Basketball is a technique-heavy sport, with a lot of specialized skills to learn. There is a particular method for dribbling, for rebounding, for different types of shooting, for defense, for fast breaks, for boxing out, and for other specific areas of the game. For a beginner, the learning curve can be intimidating, even overwhelming. Fortunately, there are a few simple drills that do not require teammates or even a rim, and all will strongly benefit a beginner when practiced regularly.
Why it is important: One of the important maneuvers in basketball is the pass: The act of successfully distributing the ball to a teammate. It is not an intensive as a forward pass in American football, but still requires speed, precision, court awareness, and discernment. There are many types of pass in basketball, and each serves their own niche purpose.
How to use it: Find a solid wall and choose a few specific spots on it; if possible, draw these small marks in chalk. Then, simply practice hundreds of passes, aiming for those particular locations. Try passing from close, then scoot back, then back even farther. Try different kinds of passes, especially overhead passes, chest passes, and bounce passes. Then, even when you feel that you have mastered these basics, move on to behind-the-back and other passes. Some may say these are just trick moves, but in reality, their unique positioning and misdirection can be an asset on the court.
Why it is important: Basketball is a game that is constantly in motion. With several teammates and opponents on the court with you, and gameplay seldom ceasing, it is of vital importance to be able to quickly see and track what is going on. For some beginners, they excel with their court vision; that is, until they get the ball! Then, they are forced to look down in order to dribble, being paralyzed and stuck to a limited area because their dribbling requires focus. In a competitive game, particularly in organized play, any player who needs to look at the ball in order to dribble is a devastating liability for their team.
How to use it: Simply tie a blindfold across your eyes and start dribbling. It is okay to favor one hand, but eventually you must be able to use both. Practice dribbling in place, with each hand, then begin moving while dribbling; first in circles, then walking to and from a predetermined position, obviously avoiding running into anything. Eventually, move on to dribbling through a leg, behind your back, etc. Soon, it will all become second nature, and this will translate into much better ball-handling skills on the court.
Why it is important: One of the most essential fundamentals of basketball development is the idea of soft hands. Many people learning the game will carelessly slap the ball when they try to dribble, resulting in mistiming and lack of control. They will be unable to pass and catch effectively, as the bouncy orange ball ricochets right off their palms. Soft hands are absolutely key in basketball, and this drill develops them quickly. You simply cannot perform it unless you get soft hands.
How to use it: This is much easier shown then written, but the moment it happens it will make complete sense. With your feet a little more than shoulder width apart, bend your knees, and place the ball on the ground equidistant from your feet. Then, you will dribble the ball, but in a very specific pattern. First, you still use your strong hand, in front of your legs. Then, you will use your weak hand, in front of your legs, while your strong hand moves behind you. Next, your strong hand, behind your legs, while your weak hand moves behind. Finally, your weak hand, behind you, as your strong hand moves up front. Each dribble is done rapidly, and keeps the ball very low to the ground. It may take some time to be able to do it steadily and consistently, but once you are able to, you have officially developed soft hands, one of the foundational skills of basketball development.