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15 Best Basketball Footwork Drills for Guards

ByEvin Gualberto|@evin_gual| May 19, 2021
basketball-footwork-drills-for-guards

It’s time to work! Today we’re going to reveal some of the greatest basketball footwork drills for guards.

Footwork is the foundation for everything in basketball. Do you want to be able to stay in front of whoever you are guarding? You have to be able to move your feet. Want to create space in the post or beat your defender by moving without the ball? Do you want to be able to dance on your defender and make them dizzy with the dribble? All of that starts with footwork.

In this article, we’ve put together a little bit of everything to get better at footwork. A little agility work, a few drills with the ball, and some to make sure whoever has the ball cannot create space against you. So let’s get after it.

How do you move your feet on defense in basketball?

To move your feet on defense in basketball push off your feet side to side. Everything starts by being in an athletic stance: balance, hips back, knees bent, butt down. If you lean forward too much, bring your hands up! Now you can step and slide or cross-step. Focus on pushing/generating force off of the back foot.

Watch Alysha Clark in the video below – study her stance. There’s a reason she finished 2nd in Defensive Player of the Year voting last season.

How can I improve my footwork?

You can improve your footwork by working on foot speed, your ability to change directions, hip mobility, and balance. For example, one way to improve your footwork is to practice crossover steps across the court one way, and back the other. Another is to use a rope ladder, and go up both sides, one at a time, moving each foot into the square and out again, as fast as you can. Let’s explore even more fun ways to improve your footwork.

Try these basketball footwork drills for guards

We’re going to cover some great footwork drills with a ball, some without, and some with a ladder. That way, no matter what equipment or space you have, there’s something you can work on today.

Basketball footwork drills for guards without a ball

1. Zig-zag

In order to make sure the ball handler stays in front, you have to be able to move your feet and body quickly. The zig-zags are a great way to work on that while also having the added benefit of working on your ability to turn your hips.

2. Crossover step & slide

The crossover step is a really effective way to make up ground when a ball handler is quicker than you. If you try sliding with them the entire time, you might get left behind.

3. Closeout & slide

Closing out is one of the most important things because if you are out of control and end up out of the play, that hurts your team. Learning to chop your feet to slow down is great but then being able to slide once they put the ball on the floor is next level.

You can do this with a ball and a partner but you do not need either – you can just imagine the offensive player going a direction and react by sliding that way after the closeout.

4. Mirror drill

This move requires a partner or a coach. What you’re going to do is face your partner and be in an athletic stance. The leader can only move laterally but they should be making quick movements. The purpose of this drill is to be reactive – because that’s what playing defense mostly is, reacting to the offensive player

Basketball footwork drills with a ladder

If you have access to an agility ladder, it is a great way to improve your foot speed, stamina, timing, and balance. They’re a pretty low cost on Amazon (and if you purchase we’ll get a couple of cents to fund our basketball coverage).

5. In & outs

The in and outs properly reinforce staying on your toes and it makes you just a little bit faster.

6. Two out two in hops

This is a little bit like hopping: you jump to have both feet outside the ladder and quickly get both feet inside and then move on to the outside of the next rung and back in. John Wall demonstrates it here.

7. Foot fires

This drill is meant to really push how quickly you can move your feet. You start with the left foot outside the ladder, then the right foot outside, then the left foot inside, then the right foot inside, and then move up the ladder as fast as possible.

8. Hopscotch

Start with both feet in the box. You start with a small jump. Your right foot will land outside the next run. Jump back into the box with both feet and then jump again so the your left foot lands on the outside of the next rung.

Basketball footwork drills with a ball

Here are some drills you can do with just a basketball and some space to dribble. If you need a ball, check out some of the best women’s basketballs.

9. Jump stop

The jump stop is the single most effective move in basketball because it slows the game down and now you have the choice of pivoting with either foot. Start with two dribbles and then take a small hop, making sure to land on both feet at the same time.

You can do this drill with a basketball and a hoop but if you don’t have a hoop, just work on the hop and balanced landing. In the video, he takes jumpers but you can simplify it and make the shots layups if you want.

10. Reverse pivot

The reverse pivot is one of the most effective tools at creating space and it also has the added benefit of helping you improve your footwork.

All you need is a straight line in space: start dribbling from point A to point B. Come to a jump stop. Pick a pivot foot to reverse pivot on. Rip through and then dribble back towards point A. Come to a jump stop and now reverse pivot with the opposite foot and head back to point B. You can repeat these for as many reps as you want/can do with good form.

11. Skip step

This move is when you “skip” off of your inside foot is a change of tempo move that you can build so many moves off of. All you need is a ball and a little bit of space. If you have a cone or a water bottle to help mark when to skip, that’s great!

Basketball footwork drills with a ball and hoop

Here are drills you can do with a ball and hoop. Each drill can be adjusted to shoot layups instead of jump shots.

12. Hip swivel jumpers

This drill may seem a little strange at first but it works on a lot of things at once: balance, moving your hips quickly, and getting your feet aligned properly. If you do not feel comfortable doing this before a shot yet, try just practicing the hip swivel. Incorporate a ball when you’re ready and then ultimately progress to this drill.

13. Pump fake & stepthrough

The pump fake is a great move but you have to practice stepping through and getting the timing and speed down in order to fully take advantage of the space you have generated.

14. Punch pullback

Start on the left side of the basket. Dribble with your left hand, plant with your right foot and push backwards. You should feel the outside of your right foot on the ground as you push into a step back. When you go to work on this move on the right side, makes sure to flip everything (right hand dribble, left foot plant to stepback)

 15. Pump fake + pivot stepthrough (advanced)

When you’re ready to progress to more advanced level footwork, you can combine some of the drills above – like a pump fake into a pivot stepthough. Demonstrated here by Kobe Bryant, it can be an incredibly effective move to create space where there otherwise would not be any.

Basketball footwork drills pdf

Need something printable? Check out a few handy basketball footwork drills pdfs.

  1. 36 Drills PDF: Here are 36 basketball drills from BBallTools.com. The one that is particularly geared toward footwork is the Dot Drill.
  2. Player Development PDF: Here is a basketball player development PDF by Dragan Raca and others. Page 33 onwards is specifically geared toward footwork.
  3. Footwork Drills Packet: Check out 6 basketball footwork drills by Tates Locke. This is a great resource full of drills and examples.

What are some good conditioning drills for basketball?

Let’s get into a few good conditioning drills for basketball to put that fancy footwork to use.

1. Defensive cup slides

You’ll need a few cones and a little bit of space but this a great drill you can pair with zig-zag drills. Set up a few cups (for the sake of this example, let’s say 5) on each side of the lane (or whatever space you’re working with).

Start in the middle of the lane and then slide to your right picking up the cup, then slide to the opposite lane line and stack the first cup and then pick both up. Now slide to the right again and stack. Repeat this process until you finish picking up all the cups. The key to this drill is to stay low and in that defensive stance the whole time. Check out the example from Breakthrough Basketball:

Footwork drills for guards

You can challenge yourself further by trying to beat your time every attempt.

2. Jump ropes

One of the greatest conditioning exercises also happens to be a great footwork developer! There are so many different ways to use the jump rope to improve coordination and you can build up using different progressions but ultimately, this is our recommendation – the lateral hurdle step.

Move side to side instead of just up and down on your jumps. The objective is to keep one leg off the ground (knee at about waist level). Hold your leg up and in position while hopping on the other foot. It is meant to be incredibly challenging but once you get it down, you’ll be flying on the court.

3. Shuttle run and slides

A classic conditioning drill that can be applied to basketball is a shuttle run. If you’re on the court, you can use the lines as markers. If you don’t have access to the court, just measure it out and improvise with water bottles or cones as markers.

Start on the right lane line (facing the basket) and defensive slide to the right. As soon as you touch the sideline, turn and sprint back to the lane line. Be sure to work on going left and going right!

A more fun twist you can put on this is by having a partner on the sideline holding a tennis ball (or something equally small and bouncy). When they drop the ball on the ground, that will be your cue to go. Your objective is to try and get there before the ball bounces a second time. If this is too hard for you to do the first time – try having your partner bounce it hard. That way you will have more time to cover that ground.

Practice with these basketball footwork drills for guards

Now you know basketball footwork drills for guards, you’re ready to start working on your explosiveness. Check out basketball guard drills to get better at attacking.

For more ladder drills, check out this compilation but put together by USA Basketball.

Shop DribbleUp’s smart ball to work on your game (because they’ll send us a few bucks so we can keep putting out great basketball drills).

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