Editor’s Note from Brian: This is designed to be used for individual skill workouts in the spring, summer, and fall, but I believe that you can adapt it to in season team practices to motivate your players to work harder on individual skill development during that portion of your practice.
I like to use this format for my Improvement Season skill development workouts for our basketball players. Players should consider the Spring, Summer, and Fall as their “improvement season” unless they are involved in other sports. I first saw Kevin Eastman use the term “improvement season” and really like that concept. I also believe that “Champions have no off-season,” and the term improvement season fits with that philosophy.
Our players have enjoyed this workout because of its competitive nature. I have learned that the majority of players would rather do a shorter workout that features intense basketball drills. The goal for the competitive basketball workout is a 45 minute workout at a highly intense pace and with correct technique.
Move from one game (drill) to the next. The only time you stop is to record your scores.
Rather than just doing basketball drills, each day’s competitive workout is a “20 game season.” The purpose is to make it as competitive as possible both during the workout and over the entire course of the improvement season.
I set a standard for each drill for 5 different levels of players. This is for a high school program, but you can obviously modify it for any level you coach. You could just use the level numbers or colors if there aren’t any names that fit for your level.
Level 1–Championship Level
Level 2–Varsity Rotation Player
Level 3–Varsity Team Member
Level 4–Junior Varsity
Level 5–Middle School
With 5 levels, we can have young and veteran players all doing the workout, with higher expectations for each of the basketball drills for better players. The young players can work at their own level and not be discouraged. You can also scale the intensity of the basketball drills you use in your workout to fit the age of the player you are working with.
The player and I work together to establish the level they will work at. They can move up to a higher level if they want to challenge themselves. I have also created college levels for graduates who are going to continue to play after leaving our program.
Here is an example of one of the drills that is on our list that can be used as a “game pace drill”. The player spins the ball out to simulate catching a pass and shooting a 15 foot shot. They rebound their own shot and spin the ball to another area for another 15 foot shot.
They have two minutes to complete the drill to ensure that they are working at a game pace.
Level 1–Championship Level Player must make 15 shots without missing 2 in a row at any point. If he misses 2 in a row the drill is over and the “game” goes down as a loss on today’s schedule of 20 drills. We call them 20 games.
Level 2–Varsity Rotation Player 12 makes without missing 2 in a row.
Level 3–Varsity Team Member 10
Level 4–Junior Varsity 8
Level 5–Middle School 6
You will need to create a similar scoring system for all of the drills that you will use in your competitive workout.
The player gets 1 chance at each drill. If he achieves the score for his level, he gets a win for that “game”. If he doesn’t achieve the score, he gets a loss. We do 20 drills each workout to complete a 20 game season. Then, after the 20th drill, the players get a chance at the postseason. In Indiana high school, you have to win 7 postseason games to win the state championship. All players compete at the Championship level in this phase of their workout. If you lose, just like the postseason tournament, your workout for the day is over.
The players can choose their own drills in the 7 postseason games. The way we incorporate free throws in this portion is by requiring players to “validate their win.” After they meet the standard to win a postseason game, they shoot one free throw. They make it, the win counts, they miss and the drill becomes a loss and the workout is over.
I have a list of drills for each category
1) Technique Shooting Drills
2) Dribbling and Driving Drills
3) Game Pace Shooting Drills (You can add any of your program’s intense basketball drills to this phase of the workout)
4) Toughness Shooting Drills
I also have created the scores for each drill that goes along with the five levels. You will want to create your own scores that are needed to win each level for each drill like the example I gave above.
I allow the players to choose the drill that they want to do for each game as long as it is from the category he is on.
1. Rim Flips (Form shooting at the basket to groove the shot)
I score this one by keeping track of consecutive makes or stepping back after a certain number of makes.
2. Consecutive Free Throws
(Championship and Varsity Regular make 3 in a row to win–one chance)
(Other 3 levels must make 2 in a row to win–one chance)
3. Technique Shooting Game
4. Free Throws (all Free Throw Games are the same as #2 above)
5. Dribbling and Driving Game
6. Free Throws (all Free Throw Games are the same as #2 above)
7. Different Dribbling and Driving Game
8. Free Throws (all Free Throw Games are the same as #2 above)
9. Game Pace Shooting Game
10. Free Throws (all Free Throw Games are the same as #2 above)
11. Different Game Pace Shooting Game
12. Free Throws (all Free Throw Games are the same as #2 above)
13. Third game pace shooting drill (may repeat one of the two previous game pace games only if you lost that game–cannot repeat one that you won)
14. Free Throws (all Free Throw Games are the same as #2 above)
15. Fourth game pace shooting drill (may repeat one of the three previous game pace games only if you lost that game–cannot repeat one that you won)
16. Free Throws (all Free Throw Games are the same as #2 above)
17. Toughness Shooting Game
18. Free Throws (all Free Throw Games are the same as #2 above)
19. Different Toughness Shooting Game (At this point in the workout, you want to give your players your most intense basketball drills that they can handle without becoming discouraged.
20. Free Throws (all Free Throw Games are the same as #2 above)
Postseason–player chooses the drill. Cannot choose a drill that they already won, but can choose one they lost. All players must compete at the championship level. One loss and the workout is over–just like the one and done postseason state tournament. If the player does win a drill, he must validate the win with a made free throw. If he misses the free throw, the drill is a loss and the workout is over.
Win 7 drills with 7 validations and you are a state champ for that day.
The workout is designed to work on these 6 ways to score (plus fatigued pressure free throws)
1) catch and shoot
2) catch, shot fake, one dribble pull up shot,
3) catch and shot fake, one dribble, a second dribble move to beat an imaginary help defender and shoot a runner in the lane
4) catch and shot fake, one dribble, a second dribble move to beat an imaginary help defender and finish with a finishing move at the basket
5) catch and shot fake, two dribbles and shoot a step back shot
6) catch and shot fake, two dribbles, step back to shoot a hop back shot, keep the dribble alive, make a dribble move to beat the imaginary defender coming at you and finish with a floater.
The workout can be modified for post players.
Here are some ideas for drills for each of the categories, but you should use the drills that you use in your program that your players are familiar with. Here is a link to the archives if you would like to look for a drill that was on a previous post: Coaching Toolbox Archives
Technique Shooting Drills
Rim Flips emphasis on proper shooting technique
Shooting a basketball with one hand helps to work on shooting the ball straight and concentrating on the backspin rotation of the ball. This drill is to work on technique, foot position, and body alignment and not to simulate anything close to game speed. Rim flips are solely for refining and maintaining technique and form. SLOW. SLOW. SLOW!! Stand an arms length directly in front of the rim. Set the ball for the normal shot and then take the balance hand away. The entire focus of the drill is on correct shooting fundamentals. The initial stage of the drill does not involve jumping. Think of it as a short free throw. After making 10 in a row without hitting the rim, the shooter moves back two steps. After moving back two steps, place the guide hand on the ball, but use the exact same technique as before with the shooting hand. Once you can make 10 in a row, move back another two steps and work to make another 10 in a row. Eventually, you will jump toward the basket and land six inches closer just like you were taking a shot in a game. Work on the landing in all three phases of the rim flips drill. For more information on foot positioning and landing, go to our correct shooting fundamentals page.
5 shots 5 spots Two different spots 5-10 feet, Two different spots 10-15 feet, One spot 15-20. If there is a rebounder, the shooter shoots and then jogs to the next spot. If there is no rebounder, the shooter can jog to get his/her rebound and proceed to the next spot. You receive one point for each shot made. All shots are taken inside the three point arc. The objective of the drill is to work on technique without pressure.
45 Spot up Shots Inside the Arc. This game works best if you have a rebounder. The purpose of the game is to get in a rhythm of catching and shooting with perfect shooting form. The shooter stays inside the 3 point arc and moves around the inside of the arc until s/he has taken 45 shots.
Two to One Shooting Game Pick a spot on the floor. The shooter is playing against an imaginary opponent. The shooter gets 1 point for every make and the opponent receives 2 points for each miss. If the shooter reaches 10 first, it is one win in the twenty game workout. If the imaginary opponent reaches 10 points first, it is a loss. This is not at game pace. The purpose of the technique shooting game in the competitive workout is to shoot rhythm shots.
The 50 point game involves 29 shots. The shots should be taken in the order that the spots are diagramed at the left. For variety, the numbers can be mirrored on the floor so that the right side is where the first shots are taken from. If there is a rebounder, the shooter shoots and then jogs to the next spot. If there is no rebounder, the shooter can jog to get his/her rebound and proceed to the next spot.
Dribbling and Driving Games
One minute half court dribbling one basketball involves using both hands, seeing the whole floor, spacing the whole floor, using a variety of dribble moves, and moving at game speed while doing all of those things.
One minute half court dribbling two basketballs has the same purpose and execution as with one basketball, but has the added pressure of dribbling two basketballs.
100 reps of push/pull crossover for time.
50 reps of 2 ball crossovers for time.
10 straight line drives for time.
Links to Game Pace Shooting Drills on The Coaching Toolbox
4 Quarter Shooting, Sweep Shooting, 2 Ball Shooting are some drill used by the Washington Women’s program.
5 Competitive Shooting Drills 90 second shooting drill, 10 shots/5 spots, 21 point, 10 point, and 5 point
Toughness Shooting Drills
2 Minute Drill is one of my favorite basketball drills. It combines game pace shooting, pressure free throws, and several types of shots.
The 3 point license A drill to give your players a standard they must meet to be able to shoot 3 point shots in a game.