When I was little, I had the privilege of growing up in the golden era of Chicago Bulls basketball. Between 1991 and 1998, the Bulls won the championship six times. We hit the 2-peat, then the 3-peat, and then we repeated the 3-peat twice. I remember a 6 year old me yelling out of the windows of my house after the first championship. I had upgraded to banging pots and pans by the time I was 13 and we completed the second 3-peat.
I wasn’t the greatest at sitting down to watch sports with my dad when I was young, but a basketball game always caught my attention. Yes, I loved Michael Jordan before Space Jam premiered in 1996. And also, I idolized Dennis Rodman, perhaps to the detriment of my ability to follow the rules in school. Something about his unabashed embodiment of who he was and what he believed in struck a cord with me.
But, I wasn’t the athlete in the family. My comfort zone was books and writing. My brother was the athlete, seemingly able to pick up any sport with ease. So, as an adult, I started to think about what it would mean to get into playing basketball. What could I expect from a first basketball lesson or practice? Sure, I could take a masterclass from Stephen Curry, but I have always been more of a kinesthetic learner. The kind of person who not only needs to know gym tips for beginners, but also needs to go and try it right after reading. Read on to find out what you (and I) might expect from a first lesson.
1. Ball Handling
Learning to handle the ball is basic for any sport. In basketball, that means learning to dribble the ball. Dribbling consists of using one hand to consistently bounce the ball in a controlled way up and down the court. The person who is dribbling the ball and advancing the play is known as the ball handler. Being a proficient ball handler is particularly important if you want to eventually hold the position of point guard, as you will be responsible for controlling the offense. However, no matter what position you hold on the court, you will need to be an adequate ball handler as no position is exempt from dribbling. Therefore, you can expect that dribbling is one of the first skills you will work on in lessons/practice.
Another fundamental aspect of most sports is footwork. Basketball is no expectation. In basketball, footwork is important because proper footwork is a good way to be quick and agile on the court. Footwork is also important on both offense and defense. It allows players to create more room to shoot, and it allows players to force their opponents into making quick changes or cutting them off. Footwork works in conjunction with dribbling to make both skills more effective. Likely, in your beginning lessons/practice, you will work on footwork skills like hopscotch, a four-step run, or running around an obstacle. Additionally, you’ll likely work on the ready position for shooting.
In order to score points in basketball, you have to shoot the ball. Shooting is fundamental for any player to learn. Whether you are on defense or offense, you need to be ready to grab the ball, set your feet, and take the shot. In your first lesson, you will likely learn proper stance, how to train your eyes on the target, the proper grip for the ball, how to use your legs for power, and the importance of follow through. That probably seems like a lot for the first lesson, but you need to lay the groundwork to become better and better at shooting.
Pivoting could easily be categorized with footwork, but I made it a separate category because it’s really a very specific skill most players work on over time. In essence, players are not allowed to move on the court unless they are dribbling. Players can rotate on one foot (pivot) without lifting it to make another action, such as shooting or passing. While the pivot foot must remain planted on the floor, the other foot has freedom to move as much as the player pleases. This is what makes pivoting a more specific kind of footwork. Because players will ideally be able to handle the ball and pivot on either foot, it’s important that they start working on pivoting early on in their basketball career. This is why you might start working on pivoting as early as your first lesson.
In basketball, your primary goal on defense is to stop the other team from making a basket. Your secondary goal is to create a turnover so that your team now has the opportunity to score a basket. There are many different kinds of defensive strategies to learn, such as man-to-man, zone, or full court press, so you will need to start learning the basics of defense from the get go. In your first lesson/practice, you might learn about boxing out players, how to use your footwork to create opportunities for turnovers, or how to rebound and avoid the opposing team retaining control of the ball. Depending on how intensive of a program you have selected to enroll in, you might even begin learning some defensive strategies!
No matter what program you enroll in, remember to give yourself some grace. You are learning a new sport and lots of new skills that go along with that. Those skills take time to learn and perfect. You won’t be Lebron tomorrow, but after your first basketball lesson, you will be better than you were today, and that’s definitely worth something! If it turns out that basketball is not meant to be your sport, rest assured that you gave it a solid effort. However, keep up the practice and before you know it, you could be the next Black Mamba.
So, if you’re ready to take your first basketball lesson, look no further than HOKALI. We offer beginner through advanced lessons for people of all ages and abilities. We have highly experienced coaches who will help you learn the basics of basketball and give you the skills needed to improve your game after a few lessons. Connect with us today to book your first basketball lesson in San francisco!
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