9 Best Footwork Drills For Basketball Players

Footwork is extremely important in the game of basketball, and building a strong foundation at an early age is one of the best ways to go about it. Drills are one of the best ways to see footwork improvement, but only when running the right ones. 

A good place to start is with these nine basic footwork movements and improvement drills. They all translate well to the actual game.

1. Sprinting

The act of sprinting can seem like the most basic skill for any athlete to have, but the truth of the matter is, not everyone knows how to run correctly. Take a look at world-class sprinters, for example, and they are continually working on their technique and making improvements here and there. The same can apply for basketball players, being efficient with their strides.

Film is one of the best tools for improving footwork with sprinting. Players can see exactly how they run, and compare it to NBA players or even sprinters. A proper stride will keep players healthier, and it tends to lead to better play on both sides of the ball.

2. Defensive Slides

It might seem like a fairly easy drill since there is no advanced movement other than going side to side. However, it can be a huge work out for players who are trying to become better at getting in the proper stance and defending their player.

Some people will decide to do the drills by themselves, but it works best in an individual or team coach setting. Sliding in different directions while guarding a defender requires a great amount of speed. Have a couch yell out directions to slide from side to side, diagonally, and more.

3. Defensive Hip Turns

Sliding is important on defense, but hip turns are also crucial to reposition the feet quickly and efficiently. So many players do not have this concept down that well, and it hurts their defense.

Some of the biggest problems people have is that they do not get their shoulders and hips level, and they jump up too much when they are turning their hips. This puts a defender a bit unbalanced and slows them down when going up against elite talent.

A pretty easy way to focus on his terms is to work on simple drills at first that trigger hip turns. Having a coach blow a whistle and players twist in one way or the other is going to help build that muscle memory. Once a player really gets that feeling under control, it can be used in an actual game-type setting.

4. Stopping With a Two-Foot Jump

A two-foot jump stop is vital for footwork because it is a way to stop moving and getting in a ready position to move in a different direction. Even though it is considered a jump stop, there is not much jumping at all, as the lower a person can be, the quicker they can change direction.

This type of footwork needs practicing for both offense and defense. On offense, players need to come to a jump stop so they catch the ball in a triple threat position. Defensively, stopping with two-feet allows a player to quickly change direction to contest a shot, go for a steal, and so much more.

Most people are comfortable with just one specific way to stop and jump. Being able to use one-foot and two-foot moves makes a player that much more versatile.

5. Pivoting

Being able to pivot in basketball is a great way to create space for any type of movement with the ball. A person can pivot with the basketball when they have yet to dribble, or even when they pick their dribble up.

Like standing in the triple threat position, a pivot allows a player to explode in multiple ways. A person will usually have one preferred foot over the other, but being able to pivot with either can prove to be a valuable tool.

Some of the best pet drills are pretty basic, and it mostly involves developing that muscle memory so many players can benefit from. There are a lot of players who need to learn how to pivot with a sense of urgency, using their arms the right way to create space as well. Being able to pull off the same pivot move and then transform into a pass, dribble, or shot is huge.

Work on drills that build off of the basics. Developing a good pivot is relatively easy, but it is just the start of a more complicated move.

6. Jab Steps

A pivot can evolve into many different moves, with one of the most devastating being the jab step. Players can be in a triple threat position, and they basically jab with the opposite foot of their pivot foot. This jab works to open up space, create a counter move, or set up just about anything.

Defenders are likely to get up on a player, especially if they have not made any move just yet. One way to open up space is to jab step so that the defender thinks that they are taking off for a move. It can then transform into a shot opportunity or a chance to dribble in the opposite direction. Some people jab step and then actually go in that direction as well, keeping a defender off balance.

Having the proper footwork and having some level of deception is essential. One of the best jab drills is to do a lot of one-on-one work against a defender. This is a great way for players to understand what techniques work, and which ones need developing. Players will also work with trainers doing the jab step, and they can push the player to test their balance.

7. Crossover Steps

Everyone loves a great crossover in basketball, but the crossover step might be even more valuable for a standard player. This is merely crossing one leg across the other to gain some ground laterally. If a player has a slow crossover step, they will not be able to explode and get that step ahead of the defender.

It takes a lot of power to pull off a quick crossover, so make sure that a lot of work is done in building up strength in the legs. Not only is strength necessary, but being efficient and long with the step will allow for a great advantage as well.

This is yet another move that works best against a defender, but people can work on this themselves to perfect. Think about focusing on pushing off the ground for that quick step, and fast hip rotation. Get the footwork and steps down correctly so that the move feels completed once the crossover is done.

8. Drop Steps

The drop step is crucial for anybody who plays in the post, but any basketball player should be developing this type of footwork as well. It comes in handy to get a different kind of shot off near the basket, and if done correctly, it is a very useful move regardless of size.

A drop step obviously is going to work best if a player has a size advantage, as it gives players a closer shot to the basket. When backed up against the basket, a drop step can either be a move by itself, or set up some counter for something else.

9. Footwork Off Of Screens

Screens in basketball can set up some great opportunities to score, but the footwork needs to be on point for that to happen. Not only do players need to be cerebral enough to read the screen and how defenders are playing it, but they need to position themselves in the right way to receive the pass.

One of the most basic moves with a screen involves a down screen where a player comes up towards the elbow extended on either side. A player will have the opportunity to come off the screen to the wing, or fade to the corner. If the defender is trailing, a player can curl around the screen and have an opportunity to get a layup on the other side.

All of this involves having great footwork, as a player wants to catch the ball when they are balanced and ready to move. Being able to shoot right off of a catch is important, but it is also crucial to come and meet the ball if the defender is right there.

There are no drills that do a better job than just practicing these moves as much as possible. Players become more and more aware of what they need to do in certain situations to catch the ball and be in a position to score.

Chris Davis

I'm Chris, the guy behind BasketballJoy. I've played basketball for 20+ years and have been a full-time coach since 2017. On this website, I share everything I know about the most beautiful sport in the world - Basketball.

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