When teaching fundamental basketball skills at the school level, or at a summer basketball camp, footwork is the only place to start. Good footwork is what allows offensive players to create space and finish shots. And it’s what allows defensive players to stay in front of their man, deny the offense the ball, retrieve rebounds and loose balls, and get into position to help their teammates. In short, no amount of ball-handling or dribbling skills in the world will help you if you don’t have solid footwork fundamentals.
Here are a few footwork drills to help young players develop the balance and coordination they need to be successful on the court:
Before your players progress toward more complex footwork, it’s important that they know how to position their bodies for quick bursts on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Run them through the basics of the offensive triple threat position, and defensive quick stance, making sure their feet are firmly planted shoulder-width apart, their knees and elbows are bent, and their arms are tucked close to their bodies and not out waving around. With younger players, it helps to practice the offensive stance without the ball first.
Triple Threat Footwork
Once they’ve got the fundamentals of the triple threat position, they can move on to some basic footwork drills. When playing offense, you want your players to spread out in order to stretch the defense. This involves having an innate sense of space and positioning on the court. This simple drill is designed to teach your players how to quickly transition from the triple threat stance, and build awareness of proper spacing on offense.
Step 1 – Arrange your players in two lines on both sides of the free throw lane.
Step 2 – Get your players into a quick stance position, and on your command, have them step with their right foot and jog to half court. When the first player gets out to about 19 feet, have the next player begin his run, and so on. Again, this is a simple drill, but after a while it will help build a good sense of proper spacing in your young players’ minds.
The quick stop is a key footwork fundamental, allowing players to stop on a dime off the dribble, or when receiving a pass and immediately be in a position to pivot on either foot.
Step 1 – Line your players up on the baseline.
Step 2 – On your signal, have your players jog toward half court.
Step 3 – On your second whistle, your players will perform a quick stop. Try to mix up your timing, so your players can’t anticipate when to go into their quick stop. Watch to make sure they are not jumping and flying through the air. You want their hops to be small, quick and controlled. Make sure that they are landing softly but firmly on both feet in triple threat position.
Try to spend at least 15-20 minutes on footwork drills during every practice session. It’s best to do this early in the practice session so that these drills can serve as a foundation for the rest of the workout. The more your young players understand the importance of basic footwork, the better their game will progress as they continue to pick up more complex skills.
If a player really wants to improve their footwork on the court, they should consider signing up for summer basketball camp. Practicing in the off season is a great way to keep those newly-developed skills fresh and effective. Check out the Kenny Smith Basketball Camp for Boys and Girls for more information about summer registration.