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(6 Tips) To Improve Your First Step In Basketball

The first step is one of the most important parts of the game of basketball, especially if you are a guard or anyone who needs to blow by your defender.

What is so great about the first step is that you do not have to be a great athlete to master this part of your game.

In fact, there are a lot of techniques and things you can learn to improve.

For example, some simple tricks and tips are having the right footwork, quick reaction time, and doing explosive training like plyometrics or heavy lifting.

In this article, I will be going over a complete breakdown, from techniques, drills, and certain workouts you can do.

1. Plyometrics

Now while there are great techniques you can use to improve your first step, you at least need a good foundation of speed and explosive power to do so.

An easy way you can do this is by doing exercises like plyometrics. Which is a type of workout that is designed to increase your power output, and speed, and jumping ability.

Best Plyometrics Exercises For The First Step.

Wall sprint

A Wall sprint is a type of sprinting exercise where you use a wall to balance your body while you sprint in a standing position.

Short Sprints

Short sprints are as simple as they sound.

To do this all you have to do is a sprint but in a very short amount of space. I would recommend between 5-15 yards.

The key here is to really focus on your short quick burst of speed coming off that sprint so it emulates the first step more accurately.

Agility Ladder

This is any type of exercise where you focus on quick fast-paced footwork through a small space like a ladder.

This can even be done with just your own imagination or certain lines on the court.

The key here is again to focus on quick and explosive movements.

Below is a great video giving you some agility exercises.

Depth Jumps

Depth Jumps is an exercise where you start on top of a platform or box and as you lightly drop down from the box you then explode up.

This exercise really focuses on exploding up and increasing your fast-twitch muscle fibers.

2. Lifting Weights

Weight lifting is yet another great way to increase your explosiveness overall as a basketball player.

But lifting for explosiveness there are a few factors you must consider.

Low Rep- High Weight

Almost universally you will hear coaches and trainers say that lifting heavy at low reps is the best way to increase your power output and strength when it comes to athletics.

And while yes this is true, I want to quickly mention here that in order to really get the most out of plyometrics or any other type of exercise that is designed to increase your power output you also need to have a good baseline of strength.

So while heavy lifting at low reps is great for power output do not be afraid to do some rep ranges in the 8-12 range.

3. Technique

Like I said one of the best things about your quickness is there are a lot of things you can do to improve it even if you aren't the best athlete on the court.

  1. Start in an Athletic Position

In general, you're not going to be as fast as you can be if you're standing up straight and not in a good position.

So to start your drive make sure your knees are slightly bent and your feet and body are in a good position to pop out and explode quickly.

2. Load Up

Think of yourself and your body almost like a rubber band when you're ready to explode to the basket.

You want to load up and really contract your body before you explode to the hoop or your next dribble move.

It's almost how a snake coils up before he strikes.

3. Put Weight On Your Back Leg

One thing I have really noticed is that most of your weight should be on your back leg or foot.

This is because this leg acts as the coil that will really make sure you spring out of your stance and explode to the basket.

4. Elongate Your Stride

You want to make sure when you make your initial move that you actually go somewhere with it.

That is why it is really important to make sure you elongate your stride with your other foot to get by your defender.

By elongating your stride you actually make your first step even quicker because you're covering more area in a shorter amount of time.

5. Stay Low

Too many players will relax and stand up when they are driving to the basket.

You want to make sure you stay low throughout as that will allow you to get your shoulders and hips through your defender.

6. Dribble Hard

This is just a little tip I have noticed by it seems like however, the ball moves are how fast my body naturally reacts.

So try it out sometime and see if you go a little bit faster the harder you dribble the ball.

4. Mobility

If you do not already know, mobility is what allows you to have a full range of motion with your muscles.

This can be a key factor in your first step because of the positions and contortions you will have to have.

A great example of this was Derrick Rose. A big reason he was so good at driving by defenders with his first step is that he was able to get in great positions due to his body control and excellent mobility and footwork.

5. Practice

Like with anything in basketball and life in order to get better at something you need to practice it more and more.

I think a great way to practice this is by playing 1v1 against a teammate or friends.

I recommend when playing to have a 3 dribble rule because this will put more importance on each dribble. Which in turn allows you to focus more on your first move and step.

This will also give you good feedback as to how your technique is fairing against another opponent.

6. Have A Go-To Move

Having a go-to move that you feel comfortable doing is the best way to ensure you will perform your first step as quickly as possible.

This could be off a hesitation, jab, or even the post.

Pro Tip: Hesitations and the triple threat are a great time to perform your first step because they allow you to throw off your defender and surprise them.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the first step in basketball?

Answer: The first step in basketball is usually regarded as the first move you make out of your dribble or triple threat.

This is the move and time you will see players quickly explode to beat their defender off the dribble.

How Important is the first step in basketball?

Answer: The first step is very important for any players or athletes looking to get by their defender and create for their teammates.

If you are a guard or any player that dribbles a lot then this should be an area of focus.

Will improving my athletic ability as whole help my first step speed?

Answer: I would say overall yes.

This is why a lot of the time the best sprinters in the world have very high verticals. If you are an athlete with good relative strength and power output, then you will be a more explosive athlete overall.

But to be fair while it does help to be the best athlete you can there is still a lot of great importance to your technique.

That is why Usain Bolt cannot just come into the NBA and dominate.


The first step is a great way to take your game to the next level and give yourself the ability to create for your teammates and be a player who can get to the rim at will.

I hope this article gave you the necessary tricks and tips to improve your first step and be a more explosive player driving to the basket as a whole.

Thank you for reading and as always keep hooping my friends.

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