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How to Improve Basketball Perimeter Play:
Tips, Drills, and Fundamentals

- By

Perimeter players have to be the most versatile players on the court. They should have the ability to get to the basket and hit the open shot. They are secondary ball handlers and primary rebounders. They play outside, they play inside, and must have the ability to defense in both areas as well.

What makes a good perimeter player?

1) Shooting Ability

While basketball history is littered with great shooters (Larry Bird, Bill Bradley, Reggie Miller, etc), you don't have to be a great shooter to be a great perimeter player. However, you should be able to make open shots. Your ability to make open shots has a major impact on maximizing your teammate's abilities. When you are able to make open shots, defenses have to make adjustments to defend you; thereby creating opportunities for others on your team.

2) Driving Ability

Similar to shooting, you can make and endless list of players who are legendary in going to the basket (Julius Erving, Elgin Baylor, Michael Jordon, etc.). But you don't have to be Dr. J to be an effective perimeter player. You should be able to take advantage of creases in the defense or other opportunities to get to the basket.

3) Defensive Ability

Defensive responsibilities for perimeter players are varied and critically important. Bigger players try to post them up; smaller players try to break them down and go to the hole. At times, perimeter players may be asked to be lock-down defenders and, other times, to play the passing lanes to disrupt an offense. Perimeter defenders must do 3 things effectively: don't allow open shots, prevent penetration that exposes interior players, and be in position to help teammates.

4) Rebounding

Perimeter players can be both primary and secondary rebounders. They must be aware of shooters and anticipate shots. They must have an aggressive rebounding attitude. Perimeter players must realize that rebounding is just as important a skill as scoring.

5) Understanding the Game

Playing the perimeter is very match-up oriented, and the roles change from match-up to match-up. If playing bigger opponents, perimeter defenders must be able to take them away from the basket; while playing smaller opponents might demand that they go inside. When playing quicker opponents, they have to use screens. When playing slower opponents, they need to take it to the basket. Players have to understand the differences in their opponents and how to adjust to the situation.

Players should also understand how their skills will compliment each other. Making outside shots will open up driving opportunities, and going to the basket will force the defense to step back enough to open them up for jumpers.

How to Improve Perimeter Play

While there are many aspects of perimeter play that can be taught individually and pertain to team play (such as getting open, screening, passing, rebounding, etc.), I am going to concentrate on combination drills that improve individual scoring and that address the variety of skills and roles needed to play on the perimeter.

Drills for Perimeter Players

McHale Layups

Chair Pivots (Inside Pivot)

X Jump Shots

Wing Combo


More Basketball Drills

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