Basketball Skills, Activities & Safety

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  • 0:03 Skills, Activity, & Safety
  • 0:29 Skills: Offense
  • 2:17 Skills: Defense
  • 2:54 Activities
  • 5:12 Safety
  • 6:08 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

Who hasn't been impressed by basketball greats like Magic Johnson and Larry Bird? In this lesson, we'll define the different offensive and defensive basketball skills and highlight activities to improve them, as well as review safety practices. We'll also delve into the mental side of the sport.

Skills, Activities, and Safety

Have you ever been mesmerized by an athlete leaping from near the free throw line to slam dunk the ball or watched a great shooter score from thirty feet away from the basket? Basketball is an incredibly athletic game requiring technique, skills, strength, stamina, and mental abilities. Through a myriad of fun activities and good safety practices, there are many ways to teach the game of basketball and improve student skills in the game.

Basketball skills can be broken down into two primary categories:

  • Offensive skills: shooting, rebounding, passing, and dribbling
  • Defensive skills: blocking, stealing, and again, rebounding

Skills: Offense


Shooting consists of launching the ball toward the basket in an arcing motion with the purpose of it going in and scoring points. When shooting, keep your eyes on the target, place the ball on your fingertips (not the palm), place your feet shoulder width apart, place your elbow under the ball, and then follow through and hold the finish.

Offensive Rebounding

An offensive rebound is obtained when the team that just shot the ball misses and then recaptures the ball again. As a general rule it is tougher for a player to get an offensive rebound than a defensive rebound because after a shot misses the opposing team's players are closer to the basket and in a better position to grab the ball.


A pass happens when one player throws the ball to another player with the purpose of setting up a play or taking a shot. In basketball there are two main types of passing. The first type happens when one player throws another player the ball and the receiving player then scores a basket. The player who threw the ball gets credit for an assist.

The second type of pass is just a basic pass from one player to another. There are bounce passes that hit the floor one time, chest passes that are thrown from the player's upper body, and the spectacular alley-oop pass where one player lobs the ball above the rim and a second player grabs it out of midair and slam dunks.


Dribbling is the art of bouncing the ball up and down off the floor with one hand, in order to advance the ball up the court. It is illegal to touch the ball with both hands simultaneously, a.k.a double dribbling. While dribbling, a player should protect the ball to prevent the defender from stealing it. Tips for dribbling include: not looking at the ball, pounding the ball hard, and using the free arm as a shield.

Skills: Defense


The block is another spectacular crowd favorite. It occurs when the offensive player shoots and the defender swats the ball away, blocking its trajectory to the basket and preventing any points from being scored.


The steal, or taking the ball away from an opposing player to gain possession for your own team, requires quick hands and great timing. A player can steal a pass out of midair or from the other team while someone is dribbling.

Defensive Rebounding

A defensive rebound is obtained when one team misses a shot and the opposing team grabs the ball. An important skill needed to collect defensive rebounds is known as boxing out, a technique by which players use their bodies to shield the opposing team from grabbing the ball.


Stationary Ball Handling Drill

One of the most famous drills is the stationary ball handling drill, popularized by the legendary Harlem Globetrotters team. An athlete stands in place and moves the ball around his body, arms, and legs using skillful hand movements and tricks. These moves are more than just for show, as they also improve hand-eye coordination.

Left-Handed Drill

It is important that a basketball player learn to use both hands when dribbling, but this can prove difficult. Many coaches have players put their dominant hand down to the side and practice layups, passes, and shots with the opposite hand (usually the left) in order to strengthen it. Another option is two-handed dribbling, in which the player dribbles two basketballs, one in each hand.

No Dribble Drill

To emphasize passing, a coach can have players pass the ball around with minimal dribbling, while still trying to score. This forces them to throw extra passes to advance the ball and also strengthens teamwork.

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