Basketball speed is a coveted trait. Many athletes attempt to develop it inefficiently, because their workouts miss the three major elements of speed: acceleration, deceleration and change of direction.
By incorporating basketball movements into their speed work, players will be able to improve their performance in games. The following drills, great to add at the beginning of practice (after a dynamic warm up), will help tremendously in increasing the speed of your basketball team and players.
Acceleration is the first speed element basketball athletes need to consider when training. In simple terms, it's the amount of time it takes to start running. An explosive first step makes you more dangerous, both offensively and defensively. My favorite drill for acceleration and first step quickness is the Tennis Ball Drop of my mentor, Alan Stein.
In my opinion, this is the most important element of speed, and its significance is misunderstood. Deceleration is the ability to slow your momentum so you can quickly change speed or direction. It can make up for a lack of top-end speed on offense, because it allows you to get your defender off balance; and and unbalanced defender is less effective at guarding the ball. My favorite drill for deceleration is the Full-Court Closeout:
This drill is great for not only deceleration but also for closeout stance and conditioning, providing lots of value in one drill.
Since it incorporates both acceleration and deceleration, change of direction should be trained last. Change of direction drills are important, because the faster you can change direction, the more likely you are to get by your defender. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the faster you can change direction, the harder it will be to score against you. (See Get Faster: Change of Direction and Agility.) Here is a basic but extremely effective Change of Direction Drill: