The best basketball coaches around the world agree that footwork training is crucial for the quality development of basketball players. Bad footwork is the main cause of the inconsistency of our players because it reflects on their balance and stability while performing basketball elements such as shooting, dribbling, and passing.
Everything starts with footwork. Yes, we can give our players ordinary, non-specific basketball drills, and yes, those drills are going to benefit every aspect of the player's skills, but that is a slow process that is not going to maximize any particular part of a skill set. The results of an old school training are coming with a lot of turbulence in the development process of a player. By doing those regular basketball drills the players are going to shoot well on the basket at first while the legs are still fresh and their dribbling is going to be steady and well-controlled. Decision making is going to be high quality too. Then, the toll of running is going to get them an suddenly the legs are going to be heavy. Now, our players are going to start missing shots and not just that...their shooting form is going to vary because they are not going to feel good about their legs. As the story goes on, after a while they are going to feel better about their running and jumping but now, again they need to adjust their shooting and all of a sudden the half of the season has passed. And if you are a coach of a youth basketball, assuming that you have 3 practices a week plus a game on weekends, the whole season is going to be turbulent because your players are not going to be in good shape and well-conditioned.
If you want to skip all of that, what you need to do is to make a good footwork development program at the start of the season. You want to come to the gym and do some easy and simple footwork drill in order to ease up the start of the season for your players and yourself.
Basically, what you want to do is to come up with the drills that are going to load your player's legs, but in a way that they are going to mimic some of the simple basketball movement with some kind of tall.
I like to use resistance bands that you can purchase here on Hoopsking, just because they are light, they are cheap and they do wonders for our players.
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1. Stance wide hops
Stance wide hops are crucial footwork drill because they tend to speed up the lateral movement while being in the stance. As this might seem to target only the defensive stance movement, as the lateral speed is increased you are going to notice that your players have a lower stance while dribbling the ball and that they gained explosiveness on their first step.
As you can see the picture, position your player in the stance and position the band just like it is shown. The drill is performed in a way that they need to hop a bit and to spread their legs to feel that the band tends to shrink their legs. The point of the drill is not to let the legs be gathered to a point where the band does not make any toll but to keep the tension of the band a bit.
As you can see in the picture, you can add another resistor band around the player's waist. That band is not going to be pulled in different directions while your players are doing the jumping. You can tell them to jump in a way like they are playing defense, while you pull them in the opposite direction to make the movement even harder.
After a while, you are going to notice how your players are faster while moving in a stance.
2. Side step pulls
Many coaches agree on the fact that the explosiveness of the first step is everything as far as the basketball is concerned. You do not need to run fast in basketball, but if you have quick feet, you are going to be able to dominate on both ends of the floor.
Side-step pull is a simple drill that is going to make that first step of your players much faster. This drill is simple to perform and all your player needs to do is to get in a stance and from that position to make a powerful side-step but without moving the other leg.
If you want to make this drill more challenging and effective at the same time, give your player a medicine ball while they do this drill. The ball should not be heavier than 5 kg just because it can disrupt the feel for the real ball later on.
The result of the drill with the heavy ball will be a stronger and more explosive first step.
3. Front to back jumps
This exercise is a part of a footwork program that is going to help your players to develop a faster liner movement. I recommend using a bit shorter bands for this drill, just to put some extra toll on your legs. To perform this drill correctly, tell your players to be in a stance all the time and to try and keep legs shoulder wide all the time. The band is going to tend to shrink them toward the middle, and by keeping them apart all the time is going to make this drill even more challenging.
When the one leg goes front-ways, the other leg should go backward, the drill is performed just as the player is running in one spot. The repetition should continue to the point when the players start to feel the burn in their legs.
To add toll to this drill you can put another band around the player's waist and you can give him the ball. Now, he has to jump, to dribble and to resist the force that wants to pull him backward.
4. Knee Raise
Knee raise is a drill that mimics that start of a one-legged jump that our players use when they tend to perform a layup. As they do this drill, the overall explosive power of our player's legs is going to increase dramatically so they are going to feel that they are lighter on their feet.
If we take a look at the picture, we are going to assume that the drill is performed in a way that the player needs to raise their knee up as high as they can to the point where the band is going to pull the leg down. In the beginning, a player can hang onto something just to keep balance, but later on, the drill should be performed without any help. Whit that said, we assume that this is a perfect drill for the balance and stability development.
One more thing to say: players should keep the tension of the band all the time so when the leg goes down, it should not go all the way to the floor.
To make this exercise more efficient and harder at the same time, put some weights onto players wrists and ankles. This is going to make them pull those knees even harder so their overall explosive ability is going to increase. This is one of the best footwork drills used to improve overall explosiveness and speed.
5. Hamstring curl
Hamstring curls are a very good exercise that is going to activate all of the muscles on the backside of the ties. The move itself is the same as our players run so the benefits are multiple.
As it is shown in the picture, the players must bend a knee and fight the force of the band. The move should be performed slowly at first, with the care that the leg should not be moved forward or backward, but only naturally as work is done by bending the knee. Your players can hold to something in the beginning to keep the balance and to perform the exercise correctly, but later on, they should be able to do it by standing on just one leg.
As we can see, this drill is going to do wonders for your players overall stability and balance.
Footwork drills are really easy to do but they demand consistency. Muscles are easily programmed to work under the bigger load, but if you stop doing these exercises, the muscles are going to tend to get back on to default settings.
To complete the whole conditioning program, you can add some gym and some running to these footwork drills and your team is going to get physically ready in no time.