10 Solo Basketball Drills to Hone Your Skills

Basketball always has, and always will be considered a team sport. Practicing together builds chemistry, and it’s necessary if your team plans on hoisting the Trophy at the end of the season. But when your teammates aren’t around, you can also work on your game by practicing alone, or playing in Solo competitions like Run the Racks.
Some Solo drills are obvious, like practicing your free throw. Red Bull Shooting Coach Chris “Lethal Shooter” Matthews starts with a simple warm-up. He says, “You’re learning the feel for the ball, the feel of your body, the feel of how to breathe. To warm up, I’ll go to the free-throw line and try to make 40 to 60 shots in a row. Then I’ll step back.”

But aside from shooting, passing, dribbling, and rebounding are all skills that you can work on when you’re by yourself. Here are 10 solo drills to get you started.

10 Solo Basketball Drills to Hone Your Skills


Full Court Ball Handling Skills

Ball handling, or control of the ball, is one of the most important and first learned skills in basketball. To perform this drill, all you need are cones and a basketball. The cones should be set up in different spots on the court. You will start by dribbling to each cone.

There are plenty of moves to choose from when you arrive at each cone. You can crossover, go between the legs, or go behind the back, before heading to the next cone. This drill will help you deal with pressure in the backcourt, and improve your ability to change direction while handling the ball.

Figure 8 is a classic ball handling drill and it’s fairly simple. Start with your feet spread apart and the ball in your right hand. Then dribble the ball through your legs to your left hand, and immediately dribble it back to your right hand. A slight variation to the drill is moving the ball from right to left without it touching the ground. This drill will improve not only your handling, but also your hand strength.

Glass Cleaner is a drill that helps players improve rebounding. To perform the drill, start on the left or right block. Toss the ball off the opposite side of the backboard. Then immediately spring up, secure the ball with both hands, and land on the balls of your feet on the opposite block you started on.

Spin outs are a practical shooting drill. Start in a spot of your choice, with the ball in your hands, and your back to the basket. Now backspin the ball only to a spot of your choice, Sprint to that spot, grab the ball, turn and shoot. This drill is excellent if you want to improve your catching and shooting.

There are a variety of drills you can perform with the use of chairs. Chairs can serve as defenders or screeners. In this particular drill, the chair will serve as a screener. Starts with the ball at the top of the key, while the chair is placed on either elbow, that’s where the free throw line meets the lane line. You’ll dribble the ball to the middle and Veer towards the elbow that the chair is placed on. Once you pass the chair, shoot the ball. This drill will improve your ability to shoot off the dribble.

In this drill, the chair is placed on the baseline about 17 feet from the basket. The ball starts in the chair. Start on the opposite baseline and Sprint up to the elbow, then back down the baseline to where the chair was placed. Then pick up the ball and shoot it from the baseline. This drill will improve your ability to catch and shoot, and also sharpen your ability to move efficiently without the ball.

The dribble layup drill is one of the first drills players learn. Start on either wing and simply take a couple of dribbles towards the basket and finish with a layup. If you’re on the right wing, you should dribble and finish with the right– and vice versa. This drill may seem kind of juvenile, but finishing at the rim is very important and should never be taken for granted.

Practicing defense alone is difficult but not impossible. You can practice your defensive stance and slides alone. In basketball, a “defensive stance” means spreading your feet a tad wider than shoulder width, dropping your hips, bending your knees, and having your hands up in a ready position. Start in a running position and Sprint to half court. Once you reach half court, get in a defensive stance and slide diagonally (backward) until you reach the sideline. Now touch the line and change directions sliding to the opposite sideline. This drill not only helps defensive footwork, it’ll also improve conditioning.

Free throws often make and break games from the youth level to the professional level. Every player that plays basketball needs the ability to shoot free throws. To do this drill, start with a score of ten. For every free throw you make, you get one point. For every free throw you miss, you’ll lose a point. The goal is to get to 20 makes.

Suicides are one of the oldest drills in the book. Start on the baseline, Sprint to the near free throw line, then back to the baseline. Then Sprint to half court and back to the baseline. Now Sprint to the far free throw line and back to the baseline. Finally, you’ll Sprint from baseline to baseline. Suicides are one of the best ways to push your limits and up your conditioning.

Great basketball players train hard whether they’re with their teammates or on their own. Luckily, there are plenty of Solo drills that will translate to 5on5.

In the words of Chris Matthews, staying “locked in” when you practice is key. He says, “…through adversity, through hard times, just continue to focus on your goal. Everybody has to work on their craft every single day.” He adds, “If you’re not afraid to fail, you can make history.”

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