How to Play in the NBA: 13 Steps (with Pictures)

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How to Play in the NBA: 13 Steps (with Pictures)
How to Play in the NBA: 13 Steps (with Pictures)

Joining a professional basketball team isn't easy, especially in the NBA, but it's possible; just look at the successful examples in Brazil, such as Leandrinho, Nenê, Anderson Varejão, Tiago Splitter and other players. Don't be afraid to dream big, regardless of whether you're in elementary school, high school or college; aiming for the NBA will only improve your basketball.


Part 1 of 3: Playing to the fullest of your ability

Get in the NBA Step 1

Step 1. Practice shooting from everywhere on the court

Shot from close range, medium and long distance, as well as from the three-point line, making it a versatile pitcher with good performance. A good training regimen is a three-week rotation: in each of them, you will work on one type of throw. There is always room for improvement.

Shooting must be good: at least 60% of two points and 40% of three points, plus 75% of the free-throw line

Get in the NBA Step 2

Step 2. Record videos when playing basketball

Watching your performance later and seeing how you move when making baskets and missing shots will allow you to make the necessary adjustments. Ask a relative or friend to record some of your plays; if you are already playing American college basketball, consult the video department, who should have recorded the game.

If possible, compile your best moments and edit a video for professional team scouts (or NBA scouts if you're already in the US). Make a good selection of moves and don't let the video be longer than five minutes

Get in the NBA Step 3

Step 3. Play with people better than you to develop your tactical skills

Find opponents who already have a better understanding of the sport and more skill than you and train or play matches with players who force you to develop your basketball. Also look for amateur leagues to find good opponents, taking you to a new level to succeed.

Get in the NBA Step 4

Step 4. Increase the difficulty of the exercises to develop fundamentals

Make the race more intense and train more and more challenging fundamentals; try, for example, running in the sand or hitting a ball on gravel soil to improve control. Your skills will develop, as will persistence and endurance. Such activities can be performed at any time in life; in elementary school, high school or already at university.

Get in the NBA Step 5

Step 5. Start a workout for muscle strengthening and development

Increasing your physical strength makes it easier for you to hit shots from a distance, in addition to getting rid of the “raw” marking. It is important to work with a coach who is knowledgeable about basketball as he will advise you on the most suitable exercises for the body and the sport.

  • In high school, talk to your physical education teachers; they may know someone who works specifically with the muscles most needed for basketball.
  • At the university, look for the institution's athletic department and talk to the person in charge, asking him to recommend a good personal trainer to strengthen him when playing basketball.
Get in the NBA Step 6

Step 6. Improve your stamina by adopting healthy habits

Basketball is a sport that requires the player to be always running to both sides of the court, that is, it is essential to have an excellent physical condition to enhance your game from start to finish. Always be well hydrated, sleep at least eight hours a night and eat healthy foods so that your body is “on the edge of its hooves”, increasing its endurance.

Part 2 of 3: Standing Out Among Players

Get in the NBA Step 7

Step 1. Find the right technician

The school's physical education teacher may have some knowledge of the sport, but when you think you need to find a basketball coach, search the internet for sports schools in your region. You can even hire an individual coach, who will work to advise you specifically on the weaknesses you need to improve on, helping you to develop more quickly as a player.

  • The Superprof website is a trusted source for professionals who can give private lessons in the sport.
  • Working with a private tutor gives you the opportunity to develop a closer “mentor and protégé” relationship. When looking for a professional, take into account those who communicate well and have achieved respect; an important differential is having contact with scouts or directors of professional teams.
Get in the NBA Step 8

Step 2. Use all your skills to get an edge on the court

If you have something that you know how to do well and for the benefit of the team, make the play your characteristic; there are many excellent basketball players, but you will need to stand out among them with something that will make you an expert in this field. That's the only way it will be possible to get to the NBA.

For example: your strength is speed; try to incorporate it into all your plays. Soon, everyone will realize that this is a differential it has, something unique

Get in the NBA Step 9

Step 3. Be a leader on and off the court

Your character is important, and a basketball team does not “work” with individualistic and selfish players, after all, it is a team sport. Get the attention of scouts and coaches by being a leader and an exemplary person during the game, but also outside. Everyone will want to have an athlete who gets along with their teammates and will inspire them to become better.

  • By learning from your mistakes and dreaming big, you will know how to become a leader.
  • Don't be afraid to talk to your coach, whether you're still in high school (even coaching in lower basketball divisions) or college, and ask if there's any way you can take on more responsibility for the team.
Get in the NBA Step 10

Step 4. Play as many tournaments as possible

In Brazil, the goal is to attract the attention of respectable teams on the national basketball scene, so play in amateur tournaments and you know that scouts for teams like Bauru, Franca, Paulistano, Flamengo, Corinthians (or even those from your region) and many. When you join these teams, you'll meet people with connections to American universities and learn how to get into the NBA.

  • While still in high school, try to play in amateur tournaments in your area (especially if your school doesn't have a team). Be aware that you can be overwhelmed by having to juggle studies and tournaments you play with the school team (if any). However, if your dream is to enter the NBA, it's important to play as many competitions as you can.
  • Your college basketball team can participate in tournaments, and there is always a scout looking to recruit someone for Brazilian basketball clubs. If you are attending college in the US, all eyes will be on you when you enter the court; try to get your team as far as possible (at least until the NCAA finals, March Madness).

Part 3 of 3: Applying for Professional Basketball

Get in the NBA Step 11

Step 1. Play basketball in high school and then high school

Only players age 19 and older can enter the NBA, and they usually have to go through American college basketball; however, more and more players come from other leagues in the world, such as the NBB in Brazil, where the best teams play. Still, if you want to enter a US university, you need to get a scholarship; and playing in the AAU (Amateur Athletic Union or Amateur Athletic Union) is a good way to insert yourself in that environment. With good performance, you will have a better chance of getting a scholarship.

  • Again, hiring a private coach will help you develop your skills, especially if it's still far from ideal.
  • Never leave studies aside, especially when you want to play in the US. Good grades will also attract the attention of universities; you have to think like the scouts, who want to “sell” the players they nominate for institutions. Hire private tutors and study hard to increase your chances of going to an American college.
  • In American universities (or schools), most coaches will know which games the scouts will be present at. Ask your “commander” to pass this information on to you to increase your chances of getting into the NBA. In Brazil, do the same thing, managing at least to join a great team in the national basketball scene.
Get in the NBA Step 12

Step 2. If possible, play in Europe

Even American players who are not selected in the NBA “draft” (recruitment) will play in other parts of the world, and many of them ended up joining the American league after a time abroad. Brandon Jennings, for example, dropped out of high school and went straight to Europe, while Bruce Bowen went through Cal State Fullerton‎ University before playing four years in France; upon arriving in the NBA, he played at a high level from 1997 to 2009. In addition, Brazilian Tiago Splitter had a great career in Europe until arriving at the San Antonio Spurs in 2010, being NBA champion in 2014 (and playing a key role in the title). So, if you can't get into an American university, don't be discouraged; playing in Europe is important as the level is also high, with many different styles of basketball. Research the rules for joining European leagues (and even China, which is growing), minimum age and other information.

The page of Brazilian businessmen on the Hoopsagency website does not offer contact information, but through their names, it is possible to search for social networks and other ways to talk to them. Be aware that the surname is written before the name on the website

Get in the NBA Step 13

Step 3. Hire a business owner

Achieving a good level of play but not yet being contacted by a scout could indicate that you are past the age of getting a college scholarship, or simply the right people haven't seen you in action. If possible, hire an American businessman, facilitating meetings with bigwigs from the country to get your professional career on track.

In Brazil, it is difficult to hire agents, unless you are within the “circle of influences” of the sport. Aylton Tesch and Arlem Lima are two professionals who helped Brazilians Lucas Baby and Raul Neto enter the NBA. Read more about them in this article and look for personal profiles on social media to try to get in touch


  • Have a “plan B” in case your dreams of playing in the NBA don't go as planned.
  • If possible, join a basketball “Summer Camp” in the USA. Chances are you'll have game time to show your skill.
  • Talk to scouts, ask for opportunities to play and never sabotage yourself.
  • Always try to be positive while on court. Have that characteristic move of yours, perfect it and get the attention of scouts!
  • Learn how to be a shipowner. You will hardly be an extremely capable athlete like Lebron James, who is a master in all areas of the game, but if you can make plays, pass the ball well and throw it quickly (and in the right situations), you will “dig” your space.
  • Develop strength by exercising your body and practice the throwing movement well. After a while, you'll start hitting three-point balls with ease!


  • Don't mess with the wrong people and don't use drugs. They will decrease your sport performance.
  • You have to be realistic about the position you want to play. Height and physique should be compared to NBA players playing in the same position.
  • Never use drugs to improve your performance; this is illegal and you will be expelled from the team, as well as suspended from leagues.

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