Two Fundamental Drills for Basketball Practice with Ben Jacobson

No matter if it’s the preseason or middle of the season, Northern Iowa head men’s basketball coach Ben Jacobson works on fundamental skills with his team throughout the campaign — whether it be shooting, passing, dribbling, or rebounding. In this week’s team development feature, learn two effective fundamental basketball drills from Coach Jacobson that should pay immediate dividends with your squad this year.

Two Minute Layup Drill

While a very basic drill, the two minute layup drill is a great way to start practice. It’s typically run at the start of practice to get their minds working. It also promotes communication and works on passing and catching at the same time.

Put two minutes on the clock. Players must make 22 layups in two minutes. Jacobson’s players have gotten to 23, though it took some practice. However, the only way to reach that goal is to make each layup, make sure they are clean, and ensure the ball doesn’t hit the rim or hit the floor. In other words, you can’t have any errors.

Start at the free throw line at the far end of the court. Three players at a time should be spread out evenly. Players are just passing and catching all the way down the court. Be sure to shoot each layup without a dribble. As it comes through the net, the next guy in the middle will grab it and start up with his new group. The ball should never hit the floor, so be sure to use only chest passes. Tip: The rebounder should grab the ball on the run. Each pass has got to be on the money.


Alley Drill

This drill works both offense and defense. You need one player on offense and one player on defense. The goals of the drill are to defend without fouling, contain the dribble, turn the ball handler, and don’t foul.

Guarding the basketball is the key to our entire defense. With that said, players must be able to play 1-on-1 basketball. Remember, if you can guard the basketball, you don’t have to be in help defense as long and you don’t have to go into rotations.

The offensive player will handle the ball starting at half court. He can only work within the free throw lines extended out to half court. He must get the ball from the half court line to the end line. This player is not trying to score but rather attempting to get to the endline with a jumpstop. Defensively, we are working on turning the player and making it as hard as it can for the offensive player.

Key to playing defense: Keeping your feet on the ground and being in a position to defend. Positioning is very important.

Note: If the ball is knocked loose, go get it. You can also run this drill with one offensive guy vs. three defensive players or one defensive guy against three offensive players. This will really work each player and give them increased reps against fresh troops.


The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “Ben Jacobson: Fundamental Drills for Basketball Practice.” To check out more videos featuring drills and fundamental skills, head over to our extensive basketball library.


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