Bob Knight: 3 High-Intensity Drills Perfect for Opening Practices

Follow along as Bob Knight leads you through three high-intensity drills that are ideal for opening practices with. Coach Knight has used these same drills throughout his esteemed coaching tenure. The drills work on ball handling, pair shooting, and passing fundamentals while under pressure. See if you can incorporate these effective drills from the Coach Knight playbook into your practices this season.

According to Coach Knight, it’s important to conduct drills and have practice organization that leads to your offensive and defensive play – peripheral things key to you being able to develop your team into a good team. With that said, it’s vital to start practice with exciting drills in which players are forced to pay attention to what’s going on. Here are three that do just that….

Ball Handling

Every player starts with a ball in place. When the coach is ready he yells “go” and the players start by dribbling up court and continuing until they hear a new direction. The directions may be anything from “change hands” to “go left” or “go right.” The key is for the players to pay attention to what they are doing out there. Start practice with the very basic fundamentals, such as keeping your head up, seeing where the floor is, and dribbling with both bands.

Next, have the players dribble with both hands, going up and back according to the coach’s instructions. You don’t need to do this very long, maybe 2-3 minutes. But the goal is to get the players thinking and working on the fundamentals.


Pair Shooting

Start with eight players. They will be working in pairs and each group has a ball. Start out above the foul line right on the edge of the key. According to Coach Knight, the more you can do that puts pressure on the kids in practice, the better you are going to do. Knight likes this drill as a daily shooting drill. It doesn’t necessarily have to go very long, either. It’s an effective, quick drill, and you can go about 3 or 4 reps with it.

When the coach yells to start, the shooter shoots and he rebounds his own shot. Then throw it back to your partner. Play to 10 and call out the numbers as you make the shots. The winner is the team that gets to 10 first. The drill should move quickly. Players should turn and pass back to the partner with authority. Get the entire team doing this drill, incorporating the main and side buckets of your gym.

The team that wins selects the next spot that they want to shoot from. The other teams must run a sprint.

Overall, it’s a drill that goes quickly and a good way to shoot the ball in practice. It’s an effective way to get the kids active and involved at the very beginning of practice.


Keep Away

This is a 2-on-1 drill basically carried out in place. It involves two offensive guys and one defender. The offensive players stay in place and use their footwork to pass around a defender. The defender goes back and forth between the two looking to intercept the pass. When the coach shouts out “Change”, players should rotate out.

Defensively, the goal here is to become quicker players. Look to get a hand on the ball and pick it off.

Keep the spacing between players at 12 feet. Don’t expand the spacing during the drill. Rotate through players and start again. Meanwhile, this is a great drill for practicing feeds into the post player. Remember, we are working on simulating game conditions, but making them tougher than in the game.


The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “Bob Knight: Essential Drills for Building a Championship Program.” To check out the entire Bob Knight catalog, click here.

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