soccer can improve basketball

How Soccer Can Improve Basketball Skills

Playing soccer can improve basketball skills. It can teach you how to move without the ball and how to read passing lanes.

I was online, bored, one day. I sat there, staring at my screen, just scrolling down the page. Then, for whatever reason, I decided to look up some Jason Kidd highlights.

This took me down a wormhole and I ended up reading a bunch of articles on the NBA legend. But there was a specific one that really tickled my interest. It talked about how he developed his playing style.

If you don’t know much about Kidd, he is a pass-first point guard. One of the greats at passing. From 1998 to 2004, he led the league in assists five times.

Anyway, the reason why Kidd had this mentality and why, to an extent, he was so good at getting the ball to teammates was because he played soccer as a kid. He played all the way through the sixth grade.

But he stopped because the schedule started to conflict with his basketball’s.

How Soccer Can Help Your Basketball Development


According to Kidd, playing competitive soccer showed him how to read passing lanes. It also showed him how to pass through small windows, which he did a lot of throughout his career.

“Soccer is a very pass-oriented game,” Kidd said. “You have to pass, and you have to pass in small areas. It’s passing and movement, being able to move after you pass.”

Soccer is a great companion to basketball. By playing it, even casually, you’ll learn how to predict where you should pass the ball, how to make accurate passes, and how to move after you pass the ball. In addition to that, soccer can also improve your footwork, cardio, mobility, defence, and decision-making.

Steve Nash, a two-time MVP (and great passer), was also a soccer player. He believes that playing both sports can teach you to effectively learn and apply multiple skills.

Via Fox Sports:

“The ability to learn different skills, cross training,” he said.

“I think one of the main reasons I’ve made into the NBA was because I am not [the] most explosive, strongest athlete… [It’s] because I played soccer! Agility, reading the game and seeing things ahead. Be able to analyze more angles and work on coordination.

I was never going to outrun and jump someone but my ability to find gaps to make S curves.”

Obviously, this logic can be applied to any sport. But for the sake of this article, I’m going to be stubborn and stick to basketball and soccer.

Anyway, everything that Nash said can be proved by watching him play.

He was an agile, coordinated player who often successfully made these awkward-looking passes in tight corridors. He would attack the basket, draw a double team, and somehow see an angled opening that would lead to an assist.

And I’m pretty sure he was able to do all of that because of soccer.

How Soccer Teaches You To Be a Better Teammate

Another thing I want to point out is that soccer will teach you to be a better teammate.

“That’s stupid,” you may be thinking. But, boy, are you wrong! Let me kindly tell you why.

Soccer will make you a better teammate because:

  1. it will teach you to not be a ball hog and why that’s important
  2. it will show you how to move without the ball

These are two problems that many young players have.

Too many players want to imitate Kyrie or Kemba and end up dribbling too much. They are always playing 1-on-1 even though they have a team. They rarely pass the ball and are always trying to beat their defender off the dribble.

And when they don’t have the ball, they don’t know how to move. They often stand in one spot, waiting for the ball to come to them so that they can shoot a 3.

But this isn’t how basketball is played. It’s also not how a good teammate plays.

Good basketball requires ball movement (and a lot of it) and off-ball movement.

The Golden State Warriors’ Head Coach, Steve Kerr, also agrees with this statement.

He says that if he were the “czar of American basketball,” he would make every young basketball player play soccer (or football). He would do this because it would teach them how to pass and move without the ball.

Via Bleacher Report:

“…I would make every player coming through the youth basketball program play football because it translates directly.

“The problem in basketball today [is] the young players are coming up and they just try to beat everybody one-on-one with the dribble. They’re unbelievably gifted dribbling the ball, but they don’t understand the pass and the move. Which is what football would teach them.”

How to Apply Soccer to Your Training

So, if you’re interested, here’s how you can learn and apply some soccer to your on-court game.

First, you should probably learn how soccer is played and what the rules are (so that you know what the hell is going on when you watch a game).

Second, watch some soccer. You can add in playing FIFA as well because it’s just a fun game. You may not learn much about soccer and how you can apply the skills to basketball, but you’ll have a good time nonetheless.

Third, get yourself a soccer ball. You can buy one from Amazon here. And if you use this link, I’ll get a small commission, at no extra cost to you. You’ll be supporting the blog, too.

Fourth, find a field and do these beginner fundamental soccer drills. It’ll train your footwork, coordination, and passing IQ.

This will prepare you to play in an actual soccer game.

And finally, go out and play some soccer. Apply the skills you just learned.

And (finally) finally, go out and play some basketball. You should be moving more efficiently now and making some pretty sick assists while doing so.

READ MORE: Want to Score Like Steph Curry? Do His Stability Workout

Soccer skills translate well to basketball skills. It helps you with passing, footwork, and moving without the ball.

So, would you give soccer a try for the sake of improving your basketball skills?