The best tips for new basketball players include the fundamental elements of the game on both offense and defense. As a player becomes more comfortable with the fundamentals, he/she can build on them and add more advanced techniques to his/her game.
When a player receives the ball, he/she should get into the "triple threat" position. This means the player's feet are shoulder-width apart, knees are bent, and chest and head up. The ball should be on the player's hip, gripped with both hands. If the ball is on the player's right hip, his/her right elbow should be behind the ball.
The "triple threat" position allows the player to protect the ball while still being in the ideal position to shoot, pass, or dribble it. These three options are where the "triple" in "triple threat" comes from.
Shooting the ball effectively requires a few key mechanics. First of all, the player needs to focus his/her eyes on the rim. He/she points his/her feet, which are shoulder-width apart, at the basket. The player's strong side foot should be a few inches in front of his/her other foot. Next, the player bends his/her knees to generate the shot's power.
The player's elbow is tucked in, parallel to his/her body. The ball should be in the player's strong hand with fingers spread out. When raised from the "triple threat" position, the ball should move up in a straight line from the shot pocket near the waist.
When the ball is at the level of the player's face, it should be slightly off to the side so it is still in line with his/her elbow, shoulder, and foot. The player's wrist is angled back with the ball resting on his/her fingers, as opposed to the palm of his/her hand. His/her weak hand, known as the "guide hand," is placed on the side of the ball. This hand's only purpose is to guide the ball in a straight line and should not be used to push the ball at all.
The player then extends his/her arm, locking the elbow and snapping the wrist so his/her fingers are pointed to the floor at the end of the shooting motion, giving the ball backspin, or rotation. When the ball is released, it should travel in an arc that is not flat, but is also not too high. The player leaves his/her arm extended in what is called the "follow-through." It is important to mention that a single, fluid motion yields the best results when it comes to shooting a basketball.
Passing the ball is important as it is the fastest way to move the ball around the court, and will often lead to better shots for teammates. As such it is necessary to discuss four basic types of passes.
The chest pass is the most basic pass of the four. When throwing such a pass, the player holds the ball at his/her chest with both hands. The player steps forward with one foot as he/she extends his/her arms, locking the elbows. After releasing the ball, the palms of the player's hands should be facing outward with his/her thumbs pointing toward the floor.
The wrap around pass can either be thrown in the air or bounced. When throwing such a pass, the player steps with his/her outside foot, relative to the basket, and throws the ball with the hand on the same side. The aim is to throw the ball around the defender.
The overhead pass is often used by rebounders to outlet the ball to a guard. A player throwing an overhead pass raises the ball over his/her head with both hands and elbows bent. The player then steps forward with one foot and extends his/her arms in a forward motion.
When dribbling the ball, the player should first bend his/her knees and have his/her chest out and head up. The player should use the pads of his/her fingers to dribble the ball. This allows for the most control, compared to the palm of the hand or finger tips.
The player should dribble low and close to his/her body, protecting the ball with his/her body and off hand. All of these factors will help to keep the player under control and prevent the defense from stealing the ball.
It is also important that the player keeps his/her head and eyes up while dribbling. This will help him/her to see the floor and make the best decision given the situation. The player should also practice using his/her weak hand, as it is a necessity to be able to dribble with both the right and left hands in order to effectively protect the ball.
To play good defense, the player needs to get into a defensive stance. This means standing with the player's weight on the balls of his/her feet, having the knees bent, butt down, chest out, back straight, and head up. The player's legs should be spread with his/her feet slightly outside of his/her shoulders. The player's hands should be extended to the side to make passing more difficult. Additionally, the player should watch the waist of the defender, not the ball, so as not to be fooled by ball fakes.
When playing defense on the ball, as a general rule, the defender should be about an arm's length from the offensive player. If the offensive player dribbles to get around the defender, he/she slides his/her feet with short, fast steps, to stay in front of the offensive player. Good, fundamental defensive players move their feet and stay in front of the offensive player rather than reach for the ball with their hands.