Player Development: Purposeful 1v1 Games

By John Leonzo

One of the best ways to develop individual skill is to play 1v1 against players that are going to challenge you. That being said, rolling the ball out and playing mindless 1v1 is not the best option to achieve one’s desired outcome. What I will advocate for in this article is to play multiple variations of 1v1 games in order to grow one’s skill and challenge oneself in a unique way.


One simple way to modify a game of 1v1 is to set up constraints that will impact and affect the way that the game is played. Here are some simple constraints that can be used:

Constraint #1: Shrink the space

Shrinking the space and limiting the boundaries is essential to using 1v1 games as a skill development tool. Smaller spaces will force the players to make contact with their defender, as well as be creative with the angles and shots that they use to finish at the basket.

Constraint #2: Limit dribbles

It is well known that players over-dribble on a regular basis. Limiting the number of dribbles that a player can take is a great way to break the habit of over-dribbling and force the players to use their dribble with purpose. I think 3 dribbles is a great limit to use.

Constraint #3: Play with a shot clock

Playing with a shot clock is a great way to teach players to attack their defender, as well as better read where open space is and explore how to get to that space quickly.

Constraint #4: Score based on shot-selection

This is one of my favorite ways to teach shot selection, as well as develop individual moves to create space and score when guarded. Here is how I use shot-selection to score a game of 1v1. An uncontested shot is worth 3 points (make or miss), a contested make at the rim is worth 2, and a contested make anywhere else is worth 1.

Constraint #5: Score based on defensive stops

This is a great way to build a defensive mentality with your players. The only way to get a point is to get a one-and-done stop. A one-and-done stop is where the player on defense gets a stop and secures the defensive rebound. Each stop is worth 1 point and the defender stays on defense until they get scored on or give up an offensive rebound.

1v1 Games
(click diagrams to get full details for each drill)

Blind 1v1


1v1 with advantage


Iona 1v1


St. Joes 1v1


Weakside Finishes


To download a PDF with all of the drills listed above, please click here.

Which one of the above drills have you used with your team? Which one is your favorite? Feel free to hit me up on twitter (@john_leonzo) and let me know your thoughts!

The following two tabs change content below.

John Leonzo

John Leonzo is the CEO of John Leonzo Basketball where he seeks to provide the highest quality training for both players and coaches. Through on the court training with players and online courses for coaches, John is able to make an impact in all the areas of the game.

Latest posts by John Leonzo (see all)

April 1, 2016 – Reno, Nevada, U.S – Bakersfield Jam Guard DEONTE BURTON (4) begins his drive against Reno Bighorn Guard DAVID STOCKTON (7) during the NBA D-League Basketball game between the Reno Bighorns and the Bakersfield Jam at the Reno Events Center in Reno, Nevada. (Credit Image: � Jeff Mulvihill Jr via ZUMA Wire)

Related posts