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How to Take it to the Hoop

Quickness helps, but you don't need a sudden infusion to go the hole successfully. ESPN college basketball analyst Doug Gottlieb says your jump shot and self-awareness on the court can actually help. Here's how:

1. Use leverage.

Watch your defender's balance and try to throw him off with a head or ball fake or by flexing your knees. Whenever he rises up, you drive past him since he's lost his center of gravity, says Gottlieb. Have your first step be past his lead foot and give him a slight bump on the way by him to create more space.

2. Work on your shot.

At the start of a game, he's going to give you room. "Nobody wants to get beaten off the dribble," Gottlieb says. Knocking down your shot will force him to play you tighter, opening up the drive option. When it's there, take him out to a wing. In most pickup games, there's no help on the sides, so it's open space once you beat him.

3. Know your position.

Catching the ball between the top of the key and three-point line puts you in no man's land with "help defense" not that far away. Starting your move from there is not impossible, but you're less likely to have success. On the flip side, you don't want to be so far out that it takes away the threat of your jump shot, Gottlieb says.

4. Add three exercises to your workout.

You can improve your ability to drive to the hoop in the weight room. Three key moves for any player: 

Front Squats
Pushing up out of the squat position improves your ability to extend your hips, allowing for a greater transfer of force, or push, from the ground. This translates into a more explosive first step, says Chang Lee, a performance specialist at Athletes' Performance in Los Angeles, Calif. Driving to the hoop is all about first-step quickness.

Lateral Cable Chops
You'll feel this move working your triceps, abs and shoulders, but it's primarily about learning to rotate your hips. The weight transfer will help with the change of direction needed for an aggressive first step, Lee says.  


Incline Bench Press
Improving shoulder and core stability will help when fighting through traffic, Lee says.

Darryl Eto is the Director of Strength & Conditioning for the Houston Rockets. As a former senior performance specialist at Athletes' Performance, he's worked with high school, college, and pro athletes in his 25-year career.

About The Author

Steve Calechman – Steve Calechman is a contributing writer for CorePerformance.com. He has published articles for Men's Health, Natural Health, The Robb Report and Women's Health magazine.

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Tags: Basketball, Acceleration, Power, Speed, Sports Performance