Height, perhaps more than any other physical trait, is a trend in basketball. Generally, taller basketball players have the added advantage of being closer to the rim. Obviously, the closer you are to the hoop, the easier it is to make successful shots. Being a tall player also means that you can out-rebound shorter players and block their shots much more quickly.
It’s not always about being tall, though. We’ve indeed seen a crop of professional basketball players, including Allen Iverson and Chris Clemons, who’ve excelled in the game without being taller than average.
That’s because being a great basketball player comes down to techniques. And while ‘you can’t teach size’ to your players, the best basketball drills can help perfect their dribbling skills, quickness, speed, agility, and ability to shoot. For the next few minutes, we’ll be pointing out 7 basketball workouts that will develop and improve your players’ court skills- shooting, dribbling, sprinting, and communication.
How to Make Your Basketball Coaching Drills More Effective
Always Plan for Success
As a coach, your team’s success (or lack thereof) mainly depends on how you plan for the practice sessions. The best basketball coaches spend more time planning for the practice than the actual exercise- and the results always speak for themselves. On this note, we recommend making short notes on what basketball skills and drills the players need to work on. At the end of the session, make additional notes on drills that need more attention.
Start with a Good Warm-up
Stretching is a good way of revving up the cardiovascular system and muscles before practice. A 10-20 warm-up session may help in lessening the risk of injury and reduce muscle soreness.
Let all Players Participate in Dribbling and Ball-handling Drills
Dribbling and ball-handling basketball practice drills should be practiced by all players regardless of their position in the court. Besides perfecting particular moves, these workouts also make your players great athletes in general. Importantly, ensure that you don’t show favoritism to any players. Everyone should feel that they are vital for the team’s success.
Great Basketball Practice Drills
1. Terminator Drill
This is among the best basketball dribbling drills that develop your players’ ability to dribble in tight corners. This drill forces the players to keep their heads up. This increases their awareness of the players around them, and who of their teammates is open. It also develops their ability to dribble with both hands. This is necessary for preempting the pressure and avoiding a potential turnover.
How to Perform
- Divide your players into small groups of 5-10 people.
- Each of the players has a ball, which they continuously dribble inside the 3-point line.
- As they dribble, the players should move towards other players and knock off their balls.
- Any player who loses his/her ball is ‘terminated’ and has to exit the area.
- As more players are kicked out, the coach continues to restrict the available area of play.
- The last player inside is the overall ‘terminator.’
During the drill, encourage the players to keep their heads up while changing the dribbling hand continuously. Importantly, identify the seemingly timid players in the group and encourage them to face off aggressive teammates.
2. 1-on-1 Continuous Defensive Drill
Offensive techniques are necessary for increasing the team’s ball possession and shot attempts. But not all shooting attempts will fall, so the team also needs to have excellent defensive skills to guarantee their continued success in dominating the court.
This 1 on 1 basketball training is a fast-paced drill that develops the players’ competitiveness when facing a defensive player during a close-out. The focus of this one-on-one basketball training is to boost your players’ confidence when guarding the opposition.
How to Perform
- Ask one offensive player to stand on each wing.
- Each of the offensive players has a defender guarding them on their respective wing.
- The other players stand in a line at the paint, each with a ball.
- At the coach’s cue, the offensive player starts by v-cutting in an attempt to get open for a pass from the top. The offensive player and the defender then compete 1 on 1 until a successful shot or change of ball possession.
- After the first 1-on-1, the top line moves to fill the free wing.
- The offensive player who’s just played the previous 1-on-1 then closes out, and they compete until a successful shot or change of possession.
- The offensive player transitions to defend the opposite wing for the amount of time assigned for the drill.
Ensure that the players utilize only one-half of the court for this drill. This limits their attacking space forcing the offensive players to attack fast. The limited space also pressures the players to make quick decisions. Check some more basketball defense drills.
3. Curl, Fade, Cut Drill
Whenever your players execute a screen during the game, they need to read the defender in order to make the right cut that will get them open. This drill is designed to make your players smart by developing the three major reactions that will help your players explode past the defender; curling, fading, and cutting.
How to Perform
- Start by setting up one chair on both sides of the paint around 2ft outside of the lane.
- Have the shooter stand under the basket and the passer at the top of the paint.
- To do the regular fade cut, the shooter starts by setting up an imaginary defender by crossing the opposite lane line before cutting back snappily to use the screen (chair). While reaching for the screen, the shooter quickly looks over their inside shoulder as a way of reading the defender.
- At the screen, the shooter plants the inside foot and fades to the corner to catch the ball and make a shot.
- The shooter can also make a figure 8 cut by curling off of one chair and then going down the key before immediately fade cutting off of the second chair for the shot.
- The third move involves curling around one chair, cutting back into the paint but pausing in the middle. Next, the player's fade cuts off of the same chair for a catch and shot.
- Repeat the exercise to make 10 shots in a row. Encourage the players to mix all 3 cuts for each rep.
4. Two-ball Dribbling Basketball Drills
Professional coaches and basketball enthusiasts understand the significance of two-ball dribbling drills. While some people may view these basketball skill drills as overtraining, there’s no doubt that they dramatically improve players’ dribbling and coordination. As a matter of fact, these basketball training drills are based on the concept of performing a challenging task (2-ball dribbling) so that an easier task (one-ball dribbling) becomes less difficult.
How to Perform
There are a variety of basketball exercises that your players can accomplish within this one;
- Up and downs pound dribble- this exercise is the simplest of them all. The player starts by dribbling both balls at waist height before pounding them low to the floor.
- Ball kills- in this activity, the player dribbles the balls at waist height on the side and then suddenly kills them as low as possible. He then pounds them waist-high before killing them again.
- Alternating piston drill- the player gets in the triple threat position and dribbles two balls waist-high in piston-like motions. While one ball is down, the other is up.
- One high one low- on one side, the player dribbles the ball as high as possible while keeping the other ball as low to the floor as humanly possible. Encourage the player to change sides frequently.
- Push-pull- the player dribbles a ball on each side at waist height. While dribbling, the player pushes both balls to the back and then continuously pulls them to the front.
5. Bunny Shooting Drill
It’s paramount for your players to perfect different types of passing in basketball as well as dribbling and footwork skills. But let’s face it: shooting may be the most vital skill to have as a player.
Perfect shots take quite some time to master. Therefore, having different basketball shooting drills to do in basketball will hone this skill from different game-like scenarios. The bunny shooting drill, for instance, focuses on making well-controlled stops and maintaining balance when making the jump shot.
How to Perform
- The player starts from the right-wing and makes one dribble moving towards the hoop.
- At around 12ft from the goal, the player makes a jump stop.
- Next, they pull up and make a bank hit.
- Lastly, the player makes a secure rebound before sprinting to the wing for another rep.
- The coach determines how many reps to make or the duration of the activity.
When perfecting these workouts for basketball players, it's important that the player balances the workload by practicing on both sides.
6. Argentine Passing Drill
This is one of the most popular workouts for basketball players who want to perfect their passing and catching skills. Because it involves sprinting across the court, the Argentine passing drill may also be considered for speed, agility, and conditioning purposes.
How to Perform
- This drill requires 8 players.
- Have 4 players stand at each corner of the half-court. Each of the remaining players stands between every two corners.
- Let two players who are directly opposite of each other have a ball each.
- At the coach’s signal, the players with the ball pass it to the right.
- As soon as they pass the ball, the players sprint towards the empty spot directly across theirs.
- The players who have just received the ball pass it to their right and also run to the spot directly opposite.
- The activity continues for a minute, and then the players start passing the ball to the left.
The players first should perfect passing the ball to their right before sprinting to make these basketball workouts a success. Also, encourage them to call out the name of the players to the right before running. This will help in developing their communication skill. Note that you can modify this drill, for instance, by utilizing the entire court if you want the players to run a little more.
7. Power Layup Drill
Being able to finish at the hoop often is a surefire way of guaranteeing victories in the game. The power layup drill is one of the best workouts for basketball players in this regard as it trains them on how to transition from top speed to a comfortable encounter with the rim. This is considered one of the most important moves for NBA players as it makes it possible to make an easy shot without giving up speed and momentum.
When doing a layup, the ball hits the backboard gently before reflecting into the net. You can also execute it so that the ball rolls nicely over the top of the rim before dropping into the net.
While there are various ways of doing a layup in basketball, all are shots close to the rim and are worth 2 points.
How to Perform
- Divide the players into 2 groups. Let each group stand in a line, one on each wing.
- The first player from one group dribbles towards the basket.
- Player makes a quick stop on both feet and springs up by generating momentum with both arms before shooting the layup off the glass midair.
- The first player from the opposite line follows and repeats the same.
- The actions continue for the time decided by the coach.
- After shooting, the player runs to join the opposite line at the back.
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