Footwork: The Key to Reaching Your Potential

I was high school coach of Glen ‘Big Baby’ Davis. He led our program to two state titles and secured the first (and only) national ranking for any team sport in school history.  Glen had a stellar career at LSU; becoming one of the best to ever play for the Tigers.  He was gifted athletically and possessed a high basketball IQ.  However, what set him apart and became his most valuable attribute (according to NBA scouts who talked to me) was his impeccable footwork for someone his size and at his position.

Following his graduation and subsequent success, I began to place a premium on footwork for all players.  I believe the common adage ‘no foot, no player’ as fundamental truth for athletic success.  During the past decade, I studied other basketball and general non-sport specific trainers.  Resulting from acquired new ideas is a footwork progression I created and find helpful for players of all ages.

TIPS: All shots should be made ‘clean’ (no sound of rim).  Sets should be 10-25 repetitions depending on the age and skill level of player.  Use provided language in quotations to talk players through the foot movements.

Progression stage (A) “STEP-SLIDE-SHOT”
  • Player under net looking at feet; ball at chin with elbows out. Then WITHOUT a dribble, player takes one giant step to the right and slides left foot over shooting a two hand power lay-up.
  • Player jumps to get ball out of net with both hands and lands with both feet hitting floor at the same exact time.
  • Player is under net again and does same footwork/shot to the left side.        

One repetition = executing one to each side- right and left.                                                                                                                                                    

Progression stage (B) “STEP-SLIDE DRIBBLE-SHOT
  • Player repeats stage ‘A’ except he/she dribbles.                                                                                                         
Progression stage (C)  “STEP-POUND SLIDE-SHOT”
  • Player repeats stage ‘B’ except instead of a dribble, player pounds ball on the floor as hard as possible (hands never leave the ball until the player shoots).                                     
  • Player jumps to get ball out of net with both hands, lands on both feet and repeats movements on the left side.
Progression stage (D)
  • Player repeats stages A-B-C except he/she has eyes on the goal every repetition.                                                                                        
Progression stage (E) “STEP-HOP-SHOT”
  • Player looks at feet, keeps ball at chin with elbows out; takes one giant step right then hops to the side instead of sliding the left foot.  The idea is to side hop a distance long enough to shoot a power lay-up after landing on the ground with both feet at the exact same time.
  • Player then retrieves ball out of net with two hands and lands on both feet the exact same time.
  • Player repeats movements to left side.                                                                                                                                                                    
Progression stage (F)  “STEP DRIBBLE-HOP-SHOT”
  • Player repeats stage ‘D’ adding a dribble                                                                                                                                               
Progression stage (G) “STEP POUND-HOP-SHOT”
  • Player repeats movements using a power dribble which should not come past the knees.                                                                                      
Progression stage (H)
  • Player repeats stages E-F-G except he/she has eyes on the goal every repetition.

It would be remiss if I did not credit a myriad of smarter and more experienced coaches/personal fitness trainers for answering my questions about their techniques or drills and possible modifications for basketball players for both genders, any level skill set, and age.  

The progression is simply a way of organizing what others created tailed for my personal coaching goals and objectives. Any player could have perfect fundamentals yet will never reach his/her potential without superior footwork to augment their effectiveness.


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