Become a Pick-up God! 5 Tips on How to Win at Pick-up Basketball Games.


Pick-up basketball is a culture here in the Philippines. You’re shooting around at the court, then all of a sudden random people will invite you to play 5-on-5 or 3-on-3. Most ballers here in the country have played at least one pick-up game in their life, whether that be at the village court, gym, or school; and while some treat it as a simple exercise or papawis, others see it as a competition wherein they are serious at winning, especially if money is involved.

If you’re the type of person who is eager to win pick-up games (or eager na manalo sa pustahan), here are 5 simple tips that you can follow to dominate the playing field:

1. Pay attention to what your teammates and opponents CAN and CAN’T do.

Know your teammates’ strengths and weaknesses. For example, if your teammate is a shooter, you may want to set him up for some screens. If he’s a good ball handler, give him the ball and let him bring it up to the floor.

The same goes for your opponents. If they can only move to the right, take away their right and you’re almost guaranteed to prevent blow by’s.

2. Minimize the dribbles.

One key mistake most pick-up players make is they dribble the ball too much. While this may seem harmless, it actually carries so many negative effects on your team including higher chances of the ball getting stolen, having many turnovers, and in the process, bad offense and defense.

Learn to dribble with purpose, and by this, we mean that every dribble you make should lead you closer to a certain goal, whether it be scoring, advancing the ball up the floor, or creating a better angle to pass.

3. Move without the ball.

Most pick-up players, when not holding the ball, stand still in one area of the court. This is not a good practice because not only does it limit your options for offense, but it also makes you predictable. Remember that basketball is a game of movement WITH and WITHOUT the ball.

Learning how to cut will surely elevate your scoring game to the next level as it helps you get open and score easy shots.

4. Avoid being a ball hog

A ball hog, or bakaw in tagalog, is someone who holds the ball and shoots is excessively instead of passing it to teammates. You do not want to be a ball hog, especially in pick-up where you’re likely playing with strangers, as it will annoy your teammates, and in most cases, they will refrain from passing to you as well.

Get everyone involved! When your teammates are in a better position to score than you, pass the ball to them. Do not force shots that are hard to make. Check if you’re a ball hog and if so, avoid being such. You’ll find that passing more will lead to better results for your team.

5. Communicate with your teammates.

It’s very common for teammates in pick-up to have minimal, if not zero communication with each other, especially if it’s a team of players who don’t know each other. This often results to bad plays, or worse, no plays at all.

Unless you want to lose, make it a point to communicate with your pick-up teammates before, after, and during the game. Compliment them for their good offense/defense, and count them in for any plays you might think of. Basketball has always been a team sport, and in the end, it’s always the team with the great teamwork that wins.

Next time you get into a pick-up game, try these 5 tips and see if they work for you.

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