The game of basketball has been around for well over a hundred years, and while some rules (and of course the jerseys) have changed with time, the same concept and essence of Dr. James Naismith’s game has endured. As basketball has evolved, so too have the drills and plays run to teach the game. In some cases, these drills have been passed down within the same high school or college for as long as anyone can remember. Or maybe a college coach sees a play they think will work for their team while watching a summer AAU game. Whatever the case may be, it’s clear that many coaches are dipping into the same pool of drills and/or plays despite having completely different types of players. While that seems to make sense for the more fundamental drills, such as a lay-up line or a ball handling circle, it seems hard to believe that the team running an aggressive 3-2 trapped zone should be practicing defense in the same way as a team that plays a pack-line containment defense.
With that in mind, it’s up to the coaches of today to create drills that will best develop their players and suit specific team (don’t worry, I don’t think Dr. Naismith will mind if you change some things up a bit). As a coach you know your team’s strengths and weaknesses better than anyone else, and you are also more familiar than anyone with the setup of your home gym…who else better to create drills and plays specifically tailored to your situation?
Below are a number of key points to keep in mind when creating new drills for your team.
- What is your normal gym set up? 1 court? 2 courts? Are the courts side by side or is there a nearby auxiliary gym you can use if you need more baskets or space? How many hoops do you have access to each day?
- How can you create (or recreate) drills that maximize the skills you are emphasizing to your team, while also integrating shots at the basket? For example, if you are running a drill that focuses on players attacking the basket from the wing and finishing at the hoop, you want to create a drill that gets your players as many reps as possible during that drill (see diagram).
- Work your team’s weaknesses into every drill that you can. If your team struggles with pressure defense (brining the ball up the court, getting open on the wing, passing through pressure), include those situations into as many parts of your practice as possible. Examples:
- 5 on 0 offensive review: have your PG start with the ball at ¾ court with a defender pressuring him/her as he/she dribbles up and calls out the play. Defender drops out of the drill once the PG initiates the first pass. This is an easy and controlled/safe way to get your PG more reps against a pressure defense without running an entire drill focusing on bringing the ball up the court against pressure.
- Require a certain type of move (L-cut, V-cut, foot advantage, etc) that wing players must make to get open on different drills
- How can you spice up “old favorites” to create drills that are more exciting for your players?
- Integrate an element of competition into the drills.
- Let the players choose their own teams.
- Double points for players who execute a specific move in live play.
Let’s continue to evolve our game by developing new drills and plays to teach our players more, as well as keeping them interested and passionate about the game we love!