How to Practice Basketball Using Imagination and an Imaginary Ball

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How to Practice Basketball Using Your Imagination and an Imaginary Ball

Basketball Hoop
Basketball Hoop. Doug Pensinger / Staff / Getty Images

I have seen younger players try to practice on ten feet hoops that were too high for them with large basketballs that were too big for them. As a result, they attempt all sorts of incorrect techniques to compensate. I have seen players shot put the ball, reach way back and throw the ball as hard as they can up toward the hoop, and even catch the ball falling backwards.

I have even seen this with older players as well. The ball actually gets in the way sometimes. For this reason, I have often asked players to practice fundamentals without a basketball. All they truly need is their imagination, a correct mental picture of how the practicing should be done, and to be able to visualize the technique. Here is an example: 

To shoot an imaginary basketball, spread your hands the width of what the ball would be. Place your shooting hand under the ball, spread your fingers and make believe you are controlling it with your finger tips. Have your elbow under your shooting hand and make a right angle. Guide the ball with your other, or "off", hand.

Remember that there is no ball, but make sure that the form is correct. Now, spread your feet shoulder length apart, get your shooting foot slightly forward (right foot if right handed, left foot if left handed). Bend your knees, press off your toes, and follow through with your shooting arm. Now, last but most importantly, see the ball go in in your mind's eye! This is called positive visualization, and it is a very useful technique. 

You can use this method with passing, catching, foul shooting, making offensive moves with or without the imaginary dribble. It's fun and really makes you focus on the right technique and fundamentals. Please look at some of the diagrams below of imaginary activities. Make up your own and when you are done, and compare your form to to that of the actual form of a solid shooter.