Basketball is one of the most complex sports there is. To master this sport it takes a combination of hand eye coordination, speed, power, agility, and most importantly the power of will. For the amateur this sport can be very difficult to play, especially against mildly difficult competition. I have played basketball since age four, and have also played at the collegiate level. I have a few tips on the basic skills of the game that the amateur can use to enhance their game.

1. Dribbling Most amateurs want to be able to handle the ball like Allen Iverson and “shake and bake” their opponent at will, but this skill can be overrated. Basic dribbling skills are all that is required to be a sufficient player. Being able to handle the ball with both hands without it bouncing out of your control is the minimum you need for this category of the game. Some of the greatest players in the history of basketball, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Larry Bird, Reggie Miller, were not the best ball handlers.

2. Shooting The object of the game of basketball is to put the ball in the hoop. In my eyes this is the most important physical skill on the court. The greatest players in the history of this game have had the ability to shoot the basketball, and at a very high level. While Ray Allen was not a great ball handler he made up for that in his ability to shoot the ball better than anybody ever has; he holds the three point shooting record in the NBA. This skill can be taught and perfected due to it being somewhat mechanical in nature. While someone may not be a good shooter the skill can be acquired overtime with repetition.

3. Defense Maybe the easiest skill to perform in a game of basketball. No matter your skill level in the other categories, this particular category can make up for your other inefficiencies. This skill requires good footwork and mobility to stay in front of your opponent as well as jumping ability to block and alter shots. Mastery of this skill will almost guarantee you a spot on somebody's team during a pickup game, everybody loves the person that loves to play defense.

4. Passing Possibly the most underrated skill in the game today. Passing requires knowledge of where your teammates are on the court and intuition of where they will be once you make your pass. This is a tough skill to master, many basketball experts say either you were born a great passer or you were not. Magic Johnson, regarded as the greatest passer of the basketball, had a ken sense of where ever person was on the court and knew the exact spot to give them the basketball in order for that person to achieve optimal success.

5. Mental Toughness By far the most important skill you absolutely need to have before stepping onto any basketball court. Basketball can be a game of trash talking, dirty plays from opponents, and tightly played games. A strong minded mentality is needed to endure these intangibles. The trash talking in basketball games is quite intense and sometimes many opponents can cross the line while doing so, the reason the do this is to get you to react and lose you composure. I'm guilty of trash talking my opponents on numerous occasions, it is the easiest way to make your opponent give up and retreat from competition. By having this mental toughness there is nothing on the court that you can not overcome.

By achieving a greater level of skill than you currently have in each of these categories, you can become a better player and enjoy this great game even more.