How to play better basketball

Warm up and shoot like a pro with tips from professional player Aimie Clydesdale.

Written by Aimie Clydesdale
young basketball player ready to shoot

Basketball brings together lots of different skills and strengths. From speed, agility, fitness and teamwork, to ball skills like dribbling, defending and performing the perfect jump shot, there are many different elements that go into playing well.

So how can you be better on court? We asked Aimie Clydesdale, point guard for the Dandenong Rangers in the WNBL, for some expert advice.

What are the most important skills for a basketballer to develop?

The skills you need to be the best at depend on your position, but working on everything is what sets you apart. There is no shortage of things to work on: ball handling, passing, penetrating, three point shots, jump shots, defense, rebounding – the list goes on.

Of course, you need good ball handling skills. But one of the biggest elements in basketball is actually what you can do without the ball. There is only one ball to share among 10 players on the court for 40 minutes, so that means most of your time is spent without the ball in your hands.

You need to be able to read the game, move off the ball, do things to help your teammates like set screens and cut hard, and most importantly, play defence. So many things contribute to doing these things well – like fitness, agility, speed, strength and work ethic.

"Putting in extra time for shooting will make you better, and quicker than you think."

What are some tips for taking your game up a level?

There are a few things you can work on that will really improve the way you play:

• Focus on being a good teammate. Work on your passing, positioning on the floor and ability to play defence.

• Work on your shooting. Putting in extra time on your own for shooting will make you better, and quicker than you think. More time and shots does really equal better shooting in a game. The more shots you get up, the more automatic it becomes in a game.

• Own your strengths. Over time you’ll start to recognise what you’re good at. Bring to every game what you are good at and do it the best you can. The best thing about a team is we all have something different to contribute, and everyone putting in their bit creates a good team.

• Challenge your weaknesses. Don’t stray away from things because they aren’t your strengths. Players who are versatile are the hardest to guard.

"Being strong is important for many different aspects of the game, and it's also essential for helping prevent injury."

What stretches or warm ups should you do before you play?

I use a pressure point ball to loosen up my glutes and hips – it makes a huge difference. Then I use a roller to roll out my back, glutes, hamstrings, calves, quads and ITBs. I have a couple of static stretches I do every time for my back and hip flexors, then the rest is on the move – jogging, lunges, leg swings.

Recently I added in some activation exercises following a knee injury, so I think what you 'should' do in your warm up definitely comes down to the individual. You should do whatever it is you need to be ready to go.

What other types of exercise can complement your basketball training?

For my training, I focus on:

• Strength training. I love getting in the gym for strength training. Your cardio is extremely important as basketball is a fast game, but it is also a physical game. Being strong is important for many different aspects of the game, and it's also essential for helping prevent and rehabilitate injury.

• Core training. I had to learn about the importance of core strength the hard way – after two stress fractures in my back, pilates became my friend. The better my core became, the better everything else became. My body always feels much better after a pilates session!

Catch Aimie in action for the Jayco Dandenong Rangers when the 2017/18 WNBL season tips off this October.

Medibank is proud to partner with Basketball Victoria for the 2017 Medibank National Junior Classic. The tournament runs over 10-12 June 2017 and brings together Australia’s most talented junior basketballers in the under 12 - 18 age group. Find out more at vjbl.com.au

Written by Aimie Clydesdale

Aimie Clydesdale plays for the Dandenong Rangers in the Women's National Basketball League.

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