These little things can help basketball players improve

The old song “Little Things Mean A Lot” can also be applied to basketball at any level from middle school to professional.

Watching basketball being played this year, there are still little things that players and coaches don’t know or aren’t doing.

These important little things can really improve players games and are things they can learn to do just by using common sense. They don’t require talent and are things that will increase their basketball IQ so they can learn to make better basketball decisions by having good shot selection, slashing turnovers and reducing fouling.

It wasn’t my athletic ability which allowed me to be successful when I played college basketball in the 1950s, it was knowing little things and doing them.

Here are those little things that mean a lot.


— When guarding a right-handed player with the ball keep your left hand up (vice-versa against a lefty) and watch the players throat.

— When an opponent takes a shot, as soon as the ball has left the shooter’s hands, go find your player  to block him out to keep him from getting to the offensive boards

— When guarding a player without the ball, keep the triangle of yourself, your man and the ball. This eliminates back cuts.

— To reduce fouling, don’t block a shot until the ball leaves the shooter’s hands and don’t leave your feet until the player you’re guarding with the ball leaves his feet.


— Don’t leave your feet when you have the ball unless you are going to take a shot. This reduces turnovers

— To reduce the chance of hitting the rim when shooting, aim for the middle of the basket, not the front or back of the rim or just over the front of the rim.

— Make sure your feet are square to the basket when shooting.

— To stay in the paint longer, know the three-second rule. If you get the ball in the free throw lane and three seconds has not been called, then you have additional time to go to the basket. However, if you pass the ball out or dribble out, then it is a three-second violation.

— When in the block area for a power layup, use head or ball fakes or a combo of the two to get your defender to leave his feet before you do. This will get you to the foul line.

— Remember you shoot with your legs. You should bend your legs down and release the ball when your legs are straight, not before or after they’re straight. If you do this, then you won’t push the ball, but instead, you’ll increase your arc which softens your shot.

Over the years, the game of basketball has given me a lot of big things. I hope these tips will help all players.