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Seven Steps to Success with a Basketball Trainer

3 min read

by Waterboy Sam Meyerkopf

When you sign up to work with a basketball skills trainer, what is he or she looking at? How will they evaluate your current skill level? We asked POINT 3 Alpha TJ Jones of NBN Basketball what he does when someone new signs up to work with him and how he can tell what they are ready to learn and improve on.

 POINT 3 Alpha TJ Jones

TJ: I’m a meat and potatoes kind of guy. When a player I’ve never worked with before shows up for on-court work and I don’t know their skill set, I usually take them through a series of drills to evaluate them. The series of drills give me a good idea of how they can handle the ball, their footwork, their shooting mechanics, and their basketball IQ.

Here are the steps I go through when working with a new player. 

1. Stationary Ball Handling 

We’ll do three to five minutes, and after that I can get a pretty good idea about their handle. We’ll do a pound dribble with both hands, side-to-side dribbles, and some push and pull dribbles. Then we’ll move to change of directions dribbles.

2. Ball Handling on the Move 

Ballhandling drills

I usually put them through my Tight Cones Drill.This works out their footwork. Put four cones along the free throw line. Dribble up to the cone, crossover, and do that at every cone. The player does that three or four times. I don’t give much feedback besides telling them how to do the drill because I’m trying to see if they’ll pick up the drill. Then we’ll go into behind the back and through the legs. And that will show me a lot with their FOOTWORK! I also want to see how the player works in tight spaces.

3. Stationary Passing

I like to do a lot of one-handed passing. That way I can see how a player does passing off the dribble. Then I start to incorporate passing and ball handling together.


4. Half Court Drives

The player makes a move at the wing, gets to a certain spot, and then passes to me. Once they pass to me, they relocate and I pass back to them and they finish with a layup. That drill it allows me to see their ball-handling, ability to change direction, footwork, passing on the move, and finishing around the rim.

Then we can do different drives from the wing, middle, and baseline, relocating to different places on the court and seeing what their movement is. After they get a good feel for it, when I pass it back to them they’ll shoot a jump shot. Now I can see how they shoot on the move.

5. Shooting

When I ask what the most fun part of basketball is, most kids say “Shooting”.

My answer is “No, the most fun part of basketball is MAKING SHOTS."

The five shots players should work on every time they are in the gym.

  1. Spot Up
  2. On the Move
  3. Off a Cut
  4. Off the Dribble
  5. Transition

We’ll have each player shoot shots in those five different settings.

6. Form Shooting

I give a player feedback on his form and technique. I’ll do a demonstration on shooting and show them form. With a younger player, if I can make some shots, then they are more open to listening to what I have to say. 

7. Testing Basketball IQ

I ask a lot of questions. For example, when we do a drill, if I’m on one side of the floor and they are on the other side of the floor, I’ll ask them what side of the floor are you on?

99% of the time they will say the Right or Left Side. I always face the opposite direction they are facing. If I’m a post player, is it the perimeter player’s right or the post player’s right. So that gets confusing.

So whatever side of the floor you are on is the STRONG SIDE or BALL SIDE! And the other side of the Court is the WEAK SIDE. I want my players using basketball terms. And I’ll keep asking them which side of the floor they are on throughout the drill. 


After the workout I will jot down notes on their online account so they can get immediate feedback and see it right away online.

If you can master these areas, you will be ready to succeed with any skills trainer!



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