One of the most common fundamental mistakes players of all ages make is failing to receive the basketball in a position ready to make a basketball play. Here at the NRBA we refer to this position simply as a “ready position” and the act of catching the ball in this position as “facing up”. If you do not develop the habit of “facing up”, you will end up playing more off balance, making poor reads, committing more turnovers, being a weaker, less explosive player, and missing scoring opportunities for yourself and your teammates.
A player “facing up” in a good “ready position” is square (feet and body) to the basket, has their knees well bent, butt down, weight on balls of feet, back flat at a 45 degree angle, and head and eyes up looking to shoot as the first option, seeing the open lane and driving as the second option, and alert to maintain quick ball movement with passing as the third option. Since we believe shooting is the first option, you must develop the habit of initially catching the ball with narrow feet, the ball in your shooting pocket, and your eyes peeking at the rim. If in receiving the ball, the defender has closed out and is in a defensive position applying ball pressure, you must widen your feet to get an even stronger base and protect the ball with it no longer being in your shooting pocket. Remember that your initial “peek at the rim” is key as it ensures that your vision is up allowing you to see the whole floor and makes your shot fake more effective in deceiving the defense closing out to you. If no shot is available, you are in a strong well balanced position to either explode by your defender off the dribble or make a strong accurate pass to keep the ball moving offensively.
“Facing up” to the basket in a “ready position” is a vital fundamental that will immediately improve your game play in more than one way. You can begin practicing this habit by simply “spinning the ball” out to yourself (a self-pass) on the perimeter at different spots. At first, just work on catching the ball in a “ready positon”. Make sure you get square to the basket, are low, peek at the rim, are balanced, and bring the ball to your shooting pocket. Once you do this multiple times, you can then begin adding offensive moves to your repetitions. After spinning out and “facing up”, you should work on catching and shooting, driving the ball to the basket and finishing at the rim, putting the ball on the floor for a pull up jumper, working on various counter moves off the drive, or kicking the ball out to a teammate (if you have a partner) on the perimeter. Remember though, you must be disciplined not to compromise your “face up” technique when you start adding offensive moves to your spin outs. So start working on your game and become a player who “faces up” every time you catch the ball.