How to coach and teach proper footwork in basketball
Teaching proper footwork should be an important part of every basketball program. Using proper footwork makes the average player better and a great assist to team play. It is a bigger compliment to a player to say he is hard to defend, than say he is a great shooter. Mastery of this fundamental helps players to free themselves without assistance from a teammate. Basketball coaches used to use this as an important measuring stick in evaluating players.
Getting open for passes is an important part of footwork. This is accomplished by changing speeds suddenly from a walk to a sprint. It is most effective when combined with:
This is essential in developing a successful passing game. Teach your players different combinations such as:
Timing your cut to meet the pass is most important. Help your player to understand the objective and maneuvers such as these will become natural reflex actions.
Set up simple drills for each specific form of footwork. The next step is to co-ordinate them into segregated parts of the offense under game conditions.
At the start of a dribble, the pivot foot must not leave the floor until the ball leaves the hand; however, for shooting or passing, the pivot foot can leave the floor, but cannot return before releasing the ball.
Every basketball player must learn to stop quickly, and within the limits specified by the rules, while maintaining balance. When the ball is caught while both feet are in the air, and the player lands on both feet simultaneously, the rules are the same as if he caught the pass while standing. Either foot can be used as the pivot foot.
Whenever the ball is caught while one foot is on the floor, that foot becomes the pivot foot. Since no pivot foot is established when the ball is caught with both feet in the air and the player lands on both feet simultaneously, I recommend you teach your players to catch the ball with both feet in the air. There are two methods of stopping with the ball, the running stride stop and the two-footed jump stop.
The running stride stop
Some coaches prefer the running stride stop because they feel it more natural and easier to execute. Good body balance is a requisite of quick and sudden stops without telegraphing the player's intentions. Hesitancy, or lack of decision defeats the effectiveness of execution.
When stopping in stride the player, running in a slight crouch, lowers his hips as his pivot foot hits the floor on the first count and the forward foot is slapped to the floor to make possible the suddenness of the stop. To maintain balance the body must be kept low. This footwork can be taught in connection with other fundamentals. For example, you could work in the running-stride stop during the last few minutes of daily shooting practice by having players dribble within shooting distance, stop suddenly, and shoot. This is a simple drill and often happens under normal game conditions.
The two-footed jump stop
The two-footed jump stop is not as natural as the running stride stop, thus harder to execute. For this reason many coaches in the past have refused to teach it; however, in recent years, I have seen it used as an effective weapon. Players who can master the two-footed jump stop can cover an extreme amount of territory with but little dribbling. One way to practice it is with your normal under-basket layup routine.
Change of direction
This is one of the most effective forms of footwork in basketball. A player can use it to free himself from a defender more than any other maneuver.
The rear turn
The reverse turn
The front turn
Fakes and feinting
This should be part of every basketball player's training and can be described as a combination of ball handling and footwork. Every player should use some form of them all to free himself from a defender with his own action. Any time you use in such practice will never be wasted.
Head and shoulder fakes
This is often used by pivot players. They simply us a quick fake in one direction then go in the opposite direction for their shot. You can well use the head and shoulder fake prior to a change-in-direction cut.
This is a simple, but extremely good way of gaining an advantage over a defender. You execute a ball fake by faking a pass in one direction and in the same motion following with a pass, shot, or dribble in another. As an example it is often used by forwards to get the ball to a pivot player in the low post. He might fake a two-handed pass to the side of the defender's head and without pulling back, bounce the ball to the side of the defender's feet and under his arms.
Many of the better defensive players watch the eyes of their opponent. If you suspect this to be the case, you can take advantage by using deceptive eye movement.
Arm and hand fakes
A good example of using arm and hand fakes is a receiver, using peripheral vision standing with his arms to his side, and raising the hands at the last moment to catch the ball. Also, you can use the opposite, that is faking a catch in order to draw the defender out of position.
A few examples of foot fakes include:
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