Saturday, August 18, 2012


Coaches help coaches by sharing.  Email your response to today's Coaches Share question and have your response added to tomorrow's blog entry.  Your response can be as long or short as you like.  Email your response to

QUESTION:  How much time do you spend on free throw shooting in your practices?  Do you have any good free throw shooting drills to share?

Email your response to and be part of the discussion.  Your response is then posted in tomorrow's blog.

Friday, August 17, 2012


The Demand Defense Drill focuses on closeouts, on the ball defense, and wing denial.  These three parts of defense are related to ball side defense.  Each player's rep in the drill is quick.  Try to limit the amount of dead time in between each pass back to the coach.  This keeps the tempo of the drill up which increases the energy of the drill.

The defender (X) starts in the block area with the ball.  The offensive player (1) starts on the wing at the three point line.  Coach starts at the lane-line extended on the same side as the ball.

The drills tarts with X rolling the ball to 1.  X performs a closeout on 1.

When 1 catches the ball they immediately get in a triple threat position and take one hard dribble.  They can go either right or left, but it has to be a game-like dribble.  X will have to be in a good stance and ready to take a quick step to stay in front 1 on the dribble.  After the the dribble 1 will pivot, X continues to pressure the ball, and then 1 passes the ball to the coach.

After the pass to the coach 1 will immediately v-cut to attempt to get open while X gets in a full denial position trying to prevent the pass back to 1.  Coach will pass the ball to 1 when they get open and this might require 1 to v-cut a few times.

When 1 catches the pass the drill becomes Live.  1 gets two dribbles to attempt to score.

Rotate defense - offense - out.  New player in goes to defense.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Teams need leadership from its players.  The fact of the matter is that leadership can come from any player on your roster, but more often than not the captain(s) of your team are the players who will provide it on a daily basis.  It cannot be stressed enough how important good leadership can be for the overall culture and eventual successes of your team.

The following are four possible methods to help decide on your team captains:

1. The Coach Decides 
The coach has been around the program, knows the players, and will have a grasp of the leadership ability of each player on the court.  If the coach really does have a good idea of each player's leadership qualities then they should be able to choose the best captain(s) for their team.  The one caution is that the coach may not have insight to the feelings the team members have for each player.  For example, you don't want a captain that the rest of the team won't respect at a high level.  Many times that respect is earned or lost off the court just as much as it is on it, and the coach won't completely understand the off the court stuff because that is a separate world for players.

2. Players Vote
Each player on the team has a vote and they can decide on captains.  This is a quick and easy system to use and it gives your players a voice in the decision making process by writing on paper the names of the players they want to be captains.  One red flag with deciding on captains this way is that it can become a popularity contest.  Our most popular players aren't always our best leaders.  Players should be voting for the person they feel can provide the necessary leadership through their actions, by what they say, their ability to be vocal with the group, and the respect they have for them.  If you use this method allow players vote for themselves.

3. Players Apply
Using this option requires players who are interested in being a captain to write on paper the reasons they feel they would be a great captain for the team.  It's almost like writing a letter of application when applying for a job.  Players should include
  • The reasons why they would like to be captain.
  • Experience they have had in leadership roles (other sports or clubs/groups they belong to)
  • Qualities they posses that make them a good leader
The coaching staff will then review each letter from the candidates to decide on who the captain(s) will be for the team.  This is is a good way of doing things because it forces the players to put a lot of thought into being a captain.  It also helps them understand the importance of it.  The one caution with using this method is that not every player has the ability to express their thoughts in writing as well as others.  And being a good writer doesn't always equal being a good captain.

4. Players Verbal Vote
Using this method would require having individual meetings with each player on your team.  Coaches have these meetings with players anyway so this can be a perfect time for the players to vote verbally for the team captain(s).   Players will not only name the player or players they feel would be great captains for the team, but they will also tell "why" they feel that way.  This gives coaches some great insight into the reasons why players feel someone would be a good captain.  One red flag with this method is that some young people won't feel as confident speaking their vote as they would for example writing it down on a piece of paper.  Allow players to vote for themselves.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Coaches, you have all been in this position:  Your team is on defense.  Your on the ball defender gets beat off the dribble.  The player with ball gets deep into the lane, and eventually to the rim and scores.
Your first reaction is almost always to correct the on the ball defender.  Then you want to correct the rotation of your other four defensive players because you know your defensive system isn't designed to allow straight-line drives to the basket in a half court situation.

We all know that your players will be quicker and stronger when they are in a proper defensive stance.  Watch your players when the guard the ball, and players usually do a decent job of getting themselves in a good stance.
On the ball stance.
Let's break this down even more to help prevent a situation like this from happening less and less.  You also want to check the defensive stance of your players that are off the ball.  This is usually when players tend to stand tall with their legs straighter than they need to be.  It's almost as if they relax for a count or two because the ball is on the opposite side of the floor as the player they are defending.  This is wrong!

Players off the ball standing straight up = slower rotations.
The challenge for coaches in this situation is to get your defenders who are in help position, or off the ball, to get in a good defensive stance.  The defensive stance is a "ready" position.  Being in a ready position gives you quicker rotations and reaction time.  Standing with your knees straight will give you slower reaction time.

One idea to help improve this situation is to have one of your assistant coaches be in charge of watching the defensive stances off the ball.  Your players should know that an assistant is in charge of this.  Now the expectations have been set and the players know they are being held accountable for it.  This can also be done in film sessions with your team.  Point out the players in a good stance off the ball and the players that are not.  Show examples of good defensive rotations that all started because a player or players were in a ready position.  If your four defenders off the ball are in a ready position the chances of a straight line drive by an offensive player with the ball decrease because your players are quicker to rotate to stop the ball.

Sometimes the corrections needed to be made are the fundamentals of the game...and these corrections can make the biggest difference.

Monday, August 13, 2012


The two main objectives of this drill is for the defender to work on
1. their positioning on the floor in relation to where the ball and their man are.
2. The defender also works on "bumping" the cutter as the offensive player they are defending tries to cut across the lane to get open.
This drill starts to set the tone for physical play for our defenders.  It also adds to the philosophy that there are no free cuts through the lane.  Make the offensive player earn their trip through the lane.

The four offensive players are aligned around the perimeter just inside the three point line. The one defender (Defender 2 in this diagram) will be guarding the offensive player 2 on the wing. The drill starts with 1 having the ball. 1 passes to 2, 2 passes to 3, and 3 passes to 4. While the ball is being passed around Defender 2 must get to their proper defensive position, stay in a good defensive stance, and saying "Ball" "Help" or "Deny" depending on which one is needed.

 When 4 receives the pass, 2 will cut hard across the lane and try to post up.  Defender 2 will already be in help position because the ball is on the opposite side of the floor as the person they are defending (2). When 2 comes into the lane, Defender 2 must bump them. Give them a physical bump and force 2 to go to a spot they don't want to go. As with our rule for 10 Defense, Defender 2 will front 2 in the post area. If 2 is open at any time 4 will pass them the ball. If 4 cannot get the ball to 2, then 4 passes back to 3 and 3 tries to make a pass to 2. If 2 receives a pass they try to score. Drill rep is done when 2 scores or Defender 2 gets a defensive rebound or a turnover.

Be physical on offense and defense.
Rotate Defender to 1, 1 to 2, 2 to 3, 3 to 4, and 4 to 1.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


The 3-Man Weave is a drill that has been a part of basketball practices for many years.  Even though this drill may be considered "old" it still serves a great purpose.  It can be used to get your team loosened up, to work on passing, catching, layups, and also for conditioning purposes.

Would you like to get a little more out of this drill with your team?  To do that coaches can add more focus in their players by making it more challenging.  Two ways to do this are:

1. Set perfection as your expectation.  Players will execute the drill like always except now the players have a goal of
               *Catching each pass clean (no bobbles)
               *The ball never hits the floor
               *No travels
               *Make each layup
Coach can set a realistic goal as to how many consecutive layups your team has to make while being perfect.  If there is a bobble, a travel, a missed layup, or the ball hits the floor you start back at zero.  You know your team best so that number may vary from year to year.  A general number of 12 in a row can be used, and based on your team's ability you can adjust from there.

2. Put a time limit on your 3-Man Weave and set a goal for the total number of made layups your team must have before time runs out. 

It's all about expectations with your players.  This traditional drill can have great value to your team instead of being a practice time filler to get your players loose.  Setting the expectations adds a focus to your team and makes them accountable for what happens on the floor...which is what we always want our players to be.