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Basic Skills Of Basketball

Updated: May 1, 2022

Basketball is a simple, yet exciting game that is played in every corner of the globe. No matter if you are playing or watching, it’s very easy to understand the basic skills required to succeed in basketball.

But let's say you get thrown in the deep end and get asked to coach your kid's middle school basketball team

Where do you start? How do you coach what you see on TV?

It’s no secret that what we see Lebron James do day in and day out takes years of practice and repetition. Although the skills aren't going to look as smooth and effortless as a pro, we all have to start somewhere. Even the best of the best had to learn the skill at some point!

So how does a player learn how to make consistent 3-point shots like Steph Curry, or dribble as smoothly as Kyrie Irving? Getting from point A to point B is an important process and the person responsible for guiding that process is the coach. A lot of pressure can fall on the shoulders of a youth basketball coach as a positive first experience can often determine if a player ends up playing competitively for the rest of their life, or drops out after one season.

No matter what level of basketball you have played at, coaching the basic skills to a player who has never played the game or has little experience can be quite challenging. It’s quite common for a coach to realize that the cues and explanations that may have worked when they were first learning the skills, don’t necessarily work with everyone. A coach has to find a balance between demonstrations and using language that the kids understand. This helps give players the chance to develop competence and confidence which plays a crucial role in providing a positive first experience.

Thankfully, we put together some helpful cueing suggestions and skill videos to help you provide the best on-court experience for your players. But before diving into coaching these basic basketball skills, let’s make sure that your players can properly develop their skills without the barriers of using full-sized equipment.

Making adjustments to equipment

Using the correct size equipment will not only help kids develop the required movement pattern within the sport, but it will also help give them the confidence and necessary competence to enjoy playing in a game situation. We recommend that when coaching kids who have little to no experience playing basketball, it’s best to use a size 3 or size 4 ball. The smaller size and lighter weight will allow players to practice their technique without compensation.

Another adjustment includes the size of the court. USA Basketball recommends using half a court and playing width-wise. We also recommend playing smaller 1 vs 1 and 2 vs 2 games within this smaller court to ensure all the kids on the team are getting the chance to develop their skills and fall in love with the game.

The final adjustment is the height of the hoop. The hoop should be lowered as much as it can be at younger ages so players can practice different types of shots. For example, it is hard for a player to practice a proper layup if the hoop is too high and they haven't developed the necessary strength to reach it. Making these small adjustments is one of the most important steps you can take in creating a positive experience.

Now that we have sorted that out, let's get the kids practicing these skills!


Want great drill ideas to help you practice these skills? Check out the Athlete Era Basketball app available on IOS and Android!


Must know basketball skills

Every sport has its core skills and basketball is no different. The basic skills we have highlighted are passing, shooting, dribbling, and layups. These simple skills are foundational to what makes basketball so fun. Teaching them correctly is a crucial step in helping players build technical confidence and the confidence to use these skills while playing a game. Lucky for you, we have broken down each of the skills with some important things to look for at your next practice!


Learning how to pass the ball is one of the most important skills in any team-based sport. Good passing technique is key to moving the ball quickly and finding open teammates to generate scoring opportunities. There are different types of passes in basketball each with its advantages and disadvantages. The two that are most commonly used are a chest pass and bounce pass. Here are a few key points for both of them!

Chest pass

  1. Place the hands on either side of the ball with the fingers spread

  2. Step towards the target with the head focused on the target

  3. Keep the elbows up

  4. Press the hands through the ball while rotating the thumbs towards the ground

  5. Follow through with both hands towards the target

Bounce pass

  1. Place the hands on either side of the ball with the fingers spread

  2. Step towards the target with the eyes focused on the place where you want to bounce the ball

  3. Keep the elbows up and aim ⅔ of the way to the receiving partner

  4. Press the hands through the ball while rotating the thumbs towards the ground

  5. Follow through towards where you want the ball to bounce


Anyone who has played basketball knows that there is no better feeling than hearing the swish of the net when the ball goes cleanly through the hoop. Building a strong technical base is the best way to put players on the path to hitting those game-winning 3-point shots! Here are some things to keep in mind when teaching players how to shoot.

  1. Start with the feet hip-width apart, slight bend in the knees, and weight on the balls of the feet.

  2. Focus on either the front, middle or back of the rim

  3. Bring the elbow off the hip and under the ball

  4. Make sure the ball comes off the middle finger or pointer finger

  5. Keep the guide hand in contact in the ball for as long as possible


Being able to dribble the ball at speed with control is a skill that will regularly get the crowd off the feet. Here are some key points on how to keep the ball in control and put players on their way to breaking ankles!

  1. Stay in an athletic stance with the knees and hips slightly bent

  2. Make contact with the top of the ball

  3. Push the ball towards the ground using the fingertips of the hands

  4. Keep the ball below the waist

  5. Keep your eyes up


Learning how to use the backboards is a fundamental part of basketball, especially in and around the key. Teaching players how to properly perform a layup will give players a chance of scoring more points and who doesn't want to do that! Here are some reminders for your players.

  1. Step with one foot then hop to the other

  2. Hold the ball firmly with both hands during the approach keeping it close to the body

  3. Drive upwards off the lift leg

  4. Bring the ball all the way up to the head as you end the jump

  5. Release the ball towards the backboard


Want great drill ideas to help you practice these skills? Check out the Athlete Era Basketball app available on IOS and Android!



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