Basketball guard drills can improve your game by enhancing your explosiveness, your handle, your shooting, and so much more (hello defense!). As a guard – aka the floor general – you control everything. Someone else doesn’t make a basket? That’s on you.
So it’s important you do your best to control the control-ables before you ever step on the court. And that means putting in the work and practicing. As one of Breanna Stewart’s many WNBA quotes goes: “You have to love your sport. Your passion and dedication can’t be some-time, part-time or spare-time. It has to be all-time.”
So today, we’ve pulled together a great guard workout. These are drills you can do by yourself. All you really need is one basketball and ideally also a hoop. Though, you can modify for the handful that include getting shots up by just shooting into empty space. And if you have someone who can pass you the ball or play defense, add them in. Greatness is built while no one is watching! Let’s get after it.
These drills get progressively harder. So start at the top and work your way down for a full guard workout. We’ll begin with dribbling to get your body warm. Then we’ll move into shooting and driving. And finally wrap up with a little defensive footwork and speed work.
Start off with a simple ball pound (aggressive dribble) in your dominate hand for 30 seconds. Then switch to the other hand for 30 more seconds. Be sure you’re using your fingertips and keeping your back straight.
Pound the ball as hard as you can to the point where you’re almost losing control. Keep the ball below your waist. And also, look up while you dribble (not at the ball like this coach in the video). This improves your speed, strength, and confidence with the ball.
Quickly dribble the ball at ankle level. Remember to use your fingertips and keep your back as straight as possible. Dribble around the outside of your legs, and inside in a figure eight shape. Stay in a universal stance the entire time, and try to look up as much as possible. Do this for two minutes and see how many full eights you can make.
This drill is designed to help strengthen your hands for dribbling and catching the basketball. It also builds confidence! Despite the fact that you wouldn’t use this move in a game, it builds skills that you will use in-game.
Let’s warm those legs up. For this drill, pound the ball as hard as you can. Then switch your stance popping your legs, and dribble the ball between one leg. Pound the ball as hard as you can, switch stance, and dribble between the other leg. Keep after it for a minute.
This drill improves your speed and strength with the ball, while also working on your coordination. Plus, it adds in quick footwork!
OK now it’s time to really get those legs moving. This one is a more progressive ball handling drill. We’re going to combine footwork, a pocket dribble, and an aggressive attack. This drill is excellent for building speed, shiftiness, and unpredictability.
Keep the ball in your left hand. Take three dribbles, dribbling as if you’re bouncing the ball on either side of a water bottle, with your feet stationary. Then pull the ball into your pocket popping out your legs, leaning your other shoulder down so your hand nearly touches the ground.
Attack by taking three steps forward. Then reach for space sticking a speed stop (plant with your inside foot, then hit your outside foot), and bringing the ball into a behind the back cross over. Finally, retreat dribble (run backwards while dribbling) to your starting spot. And run the drill through again on the opposite side. Do ten on each side.
This drill will help you be more unpredictable to the defense. It’s something Luka Doncic does all the time. Basically you’re going to dribble through one leg, and “lazy hang” the ball. And then explode forward a few dribbles. Try to do 30 of these, and then reverse in the other direction.
Part of being a great guard is hitting shots from all over the court, so that you’re always a threat. Partially this is so your team can always rely on your for a bucket. But even more importantly, it’s so that the defense can never leave you alone, making it more likely one of your teammates will be open. Here are a few shooting drills for guards to ensure you knock as many shots down as you can.
Spin the ball to yourself, catch, get a pretend jump shot up, and try to land it directly on your center line. Then repeat, the length of the court or driveway. This drill will help build your shooting rhythm and momentum. The key is to time the catch, so that you’re already rising into your shot a l a Tyler Herro.
Alright let’s get into shooting, starting with shots closer to the basket. Because if you’re not sinking them close, you won’t sink the from far either!
For this one you’re just going to make 20 speedy layups on each side of the basket. So from under the basket, make a layup with your right hand. Rebound the ball under the net with your left hand and make a layup with the left hand. Rebound with the right hand and layup with the right hand. Just keep this going. Then do the same drill but wit reverse underhand layups.
This drill will teach you how to quickly grab the ball. And take a shot while taking the permitted two steps. And it makes sure you can think while you work, because you have to keep track of counting your baskets.
OK now we’ll move it back a little, to the foul line. For hot shots, you alternate between foul line corners, taking a shot at each corner. Stand facing forward, throw the ball to yourself, and fire quickly. These aren’t set shots! Try to make 20 as quickly as you can. Then, do the same thing, alternating corners, but begin with your back to the basket. Toss the ball to yourself, then turn and shoot.
This drill is a very simple fake that will help keep the defense on its toes. It will build your speed, and give you an option two for whenever the bucket isn’t immediately available.
For this drill spin the ball to yourself and catch it. Give a quick pump fake really selling it with your eyes, and by bending your legs. Take a relocate dribble to your right. Pull the ball and pop the shot as quickly as you can. Then do the same thing on your left side. Try hitting ten makes on each side.
It’s no problem if you don’t have a basket to shoot on, just shoot the ball up into the air for the last part of this drill.
For this one, split the three point line up into 5 different locations: baseline, top, other baseline, and in between the tops and baseline. All you’re going to do is keep shooting at each spot until you hit 5 makes – they don’t have to be in a row. Be sure to take one dribble and then pull up. Move to the next spot once you hit them all. Time yourself to see how long this takes, and try to improve it every day.
For this drill you’ll come from the right block, and throw up a right handed floater. Then come from the left block, with the left handed floater. Do this until you hit 10 makes on each side.
This move is great for creating space. Basically dribble the ball between one leg, and then rather than keep moving in that direction, move your legs in the opposite direction. Try this 10 times on each side. You can add in the shot at the end if you’d like. And be sure to keep your head and eyes up!
This drill will give you a back up option when the drive isn’t open. Basically you’ll just practice taking two dribbles with the ball and stopping on the foot closest to the ball. So if the ball is in your right hand, you’re going to drive for two steps, and then stop abruptly on your right foot. Take a punch dribble, and then lift up for the shot. You can also introduce a step back or change of direction before pulling up for the bucket. Anyway, try 20 of these on each foot.
Start on the left side of the court by the wing. Toss yourself the ball as if it’s coming from the top center. Grab it and rip it through, driving towards the baseline. Then cross over into your right hand, and sell the right drive. Then cross it back to your left, and finish with the left.
You can see one of Ja’s older workouts here, and notice this is a move he built to over time. But he was already working on his speed and change of direction back then.
This is a simple shuttle drill. Just pick two points on the ground (or use two cones) about 10 feet apart. Facing forward start right in the middle and take a sliding step to get to point. Then take slides in the other direction to hit the other point. And then turn and sprint it out towards the first point as fast as you can. If you want to be a great defender you have to be able to change direction at the drop of a dime, and change your movements quickly.
Whew, you did it! Be sure to hydrate and stretch afterwards. As well as reflect on what went well, and where you could have pushed yourself harder.
If you prefer a printable work out instead, we’ve got you covered there too.
Basketball guard drill PDFs are easy to print out, and give you a good template to work from. That way you can do a little less thinking (but not too little!) and really concentrate on seamless execution.
Be sure to pay attention to the details! That means always have your hands up waiting to catch the ball; ensuring your body posture looks like you’re ready to work; and being willing to hustle for your own rebounds.
Need a few more ideas to get inspired for your basketball guard workout? Look no further. Here are a few to get you in shape and playing smartly.
To become a good basketball shooting guard you need to practice your shot. A lot. At least a 100 makes six days a week. You need to have a fast shot speed as well, so work on your reaction time. And study the WNBA and NBA to see how to create space.
The best basketball drills are the ones that push you out of comfort zone. As well as building game experience with a lot of 1 vs. 1 play.
The drills WNBA and NBA players do are the Mikan drill, foul line hot shots, ducks right around the lane, and defensive figure eight just to name a few. Basically anything and everything that can improve their game!
To practice basketball defense by yourself work on your footwork, change of direction, and speed. One drill you can do is to create a square with 4 corners. Sprint diagonally to one corner, slide step to the next corner, back pedal to the corner behind you, and slide to the final corner. Then, start again, running the drill through 5 times.
Now you know a few simple steps you can take to improve your game. Hopefully you enjoyed your full guard workout. Up next, check out some of the best ball handling drills.
Written by Megan Mitzel, youth basketball coach, and Founder of Queen Ballers Club.
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