Basketball is one of the most exciting sports to play that doesn’t require much equipment besides a basketball and a hoop.
Most people play as a group and only in a group. But I’ve found ways to enjoy the game playing by myself. You could call me a bit of a loner, but it’s served as a therapeutic time for me mentally.
While I enjoy playing competitively, it’s the solo moments that allow me to work on my craft and focus on areas I want to be crisp.
Here are five of my favorite basketball drills to work on alone.
1. Layup lines — 3 left side & 3 right side.
After stretching and getting loose, I jump right into layup rotations.
In order to gain momentum, you can shoot high probability layups to start your workout. It gets your heart pumping and your feel for the ball or court that much smoother.
As a lefty, I’ll start out with three layups on the left side. Then you can switch over to right-handed layups. The focus should be to place the ball perfectly off the glass and sink em’ 6 for 6.
2. Short to Mid-Range Jump Shots
Depending on your skill set, you want to work towards your strengths more than weaknesses. I know for a fact that my short-to-mid range style of play is more successful than my long ball.
You can perform about 3–5 seconds of handles followed by a crispy jump shot.
Fire away from inside and outside the key. If there’s a particular spot on the floor where you thrive, try taking shots outside of your comfort zones to become a more dynamic shooter.
Not everyone likes shooting floaters because it can be an off-balanced shot. I’m the complete opposite. I love surprising opponents with unexpected, smooth sailing floaters because it catches them off guard and they’re typically easier than jump shots — even with pressure.
I shoot floaters from short to mid range as long as I create space. You can run up for your floaters from either of the wings as well as straight-up.
Once I’ve hit at least five in a row and feel satisfied with my accuracy, I’ll move on to three-pointers.
In any scrimmage, you’re going to get the ball with no one guarding you outside the three-point range.
Many opponents will give you wide-open shots until you prove yourself as a threat on the deep ball. Shoot threes from all angles because, in a game-time situation, there’s no telling where you’re going to be open.
I’ll fire off at least 10 three-pointers and strive for more than 50% (or 5 successful shots) before winding down and focusing on free throws.
5. Free Throws
Although most pickup basketball games don’t do free throws, it’s still important to practice them.
To close out a basketball workout, it helps to slow down your heart rate and focus on proper form for free throws.
I strive for at least a 70% success ratio on about 10 shots and be satisfied. If you can sink it from the free-throw line consecutively, you’ll develop a firm feel for that mid-range distance.
Basketball is definitely a team sport, but the more you elevate your individual game, the more of a weapon you’ll be on the court in a team setting.
Taking high-probability shots with accuracy and sinking them is more of an asset than firing off 10 three-pointer and making 3 of them.
Nobody likes a ball hog. But everybody likes a teammate who can consistently deliver and avoid turning the ball over.
Odds are, if you get hooked on solo hoop sessions, you’ll be consistent, well-conditioned, and ready to step up any time a game presents itself.