Basketball Agility
Improve Quickness with These Drills

In basketball agility is essential. This is a start-stop game that depends on players being able to change direction explosively, whether on offense or defense. And if a player can't do that, his ability to contribute to the team is going to be drastically reduced. And we want all team members contributing to one solid team effort.

Basketball is often referred to as a "big man's game", where advantage is given to the bigger team. But a quicker team can beat a bigger team, and a big team with quickness and agility can win championships. It isn't often you see a big, slow team win championships.

Thus it is important to work on your players' agility, particularly early in the preseason when you are focused on conditioning. The agility drills presented here complement other agility drills found on the site - mix them up and use them regularly to improve your players' agility and quickness.

Improving Basketball Agility
Line Hops

Quick Hops

  • Players stand facing a line on the court
  • On the coach's whistle, players hop as fast as they can over the line and back
  • Be sure players remain on their toes and move as quickly as they can.

Side Hops

  • Same as Quick Hops above, except this time players stand side-on to the line, so that they jump back and forth sideways

Run these drills for 30-60 seconds, as you see fit

Basketball Agility - Line HopsLine Hops

Zig Zag Hops

  • Players stand facing the sideline, with feet together
  • On the coach's whistle, they jump with both feet together, moving up the line as quickly as possible

Zig Zag Sideways

  • Same as above, except players start off sideways to the line and move up it in a sideways fashion

Run these drills for 30-60 seconds, as you see fit

Basketball Agility - Zig Zag HopsZig Zag Hops

Improving Basketball Agility
Ball Reaction Drill

This drill focuses on hand-eye coordination and reaction time as opposed to foot quickness.

  • Players pair up facing their partner, standing about an arm's length away from each other
  • One partner is in defensive stance with his hands behind his back - ensure the defensive player is in proper defensive stance and maintaining good balance
  • The other partner holds a ball at about chest level
  • Without warning, the offensive player drops the ball
  • The defensive player must catch the ball before it hits the ground

After 5-10 tries, offense and defense switch.

Add difficulty to this drill by having the offensive player release the ball from lower positions - from stomach level, or from hip level, etc.

Also, when you run this drill the next practice, be sure to change up partners.

Improving Basketball Agility
A Few More Thoughts

Agility is important on both offense and defense - you can't get around a defensive player unless you can fake him, change directions quickly; and you can't stick to your man if you can't match his movements and beat him to the spot. So in a sense, basketball - particularly the one-on-one aspect - is essentially a test of who has the better agility.

As it is something we find in every aspect of the game, other drills seem to be agility drills in disguise. Defensive drills in particular depend a lot on agility and as such help develop it - for example, these basic defensive drills focus on quick movements and change of direction, and the Anticipation drill focuses on hand-eye coordination along with foot agility.

But offensive drills are often agility-focused as well, particularly drills that are focused on basic fundamental movements like fakes and cutting.

So at the beginning of pre-season practices, focusing on some agility training outright is a good thing to do; not only does it serve to improve these basic skills, it also prepares players for drills and game situations later on where agility is so important.

“People do not differ in their desire to win; they differ in the price they are willing to pay to win”

– Alan Stein

Looking for something more visual?

Try UMass Head Coach Derek Kellogg's video package of drills