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Basketball Fundamentals


As the head coach of the Colorado Lightning youth basketball program, I’m constantly looking for ways to help our young players improve their skills on the court. After 15 years of coaching aspiring young basketball stars, I’ve learned that building a strong foundation is crucial – you have to walk before you can run. That’s why we emphasize mastering the fundamentals of basketball from the very beginning. In this complete guide, I’ll share the core basketball techniques and drills that have helped thousands of Lightning players elevate their game over the years. Let’s start from the ground up!

The Building Blocks: Key Basketball Fundamentals

Before we delve into flashy crossovers or alley-oop dunks, every youth basketball player needs to master the basics. Here are the 5 core fundamentals we focus on from day one:

Dribbling: Controlling the basketball while moving

Passing: Delivering the ball to teammates

Shooting: Scoring baskets

Rebounding: Securing missed shots

Defense: Preventing opponents from scoring

It’s tempting to only practice the “fun” skills like shooting and ignore defense – I get it! But trust me, taking the time to polish all five fundamentals will pay off big time down the road. Players with mastery over the basics make varsity, earn college scholarships, and some even make it to the NBA!

So grab a ball and let’s get to work…

Basketball Dribbling Drills for Better Ball Control

Bouncing the basketball while running up and down the court sounds easy, but dribbling takes real skill to master. Being able to reliably dribble gives players the confidence and ability to drive the lane, set up plays, and evade defenders.

We use tons of engaging dribbling games and drills at Lightning practices to develop player’s ball control. Some favorites like Dribble Knockout and Relay Races make skills work fun and competitive! We also emphasize key techniques:

Practice with both hands: Dribble up and down the court alternating hands to build dexterity.

Keep your head up: Don’t stare at the ball! Scan the court as you dribble.

Change pace and direction: Dribble hard, soft, fast, and slow while making tight turns to keep the defense guessing.

With these fundamentals drilled into muscle memory at a young age, dribbling becomes second nature. Our players attack the basket with confidence thanks to outstanding ball handling skills!

Proper Basketball Shooting Form

Every basketball player dreams of hitting last-second game winning shots. While it’s an incredible feeling, those buzzer-beater jumpers only go in thanks to proper shooting form practiced over and over.

We break down shooting technique into easy steps players can master:

Click Here To Watch Our Video On How To Shoot

At Lightning, we run every player through dedicated shooting skill stations at practice to drill in proper technique. Over time, thousands of repetitions engrave perfect form into player’s muscle memory – allowing them to drain shots without even thinking!

Once a player has developed consistent shooting form, we add drills to simulate game situations like catch-and-shoot, dribble pull ups, coming off screens, etc. As Coach Steph says, a shot ready to be fired from anywhere!

Passing Drills to Develop Basketball Court Vision

While most young players only focus on scoring themselves, great basketball requires spacing the floor and moving the ball to find open shots as a team. Skilled passing unlocks a squad’s full offensive potential. From flashy no look dimes to simple chest passes to start the break, our Lightning passing curriculum covers it all:

Chest Passes: Strong two-handed push passes to hit teammates in the numbers

Bounce Passes: Precise one-handed skips to split defenders

Overhead Passes: Lob assists over swiping hands

Baseball Passes: Quick one-handed fastball outlet tosses

We integrate high repetition passing drills into every practice to build timing, accuracy, and court awareness. Understanding where teammates are without looking takes tons of reps! But once passing fundamentals click, players gain the vision to see plays developing before they happen – allowing easy buckets in transition.

And our advanced players even master no-look and behind-the-back dimes to pull off showtime assists!

Crash the Boards: Rebounding Drills

Many young players only focus on shooting and scoring, neglecting the critical fundamentals of rebounding. But winning possession after missed shots generates extra chances and limits the opponent’s offense. From boxing out bigs down low to skying for boards out of area, rebounding is all about positioning, hustle, anticipation and timing.

We teach proper rebounding fundamentals through positioning drills and competitive box out games. Players master vital techniques:

Locate your player: Scan to find your rebounding assignment before the shot.

Make contact: Keep a hand, leg or hip on the man to maintain position.

Block out: Use leverage and stance to neutralize opponent’s inside move.

Pursue the ball: As soon as the shot goes up, attack the rim for the board!

These fundamentals allow our Lightning big men to dominate the paint while guards learn how to crash from the perimeter. With strong rebounding across all positions, we usually win the possession battle. More rebounds means more fast breaks and second chance points!

Defensive Technique to Stop Scores

Defense never shows up on SportsCenter highlight reels, but let me tell you…tenacious D wins championships! Even for recreational leagues, locking down opponents sets the tone and leads to easy transition scores. That’s why we mandate that every Lightning player, regardless of size, develops fundamental defensive skills. It all starts with footwork:

Defensive Stance: Low center of gravity with active feet and hands ready

Lateral Shuffles: Slide steps to stay in front of driving offensive players

Closeouts: Sprint to shooters before they launch 3’s!

We integrate intense defensive slides, closeouts and positioning drills into all practices. Our players take pride in their defense – using fast feet and agile stance to smother anyone unlucky enough to face them! Thanks to impeccable technique, no one gets beaten baseline or backdoored on our watch. I always tell my team that locking up your man is at least half the game. Take care of defense, and the points come easy!

Coach Todd’s Final Tips

Whew – that was a lot of information! But now you’re fully equipped with the core basketball techniques and training methods that have helped the Colorado Lightning basketball club develop so many phenomenal youth players.

By relentlessly focusing on the fundamentals – dribbling, shooting, passing, rebounding and defense – our players build an unbreakable foundation of skills to stand on through middle school, high school, college and beyond!

Sure, the complexities of basketball can seem intimidating. But break the game down into its basic building blocks, and incremental improvement is guaranteed. Master the fundamentals, develop your talent with dedication, and let the flashy plays come naturally. The basics are the best path to basketball greatness!

Now grab a ball, hit the court, and start putting in the work. I can’t wait to see you blossom into a phenomenal player!

– Coach Todd


Visit our basketball education section to learn more.

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