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Dynamic Drills to Beat Zone Defense: Box Drill and Bigs Shooting

By adam.warner - Last updated: Wednesday, May 16, 2012

In this week’s team concepts feature, we’ll highlight key offensive drills for beating zone defense. With his Duke team on hand to simulate key coaching points, legendary basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski breaks down the “Box Drill” and “Bigs Shooting” to show you how to run a smooth zone offense. These drills are perfect antidotes for any team looking to improve against stifling zone defenses. Meanwhile, check out our previous feature featuring Coach K and his five essential principles for attacking the zone.

Box Drill

Coach K uses this drill quite a bit with his team and is a great tool for perimeter players. Start by putting four defenders in a box or diamond shape to simulate a zone. You can even use managers if you’d like. The goal here is to teach the kids movement. Ask the players to have their feet set, be ready to shoot, use dribble penetration, and to keep balanced.

Offensively, use pass fakes and shot fakes to get the zone moving and to get open looks. Always be ready and use penetration to create and maintain spacing. This way, you’ll always be ready to hit your shot. This also forces the defense to come out and play you.

Also, implement quick fakes back to the direction that you received the ball – AKA misdirection moves. This creates great opportunities for you and your teammates and keeps the defense off balance. Make the defense think you are doing one thing but then go and do another.


Bigs Zone Shooting

One key principle for your big guys is to keep them behind the zone and having them flash. This is a good way of attacking the zone inside. However, they must know how to move first. Next, we’ll get into the different kinds of shots they will get against a zone. Like before with our perimeter players, they must be ready at all times to catch and shoot. This is also quite different than with man-to-man, so you must teach this in your build up as to how you attack the zone as a unit.

Start by getting one player or manager with a pad in the middle of the lane. The offensive player is going to crack into that defensive player. This creates an opening for the bigs to get a good post move. Be sure to show your hands, too.

Next, the post player comes out to the short corner. Look to get that 10-12 foot shot along the baseline.


On the heels of the short corner shots, the bigs are cracking in to the helpside of the zone. The big man should crack into the man who would normally slide down to stop him from making that move. Show a target to that perimeter teammate so he passes right to it. From this position, he can also block him out and screen the defender. Your bigs can also get lob passes after blocking out the defender, too.

After this, we move into flashes. Flash into an open area, like up around the free-throw line. Remember to flash from behind the zone. Flash, catch and face, shoot, and follow your shot.

Finally, put two guys into the post. Watch as they continue to work with each other. Both are posting, one on the ballside and helpside. Let them move around and don’t hit them every time.

The previous clips can all be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “Mike Krzyzewski: Duke Basketball – Attacking the Zone.” To check out more videos featuring zone principles, click here. Got any zone drills that work wonders for your own team? Let us know by commenting below or e-mailing us at

4 Effective Pick Options for the Screen & Roll Offense

By adam.warner - Last updated: Wednesday, May 16, 2012

In this introduction to the screen & roll offense, you’ll learn about a variety of screens to create mismatches on the offensive side of the floor. With North Dakota State University head coach Saul Phillips as your guide, pick up these essential pick & roll tips to give your motion offense the edge it needs – especially against those bigger teams that pressure passing lanes well.

Vertical (Vert)

With Vert, have your 5 man come up towards the top of the key and get his shoulders square to half court, looking to pick for his team’s ball handler. This kind of screen makes it hard for the 5 defender to stay with the 1 guard. It also makes defending guards nervous as they come up the court (especially as their head is facing the opposite direction).

All the while, this gives us a chance for our point guard to go 1-on-1 with a big for a few seconds. Look to eventually get two feet into the paint. In other words, dribble until someone stops you. Get in the paint, and if you don’t have a shot, stop, pivot and make a good pass back out and facing your target. From here, you can easily get back into the flow of your offense.


Many teams will eventually try to defend against the vertical screen by sitting on point guard’s right hand and then shading the big guy to the left. They will look to fight over the top of the screen. When this happens, simply re-screen them. All you have to do is cross it back over, but now the 5 defender has to cut over to cover a defender. NBA standout Steve Nash is the best at this, so we called this Phoenix. It’s hard to trap because of the angle.

The goal with Phoenix is to get the 5 man away from the hoop when you can’t go toe-to-toe with them all game. Also, you don’t necessarily have to score off of this. Instead, look to get two feet in the paint, turn and pivot, and get right into your offense.



With Pink, have your screener’s shoulders facing the sideline. We like to sprint into this screen as it’s harder for the defense to defend on the move. But be careful about moving screens, too. So as the big screener comes up from the low block to set the screen, pick the defender until it’s no longer effective. You also have a ton of options on the screen and roll as a screener. For instance, you can pop, seal, roll to the basket, or implement Pink (the threat of the screen and roll, AKA slip screen). You don’t even have to set the screen. It’s quite effective, too, especially after a defender hedges.



Finally, with Plus, instead of slipping the screen, come up, set the screen, and then go screen the next guy. This means there’s an extra screen coming and we’re gonna nail the helpside defender who’s just sitting there waiting. Through this, it will send a wide-open player off of the pick (via curl, fade, etc.). It’s also a terrific way to keep everyone involved.


The previous clips can all be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “Multi-Option Screen and Roll Offense” featuring Saul Phillips. To check out more videos featuring the pick & roll, click here

Quick Hitters: 3 Proven Inbound Plays Used by the Pros

By adam.warner - Last updated: Wednesday, May 16, 2012

In search of a few more inbounds plays this season to mix up your basketball playbook? Look no further than these three set plays used by the Golden State Warriors, Chicago Bulls, and New Jersey Nets during the 2008-09 NBA campaign.

NBA advanced scout Noel Gillespie gives you exclusive access to a variety of inbounds plays designed to give wide-open looks — particularly for late game situations or quick scoring opportunities. Each play is discussed on the court before run at full speed. To finish up, each play ends live 5-on-5.

Golden State Need 3

The Set-Up: Patience is the key to this particular sideline out of bounds play. The big man starts in the middle of the foulline area. A small guard starts up at the top of the key. A second guard or small forward begins on the opposite wing and above the three-point line. Meanwhile, another big forward starts near the low block.

The Finish: First, the low block forward circles around the big man at the line and heads to the opposite corner. The wing players follow just behind the low block forward and then cut to the near corner. The guard up top comes in and screens the center at the free throw line. The big guy will then pop up top for a three-point attempt. This forces a switch for the defense as there’s now a small on a big.


Chicago Starburst

The Set-Up: Player 1 starts on the opposite low block. Player 2 begins just inside the top of the key. Player 3 is just to the right of the top of the key. Player 4 is just to the left of the top of the key. Player 5 inbounds the ball.

The Action: Player 1 starts things off by coming up and catching the ball up top. Player 3 cuts across to the near corner. Player 2 steps up and sets a screen for the near forward closest to the inbounder. Player 4 comes off the screen and heads to the far corner. Now the center screens down for Player 1 and that big comes up and gets the pass. The inbounder (should be a guard) then follows the ball and there’s a pass right back to him/her. The big man circles around the guard as the guard penetrates and gets the entire lane to operate. You can penetrate and dish or take it straight to the rim.


New Jersey Need 2

The Set-Up: Two players are stacked at the nearside low block. Get another player set up on the near wing (just in front of the inbounder). Finally, have another player (preferably a guard) start off at the top of the key.

The Action: The bottom stack player starts by cutting to the near corner as a decoy. The inbounder should fake a pass to him. Meanwhile, the nearside player up top cuts across and sets a screen for the top of the key guard. This top of the key guard then comes off the pick and cuts straight to the ball looking for the pass. Next, the player who just set the screen for the top guard comes down and cuts off of a backscreen set by the top stack player. After the top stack player makes this pick, he cuts backside for a lob at the rim.


The previous clips can all be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “25 Game-Winning In-Bound Plays From the Pros” featuring Noel Gillespie. To check out more videos featuring set plays, visit our extensive DVD catalog.

3 Competitive Team Shooting Drills That Net Results

By adam.warner - Last updated: Wednesday, May 2, 2012

In this week’s Playbook Series, we break down three proven shooting drills that can make a difference for any basketball program. Read through the step-by-step breakdown of each drill before seeing them simulated live on the hardwood.

Fan Drill

Submitted by Tim Hofferber, Guymon High School, Guymon, Oklahoma

The Set-up: The ball starts in the right corner and is passed around the perimeter until it reaches the opposite corner for a shot.

The Action: After each pass, the player follows the pass to the next station. The shooter grabs the rebound, passes to the next player up in the original line, and runs to the end of that line.

Keys: Divide the team in half and place a group at each end of the floor to make it competitive. Also, decide on different shooting spots to shake up the drill a bit.


4 Out Shooting Drill

Submitted by Stacy McGehee, Vincent High School, Vincent, Alabama

The Set-up: There are two lines up at the top of the key. Players 1, 2, and 3 are stacked to the right. Players 4, 5, and 6 are stacked to the left. In the right corner, we have players 7, 8, and 9 lined up. In the left corner, we have players 10, 11, and 12 lined up.

The Action: To begin, players 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6 all have basketballs. Players 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 do not. Player 1 passes to 4 and then sets a screen for 7. 7 cuts to the elbow and receives a pass from 4. 7 shoots upon receiving the pass.

The Finish: Next, player 4 screens for 10. 10 curls to the elbow and gets a pass from 2 and shoots. 7 gets his rebound and dribbles to the end of the line behind 2 and 3. Utilize many different types of shots with this drill, including layups, jumpers, jump-stops, head fakes, and more.


30-Second Rotation Drill

Submitted by James Bryant, New Caney High School, New Caney, Texas

Put 30 seconds on the clock and get three players in three different lines outside the three-point line. The first player in each line shoots, gets the rebound, and passes to the next player in their line. This drill continues until the buzzer sounds. Then rotate each line after the buzzer.


The previous drills can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “Over 30 Sizzling Team Shooting Drills” by Winning Hoops. To check out more team plays and shooting drills, visit our extensive Winning Hoops collection.

All Access DeMatha Basketball: Transition Defense & Half-Court Shooting Drills

By adam.warner - Last updated: Wednesday, April 4, 2012

In the latest edition of All-Access, we take you back to Hyattsville, Maryland for an inside look at a DeMatha Catholic High School boys’ basketball practice. Follow along as head coach Mike Jones leads his team through a number of warm-ups and drills focusing on transition defense.

Hit the Floor

Five players at a time start out facing the baseline. On the coach’s whistle, all five players smack the floor to commence the drill and work on defensive slides all the way down the court. Once the players get down to the mid-court line, they sprint to the opposing baseline. Once at the other end, players close out toward the three-point line shouting, “Ball, Ball, Ball” before sprinting back to the baseline. As soon as each group has finished, the first group starts all over again and heads down the opposite end repeating the movements.


This is DeMatha’s take on the standard “Shell Drill.” The team divides into four white team players and four blue team players. The squad is simply working on perimeter ball movement, defensive adjustments, and overall technique. There is constant ball movement and defensive movement going on in this drill. The coach may yell out “Drive” or Shot” at any time and players must be ready to rebound and box out.


Transition Defense

The squad sets up a line of players at the midway point of the sideline. A coach has a ball in the paint. One at a time, players sprint toward the basket, receive a quick bounce pass, and then finish strong at the rim. That same player then immediately sprints down the court to get ready for defensive responsibilities in a transition setting.

Players finish the rep when they reach the opposite foulline, plant, turn forward (open up), get into a good defensive stance, and then slide toward the sideline and off the court.

After moving through a number of layup reps, there’s a switch to short seven-foot jumpers using the glass. Next, players work on lob plays and finishing up high and in tight. The coaches make some contact as well so players must finish in traffic and with defensive pressure.


Oklahoma Shooting

To wrap things up, DeMatha runs Oklahoma Shooting on both ends of the court at once. Down at each end, players form two lines total, one on each side of the sideline and around the top of the key extended. One player has a ball and passes to his opposite teammate, who is cutting hard to around the free-throw line area (the squad places a chair right in front of the line to mark the exact spot). Next, he catches the ball right on the side of the chair and shoots immediately.

The drill is simply catching the pass, taking two steps to the side, and then letting the shot go with a quick release. Be sure to work on your footwork, elevating, and knocking down your shots.

Next, move the chair towards the wing and have guys shoot off the elbow and in the corner. Use similar passing techniques and movements like before. Then switch the chair to opposite side of the court and continue shooting directly off the pass.


The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “All Access DeMatha High School Basketball Practice.” To check out more videos in our exclusive All Access collection, simply head over to our basketball library.


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