Improve Your First-Step Quickness

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Here's a series of drills that I've found effective for helping athletes get to the rim on a regular basis. Incorporate them into a warm-up or pre-game routine, or use them in a speed workout two to three times per week.

Two-Inch Run With Ball

  • Stand in athletic posture with ball in hand and start dribbling at baseline
  • Move two inches forward with each step while keeping ball in front of body
  • Explode out of last step with long stride and hard dribble; go through shooting motion but don't release ball
  • Finish in athletic position to train stability and balance

Coaching Points: Stay on balls of feet // Explode out of last step
Sets/Reps/Rest: 2×4, rest 30 seconds

Walking Lunge to Triple Extension With Ball

  • Descend into Lunge while bringing basketball to chin
  • Shift force to lead leg and extend hip, knee and ankle while driving opposite knee to chest
  • Press ball up to ceiling with both hands
  • Hold form through extension, drop into Walking Lunge and repeat on other side

Coaching Points: Focus on form // Push through big toe to activate glute
Sets/Distance/Rest: 2x half court, rest 40 seconds

Reverse Pivot Drop Step

  • Face training partner in triple threat stance at top of key with back to basket
  • Training partner will cue you by touching left or right shoulder
  • React with left or right reverse pivot, drop-stepping in direction cue was given
  • Push through pivot foot and stride to rim
  • Take last step and transfer energy while vertically jumping to rim with singleleg max jump

Coaching Points: Remain balanced and in athletic stance through pivot
Sets/Reps/Rest: 2×8, rest 30 seconds

Below is a bonus first-step quickness drill used by the UCLA football team.


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