Why You Suck At Basketball & How To Improve

You held onto that basketball for the first time as you imagine yourself standing in the middle of a large crowd. Everyone goes wild as they cheer on you for that winning free-throw shot. But the good vibes vanish when the harsh truth hits your face – you suck at the sport. So, why do you suck at basketball?

You suck at basketball because of several reasons. It can be because you’re lacking skill. Otherwise, you don’t have the right mindset to play the game.

Nonetheless, keep in mind that your skills and mindset in basketball can change as you progress. The initial step to becoming a good or great basketball player is to understand your shortcomings. Then, you can move to do the techniques to help you improve. Continue reading to know the information you need to become the basketball player that’s in your head.

What are the Reasons You Suck at Basketball?

why you suck at basketball


Sometimes reasons sound like excuses, and no one likes excuses. However, it is what you do with those reasons that can help you become a better person or, in the context of this article, a better basketball player.

So here are the top reasons why you suck at basketball:

1. Negative Mindset

Do you find yourself thinking about the following?

It’s easier to be under the blanket of comfort than try to live with one’s faults. In other words, it’s more assuring and comfortable to stick to one’s beliefs than to try and put in the effort to improve.

So instead of saying things like ‘I can’t improve’ or ‘I can’t do it.’ Instead, change your mindset; understand that it’s never too late to try and learn a new skill, especially if you want to play basketball.

Perhaps you’re reading this when you’re already 40 or 50 years old and want to start playing the sport. The first step is to pick up the ball and start moving, regardless of your age. If you’re still physically able to move around, then it’s not too late to play basketball.

Also, keep in mind that some things are uncontrollable, like the weather. So if it’s raining cats and dogs outside, it doesn’t mean you can’t improve your craft. You can stay indoors and study how to become a better player. In turn, you can apply the things you learned once it’s sunny outside and the nearby basketball court is open and playable.

2. Insufficient Practice

insufficient practice

You can’t expect to hold a basketball and suddenly become the next Michael Jordan or LeBron James. Even the best NBA players had to start somewhere and they had to undergo painstakingly grueling hours practicing the different skills needed to excel in this sport.

Take it upon yourself to practice every day. Even if you only have 30 minutes before you get back to work, take this time to practice your dribbling or free-throw shooting at a nearby court.

Practicing may not lead you to perfection, but it will help you get very close to it. Strive for excellence instead of perfection. Follow this mindset and apply it. Over time, you will see your skills advancing to new heights.

3. Accept Your Mistakes

accept your mistakes

Do you pass to opposing players frequently? Do you often fumble the ball during vital moments in important matches? Perhaps you’re not confident about shooting farther than the free-throw line, making you miss more shots than intended.

It’s time to make one thing clear – everybody makes mistakes. To err is to be human, and there is beauty in imperfection.

So, the next time you make mistakes on or off the court, take a deep breath and move on with the game. Otherwise, thinking too much about the problem that happened will impede your progress. Remember to think more about the solution than the issue.

For example, the referee is calling you out frequently for traveling. So ask yourself, ‘Why am I always getting traveling violations?’ Don’t ponder upon the idea that you always make that one extra step while holding the ball. Instead, try to find ways to improve so the referee doesn’t call you out as often as before.

One reason why many basketball athletes, especially some NBA players, have traveling issues is because they dive too deep into ‘the zone.’ This point of concentration can make you have tunnel vision, allowing you to have a deep focus on the main task at hand. In basketball, that primary objective is to shoot the ball.

However, that deep focus can also have some adverse effects. One case on point is that you forget to dribble the ball after making three steps.

Now you know the cause of your traveling problem. Thus, it’s time to fix this issue. So when the time comes when you’re holding the ball, aim to widen that tunnel vision. This process can take several hours of practice and perseverance, but it’s still vital for you to become a better player.

4. Lack of Confidence

lack of confidence

Always keep in mind that basketball is a fast-paced sport. Almost anything can happen in a second. So if you pause and second-guess your decisions at any time while you’re on the court, you’ll likely commit to mistakes.

The lack of confidence is a gateway to mistakes and mishaps. But the question is, how can you combat this issue? It’s as simple as coming prepared.

Prepare your body and mind before stepping into the court. Strategize with your teammates to understand how your opponents will act and react. Have a physically fit physique before game day to ensure you won’t run into physiological health issues while playing.

Prepare yourself for what could happen and you won’t find yourself stuttering during crucial moments. The last thing you’d want is for a defender to steal the ball because you paused, and it was supposed to be a clear shot.

How to Improve in Basketball?

Now that you know the possible reasons why you suck at basketball, it’s time to learn how you can improve in this sport. Below are three things you can do to help you improve in basketball.

1. Practice, Practice, and More Practice

As mentioned previously, sufficient practice will help you become a better player. After all, there’s no magic pill to become a top-notch basketball player in an instant.

According to the Outliers: The Secret to Success by Malcolm Gladwell, success takes at least 10,000 hours of practice. However, genetics and certain complexities may improve or impair the process. Nonetheless, the goal is the same – to become better at the sport.

But the German theoretical physicist Albert Einstein also said:

"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results."

In other words, don’t practice for the sake of practicing. Instead, practice for the sake of improvement. For instance, you decide to practice your dribbling for today. During the practice session, you keep on kicking the ball. At this point, you’re at a crossroads; one path will lead you to improvement while the other road will lead you to stay where you are and keep making the same mistakes.

Choosing the road that keeps you in your current skill level means you’re filling your mind with excuses. The ball isn’t in the right place. Your feet are too big. You’re feeling like it’s not the best day to practice. Saying these things to yourself will most undoubtedly impede your chances of improving.

On the other hand, you can take a moment to ponder why you’re making the same mistake frequently. Stop for a few seconds and think about what you’ve been doing wrong. It is in this period when you can find out that your dribbling form is anything but perfect.

Now that you know the mistake that needs correcting, it’s time to put in more practice. Always make quality repetitions during your training sessions. Otherwise, you’re just wasting time bouncing a ball and getting frustrated.

2. Improve Your Physical Fitness

Basketball players need to possess a certain endurance level to stay on the court for extended periods. You don’t want to feel winded after three minutes into the game. After all, one full-length basketball game can last about two to three hours. If you want to be playing on the court from start to finish, you need to be at your physical best.

With that in mind, saying that you can’t improve in the sport because the weather is bad is nothing but an excuse. If it’s a blizzard or heavy downpour outside, you can stay indoors and improve your physical well-being.

Here are some exercises you can do at home to help improve your physical fitness:

Jump Rope

Don’t want to spend a single cent on exercise equipment? Jumping jacks is your answer.

Jumping for about 10 minutes each day can burn about 100 calories. Plus, all you need is a good pair of shoes and a decently soft floor to start.

Jumping Jacks

Don’t want to spend a single cent on exercise equipment? Jumping jacks is your answer.

Jumping for about 10 minutes each day can burn about 100 calories. Plus, all you need is a good pair of shoes and a decently soft floor to start.


Is jumping in place boring for you? Try burpees instead.

This killer cardiovascular exercise only requires you to be on a flat surface. Also, you can increase the intensity by doing a push-up every time you get into the plank position. If you do this extra step, you’re also going to train your arm muscles.

Training your endurance will help you on and off the court. Not only will you be able to run around the basketball court for a couple of hours, but you also won’t become winded when you’re running late at work.

3. Watch Basketball Games

watch basketball games

Many basketball enthusiasts, which can include yourself, started loving the sport when they saw their first match. By the time you became an adult, you already watched dozens or even hundreds of games.

Although it’s exciting to cheer for your favorite NBA players, don’t forget to study their movements as they zip to and from the ends of the court. Watch how the athletes’ hands and feet move when they’re holding the ball. Take mental notes on how each player responds to certain commands.

Internalize what you’re currently seeing and apply those things you learned to your training sessions and official matches. Furthermore, don’t be too harsh on yourself if you don’t get the learned techniques on the first try.

Notice your faults and think about the ways you can improve. Keep in mind that knowledge is different than application. In other words, the body perceives things differently than the mind.

You need to train your body to match the images in your mind. Keep studying and practicing basketball, and you’re going to improve by leaps and bounds over time.

Final Words

It’s okay to suck at basketball. But it’s not okay to continue and accepting that you suck in this sport. Remove the negative mindset, aim for excellence, and accept your mistakes. Then, don’t forget to practice, maintain physical fitness, and study how to improve as a player. Achieve these goals, and you can become as good as, or even better than the top players in the NBA.

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