Basketball Fundamentals: What are they and what are they for?

As in every good story there is always a beginning and in basketball it could not be different. Every player must start with the basics basketball Fundamentals in order to begin his path to success.

This would be to start with the rules and fundamentals of basketball, knowing them and practicing them daily will lead to improve each fundamentals and therefore improve your game, both individually and as a team.

Great players had to go through this cycle before reaching the elite level they did, Kyrie Irving had to practice his dribbling quite a bit, Stephen Curry takes over 1,000 shots a day and Steve Nash had to master his vision of the game to be able to assist the way he did.

In this post I will show you the basics of the game, their importance and why you should improve each of them, so let’s not waste any more time and let’s get started!

What are basketball fundamentals?

To sum it up, the fundamentals are the basis of every player, they are movements that facilitate the development of the game, these fundamentals allow us to move with the ball, pass the ball to teammates to make an offensive play more quickly and effectively.

There are also fundamentals applied to defense which aim to reduce the effectiveness and development of the opposing team.

According to established definitions, it is said that there are only 4 fundamentals:

  • Dribbling.
  • Throwing.
  • Passing.
  • Defense.

The 4 Basic Fundamentals of Basketball

These technical fundamentals of basketball are pillars for the player and therefore also for the game, they are the ones that allow fluidity to the game and to the players on the court.

Each has a different execution and function, some are fundamentals for offense and others for defense, some even function in both facets of the game.

I have classified the basic fundamentals to better explain them to you, they are as follows:

1. Dribble

This is another of the most important basketball fundamentals, it consists of kicking the ball against the floor and getting it back to your hand, doing it repeatedly allows you to move around the court and dominating it with both hands should be your priority.

The ball must always be dribbled with only one hand, you can dribble and change hands but you cannot dribble repeatedly with both hands. You cannot stop the dribble and then dribble again, if you do this you will lose possession by committing the “double dribbling” penalty.

Protection dribble

There are several types of dribbles or dribbles which you can perform depending on the situation in which you find yourself, the variations of ball handling are as follows:

  • Protection Dribble: In this dribble we protect the ball from the defender in front of us, we usually use a low dribble position and dribble at the height of the knees at most, you can use the arm opposite to the dribble as protection and also the legs.
  • Control Dribble: This is the most common dribble, it is the one that is usually used when there are no defenders nearby, it is a dribble that usually does not exceed the waist.
  • Speed Dribble: This is the dribble that requires more agility and dexterity, it is used with quick movements to get away from the defender. This type of dribble also uses the famous Crossover and quick turns.

2. Passes

This allows the ball to pass from one player to another on the same team efficiently and quickly, which facilitates forward movement on the court during offensive plays.

In order to improve the development of this foundation, it is recommended to use medicine balls in practice because they increase the strength of the arms and wrists.

Basketball fundamentals - back pass

There are a variety of types of passes that can be used during the game as required. Let’s see what these types of passes are below:

  • Baseball Pass: This pass is made with one hand, usually used for long passes from court to court.
  • Hand to Hand Pass: A type of short range pass in which the ball is placed in the hands of the teammate, it is used when the passer and the receiver are very close.
  • Chest Pass: One of the most commonly used passes in basketball, it is executed by taking the pass from the chest with two hands in a straight line to the receiver.
  • Overhead Pass: This type of pass is most commonly used by tall players such as power forwards and centers after a defensive rebound, it consists of throwing the ball to a close teammate with two hands above the head with some strength.
  • Pique Pass: It is a pass that is made by throwing the ball to a teammate, but hitting the floor before he receives it so that it gets more strength and speed and thus is not so easily cut, this pass can be executed with one hand for long distances and two-handed for shorter distances.
  • Back pass: this pass is executed by passing the arm behind the back at hip level, with the opposite hand to the receiver’s trajectory. This pass is very useful for players in pivot movements.
  • Alley-opp pass: It is a very popular pass nowadays, it consists of throwing the pass very close to the hoop (basket) so that a teammate receives it in the air and finishes the play with a dunk or a layup if he is in an awkward position or is of small stature, all this before falling.
  • Elbow Pass: This pass was made popular by NBA white chocolate Jason Williams, it is to make the pass behind the back, but automatically deflect it with the elbow of the opposite arm to the original trajectory.

Did you know?

About 400 passes can be made during a basketball game.

3. Shots or Throws

The shot or basket shot is the offensive play par excellence, it consists of scoring points by putting the ball in the hoop (basket) of the opposing team.

There are two aspects that define the efficiency of a good shooter, these are the physical and the psychological. It is essential for a shooter to keep these aspects under control, since his effectiveness will depend on it.

Suspension shooting

As expected, there are several types of shots that can be used to make a basket in the opposing team’s hoop, which are:

  • Free throw: It is the shot taken after a personal foul in attack or after a technical foul to an opposing player or team, it is made from the pump in a firm position without being able to take the feet off the floor. Each basket made with this shot is equivalent to 1 point.
  • Suspension shot: a shot that is executed after a jump, being at the highest point of the jump you execute the shot to the basket, the shot is made with the dominant hand and with the opposite hand you hold the ball to improve the aim and give a better direction to the shot which you finish executing with a wrist movement with force in the direction of the rival hoop.
  • Tray shot: Also known as double step shot, it is a shot that is executed in motion after the double step trying to get as close to the hoop to place the ball smoothly in the basket. It can also be executed by leaning on the backboard. It is very useful to master this shot with both hands.
  • Hook Shot: This shot was the main weapon of Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Jr (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) with which he dominated in his time in the NBA, the shot consists of throwing the ball with one arm while attacking the basket, the shot comes out above the head forming a kind of arc in the launch.
  • Dunk or Dunkeo: similar to the layup, but in this case it is done with more strength, the ball is introduced jumping in front of the hoop and introducing the ball with one or both hands until it comes out from underneath, it usually requires a good jumping ability for this shot, it is one of the most spectacular and even has its own competition in the NBA All-Star Games.

4. Defense

We have seen basketball fundamentals that were oriented to the offensive part of the game, now we come to the defensive part.

These fundamentals are also key to achieving excellent results in games, since a good defense generates more opportunities on offense.

The defense consists of preventing the opposing team from scoring points, the position for the defense is usually with both knees bent facing the attacker and with both arms open to try to steal the ball, intercept a pass, suffocating defense to cause a loss of possession, cause erratic shots and thus get the defensive rebound and more.

In defense we also have several basketball fundamentals, some at the individual level and others at the team tactical level, these are the following:

  • Stealing the ball: this occurs when a good defense is developed against the opponent and we manage to strip him of the ball, making him lose the offensive possession.
  • Block or Block: This is when the opponent tries to make a shot at the basket and we manage to deflect it before the ball starts to go down, if the ball is already down it would be a goaltending.
  • Defensive Rebound: When the opponent misses a shot at the basket and we get the rebound.

Other Important Fundamentals

We have already seen the 4 most important basic fundamentals, but these are not all the fundamentals of basketball, there are others that I think it is important to mention, as they are a crucial part of the game.

These other fundamentals are as follows:

Screens or Curtains

This is based on making a kind of shield or wall to stop or hinder the work of our defender, so that we can take better shot options and attacks to the hoop in a more unrestricted way.

One of the most popular plays with this foundation is the pick and roll, a play exploited by the Stockton-Malone duo of the Utah Jazz in the NBA in the 90s. There is also the pick and pop which is another variant of this foundation.


We have talked before about defensive rebounding, but there is also offensive rebounding which is the bounce that occurs when a teammate misses a shot, but we manage to get the ball, thus maintaining offensive possession.


The pivot is a movement used mostly by centers and power forwards, they are rotating movements with one foot as a pivot and the other foot being able to move in any direction to try to get away from the defender, the pivot foot cannot separate from the floor or possession is lost.

If the ball is received with both feet on the ground the player can decide with which foot to pivot, but if, on the contrary, the player receives the ball with one foot on the ground and the other not, he must pivot with the foot that was already on the ground at the moment of receiving the pass.

Why should basketball fundamentals be improved?

I think by now you understand the importance of practicing and improving your fundamentals to become a better player and start on your way to becoming an excellent player.

Without further ado let me expose you to some of the benefits you would get from improving your basketball fundamentals:

  • You will have better performance in the game.
  • It will increase your confidence as a player and this will generate better actions and decisions on and off the court.
  • It will greatly reduce your stress.
  • Improve your motor reaction.
  • You will develop more agility and better reflexes.
  • You will have a better understanding of the game.


We are coming to the end of this great post about the fundamentals of basketball that every player should know, so tell me which fundamentals you liked the most, were there any you didn’t know yet? Do you know more basketball fundamentals that are not in this post?

If so, let me know in the comments and support us by sharing this content on your social networks if you found it interesting!

Esteban Gomes

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