15 Fun Athletic Quickness Drills for Basketball

It's hard to compete on the basketball court without athletic quickness. So what should you do with those players who seem to be a step slow?

Well, the good news is research shows that speed can be developed. Players can be trained how to become faster.

athletic quickness

The nature of the game of basketball demands players to be able to move quickly in all directions. Basketball speed doesn't only mean the ability to sprint fast down the court, but it also means the ability to move the entire body forward, backward, and sideways with sharp, quick movements. 

Having the foot speed to sprint back on defense in time to stop the fast break means denying the opponent a chance to score.

Getting that first quick step to get by a defender creates a scoring opportunity.

Beating an opponent to a loose ball means could mean the difference between winning and losing. 

Athletic quickness matters.

With these drills, players will learn how to become faster by improving:

  • their reaction time with their hands and feet
  • their running speed and quickness in changing directions
  • their balance
  • their coordination

Some of the drills require a partner which could be another player, a coach, or a parent.

Here's a video that provides variety of partner agility drills, including variations of some of the drills described below.

Athletic Quickness Drill #1
Mirror Your Partner

This drill requires 2 players. Player 1 initiates the movement and Player 2 mirrors her actions. 

  • Player 1 stands on the baseline while Player 2 stands at the free throw line facing her. 
  • Player 1 sprints forward toward Player 2 while Player 2 backpedals. 
  • Player 1 stops and backpedals as Player 2 stops and sprints forward toward Player 1. 
  • Players work their way up the court going backward and forward.
  • Repeat the drill back down the court with the players rotating positions.

Agility Quickness Drill #2
Quick Hands

Partners get in a defensive stance facing each other a few feet apart.

  • Player 1 points in a direction as if passing, and Player 2 reacts by sticking her hand quickly out in the passing lane.
  • Add a reaction ball to add a fun, challenging element. 
Reaction balls are high-bounce rubber balls with 6 sides that bounce unpredictably in all directions, creating awesome hand quickness drills that improve hand-eye coordination and reaction times.
hand quickness drills

They can be used on all hard surfaces and walls. Players can toss the ball to themselves against a wall or have a partner toss to them.

Athletic Quickness Drill #3
Blind Toss

  • Player 1 stands in a defensive stance with Player 2 behind him.
  • Player 1 looks forward while Player 2 tosses a tennis ball over one of Player 1’s shoulders. Player 1 has to sprint and catch the ball before it bounces twice.
  • Challenge the player by tossing the ball at a variety of heights and distances.

Athletic Quickness Drill #4
Quick Step

Partners get in a defensive stance facing each other a few feet apart. 

  • Player 1 points in a direction, and Player 2 reacts by taking a quick first step in that direction.
  • Only take one explosive step. Then quickly return to the starting position and get ready to go again.

Athletic Quickness Drill #5
Move on Command

  • Player 1 gets in a defensive stance.
  • Player 2 gives 2 commands, one by pointing and one verbally. Player 1 reacts as quickly as possible. 
  • The first command is a direction. Player 2 points forward, backward, left, right, up, or down.
  • While pointing a direction, Player 2 calls out a command to perform a specific basketball move - sprint, defensive slide, backpedal, quick feet, drop to the floor, jump up, carioca, etc...

This is a great drill to encourage players to use several of their senses simultaneously.

Athletic Quickness Drill #6
Dodge Ball Against a Wall

  • Player 1 stands against a wall while Player 2 tries to hit him with a soft dodge ball.
  • Player 1 attempts to dodge out of the way.
  • Player 2 should throw high and low and side to side, so Player 1 can practice bending, jumping, and moving quickly in all directions.

The distance the thrower stands from the wall depends on his throwing ability. 

Athletic Quickness #7

  • Start at one baseline.
  • Run to the FT, half-court, FT, and full-court lines, changing the running speed between each line.
  • Run slow to FT line (1st gear)
  • Run 1/2 speed to half-court (2nd gear)
  • Run 3/4 speed to far FT line (3rd gear)
  • Run full speed to baseline (4th gear) 
  • Variation: Mix up the order of the speeds on each trip.

Athletic Quickness Drill #8 

Players make the shape of the letter "T."

  • Start at the baseline under the basket and sprint up the middle of the court to half-court.
  • Slide sideways to the right sideline, touch it with the right hand and slide all the way across to the left sideline.
  • Touch the left sideline with the left hand and slide back to center court.
  • Backpedal back to the start.

Athletic Quickness Drill #9
Triangle Drill

Players sprint in the shape of a right-triangle.

  • Start on the baseline in the left hand corner.
  • Sprint up the sideline to half-court, make a sharp turn and sprint at a 45° angle back to the baseline to the right hand corner.
  • Make a sharp turn and sprint down the baseline to the start.

Athletic Quickness Drill #10
Zig-Zag Run

  • Place cones in a zig-zag pattern up the court about the width of the key and about 3-4 feet apart.
  • Sprint diagonally to the first cone, plant the outside foot, and run around the cone to the next one.
  • Continue zig-zagging around each cone until the end.
basketball agility drillsZig Zag Run

Athletic Quickness #11
High Skips

  • Skip as high as possible while driving hard with the arms and driving the knees upward as high as possible.

Athletic Quickness Drill #12
Long Skips

  • Skip as far as possible while driving hard with the arms.

Athletic Quickness Drill #13
High Knees

  • Run while lifting the knees high into the air.
  • Drive hard with the arms and move the legs up and down as quickly as possible.

Athletic Quickness #14

Stand on the sideline with feet shoulder-width apart so the left foot and left shoulder are closest to the the court.

  • Starting with right leg, step over the left leg.
  • Step out with the left foot to the left.
  • Step with the right foot behind the left leg.
  • Step with the left foot to the left.
  • Step with the right foot over the left leg.
  • Repeat the steps, alternating crossing in front and behind down the length of the court.

Athletic Quickness Drill #15
Half-Square Carioca

Start on the baseline in the right hand corner.

  • Sprint to half-court, reverse pivot, and carioca across the half-court line to the left sideline.
  • Reverse pivot at the left sideline and backpedal to the baseline.
  • Reverse pivot and carioca back to the start.

For more agility and quickness drills, watch these FREE basketball speed training videos.

Athletic quickness is just one part of a player's overall conditioning. You might also be interested in the following related articles:

More Basketball Agility Drills

Strength Training

Add Up to 12 Inches to Your Vertical Jump!

Nutrition for Young Athletes

Prevent Sports Injuries

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