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Secrets to Improve Basketball Footwork

ByQueen Ballers Club|@queenballers| January 1, 2024If you buy something from a link on our site, Queen Ballers Club may earn a commission.
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Basketball footwork is so critical to getting buckets. “I can get anywhere with one dribble. I can get anywhere with no dribbles. My footwork matches up with my ball handling, which is what I think the difference is between watching somebody that has a nice handle, and between somebody that has a great movement pattern. My movements match my handle.” said NBA All-Star Kyrie Irving on the etcs podcast with NBA All-Star Kevin Durant. “I figured out that I’m more effective with both my hands working simultaneously, and my feet working simultaneously, than just being able to just move somebody with my shoulders, with my head, with my eyes…I go home and I work on that creativity and that imagination.” Kyrie continued.

He has also mentioned watching Kobe Bryant’s footwork, and how it inspired him to work on his own footwork, in an interview with NBA TV. Kyrie said he would practice footwork drills every day after practice and incorporate them into his game. He has also credited his time playing soccer in his youth for helping him develop his footwork and agility. And he has spoken about the importance of having a strong core and overall body control in improving footwork. So today we’ll take a look at the secrets to improving your basketball footwork. We’ll walk through 10 highly effective basketball footwork drills, other creative ways to improve your footwork, and even some tools you can get to help your footwork. So let’s get after it!

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Drills for improving basketball footwork

“The amount of time, the effort, and the consistency it takes,” Kevin Durant recapped are the keys to Kyrie’s success. So here are some drills for improving your basketball footwork that you can do as often as you’d like.

1. Continuous between the leg split throughs

Warm up with a simple one. For this drill you’re going to alternate splitting your legs and passing the ball between them. Keep going until you can get 20 in a row without any fumbles. Here’s a quick demonstration:

The next progression is to shoot off the continuous betweens. So try to get 3 betweens and then take a shot. Get 5 makes coming off a between on your right, and then switch to shooting off a between to the left.

2. Practice split drops

Next you’re going to practice splits, as this is a great setup to go into any move or counter. A split drop is basically when off your dribble, as you dribble the ball, you split your legs and drop lower to the ground. If you’re dribbling with your right, as the ball hits the ground lined up with your left foot touching the ground, you’re going to split your legs to get low to drive and land with your back foot (your left foot) first by a touch and then your right foot. That way you have power in your left leg to propel you forward rapidly. Here’s James Harden showing what the end result of a drop should look like:

James Harden drop

You can watch him do the whole series live here:

So for this drill your goal is to just get 5 drops off dribbling with your right, and 5 drops off dribbling with your left. Then do drops and finish with a layup (get 5 makes on each side). Then do drops and and go into a shot (hanging the ball off your drop and repositioning your feet to shoot) – 5 makes each side. If any of those series is too easy get 5 continuous makes (no misses).

3. Crossover and jab in the opposite direction

For this drill you’re just going to do a crossover, say from your right to left hand, and then jab to the right. Then crossover from left to right, and jab to the left. So you’re just jabbing the opposite direction from the direction where you sent the ball. Do it continuously up and down the court a few times. Here’s a breakdown of how to do a cross jab (but don’t go to the basket off of it for this drill):

4. Continuous snatch backs

So for this drill you’ll just stand in one place. You’re going to do 10 snatch backs using your right leg, and then 10 on your left. For the snatch back you plant your back foot and reach your front foot out forward (you want your foot to have a little bit of an angle so it’s making it easy to stop rather than keep moving forward), as if you’re going to drive. You bring the ball out past your knee with your right arm, and then bounce it pulling it backwards. Here’s a walk through:

5. Between the leg three times to pound dribble

For this one you’re going to be moving up and down the court. This series is just three between the legs continuously, and then a pound dribble. Here’s what a pound dribble look like:

6. Jab series drill

For this drill you’re going to jab 3 times, and then make a layup. You’ll do that 5 times on each side. Then you’re going to jab once, and get into a shot. You’ll do that 5 times on each side as well. Here’s Carmelo Anthony explaining the proper way to do effective jabs. Watch how you can jab in any direction, jab off a spin, etc. And see how the ball needs to move with your body, your shoulder need to stay low, and how your pivot foot bends about 45 degrees off the ground to sell the drive.

7. Dribble balance drill

For this drill you’re going to dribble up and down the court, and pause on just one leg periodically. Ideally have a partner that says stop for you, so it’s unexpected. Here’s what it should look like (well, it should look better than this because even when the coach is demonstrating he can’t do it :)):

OK once you’ve mastered that, try this series of dribbling drills. You’re going to dribble as fast as you can to half court and back (while staying in as straight of a line as possible for all these). Then dribble between the legs as fas as you can to half and back. Now behind the back on every dribble as you run to half court and back. Then do between, behind, between, behind, etc as you run. Then between, behind, spin as you run as fast as you can. If you mess up it’s OK – in fact it’s great! Keep going and work through it.

8. Heavy step drill

The next thing we’ll practice is your heavy step, now that you have nice balance on one leg. So for this move, you dribble and plant your foot, and then swivel on that leg opening up your hips and pausing, and then get to the basket or into a shot. WNBA player Skylar Diggins-Smith demonstrates very clearly below, and helps you think about critical factors like what you’re doing with your off arm. For this drill, you’re going to get 5 makes coming out of the heavy step into layups, and then 5 makes getting into shots. And then switch sides and repeat.

9. Skip drill

This footwork is really simple – you’re just skipping once while dribbling. Here’s Kelsey Plum demonstrating below. The skip just acts as a hesi, and make you a bit more unpredictable. For this drill, you’re going to get 5 makes coming out of the skip into layups, and then 5 makes getting into shots. And then switch sides and repeat.

10. Under drag drill

Here’s NBA trainer Jordan Lawley demonstrating how to do the under drag and walking you through a series of drills to do to master it. You’ll begin by throwing the the ball to yourself, catching it wide with one hand, with your legs split. You’ll go between your legs and jump into your shooting position, and take your shot. You’ll progress to catching the ball in a wide base stance, ripping the ball to either side across your body, drag, take an inside dribble step, and extend the outside foot to get into space, and then do a foot switch before getting off your shot. For each drill in the series get 5 makes to your left, and 5 to your right.

Other ways to improve basketball footwork

In addition to the above basketball drills, you can also add in tons of other training to continue improving even more rapidly. Here are some creative ways basketball players can get better footwork:

Accessories and equipment for improving basketball footwork

Here are a few simple tools and basketball accessories you can pick up to assist in your footwork development:

Practice your basketball footwork

Go make your game more like Kyrie Irving’s! Try these drills out, and get better today. Up next, learn how to do the pro hop.

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