One of the favorite outdoor activities of many – pick-up basketball, is played on the playgrounds around the world and it’s widely spread almost as basketball indoors. It was hard to single out just 15 tips for it, but we came up with the list.
Some of these you already know, some of these you’ll need to practice at least a little, and some of it will come to you naturally. It really doesn’t matter if you’re a complete beginner or you know basketball. Choose your style of game and be persistent.
1. One-on-one game
When playing pick-up, there’s maybe five more players on the court beside you, sometimes less. Sometimes you need to step up, and most often you get the opportunity for that when staying alone with a man who’s guarding you.
Simply don’t allow for a screen and tell your teammates you’re going one on one this time. This is the most effective way of scoring when you’re playing with the players you never played with before.
Sometimes you and your new teammates just don’t get along, so there’s no chemistry. And since there’s no chemistry, there is no game, which means your ball movement sucks. So to win a game and stay on the court you need to play one on one. Also, it’s the opportunity for the other players and the crowd (if there’s any) to see you’re worth something.
If you learn this, you’ll most likely learn to score because you’ll get plenty of shots to try.
2. Learn at least 3 offensive moves
If you want to be good at this you need to have at least three offensive moves you can use anytime. Practice only one move every time you step on the playground until it becomes something normal and natural for you.
Do these moves in a different way and with different speed so that your opponents can’t predict what you’ll do. You can practice faking the defender and then shoot over him. Or to drive right, fake the jump shot and then going for a jump shot or lay-up. Learn how to crossover your defender.
If you’re not physically capable of any of these, practice shooting. That way you’ll always be a valuable asset to a team that picks you up.
3. Work on your condition
Look, you don’t have to run a marathon, but go for a run now and then if you can. You will not only play pick-up with ease but also feel the health benefits of running in all other daily activities.
It’s not important how good you are if you’re tired. If you don’t have enough energy to get you through two or three games of pick-up, don’t even start it, work first on your condition. If you don’t know if it’s a smart idea to run in your old basketball shoes, this article might give you an answer.
Don’t worry too much, just do a few miles now and then. If you can, work with weights too. If you’re physically ready, you can outplay even the players better then you.
Don’t ever play pick-up basketball hungry. Now, what you’ll eat is up to you. If this meal is right before stepping on the court, it shouldn’t be something that could slow you down before you even started.
My choice is always something easy on the stomach that enters fast to muscles but also with a decent number of calories to keep me steady.
I recently wrote an article about this. You can go here with bananas and protein bar, apple and whey protein, chocolate bar and almonds, etc. but make sure there are enough carbohydrates in there (sweets and candy excluded). If you’re having lunch before pick-up, just make sure you don’t overeat.
5. Don’t lose confidence in pick-up games because…
Nobody’s watching you; you don’t have any crowd, you’re not on TV, it doesn’t really matter how you play. So keep that in mind whenever you miss a few shots in a pick-up game.
Attack the rim, be aggressive on defense, and good effort will bring back your confidence. A bad rhythm can change, you just need to work for it. Even if you don’t play often, come there with the boss attitude and do what you’re good at.
6. Learn how to play pick and roll
This is a simple but so effective basketball offensive play easy to learn. It works both for shorter and taller players because both are taking part in this play.
Basically, the taller and slower guy sets a screen for the shorter guy (blocks the movement of shorter guy’s defender). Then he rolls from the defender into an open space, receives the pass from the shorter and faster guy, and now has to decide will he try to score or get the ball back to shorter guy for a shot.
Pick and roll is easy to learn and implement for everyone and does wonders on the court. This is the move that can solve the game very fast if you do it right. It can be a cure if you’re playing against shorter guys and you have at least one big man with you.
7. Be a team player
I think this is clear. It doesn’t make sense to shoot all the time. You’re there just for fun, make it as fun for others too. Passing makes two players happy, scoring just one. Always look for an open teammate, don’t be possessive with the ball. It can bother your teammates, and they can easily choose someone else to play that time or some other time when you see them on the court.
Don’t be a ball hog, you’re not that good. Even if you are, think about your teammates and how to get them going. Even if you win, your teammates won’t be too happy. Another good side is that you won’t get so tired. Split the energy consumption between yourselves in the team. It makes life easier.
8. Protect your ankles
I can stress this enough because safety is usually the last thing ballers think about when playing pick-up and the truth is that it should be the first. Ankles are the most vulnerable because there’s a strong possibility that opposing player jumps on your foot or that you slip on the uneven or slippery court.
The first thing you can do here is to watch out and play moderately aggressive or not aggressive at all. The second thing you can do if you’re more serious about pick-up is to choose the right shoes with adequate ankle protection.
Feet health first. They carry the whole body; you have to keep them safe. If you’re not playing in basketball shoes, it would be smart to wear ankle braces for extra protection.
9. Work for a shot
If you’re new to a team and you want to show your skills fast, it’s best to work for a shot running from side to side and around the screens set up for you.
If nobody’s setting up screens, ask for a ball and try to get your teammates open so they do the same later for you. In any case, you need to work for a shot. Even if you make a few shots, if you just stand there the other players or crowd won’t be too fond of you. Besides, you won’t have so much fun not participating in the game.
Work for a shot and good things will come to you. Not to mention you’ll earn the respect of teammates.
10. Don’t let them provoke you
This is the worst of all. If you let them provoke you, I’m a hundred percent sure that your shot will go down for more then twenty percent. A few men out there have cold blood and nerves that allow them to react peacefully in a given moment. Be that guy.
Let them do the talking, stay calm and continue as nothing happened. Use the adrenalin the right way, direct it in the right direction. Besides, if they see you’re angry, they’ll try to provoke you even more so you lose control. It’s like that; it’s in human’s nature to provoke and sabotage when trying to win in something. Be smarter.
11. Always go for a rebound
You must think that if you’re a shorter guy that you don’t have to go for a rebound, that it’s a big man’s job to pick up boards. But in pick-up basketball, since there are only max six players in the half-court, you have much higher chances for a rebound than in a regular 5v5 game.
Accordingly, there’s a more significant possibility for you to get an open shot quickly after the rebound. So don’t hesitate here if you want a win. It’s a common thing in pick-up basketball that the man who’s guarding you don’t even follow on a rebound, so you’re left alone, and you didn’t even expect it. Which leads us to another super important tip:
12. Please, make open shots in the paint!
Ok, this is one of the essential things that you just need to be doing. Open shots are what wins games. If you want your teammates and other players to respect you, these are the shots you want to make. It’s the worst when you need to play with a guy that can’t make a clear 10-foot jump-shot when the game is on the line.
Another thing you should improve if you’re not doing it right is the lay-up. To make those you don’t need much talent or crazy physical attributes, just practice them a bit when you’re alone. Everyone’s going to love to play with you if you make open shots.
13. Have an identity
This means: be good at something. Anyone can be good at something. Find that one thing you do good in pick-up basketball and do it often. Some guys just don’t like to shot because they suck at it and that’s ok.
Basketball has many elements, and you can be good in at least one. Shooting, passing, rebounding, stealing, blocking, setting up screens, dribbling, being aggressive in defense, etc. Pick your skill. You’d be surprised at with how much confidence you come to the playground when you know you have one skill that you can always use with your eyes closed.
14. Use supplements
If you do not have a properly balanced diet, this is probably the first thing you’d need to do. Supplements will correct nutritional mistakes in your diet and probably allow you to jump and run more and try harder in pick-up games.
Depending on how you eat, there are some supplements that can instantly make you feel better. If you’re looking to improve your nutrition, here’s the list of all supplements that actually work, according to science. Just don’t spend your money on supplements that don’t do anything for you.
15. Use your head
You need to remember that basketball is as mental as physical activity. Muscles are not enough sometimes. Moving without the ball, knowing when to find an open teammate, and making the right decision when the score is on the line, are just some of the things we meet with, in pick-up basketball.
When it’s a game-time, you need to think. If you have some problems in your life, basketball can be an occasional escape from them, but also these problems can affect your pick-up basketball game. Don’t worry about it and move on because everyone has a bad day. It will be better next time.
There you have it. Now you’re ready to go out there and implement some of these tips. There’s really not much more to it than this. Cooperate with your teammates, don’t be a jackass and enjoy this game. If you want to play in your driveway, check out portable basketball hoops on Amazon. It’s a brilliant option if you have a place for it somewhere around the house.