All Access Williams College: Aggressive Layups and Effective Warm-Up Drills

In this week’s edition of All Access, we take you Williamstown, Massachusetts for a behind-the-scenes look at a Williams College men’s basketball practice. First, watch as head coach Mike Maker starts off practice with a motivating speech about the importance of being a good teammate. Eventually, the squad moves into high intensity warm-up drills, including “40 in 4” and “Alley Shots.”

After recently wrapping up his fourth season as head men’s basketball coach at Williams, Maker has certainly made his presence felt at the Division III level. A longtime Div. I assistant for programs like West Virginia and Creighton, Maker has already led the program to a pair of Final Four appearances, earning NESCAC Coach of the Year honors in 2010. The Ephs finished 17-8 overall in 2011-12.

Inside the Huddle

We begin practice inside the huddle as Coach Maker stresses the importance of being a good teammate. Says Maker, “It’s easy when everything is going your way. But it’s very difficult to be a good teammate when things don’t go your way. It’s a hard thing to do, but it’s important to be supportive of your teammates. Put your team first and the program. Chemistry is everything.”


40 in 4 Drill

This is one of Williams’ most important shooting drills and a drill the team performs every day. It’s a combined drill where you must make 20 baskets in two minutes on each side of the floor. If the players don’t make 40 shots in four minutes, there’s a consequence for not hitting their number.

Encourage the players to be good teammates, so it’s not just a shooting drill, it’s also a conditioning drill. Have a rebounder at each basket and make sure they are constantly encouraging teammates and delivering effective passes at the same time.

Switch the shooter after one minute and change the shot depth during the drill. While some players will shoot three-pointers, others will shoot a longer two. The goal is to get warmed up and to create various game-like shots. If they don’t make their number, they have a sprint consequence. At Williams, the players get a lot of shooting in practices. According to Coach Maker, the program hangs its hat on this skill and it’s something they feel really needs to be developed.


Alley Shots

Get everyone with a ball. Basically, there are two lines, one at each basket, and with one player behind the other. Players go one at a time and dribble the ball at the top of the key. Players go hard to the rim and absorb contact while knocking down the layup. Williams believes against denile defense to drive the ball and shoot layups. That’s the team’s first option against denile.

Tips: Make sure that players are going at full speed. Get into a lean position where your head is in front of your feet and the ball is in front of your head. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Throw the ball out in front of yourself when driving to the hoop.

Next, players work on the left hand dribble with a dominant hand finish. Move to the left side of the court and go hard at the rim while absorbing contact. Next, move to the left slot area. Start with a pivot and full rotation, then dribble hard into the lane, and finish on the right side with your dominant hand.

Note: Coach Maker believes in using the dominant pivot foot. If you are right-handed, your right foot is off the floor and your left foot is on the floor. He also firmly believes in dominant side layups, no matter what side of the rim you are on.


The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “All Access Williams Basketball Practice with Mike Maker.” To check out more videos in our All Access catalog, click here

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