The approach to basketball training can vary widely. There are several different philosophies and theories about training. What works best, how you should go about it, or how you should track progress to name a few of the differences. But as you will see in this article there are plenty factors that coaches and trainers believe are the most essential to improving your performance on the court. With all of that being said, I reached out to over 50 coaches and trainers in the world of basketball training, to ask what is the most essential skill when trying to improve your basketball skills. You can read through the massive list of expert answers below, then start implementing these same practices into your own workouts! After reading this article, let us know what your think is the most essential skill when trying to improve your basketball skills in the comment section.


  • 55 Coaches and trainers advice on improving your skills

  • What coaches think is important when trying to improve your skills

  • Strategies to improve your skills

  • Different training techniques

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"At the most basic of skill development the most essential skill that goes overlooked is Balance and Body Control, if you can even label it a skill. I say this because the first thing every player wants to do is improve handles and get a better jump shot. What they fail to realize is that neither can improve without having better balance and body control. The greatest players of today all have superb balance and amazing body control when utilizing there skills and that's what youth players fail to see. I spend a lot of time teaching these keys before I even come close to teaching the other intangibles and honestly I see a significant difference in players who are able to position themselves with strength and decisiveness than those who can not. Overtime Athletics trainovertime.com/

"The most essential skill when doing anything that will improve yourself is getting your mindset in a space of "K can" and leaving I cant behind. Confidence is key to improvement with anything you do in life. so with training for basketball, the method doesn't change. Come in the gym, confident but still be ready to work harder then you've ever worked and be ready to learn. Understand that you will make mistakes. Mistakes are the best learning tool in LIFE! You learn from mistakes." rysebasketball.com/

"There's three things to help improve your game. you got to be mentally tough, you got to love to compete, and you have to be smart. being mentally tough allows you to push through and do whatever it takes to become better. Loving to compete makes you want to compete against the best players and that's how you learn by playing against other great players. And you have to be smart, have a high basketball IQ know how to train no whats useful and whats not. Being able to listen and put yourself in places where you can be seen that's all part of being smart and understanding who you are as a player and what you need to get done for your team in yourself. You stay consistent doing these things and you'll be fine." Dashletics basketball dashletics.com/

"That's a loaded question with a lot of potentially great answers but for me the most essential skill is not athletic. It's mental. Players that want to be better have to have or find the desire to work everyday and out work the competition. There is no substitute for putting in the right work." Scott Clark youtube.com/thelab1am

"I think the most essential skill to work on is shooting. If you can really shoot the ball at any position it helps you play into your strengths because it keeps the defense honest. Example if your a great slasher like Russell Westbrook and he consistently hits his jump shot when the defense plays him tighter from the outside he will then play into his strength of getting to the basket and putting someone on a poster." Ben Bellucci bba315.com

"Basketball IQ. You must know the game and know your personal (KYP before you can master the game with skill alone." Great Lakes Potential youtu.be/RDxyNZvmcQ4

"The most essential skill is ball handling. Being confident in your ability to handle the basketball and not commit turnovers will always get you minutes. Also having the ability to beat defenders off the dribble will open up shots for yourself and your teammates. But ball handling is always worked on with finishing and shooting because being great at one skill isn't enough being well rounded will take you to that next level." BeginNow Basketball beginnowbasketball.com/

"My most essential skill that I preach is to have confidence first and foremost in yourself. Believing in yourself and what you are capable of goes beyond and personal achievement you can have on the basketball court. Basketball is merely a platform to develop and train your mind, body and soul int believing that anything is possible once you put your mind to it." Pierre Pierce dblptraining.com

"The most essential skill when trying to improve your basketball skills is your basketball IQ. Every player has some type of talent and ability, but what separates you from the rest is your ability to read the game. Sharpen the mind & your skills will improve. Be smart & efficient." Coach Tamar Adams

"The most essential skill for me is work ethic & confidence! How hard are you willing to work for what you want. Your confidence comes from your work. From what you practice. The more work you put in, the more confident you will be. Don't practice until you get it right, practice until you can't get it wrong.  Bee creative. Be different. Don't try to be someone else. Be the best version of yourself!" NickParsonsTraining@gmail.com

"Good communication skills. The ability to listen to and learn from coaches, trainers and fellow athletes and provide feedback by actions, attempts and verbally. The strongest athletes tend to be part of the process and the strongest teams tend to know one another. Communication is not about liking one another it is about knowing one another. Knowing strengths, weaknesses, behaviors and tendencies allows everyone to work together to improve. It is paramount to getting groups of individuals on the same page. It is a big part of why people and therefore organisations fail or succeed. Having an open mind, listening, learning, providing honest feedback with verbal and through action and improvement puts people teams and organisations on a path to success." Coach Craig Rowe youtube.com/user/ozswoosh

"Being a coach and skill development trainer. I've had the pleasure of working with some really talented players, and some that needed a solid foundation to work on. Whether I had really good or sub par teams, one thing was constantly preached. Decision making! I've watched skilled players work their way out of the rotation by making poor decisions. And I've watched unskilled players work their way into the rotation with excellent decision making. Basketball IQ is the most underrated skill." 3T Sports Performance 3tsportsperformance.wordpress.com

"The most important things is paying attention to detail. All ball players will come with different skill sets, but as a trainer I love being able to show a kid a drill once and see them do it correctly. The worst thing is seeing a coach draw up a play and a player ask his teammate what do I do after breaking the huddle. If you can focus on the small details you will have the knowledge to learn anything a coach throws at you making you a more coachable player." Coach Pichon. main.possibletraining.com/johnpichon/

"While some players might be more experienced with some skills than others, it is best to have a strong skill in dribbling. Dribbling is an important skill for all basketball players. This skill will allow you to move up and down the court, maneuver past defenders and execute plays. Proper dribbling requires ball-handling skills and knowledge of how to spread your fingers for ball control. It is also best if you know how to dribble equally well with both hands."  David Knight finishstrongbasketball.ca

"The most essential skill in basketball is footwork of the athlete. Footwork is the foundation of basketball and everything begins from there. Dribbling, shooting, passing, rebounding, defending but other skills as well like running, jumping, acceleration, deceleration, stopping, pivoting etc."  Exeter Academy of Basketball

"You always need good feet to be a great player. But what I teach here is going back to the root of basketball basic fundamentals. The kids don't have the basic's here, I only can speak for the kids in this area." thespclinic.com/

"To me the most essential skill anyone can have is being able to pay attention to detail, being able to stay focused and having the heart to push yourself and finish drills! This is the most important because if you're not able to listen to the smaller technical this, you will never be able to apply what you learn in an actual game!" Ambitious Skills Training

"I believe the most important skill is confidence and consistency one can learn just about anything but mastering it to be able to use it in a game, especially when tired, takes countless hours of reps and confidence in yourself knowing you put in the work." TGC Basketball

"Handling the ball under pressure. A player who can stay composed and make plays against pressure defense will not only make the team, but they will get in games when it matters most." Coach Ben Stirt courtvisionhoops.com/

"I wouldn't say it is actually a specific but is the willingness and hunger to want to learn as much as possible and the ability to create an insane work ethic to put in the time to work at your craft. Fall in love with the process! #WeWorkin" Coach Jay 3dathletictraining.com/

"I think confidence. & building character. Without the confidence to try the first time. & dedication to know that 1 day you will be the best or ever be great... But always hope for greatness." Coach MarShonn 

"The most essential skill is commitment. Commitment to do whatever it take to get better" Hoopsrecruitusa

"I would have to say repetition because you gotta put in the time and sweat to really improve your game. With the right drills and exercises you can see a difference along with a high quantity of Quality reps, and that is your key to unlocking your full potential as a basketball player."ipeakperformance.com/

" I don't believe that there is a specific skill that is most essential when trying to improve your over all game. Instead there are two main things that you need to focus on. Those two things are confidence and mental toughness. If you implement these two things to your game, you will see an immediate difference right away. If your more confident, you will have more trust in your game and you will use the stuff that you work on in the gym during training or practice. Low confidence holds players back all the time. Being mentally tough will also change your game right away. Being mental tough mean that your fighting through being tire or sore and your constantly pushing yourself. So now when your working out by yourself, instead of giving up as soon as you get tired, your now pushing yourself past your limit and comfort zone because you know that your mentally tough and can handle it. There is no essential skill that will make you a great player out of no where. you should always be working on every aspect of your game especially your weak points, but confidence and mentally toughness will change your game right away." Coach Tyler eastcoast845.com/

"In my opinion the most essential skill for trying to improve your basketball skills would be work ethic. Determination, effort and listening are also skills in my opinion that cant be taught and are very valuable also, not sure if you consider that a skill but from a coaching stand point to me it is practically a requirement when attempting to improve in any aspect. Every individual is different and every individual may not be striving for the same goal as others but if you are willing to improve and have certain attributes you are searching to excel in then you must be willing to put in the right kind of work day in and day out and go about what you're trying to acquire the right way." Coach Matt Ensminger m.facebook.com/hooptrainingbyme/

"Practice. Practice gives you the skills to outplay and outwit your opponents on the basketball court also if you have the right attitude, put in the 100% effort and show desire to work hard your skills will definitely improve." Hoop Planet 

"To me the most essential skill to have when trying to improve your game is mental toughness because without it you can not get through a entire workout. Your mind will always give up before your body but if your mind is trained to never give up and keep on pushing then its going to be pretty tough to stop someone that has that type of hunger to improve and that also improves him or her as a player and a person as well because this can also be utilized in life." Coach AD youtu.be/3VM11oxb2cY

" The most important skills, to me are simply fundamentals and mentality The best players have a mindset that no matter what they are going to compete at the highest level they can or believe they can. They are constantly working at their skills and the most skilled player keep the game pretty simple by sharpening up their basic fundamentals. Great players make the game nice and easy and will out smart other athletes." Mark Lowe skillsacademylo.weebly.com/

"Footwork: Your game is built from the ground up If we have good footwork we can build our game upon a strong base." GC Hoops

"Shooting, it allows my entire game to open up. If I'm shooting good I'm tough too guard." Arizona Grassroots Basketball Arizonagrassroots.org/

"It is the basketball IQ as a strength & conditioning coach I realize I can create an elite athlete through my training but basketball IQ is what makes them Elite on the court. Basketball IQ is what separates good basketball players from great basketball players." two01basketballacademy.org

"To be honest , its not really the skill that matters when you start to improve with skill training. I can make your jumper better, your handle tighter, and even increase your jumping. The most important skill is desire. I can't want it more than you do. Somebody have some don't but that's what I look at when deciding to train them or not." Legacy Hoop Academy m.youtube.com/watch?v

"Footwork. The entire game depends onit. Shooting, defending, ball handling catching triple threat, scoring moves, etc. The examples of where footwork effect the game are endless." Amplify Hoops amplifyhoops.com/

"In my opinion, the most essential and sometimes over looked is footwork. More specifically, being able to move your feet in rhythm with your dribble." Adrian Howell

"The most essential skill in my opinion is your determination because you can be shown all the drills and techniques in the world but if you don't have determination/will to go out and use those resources they are useless.:" TR Elite Basketball youtu.be/n_Gw5liC_sg

"The most important essential skill when it comes to basketball is fundamentals and having the right mechanics and footwork. Without those assets your really a step behind the people who have them." Coach Strong

"Shooting and finishing. You can have all the moves and footwork you want, but if you cant put the ball in the hoop it doesn't matter. You don't need a trainer to get in the gym and get shots up!! Shoot the ball!!" d2d_training

"That is a tough question to answer because it depends on the player asking. Every coach and team needs a strong ball handler, shooter, rebounder and defender. Offensively a skill set that is always valued is a great handler. Great ball handlers tend to have better court vision and make the necessary passes. If I had to pick one skill set to prioritize that would be it." CA Hoop

"The most essential skill to improve your basketball skills would be improving your ball handling skills. If you are able to create for yourself and others it automatically make you a factor on the court. Also something that might not be a skill but is very important is a player confidence and being mentally strong. A lot of basketball is mental and if you are able to overcome the mental aspect the learning aspect becomes easier." Coach David MV Elite Basketball facebook.com/mvelitebasketball.com

"Repetition... Doing the same things over and over again may seem elementary but it it key to teaching muscle memory. Especially when it comes to shooting. You can always do things at different speeds and difficulty but if you build a workout regimen that works for you and improves your game, then keep doing it over and over." Gerald Randle III facebook.com/fullcourttraininginc/

" I would say the most essental skill in skill development is decision making. I.e. Developing shooting is much more than developing technique, but also about scanning the defense before you catch, determining time and space, possibly time and score. The best way to develop decision making is through live reps that are as game like as possible. 2on2, 3on3, 4on4, 5on5. For every next level of play, you given less time and space, you must be a high processor of conceptual information." @Jon_Giesbrecht twitter @School4Hoops Instagram

"The most essential skill when trying to improve your basketball skills is the ability to use proper footwork. Proper footwork will help ball handling, shooting, secondary moves, and even defense. Without footwork, the skills can't develop." Bracy Skills Clinics youtu.be/LrTRkSy6U1k

"I would have to say the most essential skill when trying to improve a basketball player or my skill set would have to be an conditioned mind set to never quit and to work hard to reach your goal! You have to be willing to sacrifice and put in work on your off day!"Coach Howell Elite Workouts coachhowell.com/

"The most important skill is patience. Basketball is much like everything else in life, you do not get to a higher level skill overnight. It takes hours, days, weeks, months, and sometimes years to become a competitor. Without patience and determination you're likely to give up." Coach Erik Johnson

"There are a lot of things essential when trying to improve on basketball skills. Preparation is very critical. You have to maximize every second to get better. By doing that evaluate your game. Look at what you really need to work on, study what works, and also schedule gym time with a created workout plan. Athletes must put in lots of reps,, concentration, and determination to improve daily." Marqua McCuller m.youtube.com/watch?feature

"The most essential skill to improve is the motivation of the player. That's because without this skill the most difficult things during the learning process of a new skill is so hard to get successful results. Moreover, motivation increases the concentration and fun of the game."  Wings to Play

"Work ethic. If you dont have a good work ethic and a purposeful workout your defeating the purpose of getting better." Corey Frazier events.puresweatbasketball.com/corey-frazier-skills-academy_-march.cfm

"Balance is always essential no matter what skill you are working. This is important to skills training because it allows t=for you to play faster and more consistent. Balance starts with a good basketball stance, and the stance starts with the feet and ends with the hands and eyes. 1)Feet always shoulders width apart and even 2)Knees bent in a sitting stance with hips at the same level as the knee 3)Shoulders should be square to the basketball 4)hands in shooting pocket awaiting pass or in triple threat with the ball 5)Eyes should be up the floor locating the second defender." Basketball Life Enhancement basketball-life317.com/

"In my personal opinion the most essential basketball skill is footwork not only does footwork apply on offense but it's equally important with defense as well. When I first got into coaching hearing the term footwork usually post players was one of the first and only positions that came to mind but as you study and learn more about the game of basketball you realize that it is an equally important factor for other positions and on both ends of the court. Working towards improving this particular skill especially improves ball handling, defense and your overall offensive play." Coach Philnicka Scales m.facebook.com/TripleThreatOKC/?ref=bookmarks

"The most essential skill when trying to develop your skill mentally would be resilience. Growing as a basketball player takes time. Getting better at basketball and having it translate to the game, takes trying new things you have worked on in situations where you normally wouldn't and learning and reacting from it. As far as the most essential skill physically it would be a players footwork. Everything you do in basketball requires great footwork. Whether it be defense, ball handling, or shooting, or rebounding good footwork is a must." Marcus Norman P5EliteBasketball.com/

"In my opinion the most important thing for someone to have when trying to get better at basketball is the belief in oneself. Whether a player is attempting a difficult drill, defending and stopping a good offensive player, or taking a big shot or any shot for that matter if you don't believe in yourself then the battle is already half lost and you'll ALWAYS be at a disadvantage." THE LAB thelabbasketball.com/

"The most essential skill when trying to improve your basketball skills is attention to detail. Its the little things, the details, that will give you an edge over opponents." theeatacademy.com/

"The most essential skill when trying to improve your basketball skills is ball handling. If you can handle the ball you can get to any spot on the court. Even if you are a great shooter, you still have to advance the ball up court. A lot of college coaches want players that can create their own shot. & that ties into ball handling. Great ball handlers can get into the lane, increase passing angles." DeSean Johnson traintoperformhoops.com/

"Teamwork is the most essential skills because no matter how skillful each player is, without teamwork they would still fail as a basketball team at the end of the day. But if you would consider a practical skill, it would be handles. without handles you wont be able to control the ball hence the game properly resulting in high turnover rate." IRA training

"Commitment. Basketball is a beautiful game with layers of depth and detail -- more so than most sports. When developing skills, struggle is inevitable. Commitment is a necessary component of improvement, but in this sense it means a willingness to make mistakes, and embracing the struggle that coincides with your development (aka "the process"). And when skills are developed, that commitment will help turn those skills into weapons." Matt Brewer


The best jump training system out there VERT SHOCK

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10 Common Mistakes People Make When Basketball Training

(Book Recommendations)

Old School Grit- The willpower to persevere with passion and a sense of purpose is what matters most in whether a person succeeds or fails, is what this book is all about.

COMPLETE CONDITIONING FOR BASKETBALL -This is a very comprehensive book on basketball specific training schedules and methods.

How To Be Better At Basketball In 21 Days- This book has basketball drills that can help you develop basic skills, tips on how to increase your basketball shooting accuracy, and how to toughen your mental state so that you play with confidence, courage, and control.

 Audible- You can listen to them if you don't like to read

*** Common Themes Of The Most Essential Skill When Trying To Improve *** 

1. Consistency 

2. Confidence.

3. Faith that it will workout

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