Basketball is fun to play in pick up games in the yard with your pals, or you can join an organized league. Different positions rely on different skills — point guards should focus on their dribbling and passing, while centers and forwards should be powerful rebounders and shooters. Outside guards need to be quick and strong to make those 3-point shots. Want some basics?
How to Dribble. Bounce the ball on the floor with your strongest arm. When it bounces back, use your fingertips to stop the upward motion and push it back to the floor, keeping it about waist high when it bounces. Once you've mastered dribbling in place with one hand, switch to the other and begin to move around as you dribble. Practicing dribbling by moving the ball in a figure eight between your legs is one good way to build your skills.
How to Pass the Ball. Face the person you're passing to, with your head up and knees slightly bent. Spread your fingers wide and hold the ball at chest level, elbows out. Extend your arms, take a step toward the person you're passing to, and snap your wrists forward and up as you release the ball.
How to Shoot a Layup. Start about 10 feet in front of and to the right of the basket. Dribble toward the basket, timing it so that your last step is with your left foot. Holding the ball with both hands (left in front, right in back), jump off your left foot, let go with your left hand, and extend your right arm fully to release the ball at the top of your jump. Keeping your eyes on where you want the ball to go really helps land this shot!
How to Cut, Stop, and Land a Jump. Ease up on your cuts or pivots by making them less sharp to avoid rotating your knees. When stopping, rather than coming to a sudden stop or bringing your weight down on one foot with a single step, use the "stutter step" to slow yourself down by taking two extra steps. When landing your jumps, do it softly by bending your knees over your feet (which should be pointed straight ahead) when you hit the ground. Instead of landing flat-footed, land on either the balls or toes of your feet and rock back toward your heels.
Did you ever wonder how Michael Jordan seems to hang in the air longer than everyone else when he goes up for a slam dunk? Well, actually, he doesn't — it just seems that way because MJ holds on to the ball longer than most players before shooting or dunking. Hang time depends entirely on the force generated by a player's legs when he or she leaves the ground (how hard they push off the ground) and the jump's height (the higher the jump, the longer the hang time). The average NBA player can make a 3-foot high jump when going up for a shot or dunk, with a hang time of less than 1 second (.87 seconds to be exact).