending half the game chasing the ball you lost control of than go back and work on rhythm again but if you have the rhythm down and you normally maintain good possession of the ball, take it to the next level and work on your speed.

Some of the best dribblers I’ve seen aren’t good because of tricks or moves they can do. They’re good because they are just ridiculously fast. So fast that it’s near impossible for an average player to take the ball from them on a good day.

Take a good close look at some of the areas where you can improve and then come up with ways to improve through practice and help from others. The Journal of Sports and Science recommends that players should be aware of their own weaknesses as well as their own strengths when it relates ball control. They also need to consider ways to improve their dribbling skills.[1]

Use your finger pads

Use the pads of your fingers to control the ball. The span between the tip of your fingers to the underside of the knuckle area should be your main points of contact. That’s where all the ball handling should really be done. If the ball is constantly hitting the palm of your hand than allow your fingers to droop a bit more. Not a dead fish kind of droop but a spread, relaxed droop. Keep your wrist up as well. If your familiar at all with playing the piano, the same wrist position can often be used in basketball to maintain good hand posture.

Sway

Moving the ball in any desired direction is simply a matter of pushing it in that direction during the dribble. What’s the easiest way to practice that? I like to picture the ball swaying back and forth and then when I’m ready I push the ball in the direction I want it to go.

 

Your hand should move or sway gently in the direction you want the ball to move by pushing the ball ever so slightly as it leaves your hand. This is in keeping with the rhythm. If the ball is simply bouncing up and down, its predictable, but if the ball is swaying whichever way I want it to it seems more random, more a part of me rather than something I’m consciously trying to control. It becomes something you no longer have to think about; your body just makes it move with you.

Visualize

Basketball play plan

This is something I have trouble with. Visualizing a play before you make your move. When learning to dribble you want to know where you are going before you go there and you may spend a good amount of time just thinking about the dribbling moves necessary to get there.

 

After you have things down pat and you are a confident dribbler, you want to transition to thinking of how to outsmart or out move your opponent mentally and not have to worry about going over in your head exactly how to get the ball from “Point A” to “Point B”there.

 

Visualizing is a completely mental exercise that tells your body how to proceed but it also lays out a plan of success that gets the ball from the dribbling movements to the shooting, passing or attacking the net movements. Practice visualizing your next move, your opponents next move and how to beat her or him.

 

Picture your path to the basket and this will help you decide how to dribble the ball. Whether that is fast or slow, whether it will include a fake or a quick pop up to a jump shot at the last minute instead. Be constantly envisioning your next moves and constantly altering those moves as your competition reacts. It’s a game of chess in your head and you have but a split second to play it out so make it count.

Body Positioning

Keep your knees bent. A slight bend at the knees while being guarded will help put less space between your hand and the ball while its in transition to the floor for the bounce. Again, this helps decrease the amount of time the ball is away from your hand. The closer your hand is to the floor the less distance the ball has to travel with each bounce and the faster your dribbling will be.

 

There are a larger number of great dribbling drills to help increase your speed. Couple that with a lower body position and you can really increase the amount of work the player guarding you must do to steal the ball away.

Practice

It’s fairly easy to get good at bouncing the ball up and down while practicing on your own. It’s a totally different beast to tackle when you’re trying to dribble in an active game. Work with team members or find a small group of friends to play with to get in extra dribbling practice in a game situation without a whole lot of extra stress to worry about.

Start with a Warm Up

Just like anything else in the world of sports, dribble practice should start with a warm up. Start slow and build up momentum as you get into the groove. This will help you avoid unnecessarily injuring yourself. (Read Preventing Common Basketball Injuries)

 

There are some quick moves that will really get your hands and feet moving and it’s quite possible to pull a muscle, twist an ankle or have sore arms and legs the next day. Proper stretching will eliminate some if not all of these issues. It’s worth the time so make the time.

 

Here are some ideas to get you started.

Basic Stretches

Do some basic stretching to loosen up those muscles.

Sitting Hamstring Stretch

Hamstring stretch
  • Seated on the ground with your legs outstretched, bring one foot back in towards you to touch your inner thigh
  • Bend forward slowly until you feel a gentle stretch
  • Put your hands either holding your outstretched foot or on the floor on either side of your outstretched foot
  • Hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds
  • Repeat with the opposite leg outstretched

Photo by: Marines

Arm Stretch

Arm stretch on beach

Photo by: Robert Wallace

  • Put one arm up above your head
  • While elevated, bend your arm so your hand reaches behind your head and touches your shoulder blades or back
  • Use your other hand to gently pull the arm behind your back in a gentle downward direction causing a slight stretching of your upper body
  • Hold this stretch for 30 to 60 seconds
  • Repeat with the opposite arm

Standing Lunge

Woman doing a standing lunge on beach

Photo by: Robert Wallace

  • Stand up straight with your feet together
  • Step one of your feet forward so that it is about 3 or 4 feet in front of the other so that your knee bends turning your leg into a right angle
  • Place both hands on top of each other on the forward outstretched leg
  • Straighten your back leg until you feel a bit of a stretch
  • You may need to adjust the distance between legs to get a good stretch out of it

Get Your Heart Pumping

Finally get your cardio up and the blood pumping a bit by doing some jumping jacks or by skipping rope for a bit. This also helps me get in the mood to work hard rather than starting right into the drills or practice.

Learn With Both Hands

Being able to dribble with both hands can have a huge impact on your game and your ability to throw off the defense. Practice dribbling with two balls at once, one in each hand so that your non-dominant hand is strengthened and so that you can become more efficient and ambidextrous.  

Practice Tips

Caged Practice

Use small areas with walls on all sides to practice new moves and to speed up your ball handling. When you lose the ball it’s a quicker recovery than chasing it all over the court.

Sway

Genty sway your body as you move the ball back and forth and from hand to hand to get used to the rhythm needed to be comfortable moving the ball around.

Go for a Walk

Take a walk down a walking path and dribble as you walk. It’s a little more interesting than walking up and down the court over and over. It also forces you to get used to avoiding hazards and finding creative ways to move the ball to avoid cracks and rocks, etc. Great for getting used to controlling the ball. Remember to use a walking path as it could be dangerous to dribble on sidewalks with busy streets.

Don't Get Discouraged

You will lose the ball, it’s going to happen over and over again. That’s part of learning to dribble and becoming familiar with the feel of the ball and the way it reacts to you. Just pick up the ball and try again. Don’t let it get you down.

Play a LOT!

Just getting out there and playing is one of the best ways to get a great practice in. Don’t focus on winning the game but rather concentrate on your technique and smooth dribbling transitions.

Beginner Dribbling Drills

Catch Into a Dribble

Chest pass to the wall and catch, turn and dribble.

Dribble Between Hands

Bounce the ball back and forth from one hand to the other.

Around the Back

Basically moving the ball in a circular motion around your body passing from one hand to the other in front of your stomach and behind your back repeatedly. This drill helps develop passing techniques as well.

Figure 8's Around the Ankles

Helps you get low and improves quick maneuvering

Pound Dribbles

Keep on your finger pads, dribble hard and straight down and straight back up. The ball should  come up to about waist height.

Kill Dribbles

Start dribbling at chest height for 5 seconds then bring it down low to ankle or knee height. Dribble there for 5 seconds then repeat at chest height again for 10 seconds.

Traffic Cones

traffic cone

Place a traffic cone or two on the court. Run at the cones while dribbling and move around them using them as fake players.

Some Trickier Dribbling Drills

Behind the Back Bounce

Bounce the ball behind your back from hand to hand hitting the ground only once.

Full and Half Court Layups

Running while dribbling is a key skill you need in order to really have a well rounded game. Start at the baseline or at half and run full tilt and do a layup. No traveling.

Transitions

It’s important to be able to transition from dribbling to shooting or to jumping or to passing.

Layups

Man doing basketball layup driving knee with ball

Dribble quickly running up the court and do a layup

Reverse to Layup

Same as layup but your facing away from the net, while dribbling turn and do a running layup

Pickup

Leave the ball sitting still on the floor 10 feet away from you, run, pick it up and continue running while dribbling without traveling all in one smooth motion

Rebounds

Standing near the net, throw the ball off the backboard and catch it, turn and begin running and dribbling without traveling. This helps in the transition from catching a rebound and beginning the trip up the court towards opponents net smoothly

Passes

Woman basketball players passes basketball

Throw the ball in front of you with some serious backspin. Catch the ball and quickly begin dribbling. Alternatively, you could pass off the wall to yourself and begin dribbling.

Final Thoughts

Learning to be a proficient dribbler can have a huge impact on your game. It can mean the difference between winning and losing in so many different scenarios. As important as shooting practice is, don’t overlook the hidden potential to transform your game. So take time out of your practices to work on your dribbling drills and skills!

Sources

Wheelchair Basketball, More Than Just a Sport

When I was a kid, my dad took us to a Harlem Globetrotters game at the local gym. Our jaws dropped in our front-row seats as we watched magicians such as Curly Neal (who was completely bald, by the way) and Meadowlark Lemon do unimaginable things with the basketball.  But I now know that the real wizards are in wheelchairs. If you´ve never seen the moves and shots from the chairs of Brandon Wagner, Joey Johnson, or Richard Peter, you need to take a look–soon. [1]

The Paralympic Games have long highlighted the competitiveness, daring, and speed of wheelchair hoops. And there’s no shortage of drama in the games either. The aforementioned Richard Peter sank two late free throws as Canada snuck by Australia for the gold in 2012. He achieved this feat from a wheelchair. What most spectators didn’t realize at the time was that when he was four, Richard was run over by a bus, crushing his spine and hip. He only survived because he managed to fall into a puddle, and the depression in the road allowed him to live.

Basketball is one of the fastest sports around. But when played by wheelchair athletes, speeds increase and collisions abound. One of the clear benefits of the sport is that it toughens the participants up, according to Peter. Being fast on the court in a wheelchair has given Richard the chance to chase his dream of playing at the top level of the sport. What does he do when he’s not pounding the ball at the basket? He visits schools to talk on safety and injury protection, as well as helping to rehabilitate others.

Contrary to what many believe, wheelchair hoopsters don´t just careen around the court out of control. “It’s actually a very controlled and precise sport,” exclaims Singaporean athlete Emilio Choo. Sometimes the chairs do indeed crash, but the falls lead to a sense of more confidence and strength in terms of physical ability–as well as disability, according to Choo.

As a result of playing wheelchair basketball, Emilio´s upper body is buffer. Obviously, shooting from a lower height while playing in his wheelchair has made a huge difference. Choo is a paraplegic and claims to have bad balance in his waist or core. Through the sport, however, he’s learned to control his torso better. “I understand where my balancing point is now,” he enthuses. This attitude reveals one of the greatest benefits of basketball in a wheelchair: His outlook on life has been bolstered, and the fear and uncertainty resulting from his injury have dissipated.

Coach Jess Markt first ran into wheelchair basketball when he witnessed the Portland Wheelblazers in action back in 2000. While Jess was at the University of Oregon back in 1996, he was in a terrible car accident that left him with a broken back. He grew up an athlete, played basketball, and even high jumped on the university team. Finding wheelchair basketball after his accident was a blessing.

Wheelchair Basketball Players

Markt said in an interview that he considered “wheelchair basketball to be the final piece in his recovery”. Markt had taken the opportunity to return to university to obtain his degree and it was at this point that he felt he had completely reintegrated back into his social life. He was able to land the first job of his communications career within just a few years of his injury. Even with all this forward movement in his life he still had a feeling there was something still missing. He needed to be able to return to competitive sports. It was the missing piece to the injury puzzle and was that last element needed to complete a “full realization of myself post-injury,” . Markt affirmed.

Despite all the new ramps you see springing up around your city and campus, wheelchair users still lack easy and equal access to most public spaces—effectively shutting them out. Yet, when a wheelchair user is able to “participate in a sport that is designed for them, a feeling of belonging that isn’t found in other places arises. When you know that you belong, you’re able to relax and enjoy yourself.” according to aeroflowinc.com.

Finally, for those of you reading this article who’ve never been in a wheelchair, the next time you´re in the Boston area, do your best to visit the Children’s Museum. You´ll find an amazing exhibit that allows you to sit in a wheelchair and try to navigate various surfaces, just to see how challenging life in such a chair can be. After 30 seconds making my way in a wheelchair on a patch of gravel there, I was totally and utterly stuck. I couldn’t budge. Try it yourself, and you’ll soon know that wheelchair basketball players are the ultimate wizards.

Women playing wheelchair basketball

Sources