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Baby Steps


NBA

What basketball skill should you work on first?


Basketball is wonderful as a spectator sport, with its pace and relentless action. For new players however, this can work against them, manifesting as a blur of activity and countless decisions. As they devote the requisite hours in working on their craft, what skills should they practise first to succeed? Without this aim, you will too often find youngsters just aimlessly hoisting hopelessly deep threes in the gym.


Every experienced basketball coach will tell you that learning the game starts with learning the triple threat position. This is an offensive stance that gets you ready to receive the ball, in a position that offers multiple possibilities. These myriad options are the basis of the fluidity inherent in basketball and require us to master a few fundamental skills.


The triple threat refers to the threat to shoot, pass or drive. By getting balanced and ready to pounce, you can put your defender on his or her heels. Of course, this means that you must possess all three threats. This is why youngsters are taught to first work on perfecting their layups and midrange jumpers. These two options combined give you the ability to draw your man close and to blow by them on the drive, or to punish them from outside if they give you too much space. In this area, the jab step is an essential skill that helps you to keep both options active.


Layups are the easiest shots in the game and you should aim to hit every single one of them. Beyond just putting the ball in the basket however, the drive requires you to have solid ball-handling skills, conditioning and footwork as well. You should be able to keep the ball low and under control with both hands, and ambidexterity definitely helps in finishing too.


Finally, the triple threat position dictates that you should be ready to pass as soon as you receive the ball. This means that you have to pay attention to your teammates’ positioning at all times, so that you can deliver quick, snappy passes to the open man.