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Archives by Tag 'Practice Drills'

8 Tips and Strategies for Practice Planning with Bob Hurley

By adam.warner - Last updated: Wednesday, November 2, 2011

St. Anthony’s (NJ) head coach Bob Hurley is widely recognized as one of the nation’s most respected and top overall high school basketball coaches. The two-time National Coach of the Year and winner of 25 state titles was a recent inductee to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

In this exclusive look, learn eight tips and strategies for practice planning from Coach Hurley. The segment covers everything from drills to time management and to practice organization. Finally, we’ll reveal one of Coach Hurley’s favorite warm-up drills that gets players thinking and playing sharp early in practice.

Practice Planning Strategies

1. At all times, you must get your practice plan on paper and stick to the schedule. Difficult things (like rebounding drills and screening drills) must be short in duration so the kids can follow and pick them up.

If a drill didn’t work, like a blockout drill, it’s up to the coach to come back the next day with a different drill. Don’t come back and be stubborn and try the same exact thing. In terms of drills, variety is really important for successful practices.

2. Alternate hard and easy drills/segments. We go four minutes with a particular segment. For instance, we got the explanation in the beginning and validation at the end (Coach Hurley picked this up from Vance Walberg).

With validation, pick a person at the end of the drill to shoot a free throw. If he makes it, move on to the next drill. But if he misses it, the team must run a sprint, do crunches or pushups. Do this for every segment. It incorporates pressure free throws. Plus, winning and losing is involved, some conditioning/running, and pressure situations.

3. Use the clock daily. Make use of your managers. One can do the clock and the other can help with drills. This is helpful for keeping time of drills, rebounding, and keeping track of makes.

4. Make practice competitive and fun. Competition lends to game speed. End practice each day with something challenging but fun.


5. When the team comes in to stretch, they do dynamic stretching now. After stretching, the team does a 30-second meeting and something to motivate the kids right before breaking. The team meets before, during and after practice. Coach Hurley blows the whistle, and everything stops in the drills. Kids must respond to the drill. If Coach Hurley points to the circle, that means the squad must come together for a quick meeting. The last kid that arrives must do 10 pushups. The team might do this 4-5 times a day.

6. In the first 15 minutes of practice, every coach must say something positive about every player. It’s not hard to do. As practice goes on and gets more intense, Coaches tend to get pickier. At the end of practice, the squad will get together again and have a 30-second meeting. John Wooden once said, “Always leave practice on a positive note.” We try to do this every day, even if it was a tough practice.

7. Win and lose starting jobs at practice. Make this happen every single day. Don’t allow guys to become “game-day players.” This will motivate players every day of the season.

8. Implement something new every day. It’s never too early to make the kids think.


Warm-Up Drill: “Fire”

Here’s a terrific warm-up drill to get players thinking and making quick decisions early in practice.

Start at the baseline with two players spaced out about 5-7 feet. First, there’s a pass from the inside player to the outside player. The inside player then cuts to the elbow. Note: Use only chest passes right now and focus on catching and moving. That elbow player gets the ball back. Next, that same player passes to a third player up at mid-court. The player from the corner now comes to the top of the circle. We hit him with a pass. That passer now follows him and heads to the end of the line.

The player with the ball now passes to yet another player up on the right side of the mid-court line. He then follows behind. The ball then goes back to the player at the top of the circle, then on to a player in the far corner/three-point area. Now, this player hits a different player cutting to the hoop for a layup.

The passer and the layup player are then immediately off and the next two players on the baseline start again. Start with layups and then mix in some jumpers. You can also get up to three balls going at once, that is if players aren’t daydreaming.


The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “Practice Planning and Program Development.” To check out more videos in the Bob Hurley catalog, click here.

Backdoor Drills and Handoff Plays with Geno Auriemma

By adam.warner - Last updated: Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Legendary UConn women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma prefers drill work that translates from practice to the game. In this week’s team development feature, learn some new half-court offensive drills that place an emphasis on the ability to pass, catch, dribble, and shoot. The drills are consistently used by Auriemma and his basketball teams and should make a tremendous addition to your practices this season.

Back Door Drills and Handoffs – Overview

Drill Set-Up

Get players into three lines; one in the middle of the floor just beyond the midcourt line, one on the wing, and one underneath the basket. Guards should be in the top two lines and big men are stationed under the hoop.

Drill Movements

Start the big guy at the low block. The guard will dribble from inside the circle (at midcourt) and then change direction real fast. Next, he will pass the ball to the big guy who just flashed up to the top.

Meanwhile, the wing player will then drive backdoor and look for the pass from the big guy. The wing player will look like they are trying to get open. At the same time, the big player will flash and meet the pass and then throw the backdoor pass.

The drill isn’t finished just yet. The big guy who passed it will go and get the rebound. The scorer will come and run right to the elbow. The big guy will go out of bounds and inbound to the guard at the elbow. That guard will then turn and dribble up the floor and the ball goes to the end of the line.


Drill Options

Also, there’s the option for the point guard to take the handoff from the big guy (if he doesn’t throw the backdoor pass). If this happens, the guard can shoot it, drive it to the hoop, or take a little pull-up jumper. Make sure that you alternate.

Remember, cutters can’t move too soon. We want the defense to think that we are throwing the ball to the wing. Instead, it’s going to the flasher. This is how we start building the offense right away. Also, make sure that you cut right off the player’s shoulder when you come get the ball.

Now switch sides. Every time we make a pass over a defender’s head, no matter where we throw it, as soon as he turns, we are moving hard one way — even if that player doesn’t turn. Cut whichever way he’s not looking. This is how you can teach kids who aren’t as quick to get open and get a hand-off.

Key: Make an overhead pass to cut to the defender’s weak side. To get open, you have to run right at the guy with the ball. Make the defender make a mistake. Either way, the defender is going to get hung up.


The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “Geno Auriemma: Dynamic Offensive Practice Drills.” To check out more videos featuring team drills, visit our extensive basketball library.

3 Practical Game-Speed Drills to Improve Shooting

By adam.warner - Last updated: Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Check out these three pracrical shooting drills that replicate game situations. Robert Morris head lacrosse coach Kenneth “Bear” Davis leads you through each one, first through whiteboard discussion and then via on-field simulations. Each drill is suitable for players of all levels and easy to implement into your own practices. After making these drills a part of your practice routine, hopefully they’ll deliver results come game time.

Give and Go Shooting

In this drill, one player will start with the ball before giving it up to his teammate. That first player will then make a back cut immediately after passing the ball. The feeder will then pass it right back to that player before the shooter get his hands set and then rips a shot. Communication is particularly important here among players for this type of play to succeed.

Meanwhile, the shooter has options. He can shuffle down, or get an over-the-shoulder look, among several other moves. Also, the “Give and Go” is ideal for middies in order to simulate a fast break, where players typically pass off to a point attackman before calling for the ball right back. You typically see give and go looks stemming from fast break opportunities.

Tip: On the shuffle move, players should get their shoulders square to the ball carrier before calling for the ball and receiving it back.


Pick & Roll Shooting

If your offense features a lot of pick and rolls, it’s key that your offense can also read and react to the pick and rolls, too. This drill is a great way to practice this.

You can run this drill from the side or from up top, whatever fits your offense best. Don’t forget that players need to open up and get their shoulders square to the ball carrier (so he/she can be ready to receive the pass). Coaches can also dictate where they want players to move in the drill, like telling players they must give it up, or go to the cage, or allow a player to freelance (unscripted).

Tip: You can run this drill on both sides of the cage at the same time to maximize reps and make sure everyone is getting involved.


50-Yard Fight

According to Coach Davis, this is not a drill for the weak. Line up your players in two lines and within the hash marks of the field. One line should be filled with defenders. The other line will have midfielders or attackmen. One midfielder/attacker will carry the ball and go one-on-one with a defenseman. Players have limited space to work with and must stay within the perimeter of hash marks (where the lines are formed).

Starting at the 50-yard line, players must run down the gauntlet until it’s just a one-on-one with the goal. If the offensive player beats the defender clean, then the defender must do all he/she can to chase and recover. The offensive player will look to get off a high percentage shot on goal.

This is a terrific warm-up drill for 1-on-1’s. Defenders get to work on their footwork and offensive players get to work on their ball protection.

Tip: Once within 10 yards of the cage, players can then shoot on net. Also, you can make this drill as physical as you’d like, but it’s recommended to get the fundamentals down first.


The previous shooting drills can be seen in Championship Productions’ DVD “25 Game-Speed Shooting Drills For Lacrosse” with Kenneth Davis. Check out more shooting drills right here.

Bob Knight: 3 High-Intensity Drills Perfect for Opening Practices

By adam.warner - Last updated: Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Follow along as Bob Knight leads you through three high-intensity drills that are ideal for opening practices with. Coach Knight has used these same drills throughout his esteemed coaching tenure. The drills work on ball handling, pair shooting, and passing fundamentals while under pressure. See if you can incorporate these effective drills from the Coach Knight playbook into your practices this season.

According to Coach Knight, it’s important to conduct drills and have practice organization that leads to your offensive and defensive play – peripheral things key to you being able to develop your team into a good team. With that said, it’s vital to start practice with exciting drills in which players are forced to pay attention to what’s going on. Here are three that do just that….

Ball Handling

Every player starts with a ball in place. When the coach is ready he yells “go” and the players start by dribbling up court and continuing until they hear a new direction. The directions may be anything from “change hands” to “go left” or “go right.” The key is for the players to pay attention to what they are doing out there. Start practice with the very basic fundamentals, such as keeping your head up, seeing where the floor is, and dribbling with both bands.

Next, have the players dribble with both hands, going up and back according to the coach’s instructions. You don’t need to do this very long, maybe 2-3 minutes. But the goal is to get the players thinking and working on the fundamentals.


Pair Shooting

Start with eight players. They will be working in pairs and each group has a ball. Start out above the foul line right on the edge of the key. According to Coach Knight, the more you can do that puts pressure on the kids in practice, the better you are going to do. Knight likes this drill as a daily shooting drill. It doesn’t necessarily have to go very long, either. It’s an effective, quick drill, and you can go about 3 or 4 reps with it.

When the coach yells to start, the shooter shoots and he rebounds his own shot. Then throw it back to your partner. Play to 10 and call out the numbers as you make the shots. The winner is the team that gets to 10 first. The drill should move quickly. Players should turn and pass back to the partner with authority. Get the entire team doing this drill, incorporating the main and side buckets of your gym.

The team that wins selects the next spot that they want to shoot from. The other teams must run a sprint.

Overall, it’s a drill that goes quickly and a good way to shoot the ball in practice. It’s an effective way to get the kids active and involved at the very beginning of practice.


Keep Away

This is a 2-on-1 drill basically carried out in place. It involves two offensive guys and one defender. The offensive players stay in place and use their footwork to pass around a defender. The defender goes back and forth between the two looking to intercept the pass. When the coach shouts out “Change”, players should rotate out.

Defensively, the goal here is to become quicker players. Look to get a hand on the ball and pick it off.

Keep the spacing between players at 12 feet. Don’t expand the spacing during the drill. Rotate through players and start again. Meanwhile, this is a great drill for practicing feeds into the post player. Remember, we are working on simulating game conditions, but making them tougher than in the game.


The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “Bob Knight: Essential Drills for Building a Championship Program.” To check out the entire Bob Knight catalog, click here.

All-Access UConn Men’s Basketball: First Practice

By adam.warner - Last updated: Wednesday, August 24, 2011

In this week’s edition of All-Access, we take you to Storrs, Connecticut for a behind-the-scenes look inside a University of Connecticut men’s basketball practice. Watch as legendary head coach Jim Calhoun leads his squad through an early pep talk plus a variety of team drills during one of the first practices of the season.

This All-Access look is a terrific way for coaches, players and parents to see exactly how one of the nation’s most renowned basketball programs conducts practice. In this particular instance, Connecticut runs through several team drills that include three-man weaves and 3-on-3 half-court simulations.

Be sure to pick up some tips, insights and new drills from this exclusive look and look for ways to incorporate them with your own program.

Inside the Huddle – Practice – Day 1

Coach Calhoun emphasizes three areas for these early-season practices: Get out and run, play with intensity, and use tempo to create an advantage. Next, Calhoun sets expectations for his team and gives them a short and long-term game plan. As for the very near term, it’s all about having a positive practice – one in which the team gets stuff done and everyone improves.


3-on-3 Half-Court Drill

Using just one section of the court in a half-court setting, the team moves into a 3-on-3 offense/defense drill. While the post man is looking to establish positioning on the block, the guards are looking to use screens to get open and then get the ball down low (and not far away from the hoop).

Meanwhile, the drill works on offense and defense at the same time in the half-court setting. As soon as the wingman passes to the man in the post, he should immediately set a screen for the opposite guard. If a defender overplays you, reverse the ball. Eventually after a few reps, the players switch to the left side of the court.


3-on-0 and 5-on-0 Drills

First in the 3-on-0 drill, players look to get the ball up the court quickly. It’s a two-pass drill with layups to start. Eventually, the drill moves into quick off-ball screens and splitting the post.

In 5-on-0 action, the goal is to move the ball quickly up the court in an effort to beat the defense. As Coach Calhoun reiterates, 5-on-0 means you run it like there is five guys against you. Use your imagination. Calhoun also talks about positioning frequently, such as where you want to post up exactly, where to play depending on a defender’s positioning, etc. Players should stay wide and go full speed at all times.


The previous clips can be seen on the Championship Productions’ DVD  titled “All-Access Basketball Practice with Jim Calhoun.” To check out more exclusive videos featuring Coach Calhoun and the Huskies, click here.


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