“Footwork.” You may have heard that word thrown around a lot in basketball. The thing is, there is a lot involved when talking about footwork, one of which is having quick feet. Basketball is not exclusively a speed game, but it is definitely an edge. Anytime you can get an advantage, it puts you in a better position to win. But because not every basketball player is blessed with natural foot speed, this article will help you learn how to get quick feet for basketball.
Why is Footwork Important in Basketball?
Agility is a skill defined as the ability to quickly and easily move your body. ‘Moving the body’ requires moving your feet; therefore, if you want to improve your agility, you need to improve the quickness of your feet. Improving agility and quick feet could help your basketball game in so many ways.
- A quick first step allows you to blow by opponents, get to the rim, finish with an easy layup, or create scoring opportunities for your teammates.
- Quick feet are indispensable on defense. It enables you to get in front of your man, cut them off their path, and set traps.
- Footwork allows you to have more body control for better finishing around the rim despite contact.
- Having quick feet allows you to vary your cuts and movement off the ball. V-cuts, backdoor cuts, and other off-ball cuts are easier if you have proper footwork and quick feet.
- Even if you’re not speedy, having the proper footwork enables you to get to your spots and create space to get your shots off.
Needless to say, quick feet are essential if you want to be a successful player. It unlocks levels on defense and offense, making you a much better player.
How to Improve Your Foot Speed for Basketball?
The only way to improve your foot speed in basketball is to do quick feet exercise one after the other. Without these exercises, you will get stuck on your habits and probably won’t improve. Aside from doing the best basketball agility drills, here are other ways to enhance quickness for basketball:
- Improve Your Balance and Ability to Get in Position
As mentioned, basketball is not exclusively a game of speed; it is basically a game of agility. For instance, you may want to explode in one direction, but then the defender beats you to the spot. Foot speed and proper footwork make it possible to decelerate, change body position, and go the other direction.
To improve your balance and body position, drills such as Split-to-Single Leg Balance and Split-to-Staggered Stance are a huge help.
- Work on Your Coordination
There are games and activities outside of basketball that help you with your coordination. Jumping ropes, skips and hops, and even boxing could do that. The point is, if you have the chance to participate in activities that require moving your feet, the odds are you will carry those skills in basketball. On top of that, do not shy away from incorporating new drills into your regular routine.
- Strengthen your Core
Core strength is essential in achieving impeccable footwork. It is defined as the ability to use your abdominal and lower back muscles without getting tired. A strong core helps you in coordination, balance, jumping ability, and quickness. The fundamental reason why you should strengthen your core is that basketball is a contact sport. No matter how quick you are, you can get bumped, manipulated off your path, and get off-balanced. With a strong core, you can resist and be able to absorb contact without compromising your footwork.
How to Increase Speed and Quickness
Please be reminded that strength is vital before doing any exercises or drills that increase speed and quickness. And also, it’s essential to realize that in basketball, the straight-ahead speed is not necessarily the kind of speed you need to develop. For example, a player with pretty good numbers on a 40-yard dash or a baseline-to-baseline sprint does not automatically make him a great player.
So, how could you improve the speed and quickness essential to be a better basketball player? It’s really simple. If you do sprinting exercises, do not do so in a stationary position. Remember that in basketball, you do not go in a straight line all the time. Keep that in mind when you do sprint drills.
For example, you may want to sprint in a straight line from one baseline to the next and run backward on the way back. Or you could accelerate after a side-shuffle and run after getting up from the floor. These exercises simulate the real action happening on a basketball court and will certainly prove helpful in game situations.
Does that mean you should not train for a straight-line sprint? No. Sprinting on a straight line should still be a part of your conditioning program. It builds endurance and, yes, speed. Mix straight-line sprints up with speed drills that replicate real basketball action.
What Exercises Improve Quickness?
Technically speaking, quickness, speed, and agility are related but entirely different skills. Quickness is about fast reaction time. Speed is about moving as fast as possible from one point to another. Agility is about changing directions quickly and in an efficient manner.
Now, improving quickness is about improving your reaction time, or the time between a stimulus and the response. Basketball is about reading and reacting; therefore, if you lack quickness, you’d still be at a disadvantage even though you are speedy or agile.
Here are some exercises and basketball footwork drills at home that improve quickness:
- Ball Drop Drill. This is as simple as it gets. Person A and Person B face each other 15 feet apart. A drops the ball randomly, and B advances toward the ball quickly before it bounces a second time.
- Mirror Drill. The goal of the mirror is for a player to react quickly to the actions of the other. Put two markers, perhaps basketball cones, about 20 feet apart. Person A and person B face each other 10 feet away. Person A randomly shuffles to a cone, and person B imitates the movements.
- Reaction Ball Drop Drill. This exercise is similar to the ball drop but uses a reaction ball. A reaction ball bounces randomly in any direction, making this a perfect drill and exercise for quickness and reaction time.
3 Drills to Improve Basketball Quickness
The best way to achieve quicker feet is to do agility ladder drills for basketball. Ladder drills not only improve quickness and agility but also exposes poor mechanics. If you drag your feet, over or under-stride, your feet could get caught in the rungs. Here are three easy basketball footwork drills without ball that you can do:
1. Two-Step High Knee Drill
This is the most basic ladder drill and is often used in football. However, as you can see, it comes in handy for basketball as well. Both feet are placed into the space and move forward by jumping one foot at a time onto the next space. As you jump from one space to the next, your knees should come up over your hips. Endeavor to complete at least four rungs, or if you can, go and finish all the spaces.
2. Hop Scotch Single Left
Again, this is a pretty basic ladder drill. Start with both feet outside the ladder and then hop on to the next space only with your left foot. Then, hop your left foot off outside the space and then hop on to the next with your left foot again. Finish all the spaces, repeat about three times, and do it with your right foot.
3. Two Foot Inside and Out
The video above shows several agility ladder drills for basketball. The two-foot inside and out drill is the second one around the 20-second mark. Again, it’s pretty simple. Step your foot one at a time in the space and then move your feet out one at a time outside the said space. Move on to the next space as fast as you can.
Wrapping Things Up: How to Get Quick Feet for Basketball
Having quick feet is very critical in basketball. It is needed in every facet of the game, whether on offense or defense. Whether you want to improve your slashing or on-ball defense, it pays if you take the time to improve your footwork.
With that being said, keep in mind that in order to achieve better quickness and agility, your body must be ready for it. That means you have to strengthen your core while improving your balance and coordination. Doing so makes it easier for your body to adapt to agility drills.
The best basketball agility drills to do are agility ladder drills for basketball. They look fancy at first, but they are actually pretty simple. If you want to know how to get quick feet, start with body strengthening and then ladder drills. Once you get the hang of it, you will definitely see improvements, skills that come in handy when you play basketball.