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This week’s player development feature focuses on a pair of drills designed to help guards improve their ball handling skills. Kevin Sutton, Nike Skill Academy Instructor and Montverde Academy Men’s Basketball Coach, leads viewers through the workout sessions.
These simple and effective drills — which work on improving balance, hand-eye coordination, overall dribbling ability and risk-taking — can be done at any level and only require a basketball and a tennis ball.
The pound dribble is a terrific way to begin ball control workouts. Players start by pounding the basketball hard at shoulder height with their right hand. Players should stay stationary and eyes should be looking straight ahead. After about 15-20 seconds, players can proceed to pound dribble at waist level, then followed by knee and ankle levels. Next, players should switch to their opposite hand and repeat the previous steps.
Keys: Remember to keep your opposite hand protecting the ball at all times. Keep your body low and knees bent with the backside down. Also, shoulders should stay square and your body should have proper posture.
Next, players should begin a high-alternating crossover dribble, going back and forth with the ball using just one hand. Begin with shoulder height dribbles before proceeding to the waist, knees and ankles. To finish, when players get to dribble at ankle length, they should touch the floor with their opposite hand.
Keys: This is an effective drill as the dribblers can move the ball side to side very quickly. And it’s okay if mistakes are made and the ball scoots away. The goal here is for players to take risks, too.
Finally, players should commence a rhythm dribble called “Push-Pull.” This is where the player pushes the ball forward and back on one side while in a stationary position. Their feet should be apart during this drill and always maintain good balance. To finish up, players can use their left hand and switch to a push-pull out in front for both right and left hands.
This drill is great for hand-eye coordination. Players should remember to stay down on the ball (which forces a low center of gravity) and maintain their dribble at all times during the toss.
In the basic dribble toss, players dribble in place with one hand and use their opposite hand to toss and catch the tennis ball. Players should never surrender their dribble. After this, switch to the opposite hand. Remember, it’s okay to dribble through the legs or behind the back if it means maintaining your dribble.
Another variation of the tennis ball toss is the partner toss. Two players dribble about 10-15 feet from each other and then toss their tennis balls to each other while maintaining their dribble. This drill requires constant communication between teammates and improves one’s hand-eye coordination.
This week’s drill breakdown features six useful pick & roll plays designed for quick baskets. The “quick-hitters” were submitted by Vonn Read, who has worked as an assistant basketball coach at the University of Kentucky and University at Albany. The plays demonstrated below all begin on the left side of the basketball court, however, can easily be switched to the right side with just a few adjustments.
The Set-Up: In Play A, the 1 guard starts on the left side and dribbles off of 4’s high screen at the top of the arc. Following the pick, 4 then rolls off into the left corner. The 5 player, who started out on the right low block, sets a high screen for the 3 player, who was at the top of the key just to the right.
The Finish: The play finishes by the 1 guard passing to 4 in the corner or 3 in the low post for a backdoor layup.
The Set-Up: In Play B, the 1 guard starts on the left side of the court and then dribbles off of 4’s high pick at the top of the arc. Following his screen, 4 then rolls off to the left. The 3 player moves from the right wing of the court and into the near corner. Then, 5 starts out on the low right block before setting a high screen for the 2 guard, who was in the right corner to start. The 2 guard then cuts backdoor toward the basket.
The Finish: The play finishes by the 1 guard passing to 4 in the corner or 2 for the backdoor layup.
The Set-Up: In Play C, the 1 guard starts on the left side and dribbles off the high screen set by 5. 5 then sets another screen under the basket near the baseline, this time for 3, who had started out in the right corner. Now, 3 is running the baseline. The 4 player comes up from the right low block and sets a screen for the 2 guard up high. The 2 guard, who had started out at the top of the key, then cuts to the off-side right wing.
The Finish: The play finishes by the 1 guard passing to 3 in the left corner/baseline or to 2 for a long jumper on the wing.
The Set-Up: In Play D, the 1 guard starts out on the left side and dribbles right off of a high screen set by 5. Then, 5 moves into the lane and sets a pick for 3 under the basket. 3 started out on the right low block before running baseline to the left corner. Meanwhile, 4 starts out on the right low block as well before setting a high screen at the top of the key for 2. The 2 guard then cuts to the right wing off of the pick.
The Finish: The play finishes by the 1 guard passing to 3 for a 15-foot jumper in the corner or passing to the 2 guard for a 3-point attempt. This play is similar to Play C, but this time the players are starting out in different spots on the court.
The Set-Up: In Play E, the 1 guard starts out on the left side and dribbles off of a high pick set by 5. 5 then sets another pick, this time for 3 on the left low block. 3 is now running baseline after starting out on the weakside low block. Meanwhile, 4, who started out beyond the arc on the right side, sets a high screen for 2, who moves from the top of the key to the right wing.
The Finish: 4 then cuts into the lane off of the high screen and the 1 guard hits 4 while he’s cutting into the lane.
The Set-Up: In play F, the 1 guard dribbles off 5’s high pick up top and 1 cuts to the right towards the top of the key. After the screen, 5 then rolls to the left corner/baseline area. 4 then cuts from the weakside low block to the center of the lane.
The Finish: The play finishes by 1 passing to 5 for a short jumper on the baseline or by passing to 4 who is cutting into the lane.
Keno Davis, head men’s basketball coach at Providence, has been given a contract extension after his first season in which the Friars won 19 games.
Davis, the 2008 AP Coach of the Year at Drake, guided Providence to a 19-14 overall record — and a 10-8 Big East mark. The win total was the most by a Providence coach in his first season.
The extension announced Tuesday will keep Davis at Providence through the 2015-16 season.