You see great players at all levels seem to have that knack for “creating” the right basketball move at the right time. It doesn’t come that easy for you, now does it? No doubt about it Kobe, LeBron, KD, and all the other great players have awesome talent. The thing most people don’t see is that their awesome work habits are just as responsible for their dazzling and “creative” scoring moves with the ball.
The truth is for each move they make that ends up on Sports Center’s Top 10, they have practiced that move literally thousands of times in the off-season, before practice, and after practice. Those practice sessions are where those moves are created, not on the spur of the moment during a game. I am going to guess that you don’t have as much natural talent as the top NBA stars, but you can decide which moves are best for you. Then practice, practice, practice your basketball moves!
You will need to develop three types of moves. You need a “live ball” move to beat your defender when you catch a pass and are holding it, but haven’t dribbled yet. You need moves to beat the defense when you are dribbling, and you need scoring moves when you get to the basket. The pros have many moves of all three kinds that they use, but to be an effective player at other levels, if you master the fundamentals for two moves from each type you will be ready to be impossible to stop!
Live Ball Basketball Moves
A live ball move means that you are holding the ball and have not started to dribble yet. There are two very basic moves that are effective that you must have in your game—the pass fake and the shot fake (only when you are in shooting range of course for the shot fake!). The player guarding you will instinctively react when you make either of those two fakes, opening you up for a chance to go by them.
The third type of fake is a foot fake or jab step. You have to be careful on that one. You must be sure to not move your pivot foot when you use a foot fake, or you will be called for traveling. But, when you do utilize the jab step, you can get your defender to think that you are driving and react to that.
When you do make your move, make a long step and get the ball out in front of you as far as you can in order to cover as much ground as quickly as you can. Point two is to touch your shoulder on the body of the defender as you step by. That leaves that defensive player no room to move to cut you off. If they do, “TWEET!!” the whistle blows and it is a foul on them.
Don’t take it for granted that you will execute your live ball moves properly in a game. You need to execute them for a few minutes every time you practice. If you can, have a teammate play standing still defense on you so that you can work on that big first step and brushing against them on your start.
Practice all four combinations of stepping and dribbling. Right hand dribble, right foot step. Left hand dribble, left foot step. Right hand dribble, left foot step. Left hand dribble, right foot step. This is the time to add in your jab step if you will use it in games. Make sure that whichever foot you jab with will also be the foot that you move on your takeoff to avoid being called for traveling.
Dribbling Basketball Moves
You also need to work to develop your best move once you have started dribbling. You might be able to get away at younger ages with being dominant with one hand, but as you move up the ladder, you will need to develop effective dribble moves with both your left and right hand. You have a choice of many moves to select from—behind the back, between the legs, crossover, hesitation or a combination of those.
Your secondary move is what you go to when your defender anticipates and takes away your primary move. For example, if your best move is a killer, ankle breaking crossover dribble, what do you do when that is taken away? You have to do what fits you, but for most players who use the crossover, faking the crossover to get the defense to bite is usually a great counter to the crossover.
You also need a bailout move because sometimes you can use the dribble to get into trouble. If you are trapped or forced to dribble into a difficult situation, you have to be able to use a pullback dribble to bail yourself out. Developing the ability to dribble backwards is an essential dribble move.
The third type of move that you must develop is a move to finish at the basket. It could be a floater before you get all the way to the basket. It could be a reverse layup using the basket to protect the ball from a shot blocker. It can be any number of moves. Take a look at what moves the players that you look up to use when they get in the lane to score. Pick out ones that you like. Practice them by yourself and then when you feel confident, put them to use in pick up or open gym games. See which one is best for you and then work, work, work to make it your own.
One thing to always remember when practicing your moves—there are no style points in basketball! The purpose for all of the basketball moves you develop and work so hard to perfect is to beat the player that is guarding you. That way you either give yourself an open scoring opportunity or draw a defender to help on you which opens up one of your teammates. The purpose is never to see how flashy you can be and how much attention you can draw to yourself. The ultimate purpose is to be a player who makes your team’s offense better.