When it comes to basketball fundamentals, it is more about dribbling, passing, shooting. However, there is a fundamental that, if not well acquired, makes it impossible for the previous ones to be used, namely, footwork.
Well-acquired footwork prevents players from committing unnecessary violations, at a stage of knowing the game other than the initial one. Not only does it prevent violations, but it also allows you to create spaces and overcome direct defenses.
For example, many times, we coaches want to teach too much dribbling to a player and we forget that good footwork helps to master dribbling. Another example is as simple as if I teach an off-ball screen exit to a player who does not know how to stop, what is the probability that he will commit any violation? The answer is simple, it is GIANT!
Rick Carlisle once said at a coaches’ clinic in Germany, which I recommend watching, that if we put the body in the right position we can do extraordinary things with the shooting. This phrase demonstrates that footwork not only improves dribbling but also improves shooting.
However, the Dallas Mavericks coach has not been the only one who has emphasized footwork. Seth Greenberg, a former Virginia Tech college coach, said at an American coach’s clinic that he considers footwork to be the difference between winning teams in recent championships.
How to master the footwork on basketball fundamentals?
Before answering the question directly, it is important to know when it is used. If we reflect on the game, we can easily see that we use footwork to:
The moment when we use footwork can have different ways of doing it, but to develop and teach different ways of using it is necessary to teach the basics. For example, before we teach one-two step landing we must teach how to jump-stop.
To master these aspects, repetition is essential. At an early stage of learning the player, I advise you to spend a lot of time on this content as it will facilitate all other content, both technical or tactical, to flow better. However, if the players are already at a slightly advanced stage, spend 5 minutes in training to repeat this fundamental.
Therefore, I bring you a simple exercise, but one that makes a difference.
1st Drill: Box Drill
The drill starts with a player spinning the ball back to themselves and catching in the elbow of the free-throw line and stopping (the stop can be either jump stop or one-two step landing, in an initial phase I advise to make a jump stop). Then execute the footwork drills below:
- Drop Step – Layup
- Inside Pivot and Jump Shot
- Inside Pivot – Shot Fake – Crossover Step – Layup
- Reverse Pivot – Jump Shot
- Reverse Pivot – Rip – Layup
- Reverse Pivot – Fake Rip – Crossover Step – Layup
This drill should be done at the beginning of the practice, it can be used as a shooting drill and warm-up drill with a ball.
To help you understand the drill, I leave a demo video of Coach Jeff Depelteau.
Ready to improve the footwork of your players?
I hope you have understood the advantages that good footwork can bring to your player’s technical quality. It is important not to forget that before going to the complexity of the movements we must go to the basics, as I mentioned earlier an example is a fact that we teach first to jump-stop and only then, we teach to one-two step landing.
If you have already used this exercise, or have a different philosophy, or have any more ideas to add to those presented, share with the coaches in the comments!