What is Bully Ball in Basketball?

Bully ball is a term used in basketball to describe a style of physical play. When you “bully” another player, you are aggressive with your play.

In the early 2010s, Zach Randolph and the Memphis Grizzlies were one of the scariest teams to play against.

Not only were they talented and skilled, but they also played physically.

On defence, they would get right up into their opponent’s face. On offence, they would grind out their defenders as they posted up and backed them down. Their opponents often got hurt and were definitely fatigued.

And it was because of their “grit and grind,” bully ball style that helped them be successful.

What is Bully Ball?

So, what is bully ball?

Bully ball is when a player uses his or her size and strength to take advantage of his or her opponent. This could mean aggressively backing down on a defender, creating hard screens, or forcibly boxing out to grab rebounds.

This style of play is basically using your physical traits to play physical, contact basketball.

The reason why bully ball works (for average Joes and Janes, anyway) is because it’ll allow you to take easier shots. Setting it up and getting to the right spot will be strenuous and tiring.

But once your defender lets their guard down, you’ll have a wide opening for a clean shot (this was how Charles Barkley got a lot of points).

In addition to that, bully ball doesn’t require much more than fundamental footwork.

You don’t need to have crazy handles, quickness, or explosiveness. You just need stamina, tenacity, patience, post-up skills, good footwork, and an ability to make shots in close.

However, there is a flaw to bully ball.

If you are smaller and weaker than most players, this style probably won’t work for you.

It’ll be too difficult for you to bully your opponent if they’re not going to budge when you play physically with them.

In this case, you would need excellent footwork to get around your defender. Or a lot of stamina to stay in front of them on defence if you wanted to use bully ball.

Just look to guys like Kyle Lowry, Patrick Beverley, and Tony Allen for inspiration.

How to Practice Bully Ball

In my opinion, the best way to train for bully ball (and I guess the first step) is to work on your mindset.

All the players I have mentioned thus far have a different mindset when they are on the court. It’s as if they turn on their primal, competitive selves and will do all they can to not falter.

They’ll get physical and put their bodies on the line to win the game. They also don’t care about their opponent’s feelings.

They’re there for one job only and that’s to win the basketball game. During the game, nothing else matters.

This is how you have to think when you play.

Don’t worry about making friends when you’re on the court. Play with doggedness. Get physical (but don’t try to hurt the other players. It’s just a game after all).

In addition to changing your mindset, you should work on strength, stamina, and the fundamentals.

For strength and stamina training, there are a lot of workouts you can do. Here are a few that you can try:

As for the fundamentals, here’s an article I wrote that shares tips on how to master the core skills in basketball. Read it and apply the tips.

Final Thoughts

Bully ball is a great way to get easy baskets or to stop a defender.

It’ll help you tire out your opponent and to take advantage of their weaknesses.

So, learn it, give it a try, and see how useful this way of playing is.


P.S. If you’re struggling to improve in basketball, you may be training wrong.

This is why you need to check out my Old Man Game Activity Guide and Planner. They’re convenient training systems that will help you work on your fundamentals and conditioning.

Click here to learn more about them.