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How to Be a Pro Basketball Player

Three Parts:Honing Your SkillsStarting Your CareerGoing Pro

There are 60 freshly-minted pros that come out of the draft each and every year. Why shouldn't you eventually be one of them? Start honing your shooting, defensive, and team-playing skills now and you could be. Practice, practice, practice. Eat, sleep, dream, and breathe the game. Once it's flowing in your veins, you just may be ready to play with best players the world has to offer.

Part 1
Honing Your Skills

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    Learn all the game's rules like the back of your hand. The better you know the sport, the better you'll be able to play, knowing what to expect and how to work on potential problems. You can ask just about anyone who knows the sport, but also check websites, ask coaches, and join a team. Play, play, and play some more until it becomes a part of you.
    • Understand that basketball is both a physical and mental sport. They are both extremely important. If you lack in one area, focus on trying to improve in that area without forgetting the other. For example, if you need to work on your dribbling, but just finished working on your dribble, dribble up to the hoop from half-court, and shoot a layup.
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    Get yourself in the best physical shape possible. Get down to a gym and start working out. Lesser players can beat the greatest talent if they can outrun and outlast their opponent. Michael Jordan is quoted to have said that the best players are good scorers, good defensive players, and good team players.[1] To be all three, you've got to be in great shape. Here are some exercises to help you out:
    • Push-ups. Lots of push-ups and in different varieties, like fingertip push-ups. You will be amazed at how much better you can palm the ball if you have strong fingers. Even if you think you don't have large enough hands to palm the ball, it can be done if you have stronger fingers.
    • Core workouts. Work on your core strength with abdominal crunches, leg lifts, planks, lower back extensions, etc. If you have a strong core you will be able to take a hit and still finish strong at the rim.
    • Jump rope. Seems like a sissy activity, but it works! Jump rope as fast, long, and hard as you can. The better you can do this, the faster footwork you can have on the court.
    • Jumping. Increase your vertical leap. If you're fast, agile, and can jump, you can get rebounds even over a taller player. Most super-tall guys don't put all their effort into rebounds since they don't have to. You can beat them if you work at it.
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    Dribble like a madman. If you ever find yourself having to concentrate or focus on your dribbling, then you're not good enough to go pro. You should be able to feel where the ball is at all times, have perfect control over it, and be able to do anything you can with it at any moment
    • Spend tons of time dribbling the basketball. Try dribbling up and down the court or wherever you're practicing. Push yourself to dribble faster, lower, harder, and even more out of control. You'll improve your mobility on the court and your ability to play with the best of them.
    • Don't let the ball touch your palm. Hold the ball with your fingertips, especially when dribbling.
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    Work on your shooting skills. Take a look at the best shooters in the game and model their actions. Hold your right hand on the back of the ball, while the left is on the side guiding it. Try practicing by lying down and shooting your basketball straight into the air, so it comes back down onto your hand. You can do this for hours, while listening to music, or just not sleeping. The ball should feel like part of your arm, extending into the hoop.
    • Shoot free-throws until you can do it in your sleep. There is no reason you should miss any shot that is undefended. Practice shooting when you're cold and when you're totally winded. After running lines and being so tired you can't see straight, that's the perfect time to shoot free-throws.
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    Use "BEEF" when shooting. This strange little acronym is everything that should be on your mind when shooting. Here are the details:
    • B=Balance. Make sure you are balanced before you shoot.
    • E=Eyes. Keep your eyes on the basket while you shoot.
    • E=Elbow. Keep your elbow in towards your body when you shoot.
    • F=Follow Through. Make sure you follow through with your shot; your shooting hand should look like you are about to reach into a cookie jar. Even though you may not be able to have elbow strength, always try.
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    Add "C" to your "BEEF." C stands for concentration and awareness. This is the most important part of shooting. Focus on where the ball is going, not paying "overt" attention to who's around you or whether you should shoot/pass instead. Awareness is somewhat "covert and tricky" – it is called "unconscious" playing (as if flying on your internal automatic pilot). With this, you know about other players and the options and plays, but are not showing concern outwardly or consciously when "hearing steps." Options become instinct by practicing and applying it.
    • Avoid having too much rear-view-mirror thinking or paranoia about what is behind you or in your blind spots. You may need to do some angling, not dribbling exactly straight, and then develop your peripheral vision to watch those areas without focusing on them consciously. Peripheral vision is learned and expanded/extended by using it as with any skill/talent that needs to be automatic in its application.
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    Learn to shoot with one hand. To shoot with one-handedly correctly, first make sure you flex your legs for power and your hands for touch and put spin on the ball ("English").
    • Line your hands up with the black lines on the ball. Use the pads of your fingers and hold the ball in the center with your writing hand only. Make sure you can see light through all of your fingers. This is your ideal position.
    • "Touch" includes shooting/passing harder or softer depending on the situation and on which side of the basket you are shooting/passing because of ball control issues . "Flex" entails not being stiff/rigid or over-extended.
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    Practice spinning the ball and using your non-dominant hand. Place your off hand on the side of the ball, realizing that the hand on the side may put some different control and English on the ball. Then shoot (with your CBEEF) making sure most of the force is coming from your shooting/writing hand.
    • If English (or spin) is new to you, it will require practice and experimenting to see how it affects your shots "rimming-out" and checking your banking shots. This effect will depend upon your touch and which side of the basket you happen to shoot.
    • Practice spin on both sides of the basket. If you are at least somewhat ambidextrous (using either hand), practice both hands as the power vis-a-vis the "off hand" for offside shooting (on the non-writing-hand side of the basket).
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    Do drills to improve every aspect of your game. All of the practice you can get will help you become the best player you can be. Practice does not make perfect, but perfect practice makes perfect. Here are some drills you can start with:
    • The Superman Drill. If you have a court this works better, if not you'll have to guesstimate the distances. On a court, start on one baseline (underneath a basket) and run to the first perpendicular line (the nearest free throw line), then drop and do 5 push ups. After that, stand and run back to the original baseline, then run to the next perpendicular line (the 3/4 court line). Drop and do 10 push ups and continue on that same idea for every line on the court, back and forth, until you reach the first line again. Again, it is best to shoot at least 10 free throws after the drill while you are tired.
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    • The Kill Drill. This is a full court, down and back timed drill. If you're really out of shape, start with 4-6 "down and backs" in 1 minute 8 seconds (starting at 1 baseline running to the other and returning to the original). Sounds like a sufficient amount of time until you run the 160 feet (48.8 m). After you build up some stamina, try 13 down and backs in 68 seconds. Again, shoot at least 10 free throws while fatigued.
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    • The Buddy Drill. Have a buddy grab a basketball and start on a corner of one baseline, with you guarding him. If you feel comfortable, keep your hands behind your back. Have him dribble diagonally down the court with you forcing him to change directions as he dribbles down the court. You'll need to learn how to "slide step" down the court to stay ahead and direct the person with the ball.
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    Always be a confident team player. Look for the open man, and pass the ball, even if you want to make a shot. The better your team does, the better you do. you not only have to be a shooter, but a team player as well. Don't hog the ball; eventually your other teammates and coaches will get annoyed and you'll be labeled as a selfish player, risking it all for the bench.
    • And whatever you do, don't lose your confidence. If you're a shooter, shoot until you get your touch or rhythm! If you're playing the big D, clear your mind until you can anticipate movement. Eat a protein and carbohydrate rich meal, take a breather, and get back at it if you're feeling discouraged. No path to greatness has ever been easy.

Part 2
Starting Your Career

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    Start as young as possible playing on teams and attending camps. There are babies who are practically born with a basketball in their hands, and these are the kids that grow up to be the pros. It's best to start as young as possible to get in as much experience as you can. Start young and basketball will be flowing through your veins.
    • Being on the school and community team is great, but consider attending basketball camps like Five Star Basketball Camp, National Basketball Academy, and Elite Hoops Basketball Camp.[2] For a few hundred dollars each season, you'll work with the best of the best in your region and start honing higher level skills.
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    Be a star on your high school team. In order to get noticed for the college level (your next step), you need to stick out like a speck of gold on your high school's basketball team. This doesn't mean being a ball hog – in fact, not being a team player is something that'll work against you. It simply means taking risks, going for the shot, feeding off your teammates' strengths, and making it happen.
    • In addition to being a great player, you've also got to be coachable and easy to work with, too. If you're keeping others from playing their best, you won't get recruited. And if you have weaknesses your coach is trying to improve but your attitude keeps you from listening, you won't get recruited. Work on your skills as a player, but also work on your skills as a team member and someone who's still learning.
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    Keep your grades up. If you're the best basketball player that ever walked this earth you may be able to get away with terrible grades, but most colleges are looking for a player who can also manage themselves academically, too. You don't have to have straight A's, but you need to prove that you can handle going to school and playing a sport at the same time. This goes for high school and college. It's your academics that are allowing you to play.
    • And the higher your grades, the better your chances at getting a basketball scholarship (or any scholarship, for that matter). You'll be a role model and a model student that any college would want to recruit.
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    Up your basketball IQ. When coaches talk about the players that catch their eye, it's not just their sweet three-pointer or their ability to dribble the ball like it's barely touching the floor. They're also looking for players with a high basketball IQ; that is, not only are they good at the game, but they understand at a very intricate level how it works.[3] They're constantly thinking of all the ways to make the next shot, how to overcome obstacles, and they have poise and keep to a rhythmic, calm tempo. There's much more to basketball than just basketball.
    • Part of a high basketball IQ is also about never "getting out of the game." Even if the ref calls a shot you disagree with, you're back on the floor immediately in the zone for the next play. A player with a high basketball IQ handles every obstacle with dignity and respects the others on the court at all times.
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    Get noticed for a scholarship. If you're incredibly lucky, scouts may come to you. If they don't, you have two basic options:
    • Talk to your coach. Does he have any connections when it comes to colleges? Does he think you're scout material? What do you have to do to get noticed?
    • Send out letters to coaches at your desired schools. Express your interest in their program, provide why you are interested and why you think you'd e a good asset to their program. Give them a highlight tape and invite them to come watch you play. Be sure to include your contact information for further discussion.
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    Start playing at the college level. Players very, very, very, very, very rarely go straight from high school to the NBA. Most have some college or finish their 4 years. It's during this time that you'll play against a higher-caliber opponent and truly hone your skills under pressure. It's up to you during this time whether you want to finish out college or try to go pro before your academic career is up.
    • Which in college, it's a good idea to coach in the off-season, keep attending camps, and always, always, always keep playing and staying in shape. Even though the season doesn't last all year long, if you're taking this seriously, yours does.

Part 3
Going Pro

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    Consider getting an agent. If you're really, really good and you've been seriously molded for professional play, consider getting an agent. They have the connections you need to get your name noticed and potentially be a part of next year's draft. They'll get your name out there and, hopefully, money in your pocket.[4]
    • That being said, if you get an agent during your college career, you lose your college eligibility – even if you don't get drafted.[5] Consider this very carefully before you jeopardize the next couple years of your life.
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    Attend pre-draft camps. With an agent in tow, you'll likely sign up for the pre-draft camps at the NBA level. There, you'll make a ton of connections and get your name and your face known. If you can handle the pressure, this may be the exposure you need to turn pro.
    • This will also grant you the opportunity to get feedback on your draft position, who's looking at you, and what your potential for getting drafted is. The only thing you can do in this situation is to keep calm and play your best.
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    Get signed. There are two rounds of the draft. One by one, players get chosen by teams, also one by one. In other words, you get one chance to get drafted. If you're willing to accept it, fantastic. If you're not, you could try being a free agent and go from there, or not play in the NBA.
    • If you're semi-okay with it, you could negotiate pay or terms of your contract, making it shorter if you're looking to leave sooner. However, not being willing to take what you're given is pretty rare.
    • If you're a second-round draft pick, you may not make it onto the opening night roster. Know what you're in for and what the terms are before you assume anything.
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    Alternatively, play for the D-league or overseas. If you weren't picked for the draft or you were unhappy with the outcome of events, you could play for the D-league of the NBA or overseas. The D-league is similar to the minor leagues and you could, in theory, get pulled up into the NBA.
    • Overseas, however, is a completely different story and a completely different machine. Your agent will help score an interview with this one and you could get picked to go somewhere exotic (or not so exotic) for the next year. If you're willing to move, it can be a pretty well-playing gig.
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    Know that a staggering few make it professionally in any sport. Your odds of making it into any pro sport just aren't good. Point blank. Sure, it's possible, but you the odds aren't exactly in your favor. In fact, around 1% of all college players (men and women, though it's microscopically higher for men) make it to the pros. That means out of you and 99 others, only one person will get chosen. If you don't make it, you're in good company.
    • Plenty of talented basketball stars still make a living out of their passion coaching, teaching at camps, or playing in different countries and different leagues. Just because you didn't make it professionally like you envisioned does not mean you have to give up your career.


  • Immediately after running or doing any drills, shoot free throws. This will help you to be able to shoot better after a few times up and down the court.
  • Drink plenty of water before and after the game.
  • One of the most important aspects of basketball is ball control, learn how to do tricks, and move the ball where you want to. Be creative, don't be afraid to shoot the 3-pointer. Try to control the ball with both hands, it's easy.
  • The key to be a Pro Basketball Player is to train hard even in rainy days.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for help! Everyone needs help at one time or another.
  • Watch a lot of NBA basketball games and other pro leagues; this will help to learn new moves.
  • Always get motivated (pumped up) for a game. Listen to some music that will pump you up, then play it in your head as you play.
  • Juggling can improve your Ambidexterity, Hand-Eye Coordination, Depth Perception, Peripheral Vision, Nero-muscular Balance, Quickness Under Control, and Concentration for such activities as Basketball Free throw shooting.
  • Always stretch before and after playing.
  • Making a basketball team is more than just about your skills. Show that you are willing, communicate well, are on time, respectful to other players, and can handle and use constructive criticism to become better.

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Categories: Basketball