Can’t I just play all day? Not exactly. Basketball drills are an essential requirement for improving your overall ability as a basketball player. Players like Stephen Curry have perfected the art of the basketball drill to a point where fans will flock to the court up to two hours early just to watch him perform his now famous two-ball basketball drills.
While most players are familiar with standard drills that involve wrapping the ball around the waist, or dribbling back and forth between two given points, basketball drills provide endless possibilities for improving everything from shooting ability to close-out defense.
Let’s examine a variety of different drills that hit on several key aspects of becoming a well-rounded player. After all, the more you develop your game, the more valuable you are to your team when you are on the floor.
Basketball Shooting Drills
Shooting drills provide the most effective method for developing an elite shooting ability. Shooting Drills involve building a repertoire of moves to score in a variety of ways, or just warming up before a game to keep your shot on point. When it comes to shooting, consistency is key, so having a set of pre-game shooting drills is a vital factor for any would-be basketball player.
Form shooting is one of the oldest shooting drills, but it is also one of the most effective. The concept is simple in that the player stands directly in front of the hoop, then shoots at least 20 warm-up shots with as perfect of form as possible. Keep in mind, college and NBA players are known to shoot up to 2000 shots a day in order to maintain perfect shooting form. First you need to build up your own ability to shoot just in front of the rim, then keep stepping back and perform-ing the drill repeatedly and consistently over a period of weeks, to months, to expand your range. Not everyone will be able to shoot from insane distances like Damian Lilliard or Steph Curry, but with the right tools there is no limit to how great of a shooter one can become.
In addition to form shooting, players can choose a number like 3 or 7, then count the number of makes on spots all over the court. For example, a player could work their way around the key, then step out to mid range to shoot at least 3-7 makes before leaving each spot. This can also be completed at the three point line, but the key is to tay consistent and follow your shot so that you develop both the shooting ability and the ability to maintain proper form during the course of an intense workout.
Basketball Dribbling Drills
Dribbling drills are great because they allow you to become a better basketball player even in times when you can’t gain access to a hoop. Some dribbling drills can be as simple as wrapping the ball around your head, then repeating the same drill in the opposite direction. These drills are best performed in a triple threat position in order to mimic in-game situations.
As you advance in your ability, there is an endless amount of drills that can be incorporated into your repertoire. Players can use two basketballs at once, or do dribbling drills with a heavier ball, or even a tennis ball. Regardless of how you incorporate dribbling drills, remember to always pound the ball and dribble in a way that you would while facing an opponent.Dribbling drills are great because they allow you to become a better basketball player even if you can’t get access to a hoop.
Some dribbling drills can be as simple as wrapping the ball around your head, then repeating the same drill in the opposite direction. These drills are best performed in a triple threat position in order to mimic in game situations. As you advance in your ability, there is an endless amount of drills that can be incorporated into your repertoire. Players can use two basketballs at once, or do dribbling drills with a heavier ball, or even a tennis ball. Regardless of how you incorporate dribbling drills, remember to always pound the ball and dribble in a way that you would while facing an opponent.
Youth Basketball Drills
Youth basketball drills are not much different than high school or adult basketball drills, but youth basketball drills require more attention to the joy of the game. With youth basketball, it is important to remember that children don’t always have the same attention span as an adult, so youth coaches should be careful not to organize practice around too many of the same routines. That being said, kids tend to love basketball and there is no better time to master the fundamentals than in the earliest stages of ldevelopment. Some players carry on with the same bad shooting form for years without even attempting to correct it. In many of these cases, those players end up quitting if they feel they cannot play to the level they would like.
With youth basketball drills that are fun but still incorporate proper shooting mechanics, youth athletes get a leg up on their opponents as they move through the stages of growth in their sport. One great way to add fun into youth basketball drills is to change the name of a drill into something more kid friendly. For example, instead of playing chase down, where the offensive player attempts to dribble full speed for the length of the course while the defender sprints after them, a youth coach could call this drill Bee Sting, which would allow the youth defender to pretend he or she is a bee trying to sting the offensive player.
Basketball Defense Drills
Let’s face it, there aren’t too many players posting videos of their defensive drills on social me-dia, but the reality is that defensive drills help separate the serious players from the rest of the pack. While there is nothing glamorous about wall sits or defensive slides, defensive drills are an excellent way to condition yourself for the grueling fourth quarter when a coach needs you to get that one last stop. In many cases, a single defensive stop can be the difference between a win and a loss.
Defensive drills can vary from a simple wall sit, where a player crouches low against a wall and holds their position for anywhere from one to five minutes, or even ten. Defensive slides are a versatile drill that involve having players slide in a defensive position from baseline to baseline, or in a zig-zag formation down the length of the floor. As practice and skill sets progress, more complicated defensive drills can be introduced that involve multiple players and at least one coach.
One classic example is the close-out drill, where a coach or player passes the ball to an offensive player at the baseline three- point arc, then a defensive players sprints from under the hoop to practice the ability to close out. These drills can be adjusted based on the types of team defensive schemes one utilizes in their program.
Basketball Passing Drills
Basketball Passing Drills are another great tool that can be completed without access to a hoop. Similar to dribbling drills, passing drills must be done on a consistent basis to stay sharp and ready for game action. The most basic passing drill involves standing anywhere from five to ten feet from a wall and passing with perfect chest pass form from a triple threat position. For youth players, it is good to start at a short distance, but as their strength and skill progresses, move them back so that they can practice throwing good passes from longer distance. Wall passing can be used for chest passes, bounce passes, overhead passes, and even one handed scoop passes or behind-the-back passes.
In reality, as great as wall passes may be, players need to understand how to make great passes against a defender. Once they have mastered the basics, a great way to teach in-game passing is to have three players set up on the court with one offensive player attempting to pass the ball into the post from the wing while a defender guards them. This forces the passer to work on pump fakes, overhead passes, and find more effective ways to get the ball into the post.
One additional passing drill that helps players achieve game speed passing ability is the two-ball pass-ing drill, where two players stand ten to twenty feet from each other and pass at the same time. In this drill, one player makes a bounce pass while the other makes a regular chest pass, so there are always two basketballs moving at the same time. When the coach blows the whistle, players have to alternate which type of pass they make.
Basketball Ball Handling Drills
Ball handling drills are often confused with dribbling drills, but ball handling is an art form that is as essential if one wants to become a great basketball player. Ball handling drills work best if coupled with dribbling drills. Pete Maravich popularized some of the more challenging ball-handling drills, like the drill that involves throwing the ball directly overhead with two hands, clap-ping, then catching the ball with two hands behind your back before it hits the floor. These types of drills are great for basketball, but they are also an excellent way to train your hand-eye coordination, which is something that transfers to a wide variety of skills both on and off the floor.
Fun Basketball Drills
Basketball should above all be a fun game. Of course, practice shouldn’t just be fun games all the time, but mixing it up with some fun drills is a great way to build up competitive spirit. Some of the most basic fun basketball drills include Bump and Sharks and Minnows. In bump, players line up behind the free throw line with two basketballs and at least three players. The first player has to make their shot, but if they don’t, they have until the second player in line makes a shot to remain in the game. If the second player misses, the first player can either lay it up, or slam their own ball into the second player's ball to launch it away from the hoop. This game is especially fun for younger kids, but it’s a great way to improve shooting under pressure.
Sharks and Minnows is a great game for working on dribbling and pressure situations. This game works best with several players on the floor. The set up for this game is to have two players be “sharks” and the rest of the players be “minnows.” The minnows have to dribble within a given zone (this can be within the entire course to begin) and the sharks run around the court and try to steal the ball away. If a player loses their ball they become a shark, but the last player remaining with a basketball wins. In order to make this game extra exciting, the coach should shrink the playing area as the amount of minnows decreases. By the end of the game the area of play could be as small as the center circle.
Finally, there is nothing more exciting in basketball than trying to beat the clock. There are so many ways to utilize a timer to make drills more enjoyable. Coaches can place tape on several different spots on the floor, then hold a contest to see who can get the fastest time and make a shot at each spot.
Basketball Footwork Drills
Great footwork is an often overlooked aspect of great basketball play. Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Larry Bird may have been known for scoring, but that scoring came from years of working on impeccable footwork. For example, a player can run the length of the floor, but stop at each quarter-court line with a jump stop into triple threat position. From triple threat, the possibilities are endless. Players can work on pivoting forward or backward, then combine some wrap-around ball handling before dribbling to the next spot. Players can also stop at each spot, do a hard pump fake and dribble to the next spot again. Ball handling drills also allow players to work on spin moves and other effective ways to get around the defense.
Basketball Practice Drills
Any of the above drills can constitute practice, but team practices call for drills that involve the entire team and make the most effective use of time. Some of the most useful drills include three-man weave, which involves three players running the length of the floor without taking a single dribble. The first passer must go behind the player receiving the pass, then run ahead in time to position himself in place to catch the pass by the time the ball makes it down the floor. This drill can also be converted in to five man weave, which follows the same principles, but utilizes five players. Other great practice drills include: Princeton Offense Drill, 3 man weave to 2 on 3, and Close Out Drill.
Basketball Drills for Guards
Although the professional game seems to have gone away from the traditional basketball posi-tions over the past few years, it still makes sense to separate guards and big men in youth to college levels of play. In these situations, guards should be challenged to work on fundamental aspects of the game, like the ball handling, dribbling, and passing drills previously mentioned, but it is also a great idea to allow guards to practice getting out of pressure situations. This could in-volve forcing point guards to pass out of a double team, or running drills where guards have to try and get across half court in a full court pressure defense.
Basketball Offense Drills
Most do not have the personnel to simply put five talented players on the floor and hope for the best. Teams must commit to an offense the fits the type of talent on the roster. These kinds of drills are usually run in a half court set. Early in the season the coach will need to stop play and spend a lengthy amount of time going through the various options of the offense. There are some complicated offenses like the Triangle, Princeton, and others, but for most levels of play a simple Flex offense or Wheel can do the trick. Regardless of what a coach chooses to utilize, it won’t work unless players know how to set a good screen and move without the ball. Setting a screen is definitely something that should be incorporated into practice so that players can get open.
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