Whether your kids are gearing up for team tryouts, looking to boost performance for pickup games with their buddies, or simply wanting to develop their skills for the satisfaction of becoming a better baller, these drills can help every player advance their technique — no matter their age or level.
This workout was designed by Ronnie Fields, a retired professional basketball player and current Ultimate Hoops trainer at Life Time Oakbrook in Chicago, Ill. In the days when Fields was playing with his high school teammate, former NBA player Kevin Garnett, Fields was known for his 50-inch vertical jump. Now, he’s passionate about passing along his experience to a younger generation of basketball players.
“I would like to show and teach young players that working hard to achieve your goals works, and there are no short cuts to success,” says Fields. “That’s why I got into coaching, to share my experiences on and off the court so kids can see perseverance is real and makes you a stronger person.”
If you’re looking to improve your game, give this workout a try. “Complete this workout three to five times a week and put your heart into it,” Fields advises. “This routine will help improve your dribbling skills and sharpen your shooting ability. The more work you put into practicing, the greater success you’ll see in the end.”
It’s Warm-Up Time
Choose one of these three options to first warm up your body: Jump rope, jumping jacks, or a jog. Complete the chosen activity for five minutes.
Next, warm up your hands by completing this fingertip drill:
- Stand up straight and keep your eyes forward. Extend your arms to chest level, keeping your elbows slightly bent.
- Hold a basketball in your hands and quickly move it around using your fingertips, moving the ball back and forth from one hand to the other.
- Add more speed to the movement.
- Move your hands up to face height and down to waist height while keeping the same back-and-forth motion with the ball. Repeat.
Pro tip: “Make sure to use your fingertips and not your palms,” says Fields. “It’s OK if you fumble the ball, just keep working at it.”
Perform for five minutes.
- Set up six cones in a straight line, placing them five feet apart from one another.
- Dribble the ball with your dominant hand around the cones four times.
- Dribble the ball with your non-dominant hand around the cones four times.
- Dribble the ball around the cones four times, this time switching hands at each cone. When switching hands, use a crossover dribble.
Pro tip: “Don’t smack or slap the ball, instead use your fingertips and push the ball down,” says Fields. “You want to concentrate on the ball first, practice keeping your head up, and keep your dribble low and controlled.”
Perform these skills for about 10 minutes.
- Practice your bank shots: Standing from the right block (about three feet away from the hoop), shoot at the square on the backboard. Make 10 baskets. Then, shoot from the left block and make 10 baskets.
- Practice your layups: Complete 10 layups on each side of the hoop.
- Practice your mid-range shooting: Make five shots from each spot on the diagram below. Ages 11 and younger: Start three-to-five feet from the basket, making the shots from each of the orange-colored targets around the hoop. Age 12 and older, start inside the three-point line, making the shots from each of the blue-colored targets.
Pro tip: “Make sure you’re using the correct size basketball for your age and the height of the basketball hoop is appropriate,” says Fields. “Using a smaller basketball is OK, but if you can, don’t use one that’s too large. While you’re doing these drills, try putting an emphasis on using your proper shooting hand. Bending and jumping are key to these skills.”
- Ages 5 to 8: ball size 4
- Ages 9 to 11: ball size 5
- Boys ages 12 to 13 and girls ages 12-plus: ball size 6
- Boys ages 14-plus: ball size 7
Don’t Forget to Cool Down
Complete 10 free throws from the free-throw line.
Pro tip: “When shooting free throws, focus on using your legs and bending your knees,” says Fields. “If a friend or family member can join you, have them stand under the hoop and retrieve the ball to rebound back to you.”