Freestyle - a Tool in Basketball Skills Training

Getting in-game results

Freestyle - a Tool in Basketball Skills Training

Have you ever felt like all the work you’re doing in the gym just doesn’t translate into games?

Are you great at practice, but feel like you get paralyzed once you get the ball in an actual game?

One major difference between being a good and a great player is that the good players fail once too many unexpected variables are being thrown at them, while the great ones can adapt very quickly and go from there.

Certain tools can help you to transition from being a guy that just does well at practice to someone who can deliver in game situations.

Freestyle is one of them.

Drills vs. Games

When you think about the common way we work on certain skills — we drill them out. In a drill, you usually know what you are going to do, even before you started it.

You know exactly when you’re going to make the crossover, where you’re going to be on the court, with which leg you’re going to jump and how you’ll finish.

Well, in a game, it’s usually the opposite way. You rarely know exactly when you’ll get the ball (even as a point guard), you don’t know exactly how your defender is going to react.

Your teammates might move differently than you think they should, and a lot of other unexpected things happen. There is often a lot of chaos and crumbling you usually don’t have in practice.

Of course, there are some general set-ups and ideas you got to work with, but you don’t know every detail of what you’re going to do in specific game situations.

Dwayne Wade diving for a loose ball in a NBA game

Adding freestyle to your training

Now, how can we replicate these components you face in a game in your training? One way of doing it is by adding freestyle aspects to your drills.

When you got a specific aspect or move to a high enough level, that you feel comfortable using it (in practice), you can add freestyle to make sure you make that transition between in-practice to in-game results.

This will help you to work on your decision-making as well as provide an experience similar to a game.

Keep the set-ups, but now add a small freestyle component.

For instance, when you’re practicing finishing, allow yourself to choose how you’re going to finish. If you’re working on some specific types of finishes, you can take the options you want to work on and choose one of them in the air.

Get loose, and let your imagination and creativity take over. Feel like you’re in a game and visualize.

For example, you see a help-side rotating, so you choose to make a floater instead of a lay-up. Or choose the move you’re going to use at the beginning of the drill.

This can be applied to more aspects of the game, such as ballhandling, on/off ball shot creation, etc. If you can get creative, the sky is the limit.

Get loose, and let your imagination and creativity take over.

However, keep in mind that adding real defenders to your drills is always better than just freestyling.

Freestyle is a tool you can use when you got familiar with the basics of the aspect you’re working on, but don’t have defenders to work with.

It can also be used in warm-ups. Just take the ball and dribble up and down the court a few times, while changing pace and using different moves.

Key Points

  • Adding a freestyle component can help you imitate a real game situation
  • Let your imagination and creativity take over
  • Making drills similar to games by adding chaos and unpredictable aspects is essential to get game results (like adding freestyle/defenders)

I hope that you can use this tool for you to get these in-game results, so all the time and effort you spend working on your game can actually pay off.

If you have any questions/suggestions or just want to talk hoops, don't hesitate to reach out!

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Until next time!