Knight School: 3 Essential Drills to Build Team Toughness

In this week’s team development feature, legendary basketball coach Bob Knight leads you through three drills instrumental in building mental toughness. Coach Knight has used these same drills throughout his esteemed coaching tenure with great success.

The drills focus on ball handling, rebounding, and passing fundamentals – all while under pressure. After picking up each drill, look for ways to incorporate them into your practices this season.

Zig Zag Drill

This is a great drill to start off practice with and really get some energy going. While it’s primarily about dribbling the basketball, it also hones defensive footwork and positioning on the ball. Look for the defensive man to see if he can keep his head on the ball at all times without using his hands.

Start at one end of the floor and get into a 1-on-1 scenario. Have the defenders put their hands behind their backs and concentrate on footwork. Make sure that they get their butt down and head up. They key is to keep moving those feet and get quicker. Offensively, have players work with both hands. Once they make it to the other end of the floor, have them come right back.

Use this drill for 3-5 minutes in practice. This is one example of a drill that makes kids work and forces them to pay attention.


2-on-1 Rebounding

It’s important for kids to get after the basketball. Simply, we don’t want them to be afraid of mixing things up when going after a rebound. This is a terrific drill for reinforcing those principles.

Start off with three rebounders. The coach should put the ball up on the backboard and the kids will go after it. After a rebound, you either want a good shot or a pass back to the coach. Keep them going and see how hard they work over a two minute period. This drill is a great way to keep your players active and it forces them to get tough. As for the coaches, don’t call many fouls in the drill, either.


4 Corner Passing

Players often forget important information from a time out to a play. There’s too much game slippage or time out slippage. Therefore, use this drill to force them to be active, quick, and remembering key information in pressure situations.

Use three balls for this drill. Players have three tasks when they have the ball: Pass, return, and hand off (and go to the inside). Using four lines (in a box formation), just keep going right around the square. When you catch the pass, you return the feed and move on. Start with one ball and then work in two more balls for three total at once. Make good passes and good catches and don’t forget to go inside. Also, call out the name of the teammate you are passing to.

Next, to develop a sense of teamwork (or a reliance on each other), if you mess up (let’s say you go to the outside), everyone must do 50 pushups. That’s a way for the coaches to get you to do what you are told to do.


The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “Bob Knight: Practice Planning and Drills for Mental Toughness.” To check out more drills in our Bob Knight catalog, click here


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