The Best Way to Structure Your Basketball Skills Workout

For basketball players, following a certain structure with their skills workouts is very important.

The Best Way to Structure Your Basketball Skills Workout

When it comes to training for basketball, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, so it's important to have a workout that is customized for you individually.

However, there are some key principles that you can use to get the most out of your workouts and get real in-game results.

In this article, I'll share with you the way I personally go about basketball skills workout structure. Let's dive into it!

Basketball Players shooting out door streetball

What's your goal?

Now, before we get into the workout as a whole, we need to figure out what we want to achieve during that workout. As we discussed in the post on how to master a skill, if you want to truly master it, you need to give it your whole attention.

Everyone can learn a new move, within a workout or two. What actually takes work and a whole different approach is mastering a skill and making sure it works in a real game.

If you are not sure how to go about it yet, I recommend you read the following article first and then come back to this one.

How to Master a Skill in Basketball | IN-GAME RESULTS
What actually takes work and a whole different approach is mastering that skill and making sure it works in a real game.

Once you are clear about your goal, I want you to pick something specific for the session ahead. And no, "3-point shooting" is not going to cut it. Already have this in mind before you start the workout, I don't want you to start thinking about what you should work on. Quit the guesswork.

For this article let's say your overall goal is to improve scoring out of the triple threat. So, for the following workout, you want to focus specifically on shooting out of these situations (the following structure can be applied to almost any skill, this is just an example).

I separate a skill workout into 4 phases - the "Warm-up", "Building the Skill", "Reads & Setups", and "Going live". In the end, you can also add a cooldown but it won't vary much from session to session unlike the other four.


I think the name of this phase speaks for itself. Go through a general warm-up to get your body warm. If you are not sure what to do you can watch this video:

You can pick any other warm-up (maybe you already have one) but if you choose this one, make sure you prepare it for the session in advance. Write down the exercises and memorize them, so you don't have to rewatch the video in the gym. We want the workout to be efficient, remember?

Then you have a short skills warm-up. Primarily focus on the skill you're going to use most during this workout. If you are going to work on a shooting aspect, I don't want you to go heavy into finishing here, and the other way around. The only exception is ballhandling. I want you to get your handles warm, simply because most skills in basketball require contact with the ball.

This phase should not take you longer than 15-20 minutes.

Building the Skill

In this phase I want you to get familiar with the skill. It's that "Get Comfortable in 1 vs Air" part if you've read the article I mentioned before. You can basically see this as an extension of your warm-up.

Go through the motions on different spots of the court, slightly picking up the pace as you go along. Pay attention to the details of the skill, such as angles and footwork variations. Maybe you also have some film tape prepared that you can watch and compare the way you perform the skill to it.

For our example, shooting from the triple threat, it would mean going through the various options you have. Shooting right off the triple threat, after a pump fake or jab, off one dribble (3pt or mid-range), etc. Five to ten makes from each spot, going to each side.

Be creative here and also try to primarily focus on spots and situations you'll find yourself in a game.

If you are working on a completely new skill and you see yourself struggling, don't try to implement everything at once. One or two options are completely fine in the beginning. It takes time to build and master a new skill, it's completely normal.

This part should take you around 30 minutes.

Adding Reads and Setups

Once you got familiar with the skill on air and find yourself making shots consistently, add defense to it.

Many of you might already be thinking "I'm usually working out alone, so I'll just skip this part and work more without a defender".

Listen, if you really want the skill to transfer to the real games, there's no way around it. You have to find someone to train with you. It doesn't have to be every single session, but we simply need to make our workouts game-specific.

Tyler Leclerc summed it up well...

So again, get some defense involved. Tell them what you're working on and give them options on what to do.

Here are a few options for our example (shooting out of the triple threat)

  • You get a pass and they close out on you but give you space - shoot
  • They close out tightly, you pump fake, and they jump - cut to the basket/a midrange spot to shoot from/side step into a 3pt shot
  • They close out tightly, you jab and they sink - shoot

Simply apply the options you already worked on in the previous stage and use them based on what your defender does.

You can spend another 30 minutes here.

Simulate the Game

One of the best tools there is for you to transfer skills to real games is pickup games. It's the perfect environment for you to experiment and use what you worked on.

This is where it all falls into place. The initial skill and the reads you practiced. Since you learned how to read and react, you won't be as robotic and will almost always have options to work with.

Use it as much as possible. Don't be afraid to look bad if it doesn't work the first time. In the end, it doesn't really matter and if you do it right, you'll implement a great skill that will help you dominate the game and rise to a higher level.

Again if you are just starting out with learning something new and feel overwhelmed, it's OK. You don't have to only use this one skill. Be competitive, have fun and always try to win, but also don't forget your initial goal of the session.


Let's talked about the last stage of your workout – the cooldown.

Just like we warm up and prepare our body for the session ahead, we need to make sure we wind down properly.

During the session we are on high alert, our heartbeat is elevated, and adrenaline and other stress hormones are flowing through our blood. With a proper cooldown, you make sure that you calm down and that your body can begin the recovery process.

Instead of a hard on/off switch, consider your cooldown as the dimmer switch on a light.

What works for me is shooting some free throws (until I hit 5 in a row) and then doing some breathing exercises.

Example: Breathe in, hold your breath, breathe out and hold it once again, each for five seconds. Then start again and do it 3-5 times total. If you do it in a calm environment and focus on your breath it can be very relaxing.

You can also listen to calm music after you've done that, like classic or lofi. Just make sure it doesn't excite you too much.

Key Points

  • Be clear about your goal – what are you trying to achieve during the workout?
  • Work on learning how to read and react by adding different options and setups.
  • Train with defense!
  • Use pickup games for transfer.
  • A proper cooldown is just as essential as your warmup.

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

Instagram: (click here)

TikTok: (click here)

Twitter: (click here)


Until next time!