Basketball is obviously a team sport, but to take your game to the next level, it’s inevitable to do individual basketball drills. For example, most basketball dribbling drills with cones are done individually, as well as most basketball dribbling drills at home. Or playing basketball alone is an option if you don’t have anyone to play with. Perhaps the gyms are empty, or your friends couldn’t come over for a quick pickup game in your driveway. Whatever the case, it is vital to know what drills you can do by yourself, so you still get to play basketball and improve your skills.
Can You Play Basketball by Yourself?
Absolutely, yes! It may not be as fun as playing with family and friends, but playing basketball alone has its benefits. You can work on your weaknesses, and it is a much more challenging workout than playing with others.
What are some things to remember when playing basketball alone? Check these reminders:
- Prepare and warm-up. You can still get hurt or injured playing alone, so it’s in your best interest to prepare and warm up as you would if you play with others. Wear your basketball gear — shorts, jerseys, shoes– the whole nine yards. Wearing basketball gear allows you to move freely and without restrictions to lessen injury risk. Jog up and down the court and stretch before embarking on your solitary endeavor.
- Organized approach. While it’s possible to just go out there and get crazy on the basketball court, it is much better to approach this scenario in an organized manner. Instead of just shooting and dribbling aimlessly, try researching individual basketball drills that you can work on.
- Work on conditioning. There is no better time to work on conditioning than when you are alone. This helps you concentrate on the task at hand, even if it’s as simple as running sprints. Other conditioning drills you can do when alone is defensive slides or standing jumps. Whatever the case, work doubly hard on conditioning when you are alone.
3 Shooting Drills You Can Do By Yourself
1. The One-Hand Shooting Form. You must do this drill, especially if you’re just starting out. It is a relatively simple shooting drill, and it’s nothing new. However, just because this drill is simple doesn’t mean you can skip this one. The great players obsess on little things, and if you want to improve, you better start doing so as well.
To do the one-hand shooting form, make an L with your elbow and push the ball upwards using the wrist and fingertips. You should be balanced and make sure that your feet are shoulder-width apart. Make sure that you are settled in a stable and strong position. When you release the ball upward, the elbow must finish above your eyes.
2. Using the guide hand. The guide hand is your non-shooting hand, the one that should theoretically be “guiding” the ball as you attempt a shot. As a continuation of the one-hand shooting form drill, this routine now incorporates the use of your off-hand (your left hand if you shoot right-handed, and right hand when you shoot left-handed).
The guide hand should be on the side of the ball. If it exerts too much pressure, you will likely miss the shot to the right or left. In this drill, you won’t need to touch the ball with your guide hand just yet. Just point the fingers upward and keep it still.
3. Set to go. The purpose of this drill is to improve the fluidity of your jump shot. When you do this the right way, you will develop the coordination of extending your legs as soon as the ball goes to your shoulder level.
To do this:
- Lock your eyes on the basket and bend your knees slightly.
- From that position, extend your legs and shoot simultaneously, without hitches, and in one fluid motion.
- Shoot 10 shots each from different spots and different distances.
We’ve also written an article on fun basketball shooting games that you can play here.
5 Dribbling Drills You Can Do By Yourself
1. Ball Slaps
Ball slaps are a great way to get the hands ready for a basketball workout. Simply slap or flick the ball from one hand to the other. Use the fingertips instead of palms.
2. Stationary Dribbling
This is the easiest drill to do to improve ballhandling. Dribble with one hand continuously for a set time and then dribble with the other hand for the same amount of time. After that, you can instruct the child by calling out “switch” so they can shift the ball from one hand to the other.
3. Pound Dribbles
Pound dribbles are very important because it is the key that unlocks all of those advanced ballhandling moves. To do this drill, dribble ankle-high on one hand (perhaps a couple of inches off the ground) and then dribble with the other hand. After the ankle-high pound dribbles, you can also do waist-high ankle dribbles.
4. Stationary Pound Dribble and Crossover
This drill is a natural progression to the pound dribbling routine and a simple combo move. Spread your legs about shoulder width. Do a pound dribble with one hand and cross over to the other. Repeat as many times as necessary.
5. Dribbling while running laps
This is easy and effective. This works as a warmup and conditioning routine. All you need to do is dribble with one hand around the perimeter of the court twice and do the same with the other hand. Keep a steady pace. All in all, you get four laps of running while also working on your handles. That’s what we call a win-win.
3 Basketball Passing Drills By Yourself
1. Wall passing
Passing is supposed to be between teammates, but you can still work on passing accuracy if you’re alone. Wall passing can be as simple as locating an imaginary spot on the wall and making it a target for a one-hand pass. The kid can switch from one hand to the other after a set number of passes. A variation of wall passing is switching from one hand to the other after each pass.
2. Wall Toss, Jump Stop, and Pivot
When it comes to doing passing drills alone, the wall is your friend so take advantage of it. In this drill, you have to be about 10-15 feet away from a wall. Pick a spot on the wall to hit. Do a chest pass on the spot and let the ball bounce to you. After catching the ball, dribble going in the direction of the wall and back to your original position. Do a jump stop and pivot and pass to the wall again. Repeat 8 to 12 times.
3. Pound Dribble and Wall Toss
This is one of the more simple combination drills that anyone can do. The procedure is simple:
- Face the wall, do a pound dribble, and then pass it to a spot in the wall.
- Catch the ball with the hand that you are doing pound dribbles with, and toss it back.
- Do as many as you can inside 25 seconds and with both hands.
5 Tips to Practicing Basketball Alone
It’s not ideal to play basketball alone but you can still maximize that time to get better. Here are some tips about playing basketball alone:
1. Practice on the core components– ballhandling, finishing, and shooting. When you specifically work on these areas, then it’s a guaranteed well-rounded workout. These are also areas that translate easily in real game situations.
2. Be ultra-specific. This means that you should be working on your own weaknesses. Evaluate your game and plan drills in advance that will address these areas of weakness.
3. No more casual shooting. There really is no purpose when you just go to the basketball court and hoist shots up casually. There are no movements that you can use in-game, so why even do it? What’s worse, casual shooting makes your muscle memory go that route, and it could affect how you play an actual game.
4. Document your results. It actually feels good knowing that you have improved, right? One way to do that is by tracking your results. If you’re shooting off the curl 10 times, record how many shots you made. Or, when you’re doing a specific drill for 25 seconds, record your repetitions so that you would actually know if you got better or faster or if you still need to work on it.
5. Hold yourself accountable. This is just a nice way of saying, “Go punish yourself,” but it works! If you can’t make this elbow jump shot 6 out of 10 times, you have to run laps. Or if you can’t make 15 layups without a miss, you’re going to do 30 pushups. Challenging yourself this way helps you focus and will make you go harder on each drill.
Helpful Basketball Drill Videos You Can Do Alone
1. What we like so much about the video is that it includes a balance and shooting drill combo. Balance is a key component to shooting and if you can make sure you have perfect balance every time you shoot, that’s going to radically improve your accuracy.
2. This video contains shooting drills that simulate real game situations. Coach Collin Castellaw excellently explains and shows how to practice shooting that translates to actual basketball games. That’s what we call individual basketball shooting drills at their finest.
3. One thing about this video and its drills is its eccentricity. Coach Jesse Muench shows us how to do passing drills alone without using a wall, which we don’t think was possible until he demonstrated them.
Wrapping Things Up: Basketball Drills By Yourself
A big part of the fun of playing basketball is you get to compete with other people. After all, basketball is a team sport. However, if you plan on taking your game to the next level, you inevitably have to do individual basketball drills alone.
There are dozens of individual basketball workout plans that you can find on the Internet nowadays. However, we encourage you to practice with your own improvement in mind. In social media, you often see drills designed for a specific player and not catered to your needs.
This is one of the things to keep in mind when you are playing basketball alone. You got to treat it as a time to improve yourself. There should be no casual shooting and plan drills in advance that incorporate real game movements. This is also the time to work on your weaknesses.
Another thing about practicing alone is tracking your progress. This allows you to evaluate yourself honestly. If you make 8 out of 10 jump shots off a curl on the left side and only made two on the other side, you obviously need to work on that.
As you document your results, you have to hold yourself accountable. That means if you did not reach the goal, you run laps or do pushups. That way, you are training your mind to focus on the task at hand.
Again, playing basketball alone is not the most ideal nor the most fun thing in the world. However, if you want to take your game to the next level, there are individual basketball drills to help you achieve that goal. Individual basketball workout plans do work, especially if they are devised to improve your weaknesses.
Did you find this helpful? Then also check out other basketball FAQ articles here.