How would an adult even begin brushing up on their basketball skills?
January 7, 2014 1:06 PM   Subscribe

26 year-old wanting to learn basketball fundamentals basically from scratch in NY. How do I even start?

I am resolving to relearn how to play basketball well enough to play in a social sports league and, at the very least, not be a sucking embarrassment/worst guy on the team.

Haven't played seriously since I was 14 or 15, not sure if I could even sink a jump shot or dribble with correct form, etc. Not in great shape either.

Yes, I realize I can watch youtube videos and learn basics but I'm trying to keep this NY specific, so: Where would I even start? Looks like most basketball clinics around here are for kids. Are their personal trainers that do this? Places to shoot around alone at least (seems like every open court is having a pickup game)?

NY basketball players, any advice?
posted by windbox to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (13 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Many of the Rec Centers have courts, and after a certain hour the facilities are adult only (at least in the Chelsea center, I know this is true).

Would you feel more comfortable joining a pickup game if it were adults?
posted by effigy at 1:40 PM on January 7, 2014

Response by poster: Not going to threadsit, but just to clarify - would love to join pickup games eventually, but I really think I suck so bad right now I'm not at that level. Not trying to ruin it for everyone else.
posted by windbox at 1:46 PM on January 7, 2014

I'm not from New York, but from google I found a similar question that pointed to private and semi-private lessons at the Chelsea Field House, including basketball. I also found basketball classes at Sokol...I'm not sure what level they're targeting, but the mention of drills and warmups may be up your alley.
posted by slomodinkens at 2:15 PM on January 7, 2014

I bet if you did a craigslist gig ad for a basketball tutor/coach you'd get a ton of hits.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 2:17 PM on January 7, 2014

I've been doing this myself (although I'm much older) and started by working on my jumpshot first. I watched NBA games to examine their form and would try to pay extra attention to my own, trying to get a higher release on my shot, actually jumping in the air when I shoot, making sure I follow through. It's pretty amazing when it starts clicking and I'm overjoyed whenever I swish several 3-pointers in a row. I also worked on the basics, layups (from both sides and hands), dribbling (although I can't dribble between my legs or anything fancy), foul shots, etc.

I don't feel comfortable playing in a pick-up game yet but I have played a few games of 21 with random dudes at the court. I didn't win but I did score some points and got to work on playing defense. I was completely worn out after two games. I may not ever get to the point where I play in a game but I'm fairly content shooting the ball by myself. It's amazing how much you can improve shooting 15-30 minutes a day.

The most important thing for me was finding a place where I was comfortable practicing, which was a public park with plenty of hoops. It's hard to find a gym where you can casually practice on your own without being in the way of people who want to play a game.

Have fun!
posted by perhapses at 2:43 PM on January 7, 2014

A few years ago I was asked to coach my son's 1st grade age team. basically kids with no prior skills (yes a few had a hoop in the driveway).
I went online and found a treasure trove of drills and instructional videos that could only require you to have a ball and a place to dribble and shoot.
Learn to dribble and shoot, and handle the ball as much as you can; and then watch pick-up to learn the speed of the game, the language, the flow and then just start to play. you will suck at first, but who cares?
posted by OHenryPacey at 2:46 PM on January 7, 2014

Personal trainers will definitely do this if you go to a gym with a court. I play at a YMCA in Manhattan and when there aren't games there are often personal trainers with one or two guys on the court doing programs that rely on a series of sprints, dribbling, and shooting exercises. I'm sure they'd be happy to design a program that worked you out while honing the basics of basketball skills. Then when you were comfortable you could play pick up (I'd recommend half-court indoors where there is a mix of ages and body types--you'd likely be welcome as long as you weren't fouling and hustled for rebounds!).
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:09 PM on January 7, 2014

By the way if you played even semi-seriously as a 14 year old you'll be surprised how fast it comes back to you. Before you pay for anything, give it a shot--go to an empty court (in the springtime!) and mess around with a ball. Don't forget to practice passing against a wall!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:14 PM on January 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

A general tip: in my experience, courts tend to be filled with pickup games only later on in the day and at night. Buy yourself a basketball if you haven't already, and get out there in the morning/early afternoon.
posted by signondiego at 3:44 PM on January 7, 2014

Find a friend who knows a little bit about fundamentals and go shoot around with them. Play one-on-one to work on things like defense, moving your feet, dribbling under pressure without the monotony of practice drills. If you're having fun, maybe take a class of basic strategies so you're not lost once you get on the court. Watch some NBA games to get an idea of shooting form, defensive stance, etc.

I'd focus on the fun first though. If you enjoy running, shooting, and the rolling strategy game of angle calculation (i.e. to cut off a pass or shoot off the backboard) the strategy will be of greater import.
posted by Turkey Glue at 3:51 PM on January 7, 2014

Is this the kind of thing you're looking for?

I just saw it last night in Santa Monica College's Adult Continuing Ed/Extension catalog, so maybe check those out. Seconding effigy's Rec Center suggestion, too.
posted by Room 641-A at 5:54 PM on January 7, 2014

I'm 57 and have been playing organized and pickup basketball since 5th Grade. I can tell you that it's been my experience that most people like me are quite understanding if you can't shoot, dribble or pass well. We suck at that often ourselves. But we will simmer inside if you don't know where to go on the court ... especially on defense. So yes, continue to practice your skills on your own, but I would second using Craigslist to get a coach or player to brief you on how to use and defend the pick and roll, how to set picks, how to space the floor and how to play help defense. Oh, and some basic court etiquette wouldn't hurt either. Being unable to shoot will hurt your enjoyment. Not knowing where to go on the court will hurt everyone else's.
posted by lpsguy at 8:19 PM on January 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

If you have problems shooting, check out Pete Maravich's shooting videos. They're very 80s, but Pistol Pete was one of the best scorers in NCAA and NBA history for a reason. He goes through the mechanics of shooting very effectively.
posted by reenum at 11:19 AM on February 1, 2014

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